A minor, usually in an area of computer engineering, electrical engineering or mathematics, of a minimum of 12 credit hours supporting the chosen research area is required. These courses may be taken in CS or in another department in the Lyle School of Engineering. The minor requirement may be satisfied by transfer credit.
All full-time Ph.D. students in residence at the main campus of SMU are required to enroll in the CS seminar class CS 8098. The CS 8098 course is graded on a pass/fail basis with a grade of Pass requiring the attendance of at least two-thirds of the CS departmental seminars and distinguished speaker series. The seminar coordinator will keep attendance records.
No graduate credit is earned for a course in which a grade of less than C- is received. Such courses do, however, count toward the total GPA. A student must have a GPA of at least 3.000 on a 4.000 scale to graduate. If at any point, a student’s GPA drops below 3.000, the student is placed on academic probation. The student then has one term to raise his or her GPA to 3.000 or be dismissed from the program. For part-time students, one term is taken to mean six credit hours. A grade of I (Incomplete) affects the GPA for the term in which the grade is granted rather than when it is
removed; therefore, a student is placed on academic probation if he or she is granted a grade of I on currently completed work in the course and that grade causes the student’s GPA to drop below 3.000.
Computer Science Seminar
All Ph.D. students that are receiving financial support from the department (such as teaching and research assistantships) must enroll in the seminar class CS 8098 each term that the course is offered.
Advanced study in computer science consists of a major concentration area. A concentration area consists of a number of courses that are related to a specific subfield of computer science. The major concentration consists of a minimum of 18 credit hours, no more than six of which can be independent study.
Credit earned for the core courses (CS 7330, 7343, 7350 and 7381) will not be counted for the concentration area. The student must file an advanced study degree plan with the department. No degree plan is accepted until approved by the chair of CS. Credits received prior to filing a degree plan are not guaranteed to count toward graduation.
Research Advisor and Supervisory Committee
Before the student has completed 18 credit hours or two years of Ph.D. study (whichever comes first), he or she must identify a dissertation director and form a supervisory committee. It is the responsibility of the student to find a faculty member willing to provide a research topic or to supervise a topic of the student’s choosing. The dissertation director must be one of the full-time tenure or tenure-track faculty members of the CS Department. This requirement will be satisfied by successful completion and filing of the Recommendation and Certification of Appointment of Supervisory Committee form.
The dissertation director, together with the student, should prepare the advanced study degree plan. They should also form the supervisory committee. The supervisory committee is made up of at least five members. Three resident tenured or tenure-track faculty members are drawn from the student’s department, and one resident tenured or tenure-track faculty member is chosen from each minor field. The chair of the supervisory committee shall be a resident tenured or tenure-track member of the school faculty and shall normally be the dissertation director and a member of the student’s department. Thus, a minimum of four members must be resident tenured or tenure-track faculty of SMU. The names of the supervisory committee members must be submitted to the chair of the CS Department and the director of the graduate division for approval.
The student must complete all the core courses with an average grade of B+ (3.300) or better before he or she can appear for the qualifying examination. The student will give a written proposal to the committee members. The timing of this submission will be determined by the thesis adviser and usually occurs at the 40–50 percent completion point of the thesis research.
Committee members will submit questions to the Ph.D. dissertation director. The director and the members will negotiate the content of the questions. The questions will generally be from areas related to the student’s area of research and, hence, the questions will be submitted only after student has submitted the written proposal. However, should a majority of the committee judge that the student has not shown strong credentials in one or more of the core areas, the examination may include questions designed specifically to determine whether or not the student has sufficient background in those areas. Examinations will be graded by each submitting member and given back to the chair. The chair, along with the other members, will decide the outcome (pass/fail) of the examination.
The written portion of the qualifying examination is a take-home (open-book)
examination with four questions. Although there will be more than four members in the committee, usually one member will be from outside CS and will not be required to submit a question. The questions will be given to the students on a Friday as determined by the committee chair, and the answers will be due back on the following Friday. The student must attain an average score of 70 percent and a minimum score of 50 percent on each individual question in order to receive a passing grade.
After passing the written portion, the student will appear for the oral portion of the qualifying examination. In addition to evaluating the presentation based on the proposed research, the oral part will also address any deficiencies the written examination may reveal. The student should schedule the oral presentation at the time the written proposal is submitted, even though he or she will be eligible to appear for the oral presentation only after passing the written portion.
Students will have a maximum of two attempts to pass the qualifying examination.
If a student changes her or his area of research significantly or if significant changes are made to the composition of the supervising committee, the student may be required to repeat the qualifying examination.
Change of Committee or Concentration
A student may change concentration, dissertation director or supervisory committee at any point, subject to the approval of the CS faculty. Such a change will generally require the formation of a new supervisory committee and will definitely require the filing of a new advanced study plan. The student must take a qualifying examination in the new concentration area to be admitted to candidacy. In the event that the
student changes concentration after being admitted to candidacy, the candidacy is revoked and the student must pass the qualifying examination in the new concentration. Two attempts are allowed for a student in this position. A student may also change areas before being admitted to candidacy. In this event, it is possible that one or more unsuccessful attempts will have been made to pass the qualifying examination. The student may, at the discretion of the CS supervisory committee be
allowed two attempts in the new concentration, but under no circumstances will more than three attempts be allowed at the examination. It is also possible that a student will change dissertation director or composition of the supervisory committee while still retaining the same concentration area. Such changes may be made only with the approval of the CS supervisory committee. If the dissertation director is changed, the new dissertation director may, at his or her discretion, require a new qualifying examination. In addition, if the makeup of the supervisory committee changes substantially, the CS supervisory committee may require a new qualifying examination to be taken with the newly constituted committee.
The most clearly distinguishing characteristic of a program leading to the Ph.D.
degree is the requirement that the candidate write a dissertation embodying the results of a significant and original investigation. The dissertation must make a contribution to knowledge that is of value to the computer science discipline, and it is expected to be a mature and competent piece of writing. The work reported in the dissertation may be basic scientific research, engineering research or creative design.
Upon the successful completion of the dissertation defense, the dissertation is electronically uploaded to the SMU/UMI Dissertation Publishing submission website. The original abstract must be signed by the dissertation director, and the
original half-title page of the dissertation must be signed by all of the CS faculty members attending the dissertation defense.
Dissertation Defense (Final Examination)
Upon completion of all other requirements, a dissertation defense by the candidate will be announced, registered with the Graduate Division and subsequently conducted by the supervisory committee. The candidate must make six unbound copies of his or her dissertation available to the members of the supervisory committee at least two weeks in advance of the dissertation defense. This defense, which is conducted orally, must enable the supervisory committee to satisfy itself that the dissertation is an original piece of work, either in research or creative design, that it has been carried out in keeping with the highest standards of investigation and reporting, and that it makes a contribution to knowledge that is of value to the computer profession or scientific community. The defense must be scheduled with the CS departmental office and posted in the Lyle School of Engineering. This defense is open to the public, with the possible exception of a period open only to committee members and CS faculty in which general questions in computer science and engineering may be asked. Satisfactory performance on this defense constitutes the last requirement to be met for the Ph.D. degree.
Recommended Degree Plan
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