Graduate Student Handbook

This page is for students admitted to the CS graduate program prior to Fall 2012. For students admitted after Fall 2012.

Introduction 

The purpose of this handbook is to provide students pursuing the M.S. or Ph.D. in Computer Science (CS) with an overview of the rules governing those programs. Note that the rules and procedures contained in this handbook are subject to change. Please see the Graduate Director of the Department of Computer Science for updates.

Ph.D. Policies and Procedures 

Admission Requirements  

Applicants should have a BS or MS degree in computer science or a related field (exceptions may be made for well-qualified applicants from other disciplines). Ph.D. program applicants should have a minimum GRE Verbal score in the 50th percentile, a minimum GRE Quantitative score in the 85th percentile, and a minimum GRE Analytical Writing score of 3.0. A TOEFL score above 580 is required for international applicants whose native language is not English.

Choosing an Advisor 

Each student will have an Advisor who is a member of both the MTU graduate faculty and the Computer Science tenured/tenure-track faculty. The Advisor will have the primary responsibility for supervising the student’s research project and for directing the student’s academic and professional development.

Each student will have an Advisory Committee consisting of the student’s advisor and at least three additional members. Two of the three may be from the Department of Computer Science. At least one committee member must be from outside the CS department. All Advisory Committee members from MTU must be members of MTU’s Graduate Faculty. The Advisory Committee members will be selected by the Advisor in consultation with the student. An advisor should be chosen during the first or second year of residence. Until the advisor is chosen, the student will be advised by the CS Graduate Director.

Courses 

The Ph.D. student must complete An approved M.S. program in computer science, A Ph.D. credit requirement, and A graduate-level breadth requirement.

To complete the M.S. program requirement the student may complete one of the options listed in Section 3, or complete an approved M.S. at another university. To complete the Ph.D. credit requirement a student must complete a total of 30 credits of course work and/or CS6990: Dissertation Research beyond the M.S. program requirement. These courses must be approved by the Advisory Committee on the Preliminary Program of Study form available from the Graduate School.

Graduate-level Breadth Requirement 

To complete the graduate-level breadth requirement, each Ph.D. student must satisfactorily pass five courses from the areas listed below. A maximum of one course per area is allowed.

  • Compiler Optimization:
    • CS5131
  • Parallel Algorithms:
    • CS5331
  • Operating Systems:
    • CS5411, CS5441
  • Computer Architecture:
    • CS5431
  • Networks:
    • CS5461, CS6461
  • Computer Graphics:
    • CS5611
  • Human-Computer Interaction:
    • CS5760
  • Artificial Intelligence:
    • CS5811
  • Non-CS Graduate Course:
    • Requires approval

    Courses not included on this list require the approval of the student’s advisory committee and the Graduate Director to count toward the graduate-level breadth requirement. Satisfactory completion of the graduate-level breadth requirement involves attaining an A in three of the five chosen courses and at least an AB in the other two.

    Individual courses may be used to satisfy more than one of the above three course requirements in one of two ways. First, a 5000- or 6000-level course may count toward requirements C1 and C3. Or second, a 5000- or 6000-level course may count toward requirements C2 and C3. A single course may not count toward all three requirements.

    The Advisory Committee approves the required courses by first signing the Preliminary Program of Study and later approving the Degree Schedule. The Preliminary Program of Study form should be turned in during the second semester of residence. It is recommended that students finish all of their course requirements within the first two years of enrollment in the graduate program in Computer Science. Note that the graduate-level breadth requirement must be completed as part of the Comprehensives described in the next section.

    Comprehensives 

    The Comprehensives consist of two parts: coursework and the Qualifier. The coursework portion of the Comprehensives is met by completing the graduate-level breadth requirement described in Section 2.3.1. The Qualifier consists of three-hour exams in Computation Theory and in Analysis of Algorithms. Each exam will be both written and graded by two graduate faculty chosen by the CS Department Graduate Director. The Qualifier is offered immediately before the spring and fall semesters each year.

    The topics covered on each of the exams in the Qualifier are specified via a syllabus that is available from the Graduate Secretary. Preparation for both exams should include the successful completion of the following courses: CS5311 and CS5321. Although the exams are not specifically tied to a course, these courses provide excellent preparation for the material contained on each exam syllabus.

    Each student has up to two attempts to pass the Qualifier. All students must take the entire Qualifier during the first attempt, which must occur at the end of the first year of enrollment in the Ph.D. program. A student may earn one of the following grades on each exam: pass, marginal, or fail. Each student must earn a pass on one exam and at least a marginal on the other exam in order to pass the entire Qualifier. Figure 1 summarizes the possible outcomes and requirements after a student’s first attempt at the Qualifiers. If an exam is taken multiple times, the highest grade of the two attempts is counted. If a second attempt to pass the Qualifier is required, a student must make that attempt during the next offering. Thus, each student has two opportunities in 1.5 years from enrollment in the Ph.D. program to pass the Qualifier.

