Jul 29, 2021  
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Graduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Computer Science (Ph.D.)

Doctor of philosophy

The Ph.D. degree in Computer Science is offered through the Computer Science  graduate program.  Requirements include 90 semester hours of graduate-level credit. All work must be completed within seven years.

General requirements include: Completing the Breadth Requirement and passing the Research Proficiency Exam (Preliminary Examination); successfully presenting a research plan to one’s supervisory committee at a research proposal meeting; and completing the research plan, writing a dissertation, and successfully defending the dissertation in an open forum.

Course work requirements include:

  • 24 hours of course credit at Kansas State University beyond the master’s degree level
  • 15 hours must be 800 level or above
  • One or more courses in theoretical or fundamental topics
  • At least 30 hours of Ph.D. research credits.

Breadth Requirement

The Breadth requirement requires demonstrating proficiency in three areas: Systems, Theory and Software. 

The Breadth requirement must be completed by the end of the third semester. If a student is planning to take one or more proficiency exams to satisfy the Breadth Requirement, it is highly suggested that they take those exams each semester starting with their first semester in the PhD program. Additional time may be granted at the time of admission if the student joined the program without a Master’s degree. If the student fails to complete the Breadth Requirement within the specified time, the student must leave the Ph.D. program.

The student must receive an A in each course used to satisfy the Breadth Requirement. Courses taken at KSU as part of B.S. or M.S. or M.S.E. degree or approved courses from institutions with joint-PhD program with CIS Department at KSU can be used to satisfy the breadth requirement. 

The specific topics covered in the exams are defined in reading lists. The exams will be scheduled in November and April.

Proficiency in Systems Area

Proficiency in Systems area can be demonstrated by completing one of the following: 

  • Passing a Systems exam based on undergraduate operating systems and database systems courses. 
  • Taking one course each from the following two groups:

    - CIS 520, CIS 720, CIS 721, CIS 722, CIS 726, CIS 750, CIS 751
    - CIS 560, CIS 761

Proficiency in Theory Area

Proficiency in Theory area can be demonstrated by completing one of the following:

  • Passing a Theory exam based on undergraduate algorithm analysis and formal language theory courses. 
  • Taking one course each from the following two groups: 

    - CIS 575, CIS775 
    - CIS 570, CIS770

Proficiency in Software Area

Proficiency in Software area can be demonstrated by completing one of the following:

  • Passing a Software exam based on undergraduate programming languages and software engineering courses. 
  • Taking one course each from the following two groups: 

    - CIS 641, CIS 740, CIS 744
    - CIS 505, CIS 705

Preliminary Examination

Ph.D. students must pass a preliminary examination which will be the Research Proficiency Exam (RPE). The RPE is meant to judge the student’s ability to conduct research, and is expected to lead the student into PhD research. 

The RPE will be one-semester long, and during this semester, the student must make three public presentations and produce a written report. The gap between the presentations must be approximately four weeks and the last presentation must be before the finals week. 

The RPE exam can be taken only after a student has finished the PhD Breadth Requirement. 

Students must have their Program of Study filed with the Graduate School before requesting to schedule the first presentation (see Section 4.5). The student must request the ballot from the Graduate School before the final presentation. Upon passing the depth requirement, the student will be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree by the Graduate School. 

For the RPE exam, the student must also fill out the RPE Form and form a RPE committee consisting of three faculty members from the CIS department. Members of the PhD supervisory committee (as listed in the Program of Study form) belonging to the CIS department must be included in the RPE committee. However, the Chair of the RPE committee must not be the Major Professor. 

The student will start this process by choosing an area in consultation with the Major Professor. The first presentation should include a literature survey of the area and potential problems in the area. At the end of the first presentation, the supervisory committee will assign a specific problem to be explored. The second presentation should present the progress made towards addressing this problem. The third presentation must be accompanied with a 15-page written report containing literature survey, a description of the problem addressed, the technical approach used to solve the problem and the results. At the end of the first and
second presentations, the student will be provided feedback on his/her progress and expectations for the next presentation. After the final presentation, the student’s work will be judged as “Pass” or “Fail” by the RPE committee. Positive votes from a majority of the RPE committee will constitute a “Pass”. The Chair of the RPE committee will record the committee decision on the preliminary ballot. 

The RPE must be taken by the end of the fourth semester. If the RPE is graded as “Fail”, then the student fails the Preliminary exam. As per Graduate School guidelines, the student will have one more chance to pass the Preliminary exam by taking the RPE exam again in the following semester. During the second attempt, the supervisory committee may choose to give the student a different problem to work on.