Expectations and Quality Control for PH.D. Students

Expectations and Quality
Control for Ph.D. Students
A Case Study
The University of Michigan model
Similar processes throughout most
U.S. departments
Quality control beings at the time of
Applicants must submit
• Transcripts
• GRE Scores
• TOEFL Scores (International Students)
• Essay describing research interests
• 3 letters of recommendation
Application folders
• First read by groups of faculty in each
area (hardware, software, theory, AI,
interactive systems)
• Decisions made by a faculty committee
(“Graduate Committee”, using
recommendations from the areas
Accept/Reject Rates
Admit approximately 20-25% of
Ph.D. applicants; 30-35% of those
admitted enroll
Nearly all are guaranteed 5 years of
funding, assuming satisfactory
progress (differs in different
• No fixed time-line for degree
completion, though deadlines exist for
Quality Control #1
Demonstrate breadth of knowledge
in computer science and engineering
Pass (B- or better) 4 courses:
• Hardware, software, theory, AI
Observe an honor code for all work
Quality Control #2
Demonstrate depth of knowledge in
an area
High pass (A or A-) in two selected
courses in the major area
Quality Control #3
Demonstrate research potential
Complete an independent project and
pass an oral preliminary exam on it
• Preliminary exam committee consists of
3 faculty members , but not the project
After completing requirements #1-3,
the student becomes a “candidate”
The “Real Test”
Make an original research
contribution in computer science and
Complete and defend a Ph.D.
The Dissertation Process
1. Work with an advisor to define a
research topic and do initial work
2. Form a dissertation committee
• At least 3 (preferably 4) faculty
members, including the research
advisor. 1 must be from outside CSE.
3. Write and orally present a
dissertation proposal (pass,
conditional pass, fail).
The Dissertation Process (cont’d.)
4. Conduct the approved research, under
the supervision of the advisor. Meet at
least annually with committee members.
5. [[Present the work to the community in
conference and journal papers.]]
6. Complete a written dissertation, and
defend it orally in a public forum.
Dissertation committee grades it (pass,
conditional pass, fail).
Summary: Quality Control
Quality control begins with
Early in the program, many checks
on quality (courses, exams).
During the dissertation, checks at
proposal and defense.
Includes multiple faculty members in
the evaluation process throughout.
Summary: Expectations
Ph.D. Student has
• broad knowledge of computer science
• deep knowledge of a subfield, and
• a demonstrated capability to produce
and present research results
In short, is ready for a faculty or
industrial research position—is
someone we’ll be proud of!