Comprehensive Exam for PhD Students

This is a three-hour written examination offered in both semesters, usually around the twelfth or thirteenth week. A passing score of 75% is required. The Comprehensive Exam Coordinator should be consulted if you have any questions or concerns about this examination.

The reading/study list for the exam consists of the current texts for the four core courses. Mastery of the contents of these books will allow the student to answer all questions satisfactorily.

For CS students, the core courses include CSCI 713CSCI 724CSCI 741, and CSCI 765.
For SSE students, the core courses include CSCI 702CSCI 706CSCI 713CSCI 716

The test is made up of four parts, of approximately equal length, corresponding to the four courses. Normally questions covering the topics in a specific book are prepared and graded by one or more faculty members who have taught that course recently; this does not mean, however, that questions are restricted to topics covered in that offering of the course. In situations where two instructors have taught a course from different texts and it is not possible to select questions from a common body of material, it is sometimes necessary to include alternate versions of one part, or possibly to allow a student to choose from a set of questions.

There is no limit on how many times the comprehensive exam can be taken.

Requests for review of exam scoring must be submitted to the Chair of the Comprehensive Exam Committee within one (1) week of notification of exam results.

Please note: All students must complete the comprehensive exam before seeking OPT. Students must pass the comprehensive exam as part of the qualifying examination to be admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. program. The comprehensive should be completed prior to a student's preliminary research proposal presentation.

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