Ph.D. Program Timeline and Progress


A full-time student (with the Master’s Degree) will normally be expected to complete all requirements for the Ph.D. within three to four years. Many Ph.D.  students will be working 20 hours per week as Teaching Assistants. Thus, under normal circumstances each student will be supported for up to four years beyond the Master’s degree. The proposed time-line is as follows:
  1. Qualifying Exam: Normally taken the first time it is offered after admission to the Ph.D. program (usually January).
  2. Writing Skills: Show evidence by end of semester qualifier is passed (must be passed before Prelim II scheduled).
  3. Advisory Committee: Select dissertation advisor and form Advisory Committee by end of semester qualifier is passed.
  4. Prelim I (Advisory Committee): Within 1 year after passing Qualifier.
  5. Prelim II (Advisory Committee): Within 1 year after Prelim I is passed.
  6. Dissertation Defense (Examining Committee): Within 1 year after Prelim II is passed.
Sample Time-line for student starting in Fall Semester
Year 1
  • Three courses per semester
  • Show evidence of writing skills
  • Spring Semester: Take Qualifying Exam, form Advisory Committee
Year 2
  • Fall Semester: Additional courses (chosen in conjunction with committee) plus begin research on dissertation topic.
  • Spring Semester: Literature search, formulate research problem, take Preliminary I Exam.
Year 3
  • Fall semester: Dissertation research
  • Spring Semester: Take Preliminary II Examination
Year 4
  • Dissertation Defense

Guidelines for CIS Ph.D. Progress

  1. A student is admitted to the CIS Ph.D. program only via admission to one of four areas. It is important that the student work closely with faculty in this area and carefully follow the guidelines for preparing for the specific area Qualifying Exam.
  2. The Qualifying Exam should normally be taken the first year of Ph.D. studies. It is currently given the first week of the Spring Semester. This exam measures breadth of CIS knowledge, especially in the core subject areas. Students who fail the first time are allowed to re-take it once. Failing this exam a second time means automatic dismissal from the program.
  3. As part of preparing for Ph.D. work, the student must demonstrate, by the end of the Semester in which the Qualifying Exam is passed, a sufficient level of writing skills has been achieved.
  4. In the same Semester in which the Qualifying Exam is passed the student is expected to choose an adviser and , in consultation with the adviser, form a Doctoral Advisory committee. It is critical that this be done as soon as possible since the committee is responsible for recommending specific courses that will aid in the student’s research. [For the Ph.D., students are required to take a minimum of 21 credits beyond the 30-credit Masters degree.]
  5. The Doctoral Advisory Committee must include at least three graduate faculty members from Temple University; two of which, including the chair, must be from the student’s program.
  6. Each Doctoral Advisory Committee will meet at least once a year to review the advisee’s progress and make suggestions concerning future research. A written record of this meeting, including the findings of the committee and suggestions made, must be placed in the student’s file. A copy must be given to the student.
  7. The adequacy of the student’s in-depth preparation and research objectives are examined in the first of two Preliminary Exams taken in preparation for dissertation research. The second of the two Preliminary Exams focuses on the student’s research proposal.
  8. Timing is everything! It is critical that each member of the Doctoral Advisory Committee has adequate time to read the material being presented at Preliminary Exams I and II. Therefore, the Preliminary I and II Exams must be scheduled a MINIMUM of three weeks AFTER approval from the graduate committee. [Approval is requested by the major advisor sending the appropriate documentation to the Graduate Committee Chair. The approval process normally takes a week.]
  9. The oral defense of the dissertation is administered by the Dissertation Examining Committee. The Dissertation Examining Committee consists of the Doctoral Advisory Committee and at least one faculty member not from the student’s program. This Outside Examiner should be identified no later than the beginning of the semester in which the student will defend the dissertation. The chair of the Examining Committee should not be the student’s Ph.D. advisor.
  10. For the oral defense, the student’s Dissertation Examining Committee needs a month to read the final dissertation, especially since there will be one, or possibly more, new members. Thus, students should allow AT LEAST a month after approval of the graduate committee for scheduling the final defense.
  11. Students have up to seven years to finish their Ph.D. from the date they begin the program. If more time is needed it is currently possible to request an additional three years [one year at a time] without major difficulty as long as the student is making “reasonable progress.” However, obtaining an extension of time beyond (a total of) 10 years is VERY difficult and should be avoided!
  12. Students who no longer are receiving support from the University and who are official Ph.D. candidates [having passed Prelim II in our program] can apply for a one-time Dissertation Completion Grant. Students receiving such awards are not allowed to receive University funding again.


In general, students must satisfy the requirements of the CIS Department, the College of Science and Technology, and the Graduate School.
These currently include the following:
  • Students must register EVERY SEMESTER and must complete the program within seven years from the date of admission, unless permission is given by the Dean of the Graduate School;
  • Students must have a 3.0 (or “B”) average and no incomplete courses at the time of graduation;
  • Students may not receive more than two grades of less than “B-”. 
Language Requirement: There is no University or CIS Department language requirement for the Ph.D. degree.
Courses from Other Disciplines: There is no limit on the number of credits earned from other Temple departments. However, such courses must be approved by the Graduate Program Committee in consultation with the student’s Advisory Committee.