Doctoral Program

For full details on the PhD programs, see the PhD Program.

The UBC Department of Computer Science PhD program has four main components:

Satisfying the Comprehensive Course Requirement

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 must submit a proposal for how they intend to fulfill this requirement, which must be approved both by the supervisor and by the Graduate Affairs Committee.

To fulfill this requirement, the student must complete:

  • Breadth requirement (5 graded courses equivalent to 15 credits)
  • Depth requirement (3 graded courses equivalent to 9 credits): chosen by the student in consultation with the supervisor to ensure that the student has the depth of knowledge required to conduct research in the area

Satisfying the Research Proficiency Evaluation (RPE)

The objective of the Research Proficiency Evaluation is to ensure a student shows sufficient promise in research skills necessary to successfully carry out a PhD in our environment. The student will work with his/her supervisor on a jointly determined research project, which can form the basis of a potential thesis topic. The student will then present the work, both in writing and orally, to a committee of faculty early in their time in the PhD program.

Students benefit from the RPE by making an early engagement with their supervisory committee and by receiving early feedback from a committee of experts on their potential success in the PhD program, thus minimizing the chance of facing difficulties after years of investment.

Passing a Thesis Proposal Oral Examination

After completing the comprehensive course requirements, the student will move on to researching and writing a PhD thesis proposal under the direction of his or her supervisor.

After completing the thesis proposal, the student will take an oral thesis proposal examination administered by the PhD thesis committee. The chair of this examination will be a faculty member not on the thesis committee, and will be chosen by the student's thesis supervisor. The sole purpose of this exam is the defense of the student's thesis proposal, which must be presented in written form to the thesis committee at least two weeks prior to the examination. The examination must take place within 24 months of the time that the student enters the PhD program.

Completing the Research Program

Once the student has passed the thesis proposal exam, the student must carry out the research program in accordance with the research proposal under the supervisor's guidance. The PhD thesis describing the research findings must be written by the student and approved by the PhD supervisory committee. In order to obtain the PhD degree, the thesis must also be approved by an external examiner outside UBC and two UBC examiners (one from this department and the other from another department within UBC) and defended at the final oral examination set up by the Faculty of Graduate Studies.