Ph.D. Degree Program
A student entering the Doctoral program should hold a Master’s degree in Computer Science or closely related discipline. Students with a Master’s degree in a closely related discipline must fulfill the admission requirements for a Master’s degree in Computer Science. All students must pass the Preliminary Examination within 12 months of entrance into the Doctoral program.
Students with a very strong undergraduate degree in Computer Science may be admitted directly into the Doctoral program but must fulfill the requirements of both the Master’s and Doctoral degrees. The time limits for the Preliminary Examination and CS 89191 Doctoral Seminar are extended by 18 months for these students.
A Doctoral student must complete 60 graduate credit hours beyond the Master’s degree - 30 credits of which are CS 89199 Dissertation I and 30 credits (excluding Dissertation I and II) are coursework at the 70000 level or above. Only nine credits of CS 89098 Research or CS 89991 Research Seminar in Computer Science may count towards the degree (however students can take more than nine credit hours of these courses).
The student will develop a Doctoral Plan of Work that is approved by the advisor and the Graduate Coordinator. Students are highly encouraged to select an advisor and develop a Plan of Work as early as possible (i.e., before the end of their second term in the program). The Plan of Work must be filled out and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator within 18 months of entrance to the program.
The Doctoral Plan of Work will define the required coursework in the form of Major and Minor Concentrations. The Major Concentration consists of three courses (nine credits) selected by the advisor that the student must successfully complete. This represents a depth of knowledge in the main research area of the student. The Minor Concentration consists of three additional courses the student (with advisor approval) selects and must successfully complete. This represents depth and/or breadth in related research area(s). The Plan of Work can be modified with approval of the advisor and Graduate Coordinator.
All students must take three credit hours of CS 89191 Doctoral Seminar and make a public presentation of project and/or research work (excluding Dissertation Defense and Candidacy Examination) at least two times before graduation. The presentation must take place in the Doctoral Seminar at least one full term before graduation and not more than two years after entering the program. The Doctoral Seminar is offered for one or two credit hours; therefore the student must enroll in this course at least two times. This course can be taken multiple times but only three credit hours count toward the degree.
Time-Line (a generic guideline to follow)
The Preliminary Examination is intended to assess a student’s understanding of the basic prerequisite concepts for entrance into the Doctoral program in Computer Science. It also insures that all incoming students have the ability to effectively reason with and integrate the underlying knowledge and concepts in the broad field of Computer Science. This ability is necessary to continue the student’s studies in the Doctoral program.
Students must successfully complete the Preliminary Examination within 12 months of entrance into the program. Students who join the program in August must take the exam in mid November. Students who join the program in January must take the exam in mid April. The Preliminary Examination covers three areas:
- Data Structures and Fundamentals of Programming
- Computer Operating Systems
- Design and Analysis of Algorithms
The Candidacy Examination is a comprehensive examination in the field of the major subject. The format of the Candidacy Examination will be determined by the student's Candidacy Examination Committee, which is composed of the student’s advisor and two other graduate faculty members. Download a generic guideline. The Candidacy Examination Committee must be approved by the Graduate Coordinator. The student must complete the Candidacy Examination at least one year before the Dissertation defense.
Students who have passed the Preliminary Examination at the Ph.D. level (outlined above) are expected to continue to broaden their general computer science background and to take courses in their areas of special interest. Before starting substantial work on a dissertation, the student is required to take the Candidacy Examination.
It is expected that a full-time graduate student entering the graduate program with a bachelor's degree will normally pass the Candidacy Examination prior to the end of the student's fifth calendar year at Kent State University. A full-time graduate student entering the Ph.D. program with a Master's degree is normally expected to pass the Candidacy Examination prior to the end of the student's fourth calendar year at Kent State University. Timetables for part-time students or students who transfer graduate credit from another institution will be set in consultation with the CS Graduate Coordinator. When an extension of this deadline seems to be necessary, both the student and the student's academic advisor must petition, in writing, the CS Graduate Coordinator. Extensions will only be granted by the CS Graduate Coordinator in consultation with the Graduate Studies Committee.
- Ph.D. Candidacy Examination Format (when combined with Dissertation Topic approval and Prospectus defense)
- Ph.D. Candidacy Examination Format (when separated from Dissertation Topic approval and Prospectus defense)
- Find the Report of Candidacy Exam Form here on College A&S Graduate Studies webpage.
A Dissertation describes original research performed by the student. The Dissertation topic must be approved by the advisor and Graduate Coordinator. A Dissertation committee, made up of graduate faculty, must be formed to assess the quality and value of the work. A public Dissertation defense is made by the student. The final Dissertation and defense must be approved by the advisor and Dissertation committee.
