Ph.D. Candidacy Requirements

Comprehensive Exams ("Comps")

Currently, graduate requirements for PhD students include the successful completion of two comps: a programming exam and a one-year research project that's roughly equivalent to a Master's project. Click here for helpful advice on taking the programming comp.

Detailed information about graduate requirements can be found here:

  • Students who enrolled in September 2015 or later: Use the document labeled "(as of September 2015)"
  • Students who enrolled in September 2013 or later: Use the document labeled "(as of September 2013)"
  • Students who enrolled in September 2012: Choose either the "(as of January 2012)" or "(as of January 2012)" requirement, but you must limit yourselve to one or the other. You must follow one set of requirements to meet candidacy and to earn the degree: you can't follow one set of requirements to reach candidacy and then another for post-candidacy.
  • Students who enrolled prior to September 2012: Choose any of the requirements and then adhere to that set of regulations. You can't follow one set of requirements to reach candidacy and then follow another set for post-candidacy. Your options are "(as of September 2013)", "(as of January 2012)" or "(pre-January 2012)".

In the past, there were five written exams in addition to the programming comp and research project. These written comps have been replaced by course requirements. Click here for programming comps assignments from recent years.

Transferring Courses

We encourage you to transfer graduate CS courses (up to a maximum of eight) taken at other institutions. Courses outside of CS can be transferred with the approval of your advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies. You must fill out the to transfer courses, then submit it to , who will obtain the needed signatures on your behalf. You must also fill out the , obtain signatures from your advisor and the appropriate faculty, and submit it to .

Other Information

Around the time the programming exam is set, you should read the local comps newsgroup.

If you have a question about comps, the Comps Czar, who acts as a liaison between the faculty administering the exams and the students, is a good person to get in touch with. Click to mail the Comps Czar (Jonathan Mace).