(a) Independent Study: By the end of the 4th semester, the student must have completed an independent study research project. This is intended to start the student toward the path of selecting a research advisor and a research topic.
(b) Qualifying Exam: By the end of the 6th semester, the student must have formed an examination committee consisting of at least 3 DCS faculty members. The examination committee is chaired by the student's research advisor, and should also contain the student's academic advisor, in case these are not the same person. These three CS faculty members will meet with the student to discuss and decide on a syllabus of topics for the examination. There will also be a fourth member of the examination committee, assigned by the Graduate Director. The fourth member will be someone whose research area is not close to the topic of the student's research; this person will participate in the oral examination, but will not assign additional examination topics to the student. Their role is to ensure that the student can explain their answers to a non-expert and can show their understanding of the broader research context.
The student will write an article (which may consist of original research, but may also be a critical survey, etc.) and make a public presentation attended at least by the examination committee. The public presentation must be advertised to the entire department at least one week prior to the presentation. Part of the talk should outline promising research directions. At the end of the talk, the committee will examine the student in closed session (with only the committee, the student, and other DCS faculty present), and then announce the outcome of the depth examination. The committee's decision will be based on the written article, the public presentation, and on oral examination material as determined by the committee in prior discussion with the student. This is an in-depth examination, whereby the committee determines if the student has sufficient preparation to evaluate current research in the field and formulate credible approaches to carry out original research.
If a student fails this examination, then the student may try again within the next two semesters. A student is allowed at most two attempts to satisfy the depth requirement.
(c) Courses. In addition, doctoral students are required to complete at least two CS courses (or seminars) beyond the breadth requirement and two courses that are CS. (The School of Graduate Studies (SGS) requires that students register for 24 research credits (while working on their dissertations) and 48 other credits; there is no restriction imposed by the School of Graduate Studies on these 48 credits, other than that they must be taken for a grade (not pass/fail) and for graduate credit.)