University of Saskatchewan Department of Computer Science

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Graduate Studies > Graduate Programs > Ph.D. Degree Requirements

Ph.D. Program Requirements

Program of Study

A Ph.D. graduate must have demonstrated both breadth and depth of knowledge in his/her discipline. The requirements for a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science can be summarized as follows:

  1. The student must demonstrate knowledge over a broad aspect of Computer Science. The student must successfully defend a breadth statement as a part of the Qualifying Examination.
  2. The student is expected to have a deeper knowledge of one of the breadth topic areas. This knowledge is tested through a Comprehensive Examination in which the student must achieve acceptable standing.
  3. The student must complete at least two 3 c.u. courses, 1 of which must be the Ph.D. research seminar CMPT 890.  At the written request of the supervisor, and subsequent approval by the graduate committee and CGSR,  the student may be permitted to take a different course in place of CMPT 890.  Such permission may be given in cases such as the student having previously completed CMPT 880, or having completed an equivalent course at a peer institution.
  4. The student must fulfill a residency requirement of at least 18 months.   Residency is defined as living in, or near Saskatoon, regular attendance on campus, regular interaction with the student's supervisor, and participation in the affairs of the student's research lab and/or of the department.
  5. Students must regularly attend the CMPT 990 seminar series during the period of their residency.
  6. The student must complete a thesis, designated as CMPT 996, which is judged to be a substantial and worthwhile contribution to knowledge in Computer Science.
  7. Ph.D. students are required to present the results of their thesis research in the Department Seminar Series.
  8. Completion of the GSR 960 ethics course (for students starting September 2007 or later).

Qualifying Examination - Breadth Requirements

The purpose of the Qualifying Examination is to evaluate the breadth of the Ph.D. candidate's background preparation in computer science. The candidate is expected to complete this examination at the beginning of the Ph.D. program, normally within the first 12 months of entering the program. The candidate must demonstrate knowledge of core Computer Science topic areas and of selected application areas of Computer Science. A topic area is considered to be covered if the candidate has completed with satisfactory results at least one graduate level course on that topic in the Department (or a comparable course from a reputable university). The following is a list of the topic areas, with Department courses corresponding to each topic enclosed in parentheses.

The candidate must have demonstrated knowledge in at least five of nine topic areas:

  1. Programming languages (821, 823, 835 (effective Sept. 1, 2010), 853, 863).
  2. Software engineering (816, 817,826, 846, 856).
  3. Computer architecture, networks, and systems (815, 832, 835 (prior to Sept. 1, 2010), 842, 855, 865, 869).
  4. Theory (810, 831, 860).
  5. Artificial Intelligence (812, 820, 852, 862, 872, 873, 874).
  6. Computer graphics, vision, image processing (819, 829, 859, 876).
  7. Bioinformatics (830, 857).
  8. Operations research and Scientific Computing (858).
  9. Human Computer Interface and Social Computing (811, 840, 866, 867, 868)

CMPT 898 "Special Topics" Offerings: With the approval of the graduate committee, a student may use a CMPT 898 special topics course to satisfy the qualifying exam in one topic area deemed to be appropriate by the graduate committee.  Any number of CMPT 898 classes may be used in this way.

At the discretion of the graduate committee, 400-level CMPT classes which share lectures with an 800-level CMPT course may count towards satisfying the PhD qualifying exam, subject to such factors as the student’s performance in the 400-level class.

Comprehensive Examination

The purpose of the Comprehensive Examination is to evaluate the breadth and the depth of knowledge of the candidate in the chosen research area. The candidate must take the comprehensive examination within 18 months upon entering the Ph.D. graduate program.  Details on the comprehensive exam procedures and expectations can be found in the graduate student handbook.

Seminar Requirement

Every student in our Ph.D. program is required to give a seminar in the 990 series. The seminar should be given when the research is sufficiently progressed, but before writing and submitting a Ph.D. thesis. The seminar is to be given during the regular term, September - April 30.

Advisory Committee

The work of each student is overseen by an Advisory Committee, which consists of the student's supervisor(s) and additional faculty members from within and outside the Department of Computer Science. The Committee is selected by the student and his/her supervisor in consultation with the Graduate Chair.  Requirements for the composition of the advisory committee may be found in the graduate student handbook.

The Ph.D. Thesis

Before beginning detailed work on the thesis, the student will secure the acceptance of a proposal by his/her Advisory Committee. The proposal will specify, as precisely as possible, the research component of the thesis and its goals. It will include a tentative layout for the thesis and the initial results of a literature survey, but its main focus will be on the research project and how it is likely to contribute to the discipline in which the thesis research is being carried out. The proposal is accepted only after it has been defended in a meeting of the Advisory Committee, open to interested graduate students and faculty.

The thesis itself is based on original investigation, and must demonstrate mature scholarship and critical judgement on the part of the candidate, as well as familiarity with tools and methods of research in Computer Science. To be acceptable, it must be a worthwhile contribution to knowledge, and warrant publication in whole or in part.

Upon completion of the thesis the candidate must defend the thesis at an oral examination. The Examining Committee consists of the Advisory Committee, an External Examiner from outside the University, and such other persons as the Advisory Committee may select with the approval of the Dean of the College of Graduate Studies and Research. At least one month prior to the anticipated date of the defense, a list of possible External Examiners must be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies & Research who is responsible for the formal selection.