CSC Graduate Program Policies

Graduate College Policies

Find out more about the Graduate College Policies.

Graduate Faculty Advisor

All graduate students must have a faculty advisor at all times.

Doctoral students are assigned an advisor upon admission. The student may choose to select this faculty member as the advisor for the entire Ph.D. experience or may select another faculty member that better aligns with their research interests. Students are encouraged to meet with their advisor regularly, at least once a month, to discuss research interests, course selection, progress to degree, and career aspirations. The doctoral advisor is defined as a faculty member with a primary, shared, or joint (courtesy) tenure-track appointment in the Department of Computer Science who has committed to supervising a student's PhD dissertation.

Masters students are assigned the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS), Dr. Mihai Surdeanu, as their faculty advisor upon admission. Should the student choose the thesis option, their thesis supervisor will become their advisor.

Co-advisors for CS PhD and MS Students

Computer Science PhD and MS students may have multiple advisors (exactly one major advisor and no more than one co-advisor) in accordance with the following policies:

  • The student's major advisor must have a primary, shared, or joint (courtesy) tenure-track faculty appointment in the Department of Computer Science ("CS faculty"). 

  • The major advisor assumes all responsibility assigned to a faculty advisor by the Department of Computer Science, including approving the Plan of Study, approving the PhD Portfolio check sheet, completing semester review forms, filling out committee meeting reports, and other duties outlined in the graduate handbook. 

  • The major advisor must be a chair of the student's comprehensive exam and dissertation committees.  

  • A co-advisor who is not CS faculty must be approved by the Computer Science Director of Graduate Studies. 

Transfer Credit 

(Doctoral students) Graduate credit earned at other approved institutions may be counted toward the requirements of a doctoral degree, but will not be included in the calculation of the University of Arizona GPA. Non-credit based requirements such as comprehensive exams, dissertations or thesis requirements, research requirements, and professionalization requirements may not be transferred from another institution.

(Masters students) No more than 6 units can be transferred from other accredited institutions. Transfer of credit toward an advanced degree will not be made unless the grade earned was A or B, and unless it was awarded graduate credit at the institution where the work was completed. Grades of transfer work will not be used in computing the student's University of Arizona cumulative grade-point average.

Students in our graduate programs may wish to satisfy course requirements with courses taken outside this department, either at UA or elsewhere. Such courses must be comparable in rigor to our courses and be within the scope of Computer Science. In addition, the theory and systems core requirements can each be met by transferring in a previous course, provided that meets both of the following criteria: (i) the content of the course is equivalent to the corresponding course offered in this department and (ii) the offering graduate program was Computer Science, or a closely-related field.

Departmental process for transfer approval:

  1. The student will submit the Transfer Credit Form in GradPath for the University to review the transfer courses and determine if they are transferable. This must be done before the end of the first year of study.

  2. The student will complete two Google Forms, Part One (to request one or more transfers) and Part Two (submit one for each requested transfer), for the courses that are designated as transferable.

  3. The student will need to discuss their proposed transfer coursework plan with their faculty advisor (who will have access to the information the student entered on the Google Forms).

  4. The faculty advisor will need to email the DGS (Cc GPC) with confirmation of their support.

  5. The DGS will review the student's request and make a decision in consultation with a current instructor of the relevant course and the Grad Affairs Committee, unless that course has been evaluated within the previous twelve months and has not experienced significant change in that time.

  6. The GPC will notify the student and faculty advisor of the committee's decision.

  7. Once Department approval is received, the student will submit their Plan of Study in GradPath to include those courses and finalize the process.

Graduate Course Substitution Policy

There are times when a course substitution, including having a course that is not on the curriculum sheet count towards a core requirement, may be appropriate for a student's plan of study. Students should meet with their faculty advisor to discuss the nature of the request and if the advisor approves, the student should submit a petition for the course substitution request as discussed below.

Progress Review Policy (doctoral students)

  • By the end of the third semester, the student must have taken at least one CSC 900 (3 units) and have earned the grade of at least P, maintained a 3.33 GPA, and submitted a portfolio deemed satisfactory by the graduate committee. If a student is unsatisfactory after both the two- and three-semester review, they can be recommended for dismissal from the PhD program.

  • By the end of the fifth semester, the student must have completed the six required core courses with a 3.5 GPA and only A's and B's (including transfer courses). The student also must have a minimum 3.33 Cumulative GPA and have completed at least three semesters of CSC 900 with a grade of at least P, and furthermore, must have at least one A in their UA CSC core courses. Finally, the student must have passed the fifth-semester Portfolio (Qualifying Exam). If the portfolio is deemed to fail, then the student is recommended for dismissal from the PhD program after the sixth semester.

  • By the end of the seventh semester, the student must have taken the Comprehensive Exam, which consists of submitting a written dissertation proposal and giving an oral presentation on the dissertation proposal to the student's Comprehensive Exam Committee. The student passes the exam if there are zero or one negative votes; no appeals will be considered. If the student fails the exam, the matter is forwarded to the Graduate Affairs Committee. The graduate committee may, at its discretion, give the student a second attempt. A student who fails to pass the Comprehensive Exam will be recommended for dismissal from the PhD program.

Additional Policies

  • Any Computer Science course in which a grade of C or lower is earned will not count toward satisfying core course requirements. A course with a grade of C can be used toward electives. A course with a grade of D or lower cannot be included in the plan of study. All grades are counted, however, in the cumulative GPA.

  • The CS department supports work that improves the level of reproducibility in research. Specifically, we encourage PhD students to embrace completeness and transparency in developing research rigorous protocols as well as in making code, experimental parameters, and collected data available to other researchers. In particular, students are required to describe in their dissertation proposal if and how they will provide access to well-documented datasets, modeling and/or simulation tools, and codebases to support reproducibility of their methods.

Petitioning a Department Policy

Students have the right to formally request exceptions to department policies and procedures or formally appeal department decisions by submitting a petition to the Director of Graduate Studies via this Google Form after discussing their request with their faculty advisor.