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PhD | First-Year Research Rotation Program

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First-year PhD students can spend one quarter each in three groups. They must align with a permanent advisor by the middle of the Spring quarter of their first year. Look over the Department website and research group pages to get ideas or information about specific faculty you might be interested in working with for rotations. You are encouraged to line up your research rotations. Contact the faculty directly to confirm their consent. Additionally, you are welcome to rotate with faculty outside of the CS Department.

First-Year Research Rotation Program

You must email the PhD program office ( and cc the faculty about your rotations by the following dates:

  • Autumn quarter: August 15th
  • Winter quarter: December 15th
  • Spring quarter: March 15th

Alternatively, you can share your preferences for advisors or research areas to the Graduate Program Office ( by the above deadlines and they will line up a research rotation for you. Important Note: This requires you to be flexible in the positions you'll accept.

An entering PhD student and a faculty member may opt out of the rotation system by mutual consent. In this case, the faculty member must agree to serve as the student's research advisor and notify the Graduate Program Office ( If a student starts as a rotation student but then does a second rotation in any quarter in the first year with the same advisor, then the student has ceased to rotate and counts as permanently aligned with the advisor, who fully supports them in the second and further quarters.

Note: All faculty hosting a rotating CS 1st year PhD student pay 25%, and the Department pays 25% of a 50% RAship. This rule applies to all faculty (full, joint, and outside CS). If the student has a fellowship, then the RAship is not needed. For students with NSF fellowships, the faculty advisor supplements them to bring their amount up to the Department-level RAship. The supplementation continues for NSF students from their faculty advisor (after they align with a faculty) until they finish their PhD program, as long as the student makes satisfactory academic progress. Suppose the student did not align after the three rotations and is granted an exception to do a fourth rotation, then the student is fully funded by the rotation faculty (i.e., 50% RAship).

The goal of the rotation program is to find an advisor. By the end of the year, you'll need at least one faculty member to express interest in working with you. You should align with an advisor by the end of the Spring quarter of your first year. If you align with a non-CS faculty, you should have a CS faculty (courtesy faculty do not count) as a co-advisor.

Review our CS-Coadvisor Policy:

CS-Coadvisor Policy

The decision on alignment should be made by June 15th. Email (cc your advisor/co-advisor) to confirm your alignment.