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Ph.D. FAQ

What are the major milestones in the Ph.D. program?

  1. Passing the Qualifying Exam
  2. Completing the requirements of an MS CS/SE degree plan
  3. Finding an advisor and appointing the Ph.D. advisory committee
  4. Presenting a proposal for a dissertation to the committee
  5. Setting up your Ph.D. defense once you finish your dissertation (note that the thesis proposal and final defense cannot be scheduled in the same semester).
  6. Final Ph.D. defense

Every student must fill out a Milestone Agreement Form each year that is signed by the student and his/her advisor and submitted to the department.

Where can I find the degree requirements for the Ph.D. program?

The graduate catalog has the requirements for both a Ph.D. in Computer Science as well as a Ph.D. in Software Engineering laid out:

What are the rules for the qualifying exams?

Students must pass a qualifying exam in 3 subjects from among 11 designated core courses. The first attempt to pass these 3 exams must be made in the first 2 semesters. A maximum of two attempts are allowed to pass a subject, spread over two semesters. If a student makes the first attempt for a subject in their second semester and fails the exam, they must pass this exam in their third semester. Detailed, precise rules can be found in the following CS Department Webpage.

How soon should I find a Ph.D. advisor?

A Ph.D. student should find a Ph.D. faculty advisor as soon as possible. Ph.D. students work with their advisors very closely. It is strongly recommended that a student has a Ph.D. advisor by the time they pass their Ph.D. qualifying exam. The sooner the better.

How are Ph.D. students funded?

Most full-time Ph.D. students in the CS Department are funded during the long semesters, either as a TA or an RA. TA or RA appointments continue until a Ph.D. student’s graduation, subject to satisfactory performance, a student staying eligible (for example, not exceeding 99 semester credit hours of courses taken while a Ph.D. student), and subject to availability of funds. Once a student has a Ph.D. advisor, the advisor is responsible for the student’s TA/RA funding for the long semesters as well as summer. A limited number of TA positions are available during the summer. A student should work with their advisor to ensure that they are appropriately funded.

What is the 99 Semester Credit Hour rule?

UT Dallas rules do not permit Ph.D. students to be financially supported if they exceed 99 semester credit hours in Ph.D. level courses. Courses that one took as an MS student do not count towards this 99 SCH limit. A Ph.D. student normally takes a maximum of 24 SCH during a calendar year.

How does a Ph.D. student get advice for which courses to take?

A Ph.D. student must discuss with their faculty advisor which courses they should take each semester. A yearly audit with the Ph.D. program director (currently, Dr. Jorge Cobb as of 2021) is strongly recommended.

Are there any requirements during the graduating semester?

A graduating student must be enrolled in at least 1 semester credit hour of CS/SE 8v99 course. Enrollment for 1 semester credit hour in CS/SE 8v99 is allowed only once during the degree plan. Three semester credit hours of 8v99 are recommended. Students supported as an RA or a TA during a long semester must enroll in 9 semester credit hours during that long semester.

Are there any required organized courses that a Ph.D. student must take?

Ph.D. students must take the following organized courses: CS 6382 (Theory of Computation) and CS 7301 (Research Methods in Computer Science). These courses are in addition to any other organized course a Ph.D. student may take as mandated by their degree requirements or required by their Ph.D. advisor.

How many dissertation hours are needed in order to graduate?

A Ph.D. student must have a minimum of 9 semester credit hours of CS/SE 8v99.

Can I be a part-time Ph.D. student and still be supported as an RA or a TA?

Only full-time Ph.D. students can be an RA or a TA. A TA or an RA must register for at least 9 semester credit hours of courses during a long semester.

Can a Ph.D. student who is funded as an RA or a TA by the CS Department take up another job?

Ph.D. students who are funded as an RA or a TA are not allowed to take up another job. A TA or an RA entails 20 hours per week of work. The rest of the time is to be spent working on coursework and dissertation research.

Can Ph.D. students take up internships?

Ph.D. students can take up an internship, however, Ph.D. advisor’s approval is needed. An internship is recommended for a Ph.D. student only after they have made substantial progress in their dissertation. They must have at least defined the research problem they will work on for their dissertation and made some initial progress on it. Taking up an internship too early in the Ph.D. program can be counterproductive.

What is the deadline for filing for graduation?

The deadline for filing for graduation is generally at the beginning of the semester and is published by the Graduate Dean’s office at the following link.

What is the deadline for holding dissertation defense?

The deadline for holding the final dissertation defense is usually 4 to 6 before the end of the semester. Copy of the dissertation and various forms signed by the committee members are due 2 weeks prior to the defense date. Details are at the following link.

Do International Ph.D. students have to take any extra steps before graduation?

International students must visit the ISSO office at the beginning of the semester to discuss their change of status following their graduation.

Can I graduate in the summer?

Ph.D. students can graduate during the summer, however, they must observe all the deadlines (see here) as well as ensure that their dissertation committee members are available for attending the final defense, as many faculty members travel nationally and internationally during the summer.

Additional information about the UT Dallas Graduate Education can be found here.

Department of Computer Science