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PhD | Progress Guidelines

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  • By the end of the first academic year, you should align with a permanent advisor. Students are welcome to switch advisors, however, a student should not have significant periods of time (after the first year) with no advisor.
  • A student must make satisfactory progress in their research, as determined by their advisor.
  • By the Spring quarter of their second year, three Foundation/Breadth requirements need to be completed.
  • A student should meet the eligibility requirements and file for candidacy by the end of their second year in the program.
  • All courses need to be completed by the end of their third year. Any deviation from this timeline needs to be approved ahead of time by the student advisor and the director of the PhD program.
  • By the Spring quarter of their third year, a student should pass a qualifying examination in the area of their intended dissertation.
  • Within one year of passing the qualifying examination, a student should form a reading committee and submit a signed reading committee form to the PhD student services office (
  • By the Spring quarter of their fourth year, a student should schedule a thesis proposal with the reading committee members and submit the thesis proposal form to the PhD student services office (

The teaching requirement may be satisfied at any time. As a matter of policy, a student should satisfy half of the teaching requirement in the first two years of their program. Students are encouraged to complete the teaching requirement early in their stay to eliminate conflicts with later dissertation work. Participation in research throughout the student's career routinely satisfies the research requirement.

Note: All form(s) should be submitted as pdf and emailed to the general PhD student services email ( and Jay Subramanian (, Director of Graduate Admissions and PhD Program, approves these forms on behalf of the Department chair.


The Department will check with the advisor annually to ensure the student is progressing satisfactorily toward completing their degree. The Computer Science PhD student services send each PhD student an e-mail with updates on the student's milestones and research progress. Individualized evaluations are sent to each student via e-mail throughout the Summer. This evaluation is based on information available to the PhD program officer at the time of the evaluation meeting. E-mail whenever you complete a Breadth requirement or milestone throughout the year to keep records current. As per the Honor Code, the student must contact the program officer about any error or correction to their records.

If a student is not making reasonable progress and further action needs to be taken:

  1. The student's advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the Department chair will meet to evaluate the next step that should be taken.
  2. By University policy, the student has the right and can request to meet with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  3. The student can submit a request for an ombudsperson.
  4. Failure to schedule the meeting constitutes a waiver of the University-mandated right to a hearing and can lead to dismissal without further warning.