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PhD | Frequently Asked Questions

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Overview

For any questions related to CS PhD milestone requirements, please email phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu.

CS300 Seminar

  1. How many CS300 seminars are we required to participate in? First year CS PhD students are required to attend 2/3 of the seminars. The seminars provide CS faculty with the opportunity to speak for 40 minutes about their research. Allowing new CS PhD students, the chance to learn about the professor's areas of research before permanently aligning.
  2. Are the CS300 seminars recorded? No, you must attend in person unless otherwise arranged by the faculty scheduled. Attendance is tracked based on the honor system, and Stanford’s honor code applies. Record your attendance only AFTER each session. Record your seminar attendance by using your CSID.
  3. If I already know who I am aligning with, is it necessary to attend a CS300 seminar? All first-year CS PhD students must sign up for CS300 and satisfy this requirement regardless of whether they opt out of rotation. Completion of CS300 is a Departmental requirement and must therefore be satisfied.

Rotation and Alignment

  1. How many rotations do I have to complete? First-year PhD students should plan for three rotations, one per quarter, unless an alignment has been established. They must align with a permanent advisor by the middle of Spring quarter of the first year.
  2. How does funding work for first-year rotation students? All faculty hosting a rotating CS 1st year PhD student pay 25%, and the department pays 25%, of a 50% RAship. This applies to all faculty (full CS, joint CS, and outside of CS). If the student has a fellowship, then the RAship is not needed. For students with NSF fellowship, faculty advisor supplements them to bring their amount up to the Department level RAship. 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.
  3. Can I rotate with the same advisor twice? If a student starts as a rotation student and does a second quarter in their first year with the same advisor, then the student has ceased to rotate. This will be considered as permanently aligning with that advisor and they'll fully support them in the second and further quarters.
  4. What if I don’t align after three quarters of rotations? Email Jay Subramanian (jayanthi@stanford.edu) to request for an additional rotation exception.
    1. If a student is granted an exception to do a fourth rotation, then the student is fully funded by the rotation faculty (i.e., 50% RAship).
  5. What should I do after I align with a faculty advisor? Please email phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu and cc your faculty advisor.
  6. What if I align with a non-CS faculty? If you align with a non-CS faculty, you should have a CS faculty (courtesy faculty do not count) as a co-advisor. Please see the co-advisor policy. The decision on alignment should be made by the middle of the Spring quarter of their first year. Email phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu and cc your advisor/co-advisor to confirm your alignment.
  7. What if I have two CS co-advisors? Email phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu and confirm the principal advisor (e.g., day-to-day supervision and funding) of the two CS faculty.

Courses

  1. Is it possible to take less than 8-10 units? No. CS PhD students are required to take 8-10 units to maintain their student status for academic quarters (Autumn, Winter, and Spring). There is a eight (8) minimum units requirement and a maximum of ten (10) units.
  2. Is it possible to transfer graduate units from a previous institution? If you are pursuing a PhD degree, you may apply a graduate residency transfer credit after one quarter of enrollment.
    1. Note: If you've earned a Master's degree at Stanford, you are not eligible for graduate residency transfer credit. For more information email Jay Subramanian (jayanthi@stanford.edu).
  3. Is it required to take CS499 or equivalent for all quarters or is it possible to replace it for other courses? Does it have to equal 8-10 units? All PhD students are required to enroll in at least 3-units of CS499 or equivalent for all quarters. Students should be enrolled in 8-10 units to be at “status”. The University requires PhD students to maintain a 3.0 GPA overall, in order to confer their degree.

Candidacy

  1. When should I submit my candidacy form? Students are expected to be admitted to candidacy by the end of their second year of doctoral study. To be eligible for candidacy, students must have completed three Foundation/Breadth requirements (foundation waivers do not count), be aligned, and at least a three-unit course (200 and above level) with each of four instructors who are members of the academic council (rotation units count as long as they are academic council members). Review the candidacy section for more details.
  2. Do I need to list all the courses I have taken? What if it does not fit on one sheet? Please list all courses you have taken in Section 1 and all the research units/courses you plan to take in the future in Section 2 of your sheet. You can list any reminder courses on any format (word doc, excel sheet, etc.) you prefer or on another copy of the candidacy form. Just make sure you make it clear what sections the courses belong in, and you list the same details that the form requests.