     
    [Matrix]
      Algorithms
      passmarginalfail
     passAAC
    TheorymarginalADC
     failBBE
     
    [Explanation]
    A)Successful completion of Qualifier.
    B)Retake Theory Exam.
    C)Retake Algorithms Exam.
    D)Retake either exam.
    E)Retake both exams.
    Figure 1: Possible Qualifier Outcomes
     

    Requests for a time extension due to extenuating circumstances will be considered on a individual basis and must be submitted to the Graduate Director in a timely fashion. The Graduate Committee will determine if a time extension is to be granted. Note that student not ready to complete CS5311 and CS5321 within the first year will be granted a time extension in order to complete these courses. These students must submit their time-extenstion request to the Graduate Directory during their first year of Ph.D.@ studies.

    Students with a B.S. or M.S. in CS or a closely related field have 1.5 years from the start of the first semester of enrollment in the CS Ph.D. program to pass the two exams. Students without a degree in a field closely related to CS will be given 2.5 years, but still only two attempts, to pass the Qualifier.

    After completing both parts of the Comprehensives, the student should submit the Report on Comprehensives form to the Graduate School.

    Dissertation Proposal 

    The dissertation proposal consists of two parts: the Specialty Exam and the Dissertation Proposal Defense. The Specialty Exam and Dissertation Proposal Defense should be completed within 2 years of completing the Comprehensives and must be completed within 3 years of the Comprehensives. Requests for extensions to this limit must be submitted in writing the the Graduate Director.

    Specialty Exam  

    The Specialty Exam is an in-depth examination in the area of research that the student plans to pursue. The Specialty Exam may occur prior to or conjunction with the Dissertation Proposal Defense. The student’s Advisory Committee determines the appropriate time and form of the Specialty Exam. To allow the student to prepare for the specialty exam, the advisory committee may provide a reading list of appropriate material. The student passes the Specialty Exam if 75% of the Advisory Committee votes pass. The Advisory Committee may put conditions on passing the student if needed, such as requiring additional reading, or may also fail the student. The Specialty Exam may be retaken only once with the approval of the student’s Advisory Committee and the CS Graduate Director.

    Dissertation Proposal Defense 

    The Dissertation Proposal Defense involves preparing a written document and then presenting it orally in an open, public forum. The date and time of the proposal shall be announced at least two weeks in advance and the final version of the written proposal must be given to all Advisory Committee members at least two weeks in advance of the oral presentation. Furthermore, a copy of the proposal must be available in the CS Department office at least two weeks in advance of the oral presentation.

    After the dissertation proposal is presented, the Advisory Committee must decide if the student is prepared to proceed to the dissertation research project. A 75% vote of pass is required for the student to pass the proposal. After passing the Dissertation Proposal Defense and the Specialty Exam, the student should submit the Approval of Dissertation Proposal form to the Graduate School.

    Dissertation Defense 

    Scheduling of the Final Oral Examination 

    Once the dissertation is written and the Advisory Committee’s suggestions and comments have been incorporated by the student, it is time for the final oral examination. Four weeks prior to the final oral examination the student must give each member of the Advisory Committee a copy of the final dissertation. After each committee member has reviewed a copy of the dissertation and has determined that the copy is of oral exam quality, each should sign the Scheduling of Final Oral Examination form. This form and a copy of the dissertion are due in the Graduate School office two weeks before the final oral examination. After the Scheduling of Final Oral Examination form has been signed and at least two weeks before the final oral exam, a copy of the dissertation must be available in the CS Department office.

    Final Oral Examination  

    The final oral examination is an open, public presentation of the student’s research and research results. After the presentation, anyone in the general audience including members of the Advisory Committee may ask questions. Then, the general audience will be excused; those remaining will be Advisory Committee members or CS Faculty. Anyone in this restricted audience may ask questions. Finally, everyone is excused except the Advisory Committee and the student. Members of the Advisory Committee may ask further questions concerning the research and the student’s Ph.D. program.

    Finally, the student is excused, and the Advisory Committee must decide if the student passes or fails the final examination. A student passes the final oral examination if no more than one member of the Advisory Committee dissents and if the student addresses, in writing, the dissenting member’s concerns to the satisfaction of the Advisor and the Dean of the Graduate School. The committee may make its passing contingent upon changes being made in the dissertation.

    If the student fails, s/he may take the final examination a second time. A student must pass the final examination within two tries in order to continue in the program.

    After passing the oral examination, the student submits to the Graduate School the Report on Final Oral Examination.

    Timeline to Degree  

    Table 1 contains the timeline to the Ph.D. from entry into the program assuming that no extensions are granted.

    MilestoneTarget TimeframeDeadline
    Qualifying Exam1 year1.5 years
    Coursework2 years3 years
    Specialty/Proposal3 years5 years
    Dissertation5 years8 years
     
     
    Table 1: Timeline to Ph.D.
     