Summary of Doctoral degree requirements: Preliminary Examination, plus the Doctoral Plan of Work, plus three credits of CS 89191 Doctoral Seminar, plus nine credits major concentration course work, plus nine credits minor concentration course work, plus nine credits elective coursework or research, plus Candidacy Examination, and plus 30 credits of CS 89199 Dissertation I along with the Dissertation and defense.
Dissertation Topic and Prospectus
All students writing a dissertation are required to file a Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus form, which is to be signed by members of the Dissertation Committee and submitted to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies with a copy for the CS Graduate Coordinator. Forms are available in the Division office.
The dissertation prospectus normally includes an outline of the parameters of a projected dissertation topic, indicating a clear statement of the problem to be undertaken, the procedure or methodology to be used in the research, a preliminary review of the literature substantiating the need for the study, and where appropriate, a discussion of the principal sources for acquiring information. Affirmation of completion of the prospectus will be contained in the Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus form. Each member of the Dissertation Committee will be required to approve the prospectus and indicate such approval on the Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus form.
The CS Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the CS Graduate Studies Committee as necessary, will review the composition of the proposed committee for appropriate balance, and the topic for strength and suitability as a Doctoral dissertation topic.
Dissertation and Final Examination
Two separate committees will be involved with the progress, completion, and examination of the Doctoral Candidate's dissertation. These are the Dissertation Committee and the the Examining Committee.
The Dissertation Committee
This committee is composed of graduate faculty members and is appointed by the CS Graduate Coordinator, in consultation with the CS Graduate Studies Committee as necessary, when the candidate has developed an appropriate dissertation topic and has an approved advisor. This committee will consist of a minimum of:
- The advisor, who will act as Chairman of the Committee.
- Two additional members from the candidate's department.
- One faculty member from a discipline outside the department.
The advisor and at least two of the remaining three must be members of the Graduate Faculty who have been approved to direct dissertations. If a co-advisor is desired, he or she should be included in the above members. If, for warranted reasons, it is desirous to have a person on the committee who does not meet the above qualifications, special permission must be obtained from the Division of the Research and Graduate Studies. When the Dissertation Committee has been formed, a Notification of Approved Dissertation Topic and Prospectus form should be filed in the Division, with a copy for the CS Graduate Coordinator.
Responsibilities of the Dissertation Committee: This committee is responsible for the progress of the candidate's dissertation and will keep in touch with his or her research. When the advisor believes the dissertation is ready for preliminary approval, it will be circulated in easily legible form among the members of the Committee. At the time that the entire dissertation is first circulated to the Dissertation Committee, the Dean in the Graduate Affairs office in the College of Arts and Sciences must be notified to request the appointment of the Graduate Faculty Representative to serve on the Examining Committee. The advisor must make this request online.
The advisor will allow a minimum of a ten-day period for reading of the dissertation and will then convene the Dissertation Committee (without the candidate) for the purpose of evaluating it. The Graduate Faculty Representative should be notified of this meeting and invited to attend. Recommended revisions will be noted by the advisor and communicated to the candidate, and when, in the opinion of the advisor and the candidate, the appropriate revisions have been made, the advisor will inform the department and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.
The Examining Committee
The Examining Committee will consist of the Dissertation Committee (at least four persons as previously defined) plus the Moderator and a Graduate Faculty Representative.
The Moderator: The Moderator will be selected by the Dissertation Committee from the members of the Graduate Faculty who have been approved to direct dissertations. He or she will not be a faculty member in the department of the candidate's major.
Duties of the Moderator: The principal duties of the Moderator are to preside and to moderate. He or she should see to it that all participants act in a civilized, polite, and proper manner. He or she should be familiar with the procedures of the Oral Defense, and he or she has the authority to suspend the examination should a situation arise which would not be conducive to a fair examination.
Graduate Faculty Representative: The Representative of the Graduate Faculty will be appointed by the Division of Research and Graduate Studies after consultation, when appropriate, with the advisor or department chairperson. To qualify, he or she must have directed a dissertation to completion. The Representative may be a member of the candidate's department and is expected to be familiar with the general content area of the dissertation.
Duties of the Graduate Faculty Representative: This person represents the Graduate Faculty by noting whether or not the nature of the questioning and of the responses meets highly respectable scholarly standards. If he or she has some reservations in regard to this, the reservations should be presented immediately to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies. The Graduate Faculty Representative is expected to question the candidate and to vote on the passing of the Final Examination.
The Final Oral Defense
- The Advisor will designate the time and place of the Final Oral Defense and notify all members of the Examining Committee. The Oral Defense is open to any member of the University wishing to attend, and therefore, a facility adequate to meet this requirement should be provided. The Oral Defense should be scheduled to allow a minimum of ten days for all of the Examining Committee to look over the dissertation. In the absence of the Dissertation Advisor, the Oral Defense may not be held. If it is a matter of long-term absence or enduring illness of the Advisor, the Chairperson of the department, in consultation with the appropriate administrator, should make appropriate arrangements for a substitute.
