Ph.D. Preliminary Examinations

Advisory Committee

Once students have passed the Qualifying Examination, they are expected, during that same semester, to choose the area in which they plan to do their research and to find an advisor willing to supervise them. The student and advisor should formulate a Plan of Study to complete the coursework requirements for the Ph.D. degree.
The advisor and the student will then select at least two additional graduate faculty members for the Advisory Committee. The Advisory Committee must contain at least one other member of the CIS Department (in addition to the advisor) and it must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee.
The student’s Plan of Study must be approved by this Advisory Committee and the Graduate Program Committee, normally before the end of the semester in which the Qualifier Examination is passed. The Advisory Committee administers the Preliminary Examinations.

Preliminary Examinations (Advisory Committee)

The goal of the preliminary exams is to test the research skills and knowledge of the student and the appropriateness and feasibility of the proposed research.
The prelimary exams focus on:
1. Testing advanced track knowledge
2. Testing in-depth knowledge in the selected research area
3. Ensuring that the selected research problem is of reasonable scope and significance
4. Ensuring that the proposed dissertation is feasible
The Prelims are completed in two stages.

Prelim I will include at least items 1 and 2.

Prelim I consists of written and oral components testing advanced track knowledge and in-depth knowledge of the research area and includes a literature review of the area. In conjunction with items 1 and 2 Prelim I will also be used to determine whether the student needs to take additional courses in order to support research in the chosen area. Prelim I is open only to the committee and to members of the department.
Students must be registered for at least 1 credit of CIS 9994 Preliminary Exam Preparation in the semester in which the examination is taken

Prelim II will include at least items 3 and 4.

Prelim II consists of written and oral components to assess the appropriateness of the research including the approach and methodology. The written portion of Prelim II should be of sufficient quality to be publishable as a department technical report. This exam is open to the public.
Students must be registered for at least 1 credit of CIS 9998 Predissertation Researchin the semester in which the examination is taken
Both Prelim I and II must be scheduled, and all relevant information(i.e. date, time, abstract, dissertation) made available, at least four weeks in advance. To schedule an exam, students should contact the CIS Administrative Coordinator.
The successful completion of Prelim II will produce a written understanding among the student, faculty advisor, and dissertation committee, specifying the work to be done to obtain final approval of the dissertation.
After passing both parts of the Preliminary Exam, students are admitted to PHD candidacy and begin work on their thesis under the direction of their Advisory Committee. Students must enroll for at least two credits of CIS 9999 Dissertation Research. The thesis should be prepared according to the requirements of the Graduate School. Please refer to the Dissertation & Thesis Handbook for further direction.