PhD Program Requirements

To complete the PhD program, a student must successfully complete a Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE), be admitted to candidacy, complete the PhD thesis, and defend it according to the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies policies. To be admitted to candidacy, the student must complete the Comprehensive Course Requirement and defend the Thesis Proposal Exam. It is highly recommended that both milestones be completed within 24 months from the date of initial registration in the program. A student who is not admitted to candidacy within 36 months from the date of initial registration is expected to withdraw from the program. Extensions may be granted under exceptional circumstances with the permission of the Graduate Affairs Committee and the Dean of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The PhD degree is expected to be completed within 3-5 years. Extensions beyond 6 years require University approval.

Research Supervisor and Supervisory Committee

Every incoming graduate student is assigned a faculty member as his/her advisor.  These assignments are made keeping in mind the research interests of the student and the workload of the faculty member. In the case of entering PhD students, the advisor is a member of the “offer sponsorship team,” which consists of one to three faculty. It is the student’s responsibility to formalize a supervisory relationship with a faculty member in his or her area of interest within one term. The advisor and any other sponsors are natural choices for this role, but other faculty may also be considered (if they are interested). Please refer to PhD Supervisory Committee for details.

Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE)

Students admitted to the PhD program are required to demonstrate their research proficiency by completing a research project with under the supervision of a one or more faculty members, and presenting their results in a written report and oral examination before their RPE committee.  Please refer to RPE for details.

Exception: Subject to the approval of the supervisor, PhD students who completed a Master’s degree from our department AND are working with the EXACT SAME supervisory team can be exempted from the RPE.

A student who fails the RPE has the option of retaking it if both (i) the RPE committee recommends that the student be given a second chance, and (ii) the student can find an alternate supervisor to guide them through the RPE a second time. The second attempt at the RPE must be completed (including the oral presentation) within 8 months of the first attempt. A student who does not pass the RPE must leave the PhD program.

Comprehensive Course Requirement

All PhD students are required to submit the Comprehensive Course Requirement form  to the Graduate Affairs Committee within the first two months of the initial registration.  The objective of the comprehensive course requirement is to ensure that the student obtains a breadth of knowledge of computer science, as well as sufficient depth in a specific field.  Students should indicate what courses they will be taking or have taken that can satisfy the breadth and depth components of the comprehensive course requirement.  If the student has taken courses outside the department that can satisfy the breadth requirement, s/he must contact the faculty in the research area for approval.  Once the comprehensive course proposal is approved, the student can take the courses in accordance with the proposal.

Note that for courses not contributing to the comprehensive course requirement, a minimum of 68% (B-) must be achieved. Courses contributing to the comprehensive course requirement have a even higher requirement. Please refer to PhD Program Comprehensive Course Requirement for details.

Thesis Proposal

Having formalized a thesis supervisor and having successfully completed the RPE, the student will continue with the development of a PhD thesis proposal.  This proposal must be presented in written form to the supervisory committee by the end of the second year of the PhD program. Please refer to Thesis Proposal for details.

Completing the Research Program

Once the thesis proposal examination is passed, the student must carry out a research program in accordance with his or her research proposal under the supervisor’s guidance, with periodic reviews by the student’s committee. A thesis describing his or her research findings must be written by the student, approved by the committee and an external examiner, and defended at a final oral examination set up by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. A guide to the preparation of PhD theses is provided by the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. The student has the final responsibility for meeting the requirements and deadlines of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies.

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