Curriculum: 2013 Doctoral Requirements

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 (CS 69900, Research. PhD. Thesis)

Ethics Requirement

9 Courses (see Plan of Study)

Research Credits (CS 69900, Research. Ph.D. Thesis)

Qualifying Process

Qualifying Examination, Part 1

Qualifying Examination, Part 2

Advisory Committee

Plan of Study

Preliminary Examination


Example Ph.D. Timeline

Research Orientation

The one-credit Research Seminar for First-Year Graduate Students (CS 59100) 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 (each 3 or more credits of CS 69900, Research. PhD. Thesis (was CS 69800, Research. M.S. Thesis summer 2006 - fall 2013)), 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 reports 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.

Ethics Requirement

All graduate students must audit the ethics lecture of CS59100 Research Seminar for First-Year Graduate Students.

All graduate students must also pass the responsible conduct of research (RCR) for Undergraduate Students on-line test at and forward the certificate to the Graduate Office at with the subject "Ethics Requirement". (Go to; Register with Purdue University as your Organization Affiliation; Click on "Add a Course or Update Learner Groups"; Leave Q1 Blank, Check RCR for Undergraduate Students on Q2, put Not at this time for everything else.)

Further information on Responsible Conduct of Research:

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Qualifying Process

To qualify for the doctoral program, students must pass the qualifying examination at the latest by the end of their fourth semester. The process 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 four written or oral Qualifying Course Examinations (QCEs), each from a different area. At least three QCEs have to be passed by the end of the third semester. Part 1 must be completed at the latest by the end of the fourth semester.

The QCEs have to be chosen from the following list of areas and courses:

*CS 54701 was CS 59000 008, Information Retrieval, in spring 2009.
**CS 57800 was CS 59000 005, Statistical Machine Learning, in fall 2009 and CS 59000 MLO, Statistical Machine Learning, in spring 2011.

The QCE must be in a course taught by a faculty member whose primary appointment is in the Computer Science department. The QCE need not be taken in the same semester as the course is taken. Students may take more than four QCEs. A failed QCE may be repeated only with the permission of the graduate committee. QCEs are given at the end of the course.

Students who wish to take a QCE must register for the QCE 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.

Click here for QCE Registration


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 at the latest 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 submit a request to the graduate study committee to take part 2 of the PhD qualifying examination and provide a brief description of their 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.

Click here for Qualifying Examination Part 2 Procedure.

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 at least nine courses of which at least six must be CS courses.  Students may petition the graduate committee for an exception if they have a good reason to have fewer than six CS courses.

The nine courses must include

CS 50300 and CS 58000 and

the four courses chosen by the student to satisfy  the Qualifying Examination, Part 1.

The remaining courses must be three-credit, level 5 or 6, non-individual courses approved by the student's advisory committee and the graduate committee.

List of approved courses

The courses on the plan of study 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.

All courses listed on the plan of study must be graded in the usual manner so they can be included in computing a grade-point average (GPA). In particular, courses graded on a pass /no pass or satisfactory / unsatisfactory basis cannot be used.

The GPA on the plan of study must be at least 3.5.

A student receiving a grade lower than C- in a course on the plan will normally have to repeat the course.

If a course is repeated, only the last grade, even if lower, is used to compute all GPAs involving that course.

Courses from other institutions may be accepted with the approval of the student's advisory committee, the graduate committee, and the Graduate School.  The minimum acceptable grade is B- or the equivalent.

Instructions for Filing a Plan of Study

Instructions for Transfer of Courses

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Research Credits

The total number of hours of academic credit used to satisfy the graduate school's degree requirements
consists of all graduate course credit hours that appear on the plan of study and research credit hours (CS 69900) with grades of S that appear on the Purdue transcript. At least 90 total credit hours are required.

For example, if a plan of study lists 27 credit hours an additional 63 research credits of CS 69900 with a grade of S are required to satisfy those degree requirements.

At least one-third of the total credit hours used to satisfy degree requirements must be earned while registered for doctoral study at Purdue University.

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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 (not on the advisory committee) chosen by the graduate committee. The preliminary examination is to be taken at the latest by the end of the third semester following the one in which the student completes the qualifying process and at least two semesters (including summer 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.

Defense Procedure Instructions

Thesis Review Instructions

Thesis Formatting

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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.

Graduate School's Policies and Procedures Manual:

Graduation Deadline Calendar:


Changes in Requirements

The Ph.D. requirements described above apply to all students entering or re-entering the Department of Computer Science at West Lafayette ("the Department") as degree-seeking graduate students in the summer session of 2013 or later. 2010200920062002 and 2001 Doctoral Program Requirements.

Students are governed by the degree requirements in effect when they enter the Department as degree-seeking students.  For students re-entering, the date of the most recent re-entry determines the degree requirements.  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.

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