- The dissertation must be in final form (not merely a late draft, but also, not necessarily the final typed copy) prior to the Final Oral Defense. If, in the opinion of more than one member of the Examining Committee, the dissertation is not in acceptable final form, the Oral Defense will not be held. This is to be determined by vote prior to the Final Oral Defense and without the candidate or others being present. If a negative vote occurs, the candidate may be called in to provide clarification. Acceptable form refers to the substance and usefulness of the dissertation, as well as the quality of the writing. However, it is permissible to number pages in pencil in order to reduce the cost of possible final changes which may grow out of the Oral Defense.
- A rescheduling of the Oral Defense, if necessary, will occur when, in the opinion of the Advisor and the candidate, the dissertation has been modified to incorporate the suggested changes. The dissertation must be acceptable, with no more than one dissenting vote, before the rescheduled Final Oral Defense can be held. If the dissertation is not in suitable form at this second scheduled Final Oral Defense, the Division of Research and Graduate Studies will be so notified. Further action then becomes the responsibility of the Division.
- The Final Oral Defense will be open to the University community. Notification of the time and place of the Oral Defense should be provided to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies so that it may be announced in a suitable publication. Copies of the abstract of the dissertation should be available in the candidate's department and the Division prior to the Oral Defense, and at the Oral Defense, itself, to familiarize members of the Graduate Faculty with the methodology and findings.
- The candidate will open the Oral Defense with a brief presentation of his or her findings, after which the members of the Examining Committee will question the candidate in an order to be determined by the Moderator. When, in the opinion of the Moderator, members of the Examining Committee have had an adequate opportunity to question the candidate, the Moderator may open the examination to appropriate questions from others present.
- Questions dealing with the substance, meaning, and usefulness of the research in the dissertation are of greatest propriety. Questions or comments dealing with punctuation or grammatical minutiae, spelling, etc., are out of order; such comments should be written out and privately submitted to the Advisor.
- If, in the opinion of the Moderator or upon motion duly passed by a majority of the Committee, it is deemed desirable to discontinue the Oral Defense, the Moderator may recess the Oral Defense until a time mutually agreeable to the Moderator, the Advisor, the candidate, and the Division of Research and Graduate Studies.
- When the questioning has run its course, the Moderator will adjourn the Oral Defense and the room will be cleared of everyone except the members of the Examining Committee. Parliamentary procedure will be observed to determine the success or failure of the candidate, with the Moderator acting as chairman without a vote.
- The candidate should be evaluated both (a) upon the overall quality and significance of his or her dissertation, and (b) upon the oral defense of his or her findings.
- A candidate passes the Oral Defense if he or she passes with no more than one dissenting vote.
- All members of the Examining Committee (except the Moderator) will sign the "Report of Final Examination" form, recording their votes. Committee members may vote "yes" or "no", but they may not abstain.
The Moderator and Department Chairperson must sign the "Report of Final Examination" form, which is then forwarded to the Division of Research and Graduate Studies with a copy given to the CS Graduate Coordinator.
Filing the Dissertation
Electronic dissertations submission is mandatory. For more information, see Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Students writing a dissertation can file two copies of the dissertation with the Graduate Affairs office in the College of Arts and Sciences according to the deadlines listed in the current catalog. Each dissertation must be typed according to the guidelines in the current "Style Guide and Instructions for Typing Theses and Dissertations". Copies of the "Guide" are available from the College of A&S Graduate Studies.
When the student is satisfied with the final preparation of his or her dissertation, he or she will need to file the "Dissertation Preparation Approval" form and the final copies of the dissertation in the Graduate Affairs office in the College of Arts and Sciences. Submission of the student's dissertation must be by the published deadline. Deadline dates may be obtained from the College.
For further information on this topic, see Style Guidelines for Theses and Dissertations, as well as Theses and Dissertation Templates on the M.S. and M.A. Program page.
- "Notification of Proposed Dissertation" form filed: One year prior to final defense.
- Final version of dissertation copies to committee members: At least 20 days before final defense.
- Ph.D. defense announcement made: At least one week before final defense.
- Pre-defense meeting of Examination Committee: At least 10 days before final defense.
All students admitted to the College of Arts and Sciences are subject to time limits for completion of their degree. Time limits are described in more detail in the Graduate Schools Catalog, but in general a Doctoral degree must be completed within ten years.
Students may request, in writing, an extension of one year over the listed time limits. Such requests should be sent to the CS Graduate Coordinator. Departments must notify the College of Arts and Sciences if such an extension is granted. Requests of more than one year over the time limit must be approved by the College.