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PhD Graduate Program Guide

Doctoral Program

Degree Requirements

Diagnostic Evaluation

At the beginning of a Ph.D. program, the student should make plans to take the Diagnostic Evaluation. To pass the Diagnostic Evaluation, students are required to take and pass four core courses, 3 breadth courses (please note that most students with a CSE background may have already passed a majority of these classes and therefore will not be required to retake them). The four core courses are listed below:

  • CSE 5311 - Design and Analysis of Algorithms
and 3 of the following:
  • CSE 5301 - Data Analysis and Modeling Techniques
  • CSE 5306 - Design of Operating Systems
  • CSE 5317 - Design and Construction of Compilers
  • CSE 5350 - Computer Systems Architecture

The student has a choice of 3 out of a possible 9 breadth (currently) areas. The breadth areas reflect the main areas of emphasis of the CSE department and may change to include new areas in the future. At the current time the student has a choice of the following breadth courses:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Database Systems
  • Graphics and Image Processing
  • Multimedia Systems
  • Networks, Systems and Architecture
  • Software Engineering
  • Theory and Algorithms
  • Bioinformatics
  • Information security

The three breadth classes must be in different areas, that is, you cannot count more than one course in a specific area. Also, one cannot count a core course as one of the required breadth courses.

For each of the courses, a student may do one of the following (see Diagnostic Evaluation Worksheet):
                    1. Take the appropriate course at UTA.
                    or
                    2. Take the course elsewhere and list the grade obtained

In both cases, the course grade is counted in the diagnostic GPA.

Note that the courses taken by the student beyond Masters to fulfill the requirements of the diagnostic evaluation are counted as PhD credits.

To pass the diagnostic evaluation, the student must achieve a Grade Point Average of 3.5 or higher in the courses considered, where A=4 points, B=3 points, and C=0 points. The Committee meeting to make the Diagnostic Evaluation may recommend that the student take additional courses on topics (areas) that they deem beneficial in improving the student's research skills in general and his/her interests in particular. Such recommendations may primarily involve advanced (6000+) level classes.

Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam is intended to test the student's ability to comprehend quality research through critical analysis and being able to present such analysis to an audience (in this case the committee). The exam has two components: A written part and an oral part.

The committee administering the comprehensive exam assigns the student the work related to the comprehensive exam at the request of the Supervising Professor. The student is expected to make a presentation to the members of the committee to give a very brief overview of the area(s) that his/her research would encompass. Each member of committee assigns the following work: Technical papers (at least one, no more than two) for the student to read, and answer questions on. The total number of questions (from all committee members) will be no fewer than five and no more than ten. The student will be given approximately 2 weeks (specified by the committee) to provide responses to the questions in written form. This constitutes the written part of the exam. The written answers will be filed in the student's records. The committee must meet for an oral presentation by the student, at which time the committee tests the student's understanding of the technical content of the assigned papers. This constitutes the oral part of the exam.

Following the completion of the written and oral parts, each committee member will assign a letter grade similar to a course grade based on their assessment of the student's answers to their questions and the oral presentation. The committee then assigns a cumulative grade for the student's performance on the exam. A passing grade is a 3.5 or better GPA. A GPA of less than 3.5 is grounds for either allowing the student to repeat the exam or to fail (resulting in termination of PhD studies) the student as determined by the committee. A student will be given at most two chances to pass the exam.

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