Ph.D. Candidacy Requirements

The Comps

"Comps" is an abbreviation for "comprehensive exams." Currently, graduate requirements for Ph.D. students include the successful completion of two "comps": a programming exam and a one-year research project (which is 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 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 cannot pick and choose; you must follow one set of requirements to meet candidacy and to earn the degree. You cannot follow one set of requirements to reach candidacy and then follow another set forpost-candidacy.
  • Students who enrolled prior to September 2012: Choose any of the requirements and then adhere to that set of regulations. You cannot 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)".

Historical note: In the old days there were 5 written exams in addition to the programming comp and research project. These written comps have been replaced by course requirements.


Programming comps from recent years

Click here for programming comps assignments from recent years.


Transferring Courses

Students are encouraged to transfer graduate computer science courses taken at other institutions. A maximum of 8 courses can be transferred. Courses outside of computer science can be transferred with the advisor's and the DGS's approval.

  • Students must fill out the Application for Graduate Transfer Credit from the Registrar's Office to transfer courses into the University. The Faculty and Student Affairs Manager (Lauren Clarke) will obtain the DGS's signature on the form on your behalf.
  • In order for transferred courses to substitute for Brown CS courses,students must also fill out the Department of Computer Science PhD Transfer Credit Form. The student must obtain signatures from their advisor and the appropriate faculty.

Detailed instructions can be found on both forms. Please submit the completed original forms to the Faculty and Student Affairs Manager.


Other information

There is a local comps newsgroup that you should read about the time the programming exam is set.


The Comps Czar

The Comps Czar is one of the graduate student jobs in the department. He or she acts as a liaison between the faculty administering the exams and the students. If you have a question about the comps, then this is probably a good person to get in touch with.

Mail the Comps Czar (Jonathan Mace)