1. With the assistance of your supervising professor, prepare a written dissertation proposal document and select a committee for approval by the graduate advisor. The committee must be composed of a minimum of 4 members, of which 1 must be someone whose teaching and research are principally outside of the department, and three members, including the supervisor, must be members of the CS department's Graduate Studies Committee (GSC). A committee can be composed of six members, provided at least 4 are members of GSC's, 3 from the CS GSC while 1 can be from another department's GSC.
  2. The Graduate Advisor must approve your committee prior to making final committee plans (an email message will do). Be sure what you send to the graduate advisor for approval includes a short description of your dissertation and what role you foresee for each proposed committee member in helping you reach your research goals. The approved committee will examine the student on the proposal. If they are unanimously satisfied that the proposed work, if substantially completed, would constitute an acceptable dissertation and that the student has the potential for substantially completing the work, then they will recommend admission to candidacy (#1 below) and sign the required form found under the forms section of the graduate tab. Admission to candidacy must be approved by the Department's Graduate Studies Committee and the Graduate School.
  3. Select a date and time when all committee members can be present for the proposal. At least your research supervisor must be present at the proposal. It is allowable for the 3 others to attend the proposal virtually. A final draft of your proposal should be submitted to committee members four weeks prior to the date of the proposal.
  4. Schedule a room for your proposal through the online calendar. When the administrator has approved your request, you will receive email confirming the approval.
  5. The Graduate Coordinator will publicize your proposal. Approximately 3 weeks* prior to the date, you must give the graduate coordinator all the necessary information via email in the following format:  
    PhD Proposal: [FULL NAME]
    Committee Members:
  6. The graduate coordinator will then send out the public announcement two weeks prior to the date of the proposal. (*This is not a firm deadline, but the graduate coordinator does need to receive all the information at least several days in advance of the two-week deadline to send out the information.
  7. Pass the proposal exam. At least 3 members of the committee must be present at the exam, which may include questions over the entire depth area; it is not necessarily limited to the specific dissertation research topic. Questions from any GSC member are encouraged. The following criteria will be used to determine whether or not a student passes the exam:
  • Does the candidate demonstrate knowledge of his/her depth area?
  • If substantially completed, would the work described in the proposal constitute an acceptable dissertation?
  • Does the student display the potential for substantially completing the work?

Passing of the exam requires the unanimous approval of the committee on these three points. Be sure to obtain committee signatures on the "Dissertation Proposal Committee Approval Form" found under the forms sections of the graduate tab. If unanimous approval does not occur, a student may reform a committee or alter the topic. S/he is then required to retake the examination until unanimous approval is obtained.

  1. After passing your proposal exam and submitting the required "Dissertation Proposal Committee Approval Form" to the CS graduate office, you will need to complete an online Application for Candidacy. This form is now available through the Graduate School's website. You may begin the online application process before the proposal, but do not "submit" it until you pass the proposal. Once you submit an email will go to your research supervisor letting them know and they should approve it if you passed. If final approval is not received within a week of that please contact the graduate office for follow up. If you have any questions regarding completing the form, the Graduate Coordinator can help you. NOTE: It is not necessary to fill out the Program of Work form. This has been noted by the submission of your Depth Proposal or Research Qualification (RQ) Document. A curriculum vita for any member of your committee who is not a GSC member should be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator as soon as possible, either before or after completing the on-line candidacy form.
  2. You will receive official notification when the Dean formally admits you to candidacy. At the next registration/pre-registration or add/drop period, register or add/drop to _99W. If it is after the 4th class day contact the grad office to make the add/drop.
    NOTE: Enrollment in at least six hours of dissertation, C S _99W, is required. You must be in candidacy by mid-November in fall and late-March in spring in order to add/drop to dissertation hours in the same semester you advance to candidacy. For specific dates, please consult the CS graduate office. You must be enrolled in dissertation hours continuously in fall and spring semesters until graduation. You must be enrolled in _99W in the semester you plan to graduate. If that's summer then summer enrollment is required.

What if Your Research Direction Changes After Your Proposal?

In the event of a significant change in research direction, a student will be required to re-certify that each member of the committee continues to answer positively the three questions that determine whether or not the student passes the proposal exam. The committee may choose to require a public re-examination. A student's status in the PhD program is in jeopardy prior to the passage of such a re-examination.