Computer Science Graduate Handbook

  • Introduction

    1. Computer Science Department

    The University of Virginia’s Computer Science graduate program produces well-educated researchers, teachers, and future leaders in Computer Science. Our Master’s and PhD degrees are a certification by the faculty that the student has a broad education in Computer Science, and the awarding of the PhD is a certification that the recipient has performed significant original research in his or her technical area.

    Through the development of sophisticated computer systems, algorithms, and hardware, computer scientists have the opportunity to change society in ways unimagined just a few years ago. Our goal is the education and training of a diverse body of students who can lead this information technology revolution. To this end, our computing graduate program orients students toward advanced studies and groundbreaking research in multiple areas of computer science. Computational thinking is rooted in solid mathematics and science, and a grounding in these fundamentals is essential. Our laboratory environment exposes students to many research and commercial software tools and systems and introduces modern software development techniques.

    Our graduate training provides a capstone for computer science education and prepares students for the best possible computing careers in industry and academia. Graduate students will participate in cutting-edge research with department faculty members. The knowledge and skills acquired from our graduate degree programs give students the ability to make contributions in their own field as well as to society at large.

    2. Diversity

    The members of the department envision a personal environment in which a diversity of capable, inspired individuals congregate, interact and collaborate to learn and advance knowledge, without social barriers. We embrace this vision because:

    • we wish to be leaders and role models in reaping and sharing the benefits of diversity;
    • we seek to improve the intellectual environment and creative potential of our department;
    • we expect to produce happier, more capable and more broadly educated computer science graduates; and
    • we wish to contribute to social justice and economic well-being for all citizens.

    3. Degrees

    The Department of Computer Science offers three computing degrees to graduate students in the School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    • Master of Computer Science (MCS). The MCS degree is a graduate professional degree with an emphasis on coursework. It enhances the professional instruction of an undergraduate program by providing students with broader knowledge and a deeper technical understanding of computer science.
    • Master of Science (MS). The MS degree introduces students to research at the graduate level with a focus on a formal written thesis.
    • Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The PhD program prepares students for faculty careers at world-class universities and research positions in leading government and industrial research labs. It is common, but not required, for PhD students to obtain an MCS or MS degree along the way. Getting a Master’s degree enroute to a PhD is often recommended for two reasons: (1) it is a legitimate mark of progress and (2) life is uncertain.

    Degree details and requirements are provided later in this document.

    4. Department Organization

    While every faculty and staff member of the department plays a part in the graduate experience, some roles have significant impact on graduate student life:

    • Department Chair – Kevin Skadron
    • Director of PhD Program – Alf Weaver
    • Director of Master’s Program – Marty Humphrey
    • Graduate Ombudsman – Marty Humphrey
    • Graduate Student Coordinator – Tyler Miller
    • Business Unit Administrator – Kim Gregg

    All students have an academic advisor, and all PhD students work closely with at least one research advisor and frequently interact with several committees. Advisors are discussed in detail in sections 2.1 and 2.2, while committees are discussed in detail in sections 5.2,  6.3.1 and 6.4.1.

    Department faculty members are divided into research-focused Tenured and Tenure-Track (TTT or T3) faculty and teaching-focused Academic General Faculty (AGF). AGF faculty members are not usually involved in the graduate program; in this document the term “faculty” refers to T3 faculty unless otherwise noted.

    5. Collegiality

    The Computer Science department at the University of Virginia prides itself on its collegial and democratic atmosphere. Relationships among students, advisors and faculty are cordial and open. Part of this spirit is a strong sense of cooperation and volunteerism among the graduate students, exemplified by the Computer Science Graduate Student Group (CSGSG). The CSGSG is a student-run organization that works closely with the faculty, sends representatives to faculty meetings, identifies and advocates student concerns, and takes leadership and planning roles in departmental activities (e.g., town hall meetings, representation on the CS Graduate Program Committee). All graduate students are encouraged to participate, and more information can be found at http://www.cs.virginia.edu/˜csgsg/.

