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University of Pittsburgh    
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 20, 2024
2016-2017 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Computer Science, PhD

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Requirements for the PhD

Credit Requirements:

This degree requires at least 72 credits of formal course work, independent study, directed study, and dissertation research. Of the 72 credits required for the degree, 12 must come from core courses:


Plus any additional eight graduate courses, including at least two 3000-level courses. Students who joined the department in the fall of 2000 or later are required to take CS 2001  and CS 2002  which will count as one of the eight additional courses.

After completing CS 2001  and CS 2002  , students must enroll in CS 2003  until receiving a satisfactory grade of S for 4 regular terms.  In order to receive a satisfactory grade of S, students must:

(a) Attend at least seventy percent (70%) of Departmental Research Colloquia offered at the regularly scheduled course time over the course of the term. If there are an unexpectedly high number of Colloquia in a term (approximately more than one per week), attending only 10 Colloquia is required.

(b) Perform at least one (1) approved Research Activity during a regular term (fall or spring) of each academic year.


PhD Preliminary Examinations:

Students must pass the preliminary examination by the end of their second regular semester.  The preliminary examination is course based: students must obtain two grades of A- or higher and two grades of B or higher in CS 2100-2899 courses.  At least one of the A- or higher grades must be in a core course.

Four foundation areas:

Additional Requirements

Comprehensive Examination: This oral examination is designed to determine that a student has sufficient depth of knowledge in a specialized area of computer science to undertake dissertation research on a topic within that area.

A student must pass this exam within three calendar years of passing the last one of the preliminary exams. Normally this exam should be completed within one to two years of completing the preliminary exams.

Dissertation Proposal: After passing the PhD comprehensive examination, the student prepares a proposal for dissertation research, under the direction of a faculty advisor. After obtaining approval of the dissertation proposal from the dissertation committee, and the approval of the assistant dean of graduate studies, a student gains the official status of a PhD candidate.

Dissertation Defense: Upon the completion of the dissertation and subject to agreement from the dissertation committee, the candidate schedules and announces a presentation, open to the University community, at which the research results are presented and defended.

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