Steps Toward Graduation

Remember to see the PhD Requirements for the rules of each step. You will need to follow these steps along the path to the PhD.

  1. In your first 3 years A – F are completed concurrently.
    • (A) Complete the Background Coursework Requirements.
    • (B) Before enrolling in your 2nd semester find a supervising professor and identify a research area. Initially you will not have a specific topic. You also might choose to change topics and/or faculty supervisors a few times. Please be aware that too many changes delays your degree and at some point would be considered unsatisfactory progress by the department.
    • (C) Enroll in at least 1 conference course (CS 395) each semester until admission to candidacy. The CS 395 is supervised each semester by your research supervisor. Your first semester, CS 398T takes the place of the conference course.
    • (D) Choose 3 depth courses in consultation with your faculty research supervisor. Choose courses designed to prepare you for the research you plan to do, at most one of theses courses can be taken outside the CS department.
    • (E) Complete your Diversity Program,
    • (F) Schedule a Research Preparation Exam by the end of the 3rd year.
  2. Submit a Research Qualification (RQ) Document to the Graduate Office by the end of the 3rd year in the PhD program.
  3. Write and present your Dissertation Proposal and Advance to Candidacy.
  4. Schedule and Pass the Final Defense
  5. Submit the Dissertation to the Graduate School - you must follow the Graduate School's rules in preparing your dissertation.

Throughout this process, feedback from your research supervisor and from the faculty as a whole will be very important to you. The CS Graduate Studies Committee (GSC) meets at the beginning of each semester. The GSC is composed of all the CS faculty and a few faculty from other departments who supervise research of CS PhD students.  At those meetings, Research Qualification (RQ) proposals are reviewed and approved and the progress of PhD students is evaluated. Students will be informed if their performance is not satisfactory. Any student whose progress is deemed unsatisfactory for two consecutive semesters will be terminated from the PhD program.

A CS PhD student is eligible to receive the MSCS degree upon completion of all Graduate School requirements for the Master's degree. Check the MSCS degree requirements if you wish to pursue this option.

Milestone Time Since Admission
Completion of diversity program 1.5 - 2 years
Submission of Research Qualification Document 2.5 - 3 years
Admission to candidacy 2.5 - 4 years
Dissertation defense 3 - 7 years

The 99 Hour Rule

The "99 hour rule" refers to the implementation of Senate Bill 961, passed by the Seventy-fifth Legislature. It is the rule that students at UT Austin with over 99 doctoral hours may be subject to the payment of nonresident tuition. 

Special Doctoral Travel Support

PhD students may apply for travel grants from a departmental fund allocated to support their travel to present papers at conferences.  The graduate office calls for the travel requests about 6 weeks into each semester. To apply for the grant:

  • Print the "Application for Graduate Student Travel Support" form listed in the Forms Bank. Type or print your information on the form. Obtain the signature of your faculty adviser. Sign the form.
  • Turn in the form to CS Graduate Office in GDC 2.728
  • At least 2 weeks prior to travel, complete the required online Request for Travel Authorization (RTA) and the additional required forms linked to on the RTA page.

Travel Information for Graduate Students

The university has put into place a travel policy for all students traveling abroad.  Please see for more information on the policy and for the steps necessary to obtain travel authorization outside the U.S.

Required for all travel and reimbursement

Request for Travel Authorization (RTA) must be submitted at least two weeks before travel.  Please contact the CS accounting office,, if you have any questions regarding this electronic form.

Original, itemized, travel receipts showing proof of payment.  These are needed to receive reimbursement.  If you have any questions on what is required please contact the CS accounting office,

Graduate Student Travel Support

If you wish to apply for CS department travel funding please submit an Application for Graduate Student Travel Support, found in the Forms Bank.  Follow the department deadlines announced by the CS graduate office for submitting the Application for Graduate Student Travel Support.  Applications are usually due late September, late February, and late May.

Please do not request travel support from the department if you are already receiving travel support from your research area.  If the support you expect to receive is directly from your research supervisor or another source, like the conference, you may submit a travel support request.  Please indicate on the request if you are receiving other funding and the amount of that funding.

Professional Development Awards

The department receives some funding for graduate student travel from your dean’s office, the graduate school. They call these Professional Development Awards. We consider that part of the total funding we can award to students and combine it with the departmental travel monies; however, if you receive this the CS graduate office will contact you to complete the graduate school’s required form,


Students who decide not to use awarded funds should notify the graduate office at immediately. Timely notification allows the funds to be redistributed to other students.