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CSIS Degree Milestones

PhD in Computer Scienc​​e and Information Systems

Upon completion of all degree requirements, includi​ng the dissertation defense, you receive the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Here is a list of major milestones with their detailed descriptions: ​​

 Prelim Exam

Students are required to demonstrate their basic knowledge and preparation towards more advanced doctoral level work by completing the requirements of their selected track (Information Systems or Computer Science) as described below:

Information Systems: There are two components to the IS requirements:

  • Paper: Students prepare a research paper during the first two years of the program. The paper should demonstrate knowledge of the literature, the ability to define significant research problems, and good technical writing skills. The paper is evaluated by the student's advisor. Here is a link to the evaluation guidelines for the prelim paper.
  • The prelim paper must be submitted by the end of the third full semester of a student’s program. Full semesters exclude summer semester. For the typical student who begins in fall semester, the prelim paper must be submitted to the student’s advisor by the end of the fall semester in the second year of the program. Revisions suggested by the student’s advisor must be completed and accepted by the end of the fourth week of the following semester.
  • Exam: A written exam covers material in four doctoral courses: ISMG7200, ISMG7210, ISMG7211, and ISMG7220. An exam part is waived if a student demonstrates strong work in the corresponding course by receiving an A or A- in the course. Exams will be given at the end of the first week of fall semester. Students must take each exam part at the earliest time after completing the associated course. Students can retake an exam part at most one time with consent of advisor and program director. Strong evidence of student progress is necessary for approval of a prelim exam retake. Exam retakes will be at the end of the first week of spring semester.
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  Comprehensive Exam

Students will submit a paper to fulfill the graduate school's comprehensive exam requirement. The paper should describe an area of research including literature review, problem definition, and possible methodologies/models to study a significant problem in computer science or information systems. The paper will be evaluated by a committee of three faculty members. An oral presentation of the paper will be open to the entire CSIS faculty. The committee may adopt additional guidelines to evaluate the paper and presentation. According to graduate school rules, the comprehensive exam must be completed by the end of the fourth year in the program. In addition to these requirements, the comprehensive exam must meet the other graduate school requirements. ​

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  Dissertation Advisory Committee Meetings

Students will submit a paper to fulfill the graduate school's comprehensive exam requirement. The paper should describe an area of research including literature review, problem definition, and possible methodologies/models to study a significant problem in computer science or information systems. The paper will be evaluated by a committee of three faculty members. An oral presentation of the paper will be open to the entire CSIS faculty. The committee may adopt additional guidelines to evaluate the paper and presentation. According to graduate school rules, the comprehensive exam must be completed by the end of the fourth year in the program. In addition to these requirements, the comprehensive exam must meet the other graduate school requirements. After selecting a dissertation advisor, the student will choose a Dissertation Advisory Committee in collaboration with his or her dissertation advisor. This committee is subject to approval of the graduate Program Director. Although it is recommended that the Dissertation Advisory Committee be the same as the Dissertation Examination Committee, the two committees need not be identical. The student’s dissertation advisor may not chair the Comprehensive or Dissertation Examination Committees, however, programs are given the flexibility to permit - or prohibit - the student’s advisor to serve as Chair of the Dissertation Advisory Committee.

The Dissertation Advisory Committee will serve an advisory function to the student and dissertation advisor, and will also monitor the student’s progress towards completing the dissertation. The Dissertation Advisory Committee will determine when the student has made sufficient progress to begin writing his or her dissertation.

All PhD students who have advanced to candidacy must meet with their Dissertation Advisory Committee at least once every year, although some Programs may require – and the Graduate School encourages – a greater frequency of meetings. It is the student’s responsibility to identify the best available times and schedule the meetings. The Dissertation Advisory Committee shall evaluate the student’s progress to ensure that s/he has made satisfactory progress since the previous meeting.

After meeting with the student, the Committee Chair will complete the Dissertation Advisory Committee meeting form summarizing the student’s progress, and send copies to the student, the primary mentor (if not the Chair), the Program Director, and the Graduate Dean. In case of non-satisfactory performance, steps to be taken to rectify the situation should be suggested in the report.

If a student fails to meet with his or her Dissertation Advisory Committee within the previous 12 months, the Graduate School will notify the student and dissertation advisor that the committee must meet within the next four (4) weeks. Students who fail to have a Dissertation Advisory Committee meeting by the end of this four (4) week probationary period will not be permitted to register for subsequent semesters. Once the student is in compliance with this rule, s/he will be permitted to register.

Important notes

Here are some clarifications from the Graduate School Dean about the application of dissertation advisory committees to the CSIS program.

  • A minimum of 3 committee members should meet each year with a student after the student has passed the comprehensive exam.
  • A proposal presentation counts as a meeting of the dissertation advisory committee.
  • Virtual meetings can be held either synchronously or asynchronously for more flexibility although the Graduate School prefers traditional meetings.
  • The graduate school will have a form for recording the results of the meeting.
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 Dissertation Proposal

A student’s doctoral committee can require a dissertation proposal after the student completes the comprehensive exam. The doctoral committee may consider the quality and level of detail in the comprehensive paper and other factors in determining the need for a student to prepare a dissertation proposal.

If the doctoral committee requires a dissertation proposal, the student must prepare a proposal that will be evaluated by the doctoral committee. A proposal should be ready for review at least one semester before the expected completion date of your degree. For business CSIS students, the proposal draft should be complete within one year of the comprehensive exam and the proposal must be approved by the doctoral committee within 2 years of the comprehensive exam.

Your proposal must include:

  •     A title, that accurately corresponds to the contents
  •     A statement giving the purpose and novelty of the study that indicates the expected results
  •     The methods and techniques to be used
  •     A bibliography

Proposals are double-spaced, and they should be prepared with care and attention to style required for scholarly writing. The proposal should be detailed enough for the dissertation committee to evaluate the potential for successful completion. The dissertation proposal serves as a guideline that you and dissertation committee will use to ensure successful completion of the dissertation.

The proposal is submitted for review and approval by the doctoral committee. A complete proposal should be submitted at least two weeks before the scheduled presentation to ensure adequate review time for the doctoral committee.

You will give an oral presentation of the dissertation proposal to the doctoral committee before it is approved.

Your approved proposal is then submitted to the co-directors of the program for final approval.

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 University Level Instructional Training

During the program, you will obtain training in university level instruction.

This requirement can be fulfilled by

  • working with a faculty member as a teaching assistant
  • attending university level teacher training
  • teaching a university level class

If you plan a university career you are encouraged to teach one or more courses and participate in training. When teaching or working as a teaching assistant, you will be compensated according to standard university salaries.

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 Dissertation Defense

Following completion of the approval of the dissertation proposal, you prepare and submit a dissertation.

The dissertation is defended before the doctoral committee in a public meeting.

Final approval for the dissertation is given by a vote of the dissertation committee after the public defense of the dissertation. For business CSIS students, the completed dissertation should consist of at least two major parts that can be submitted to reputable academic journals.

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