    6. Contact Information

    Computer Science is the largest department (measured by number of students or by faculty size) in the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS).  Our department is located in Rice Hall and the adjoining Olsson Hall. Our staff offices are found in Rice 520-528 and Rice 530; the Link Lab occupies the second floor of Olsson Hall. Our contact information is:

    Department of Computer Science

    85 Engineer’s Way, P. O. Box 400740

    Charlottesville, VA 22904-4740

     

    Main office phone: 434-982-2000

    Main office fax: 434-982-2214

    http://www.cs.virginia.edu

    Graduate students may use the department address for any school-related purposes. Mail sent to the P.O. Box listed above can be picked up at the front desk. Packages delivered by courier services other than the United States Postal Service (e.g., FedEx, UPS) should use the physical address (85 Engineer’s Way) rather than the P.O. Box, and may be claimed in the department’s main office.

  • Graduate Academic Program

    The typical graduate student accomplishes the following milestones while working on the PhD degree:

    1. Select a faculty research advisor;
    2. Pass the two portions of the PhD qualifying exam:
    • Breadth: take a minimum of one course in each of four (among six) broad areas of study.
    • Depth: propose and defend a one-semester research project and demonstrate mastery of selected readings related to that project.
    1. Propose PhD research through a written and oral presentation of planned research activities; and
    2. Defend a PhD dissertation, which is a written and oral report of the completed PhD research.

    The qualifying examination breadth requirement can help fulfill many of the requirements of the MCS Master’s Degree (see chapter 4) and most students opt to obtain that degree before the PhD. Students also take additional courses and file administrative forms throughout the degree program. Details on each step, as well as steps taken by students working on the MCS and MS degrees, are outlined later in this document.

    Unless otherwise noted, all timelines and dates given are for students entering with a bachelor’s degree. Differences for students who enter with a master’s degree are indicated separately as appropriate. Timing is expressed in terms of semesters. Only Fall and Spring semesters are counted, so for example the “third semester” of a student entering during the summer term is that student’s second Fall semester. Where specific numbers are given, these are requirements that can only be deferred with approval from the relevant (master’s or PhD) Graduate Program Director.

    This document details the necessary steps each graduate student must take, but students are encouraged to perform many other activities. For example, almost all successful graduate students publish multiple papers, although the department has no formal publication requirement. A graduate student’s advisor will have more information about such elements of a successful graduate experience.

    1. Temporary Advisor

    After admission notification (typically in the Spring), selected faculty members are available throughout the summer to assist with academic advising; the Graduate Student Coordinator is available to help with logistics. During the summer before graduate orientation, each student is assigned a temporary academic advisor to aid in the selection of their first semester courses. The temporary advisor also assists with educational and administrative issues that may arise during the student’s first semester but typically does not provide research guidance.  The temporary academic advisor for incoming PhD students is typically the first rotation advisor (described later); for incoming master’s students, any faculty member may serve as the temporary academic advisor.

    If, through oversight or special circumstances, a student has not been assigned a temporary academic advisor by the time of orientation, the student should contact the Graduate Student Coordinator as soon as possible to have one assigned.

    2. Research Advisor

    Research advisors provide oversight and mentoring of a student’s entire graduate experience. A student’s research advisor (or simply advisor) is selected during the matching process, which is part of the first-semester CS 6190 Perspectives course. Near the end of the first semester, students are asked to supply a prioritized list of potential advisors with whom they have discussed research opportunities during the first semester. Similar prioritized lists of students are provided by faculty, and these preferences are used to match each student with a research advisor. In cases where it becomes necessary to change research advisors, the student should discuss this potential change with both their current advisor and their proposed new advisor and communicate the final result to the Graduate Student Coordinator so that the change in advisor is recorded properly.

    An advisor’s role is to guide the student through all phases of the graduate program. At times this includes helping the student through special circumstances not covered by official policies. Students who have concerns that cannot be resolved on their own should bring these concerns to their advisor, who will assist them in bringing the matter to a suitable conclusion. Students with concerns about their advisor should first contact the Graduate Program Director and then, if needed, the Graduate Ombudsman.

