Computer Science PhD Written Qualifier Information
PhD Written Qualifier Information
PhD in Engineering - Computer Science Focus
A PhD student needs to demonstrate proficiency in three broad areas, Hardware, Software and Theory, before embarking upon PhD research. These areas are further broken down into four topics, Operating Systems (Software), Software Engineering (Software), Algorithms (Theory), and Architecture (Hardware). In particular, proficiency in these topics must be demonstrated by passing sections of the Written Qualifying Examination or by taking courses corresponding to the topics. The Department teaches graduate courses corresponding to each of the four topics above: CS 5500 Operating Systems, CS 5300 Software Engineering, CS 5720 Algorithms, and CS 5200 Architecture.
The Written Qualifying Examination is given two times during the year: at the beginning of each of the Fall and Spring semesters. It is an in-person exam where one hour is allotted for each of the four topics listed above: Operating Systems, Software Engineering, Algorithms, and Architecture.
A student must qualify in all four topics either by passing a section of the Written Qualifying Examination or by getting a grade of A- or above in the corresponding course.
Each PhD student must take the Written Qualifying Examination the first time it is given after the student has been at UCCS for a semester. The student may have taken some courses in the first semester already, and the Written Qualifying Examination needs to be taken for each topic from the list above in which the student has not already qualified by receiving a grade of at least A-. This is to help the student decide which (additional) classes from the list above the student the student needs to take going forward. A student who passes a certain individual topic in the Written Qualifying Examination will be waived from taking the corresponding course. However, the total number of graduate credits and courses the student has to take in the PhD program will not change.
A student having any sponsorship via the advisor's research funding or departmental teaching must qualify on all four topics by the end of the second year after admission to the PhD program. Other PhD students must qualify on all four topics by the end of the third year after admission to the program.
A course can be retaken once to qualify on a topic although all courses taken will be on UCCS transcript. A student may transfer in classes after successfully completing the first semester at UCCS, to include possibly qualifying examination classes. Such classes must be from a US-based R1/R2 university as defined by Carnegie Foundation's Research Universities. In the case a student requests to use coursework taken at a non-R1/R2 institution or an institution outside the US, the CS PhD Program Director, in consultation with CS-PPC will make the decision.
A student who has not qualified on all four topics within the time stated above will be dismissed from the PhD program.
The written qualifying examination consists of four distinct topics, CS 5220Computer Communication, CS 5910 Fundamentals of Network & Computer Security, CS 5920 Applied Cryptography, and CS 5950 Homeland Security & Cyber Security. The examination is formally defined by the syllabus of material it will cover. Students may take courses to help prepare for the examination, but the syllabus, not the course, defines the expectations for the exam. Students should be aware that the standard will be all self study as if no courses exist in the area.
The exam takes place twice a year for all students in May and December.
A student can take the examination up to two times: Students only need to retake the failed topics in the subsequent attempt. Students having any sponsorship via the advisor’s research funding or departmental teaching should pass all topics by the end of the second year after admission to the program. Other PhD students should pass all topics by the end of the third year after admission to the program. The advisor or the program director may request one additional year and one more attempt for a student to take the written examination with a sound reason; for example, the student has made significant progress in research with good publication(s). The request needs the approval of the PhD-Security program committee.
Waiver to the written qualifying exam may be given if the student has passed the courses of the four qualifying exam topics at UCCS with a minimum average GPA of 3.75. The four classes are: CS 5220 Computer Communication, CS 5910 Fundamentals of Network & Computer Security, CS 5920 Applied Cryptography, and CS 5950 Homeland Security & Cyber Security. The program committee will decide if the grade of a transferred class can be used. Courses cannot be retaken to increase GPA in order to qualify for the waiver.