Qualifying Examination

  1. What is the timeline to complete the qualifying examination? A student should pass a qualifying exam no later than the end of their third year. Please review the qualifying examination requirement for more information regarding the qual exam and the various options/formats of the exam.
  2. Who should I email regarding my qualifying exam result?​​​​ Students should not email their results. The results of the quals exam should be emailed to phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu by the student's advisor.
  3. How many times can I take the quals exam? Students may take the qualifying exams only twice.

Teaching Requirement

  1. I was a TA for a non-CS course last quarter. Can this course count toward my teaching requirement? Only CS courses count toward the teaching requirement. If the course is cross-listed with a CS course and is taught by a CS faculty then it can be counted. Email Jay Subramanian (jayanthi@stanford.edu) for additional information.

Thesis Proposal

  1. Can I submit my thesis proposal form along with my reading committee form? ​​​​​​​​Yes, have your committee sign both forms. Students must present an oral thesis proposal to their full reading committee and submit the form by Spring quarter of their fourth year.

Reading Committee

  1. When do I need to submit my reading committee form?​​​​​​​ Within one year of passing the qualifying examination, a student should form a reading committee and submit a signed reading committee form via email (phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu).
  2. Can someone who is outside of Stanford participate in my Reading Committee? ​​​​​​​​​Students are welcome to submit a petition for non-academic council doctoral committee members along with a copy of their CV to request approval for doctoral dissertation reading committee and/or University oral examination committee members that are not members of the Stanford academic council. If the individual is participating in both, check both boxes.

​​​​​​​University Oral Examination

  1. Can someone who is outside of Stanford participate in my University Oral Examination Committee? Students are welcome to submit a petition for non-academic council doctoral committee members along with a copy of their CV to request approval for doctoral dissertation reading committee and/or University oral examination committee members that are not members of the Stanford academic council. If the individual is participating in both, check both boxes. If the individual is only participating in your University oral examination Committee, then only check that box.
  2. When should I submit my Oral Examination form and is there anything else required? Submit your University oral examination form and a copy of your thesis abstract two weeks prior to your defense to phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu.
  3. I need to book a room for my dissertation defense. Who do I contact? Log into 25Live and book a conference room. Keep in mind that some conference rooms are controlled by the Registrar’s Office, you will need to contact reg-events@stanford.edu to request room reservations.
  4. How do I post my University Oral Examination announcement? Once you have submitted your University oral examination form and a copy of your abstract to phdstudentservices@cs.stanford.edu, you will receive an email approval and instructions on how to submit your announcement. 
  5. One of my oral examination committee members cannot make it to my thesis defense, what should I do? All University oral examination committee members must be present on the day of your defense. Please work with the rest of your committee members to arrange for a different date that works best for all members. If your committee members allow it, you can have them participate via Zoom.

​​​​​​​Dissertation

  1. How do I submit my dissertation? Follow the prepare your work for submissionsubmit your dissertation or thesis, and steps after submission guides carefully to ensure you submit the required items for your dissertation. 
  2. When do I submit my PhD dissertation? The dissertation & thesis center accept submissions on the first day of instruction (each quarter) for which the student has applied to graduate. Follow the submission deadlines for conferral guide to view (by quarter) dissertation/thesis submission, application to graduate, and degree conferral deadlines.
  3. If I missed the dissertation submission deadline, are late submissions accepted? No. The dissertation submission deadline is strictly enforced. 
  4. What if I missed the dissertation submission deadline? If you missed the dissertation submission deadline and are registered to graduate, then you will need to submit a help ticket to withdraw from the current graduating quarter.