    3. Student Evaluations

    Each student’s progress is reviewed at least once per year. A PhD student demonstrates progress by passing courses, completing the qualifying examination, doing directed research, acting as a teaching assistant, and performing dissertation work. While students are encouraged to shape an educational program to suit their needs, financial support and/or permission to continue in the graduate program depends upon satisfactory progress each semester along at least some of these categories. Ideally, this process should contain no surprises as students and advisors will discuss goals and progress throughout each year. The yearly evaluation process is sometimes referred to as “Bright Monday.”

    The outcome of the student evaluation process is a notification from the advisor expressing the advisor’s evaluation of the student at that point in time. Students whose evaluations are below expectations meet with their advisor and the Graduate Program Director to identify deficiencies and corrective procedures.  Students whose performance continues to be unsatisfactory are subject to rejection by the research advisor and, ultimately, dismissal from the graduate program.

    4. Admissions and Transfers

    Most students seeking admission to the Computer Science graduate program do so via the standard University of Virginia School of Engineering and Applied Sciences graduate applications process. Applications are evaluated by the Computer Science Graduate Admissions Committee.

    UVa undergraduates applying for the “five-year Bachelor’s and Master’s” program also apply using the UVa SEAS graduate application process as normal (even though they are already UVa students), being careful to indicate that they are applying for that five-year program. See the Undergraduate Handbook for more information. Once accepted, CS graduate students who were also UVa undergraduate students should fill out this form:

    http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/SEAS_grad_course_approval.pdf

    in their first full graduate semester to “carry over” any graduate courses taken as an undergraduate but not used toward            the bachelor’s degree.

    Current UVa graduate students who wish to transfer from another program (such as Computer Engineering) or another department (such as Electrical and Computer Engineering) into the PhD, MS or project-based MCS program must first identify an advisor in Computer Science. The advisor must be willing to advise, fund and support the student. The student then presents a packet consisting of a Curriculum Vitae, graduate and undergraduate transcripts, and a single letter of support and justification from the new advisor to the Computer Science Graduate Admissions Committee for evaluation (which may ask for additional information in some cases). If the transfer is approved, the Graduate Admissions Committee and/or Director of the relevant graduate program (PhD or master’s) will sign the appropriate transfer form.

    5. Leaving the Program (Temporarily or Permanently)

    Before officially leaving the program you must complete the Graduate Student Leave Request Form at http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/index.html. This form is used when:

    • Leaving the program altogether
    • Students leaving the program altogether should also complete the Withdrawal Form from the Graduate Registrar
    • Taking a leave of absence
    • Leaving grounds for more than one week (e.g., summer, holidays, internships)
    • Students must also notify their advisor of their intentions and seek the advisor’s permission to be absent.
    • Temporary leaves
    • Medical leaves
    • Non-resident status doctoral completion.

    Return the completed form, signed by your advisor and the relevant Graduate Program Director, to the CS office. This form is necessary to ensure that funding, tuition and registration status are handled correctly.

  • Graduate Student Employment

    The typical PhD graduate student is employed by the department, either as a teaching assistant (TA), a research assistant (RA), or via a first-year fellowship. As university employees, TAs, RAs and fellowship students are expected to perform their duties in a prompt and proper manner. A student funded by the department may not also have out- side employment without permission from the Computer Science Chair and the SEAS Graduate Dean. Full-time graduate students must also not unilaterally accept research internships without prior approval from their advisor and the Graduate Student Coordinator.

    All full-time graduate students must sign up for 12 credit hours for both Fall and Spring semesters and, if financially supported during the summer, 6 credit hours during the summer semester (but see section 3.5.2 for more information for international students and section 3.4 for more information about Summer semesters). Students commonly augment standard courses with research and teaching hours (e.g., ESL courses, CS 6190, CS 7993, CS 7995, CS 8897, CS 8999 or CS 9999) to reach the 12 credit hour minimum.