    Master of Science Policies and Procedures 

    Admission Requirements  

    The GRE is required of students who did not receive their degree from a U.S. institution. The GRE is strongly recommended for all other students. Minimum scores of 75% quantitative, 3.0 analytical writing and 50% verbal are required. A TOEFL score above 580 is required for international applicants whose native language is not English.

    Course Work Requirements  

    All MS students must satisfy a theory and breadth requirement. The theory requirement is satisfied by successful completion of CS5311 and CS5321. The breadth requirement is satisfied by successful completion of two graduate or senior-level-undergraduate courses in each of Category A and Category B listed in the Table 2. Within each category, the courses must come from two different areas.

     
    CategoryAreaMTU Courses
    Category ALanguages & CompilersCS4121, CS4131, CS5131
     Operating SystemsCS4411, CS5411, CS5441
     Computer ArchitectureCS4431, CS5431
     NetworksCS4461, CS5461, CS6461
     Performance AnalysisCS5481
    Category BParallel AlgorithmsCS4331, CS5331
     Computer GraphicsCS4611, CS5611
     Software EngineeringCS4710, CS4711, CS4712
     Artificial IntelligenceCS4811, CS5811
     SecurityCS4471
     DatabaseCS4421
     Human-Computer InteractionCS4760, CS5760
     
    Table 2: M.S. Breadth Requirement
     

    Courses taken to fulfill requirements for an undergraduate degree may be used to fulfill the breadth requirement; however, the credits may not be counted toward the M.S. degree. For students who have received their undergraduate degree someplace other than MTU, courses taken at one’s undergraduate university in the above areas may be used to complete the breadth requirement. The MTU faculty member whose expertise is in the area of the non-MTU course under consideration for the breadth requirement must approve the course as acceptable. Students wishing to count non-MTU courses toward the requirement must complete the “Breadth/Depth Requirement Form” that can be obtained from the Computer Science Graduate Secretary.

    Any CS course not listed in Table2 will not count for graduate credit without the permission of the Graduate Director. Note that students who are deficient in computation theory and are not prepared to take CS5311 may take CS3311 for graduate credit. Approval of the Graduate Director is required before signing up for CS3311. Courses outside the Department of Computer Science may also be counted towards the M.S. degree with the permission of a student’s advisor and the Graduate Director.

    Degree Options 

    Students may select from among three options for completion of the MS degree: the thesis option, the project option, and the course work option. These options are described in detail below.

    Thesis Option  

    The CS Department allows up to 6 of the 30 hours of credit required for graduation to be in CS5990. In addition to completing the 30 hours of credit in approved courses (including CS5990 and up to 3 hours of CS5999 credit though not more than 9 total hours may be taken in CS5990 and CS5999), a student following the thesis option is expected to:

    1. Prepare a written plan describing the thesis research.
    2. Defend the research plan in an oral seminar presentation or meet with the advisory committee to discuss the research plan. The student and her/his advisor will determine whether the plan is to be presented in a department-wide seminar, or will be presented to faculty members individually.
    3. Prepare a final thesis.
    4. Defend the thesis in an oral seminar presentation.

    The department recommends the following timetable for the milestones along the way to a thesis masters. (Note: items marked with a ‘+’ are milestones; items marked with a ‘*’ are requirements.)

    • + present a thesis plan by the end of the 3rd semester in residence (not counting summers).
    • * provide a defendable thesis to the entire committee no later than two weeks prior to the thesis defense. In addition, make a copy available in the CS main office for other interested parties.
    • * defend the thesis in a public forum. This includes two question and answer sessions:
      • the first consists of both students
      • and faculty; the second being closed to the general audience consists of faculty only.

    Project Option  

    The project option allows up to 3 of the 30 hours of credit required for graduation to be in CS5990. In addition to completing the 30 hours of credit in approved courses (including CS5990 and up to 3 hours of CS5999 credit), a student following the project option is expected to: present written and oral project reports at the conclusion of the project. Thus, the student should

    1. Prepare a written project plan which describes any background work necessary for completion of the project and a project plan.
    2. Present the project plan to the advisory committee.
    3. Prepare a final report at the conclusion of the project.
    4. Defend the project report in a public oral seminar presentation.

    The department recommends the following timetable for the milestones along the way to a project masters. (Note: items marked with a ‘+’ are milestones; items marked with a ‘*’ are requirements.)

    • + find a major advisor during the first year in the program.
    • + present a project plan by the end of the 3rd term in residence (not counting summers).
    • * provide a “defendable” project report to the entire committee no later than two weeks prior to the oral defense. In addition, make a copy available in the CS main office for other interested parties.
    • * defend the project in a public forum. This includes two question and answer sessions:
      • the first consists of both students and faculty;
      • the second being closed to the general audience consists of faculty only.

    Course Work Option 

    The course work option requires 30 hours of graded course work. None of the 30 hours of credit required for graduation may be in CS5990 and no more than 3 hours of CS5999 credit may be applied to the 30-hour requirement. Course work option students have the graduate director as their advisor.