Curriculum: 2006 Doctoral Requirements

The only substantial difference between the 2006 requirements and the 2009 requirements is in Qualifying Examination, Part 1: the first paragraph and the following list of areas and courses.

The Doctoral Program is designed to prepare students for a career in Computer Science Research. This includes coursework to provide breadth and background knowledge in the intended area of research, qualifying course examinations to ensure a solid knowledge of the discipline, an oral qualifying examination to ensure depth of knowledge and ability to communicate that knowledge to fellow researchers, and extensive research training and experience.

Successful completion of the doctoral program requires:

1 Research Orientation Course
2 Research Courses
9 Courses (see Plan of Study)
Qualifying Process

Advisory Committee
Plan of Study
Preliminary Examination

Research Orientation

The one-credit research orientation course (CS 591C) introduces students to the CS faculty and their research, and includes talks on how to conduct research as well as write, present, and review research papers and proposals. Students must complete this course in their first year.

Two more research courses (3 or more credits of CS 698 each) must be completed by the end of the third semester. Students are expected to identify a faculty supervisor for each course, and work with that faculty member to define the research project. The courses may be supervised by the same or different faculty members. Students must write a report at the end of each of these research courses, and will be given a written formal evaluation of that report by the faculty member supervising the research. The report and the evaluation will be considered by the Qualifying Examination, Part 2 committee. Only one research course can be taken per semester or summer. Students who are not doing a research course in the second semester must contact the graduate committee at least one month before registering for the third semester.

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Qualifying Process

To qualify for the doctoral program, students must pass the qualifying examination, which consists of two parts taken in sequence. Part 1 tests for breadth of knowledge in computer science and the ability to use that knowledge. Part 2 tests for the knowledge and ability to conduct research.

Qualifying Examination, Part 1

The Qualifying Examination, Part 1 consists of passing a written or oral Qualifying Course Examination (QCE) in each of four three-credit courses chosen from the following:

  • one course from Theory and Algorithms (CS 580, 584)
  • one course from Compilers and Programming Languages (CS 502, 565)
  • one course from Networks and Operating Systems (CS 503, 536)

one of the following courses:

  • Artificial Intelligence (CS 572)
  • Databases (CS 541, 542)
  • Data Mining (CS 573)
  • Distributed Systems (CS 505)
  • Geometric Modeling, Visualization, and Graphics (CS 530, 531, 535, 586)
  • Numerical Computing (CS 514, 515, 520)
  • Parallel and Distributed Computing (CS 525)
  • Security (CS 526, 555)
  • Simulation and Modeling (CS 543, 544)
  • Software Engineering (CS 510)

The QCE need not be taken in the same semester as the course is taken. Students may take more than four QCEs, however QCEs may be repeated only with the permission of the graduate committee. Students must pass part 1 by the end of their fourth semester.

QCEs are given at the end of the course. Students who wish to take a QCE must register with the graduate secretary by the end of the 12th week of the semester. The examining committee for each QCE is appointed by the chair of the graduate committee. The instructor of the course is normally a member.


Students who have taken similar graduate courses outside the department may apply to the graduate committee for permission to take the QCEs without taking the courses.

Qualifying Examination, Part 2

Students must pass an oral examination by the end of the fourth semester. Part 2 can be taken only after the student has completed the two research courses and passed at least three of the four QCEs.

Students are nominated for Part 2 by their research advisor, who indicates the area of research. The examining committee consists of three faculty members, none of whom is the student's advisor, appointed by the graduate committee in consultation with the student's advisor. The student must arrange with the examining committee members the date, time, and place of the examination and secure the approval of the assistant to the head (acting for the head) to schedule the examination.

Instructions and Form

Part 2 may be repeated once. Additional repetitions must be approved by the graduate committee, and will be granted only in special cases. The graduate committee reserves the right to appoint a committee and set an examination date for any student who has not completed the qualifying examination by the end of the fourth semester.

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Advisory Committee

By the end of the semester in which the student completes the qualifying process, the student must form an advisory committee consisting of the proposed supervisor of the student's research, as chair, plus two or more other faculty members, agreed upon by the student and the chair, that are willing to serve. Qualified faculty from other departments may serve on the committee but may not form a majority of it.  A proposed research supervisor not a faculty member in the CS department may be approved as a co-chair along with a co-chair in CS.  Committee members from outside Purdue may be approved but must be in addition to the members required.  The committee is listed on the plan of study form and becomes official upon final approval of the form.

Plan of Study

The plan of study must be approved by the advisory committee and the graduate committee, and must be filed by the end of the semester in which the student completes the qualifying process.

The plan of study must include the following courses:

  • The four courses chosen to satisfy the Qualifying Examination, Part 1
  • Five additional three-credit 500- or 600-level courses, other than independent study courses (CS 590 or CS 690), approved by the student's advisory committee and the graduate committee. These courses need not be taken in the department or even at Purdue, but they cannot have been used to satisfy requirements for an undergraduate degree nor can they cause the student's doctoral plan of study to include courses from more than one master's program.
  • list of approved courses

The GPA on the plan of study must be at least 3.5. The grades in courses taken at other institutions must be A or B or the equivalent. If a course is repeated, only the last grade, even if lower, is used to compute all GPAs involving that course.

Instructions for Filing a Plan of Study

Instructions for Transfer of Courses

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Preliminary Examination

The preliminary examination tests the student's competence in a research area and readiness for research on some specific problem. The content of the examination is at the discretion of the examining committee. The examination may consist, for example, of a presentation by the student of papers relevant to a research topic agreed upon by the student and the committee; or it may consist of a proposal for thesis research; or it may involve an oral examination over the material in appropriate courses beyond the qualifying level. 

The examining committee normally consists of the student's advisory committee and an additional member chosen by the graduate committee. The preliminary examination is to be taken by the end of the third semester following the one in which the student completes the qualifying process and at least two semesters before the examination on the thesis.

Prelim Procedure Instructions 

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The thesis must present new results worthy of publication. The student must defend the thesis publicly and to the satisfaction of the examining committee, which normally consists of the student's advisory committee and one additional faculty member representing an area outside that of the thesis.

The thesis should be completed by the end of the fourth semester following the one in which the student passes the preliminary examination. The graduate committee may grant extensions.

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Policies and Procedures Manual

All graduate programs at Purdue are governed by the Policies and Procedures Manual for Administering Graduate Student Programs published by the Graduate School.

Graduation Deadline Calendar

Changes in Requirements

The Ph.D. requirements as described above apply to all students admitted to or reentering the Department of Computer Sciences at West Lafayette ("the Department") as degree-seeking graduate students in the summer session of 2006 or later. 2002 and 2001 Doctoral Program Requirements.

Students are governed by the degree requirements in effect when they enter the Department as degree-seeking students. Students who wish to take advantage of subsequent changes may apply to the graduate committee to be governed by all degree requirements in effect at a specified subsequent time. Choosing features from different sets of requirements is not permitted.

For students re-entering, the date of the most recent re-entry determines the degree requirements.

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