    1. Fellowship Responsibilities

    PhD students are typically funded in their first two semesters by a departmental fellowship. During this time, students are expected to attend classes, complete any English as a Second Language (ESL) or Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC) requirements, establish relationships with professors, and match with an advisor. To receive funding starting in the summer after the first year, PhD students must be supported by an advisor.

    2. Teaching Assistant Responsibilities

    TAs are important members of the department’s professional teaching staff. Each TA is assigned to assist in the educational goals of one or more course sections. This assignment is typically given by the CS staff early in the semester and is accompanied by an expected number of hours the TA will devote to each course. Because enrollments change over time, the assignments of TA hours and classes may also change to reflect changing needs.

    TAs should not be surprised if course assignments are changed after courses actually begin. TAs who have issues with their course assignments or hours should contact the CS staff.

    PhD students are required to serve as TAs as a component of their degree.  These TA duties are normally fulfilled by working 10 hours per week (i.e., half-time) during both semesters of the 2nd and 3rd year of studies. 

    Master’s students may enroll in CS 8897 and PhD students may enroll in CS 9897 if desired.  A TA may sign up for 3 credit hours (using the specific section assigned to the instructor) for each 10 hour/week segment.  Students assigned to TA multiple courses should split the amounts among those courses at their discretion, noting that it is not possible to sign up for fractional credit hours.  Completion of the TA portion of the PhD requirement is signified by having accumulated 12 credit hours of CS 9897 (three credits of CS 9897 over four semesters).

    Specific TA responsibilities for a particular course are assigned by the instructor. Common duties include grading, proctoring laboratory sections, holding office hours and help sessions, attending class, reading instructional materials, completing assignments, answering email or forum questions, and tutoring students in need of additional help. TAs may also contribute study questions or examination questions at the discretion of the instructor.

    Additional duties directly related to a particular course may be assigned by an instructor. Students concerned that specific duties are inappropriate or off-topic may seek resolution through the instructor, their advisor, or the graduate ombudsman. A TA whose duties require significantly more or less time than their assigned weekly hours should inform the course instructor so that a more appropriate set of duties can be assigned.

    Each TA is responsible for obtaining a proper understanding of the course material. TAs without a firm grasp of course concepts should obtain guidance from the instructor or request a change in course assignments from the CS staff when given the course assignment.

    TAs are employees and representatives of the department and the university. As such, they should behave with professional courtesy and politeness in all their official communications and activities. This includes handling student questions in a polite, constructive, and accurate manner. Also, graduate teaching assistants are absolutely forbidden to engage in any romantic or sexual relations with any student for whom they serve as a TA.

    The period of TA employment begins at the start of the semester and lasts until the final grades are submitted to the registrar. TAs should be reliable in all their duties. Non-emergency absences from scheduled duties within that time must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.  As an example, TAs may not depart before final exams are graded and course grades are submitted without the approval of their instructor and the Graduate Program Director.

    UVa maintains a teaching resource center with published information helpful in guiding TA interactions with students. These publications are online at http://trc.virginia.edu/Publications/.

    3. Research Assistant Responsibilities

    Students receiving research funding are called research assistants. Each RA is assigned to a particular advisor and is given a number of hours each week to devote to that advisor’s research program. The majority of a typical PhD student’s academic tenure is spent as an RA.

    RAs and advisors are colleagues in research and the employer-employee relationship is rarely visible as they work together to expand the frontiers of knowledge. However, there are elements of a research program that may not appeal to the RA but still need to be completed. While an RA is often officially a 20-hour position, success in graduate school and in industrial or academic research often requires more than 20 hours per week of effort. In general, an RA is expected to work as directed by his or her research advisor.  However, a student who is concerned that specific duties are inappropriate or off-topic may seek resolution with the research advisor, the Graduate Ombudsman, or the Graduate Program Director.

    4. Summer Support

    Summer support is available for many students, particularly those working on dissertations. In addition, the faculty believe that it is often beneficial for graduate students to gain direct experience with government or industrial research through summer internships. Graduate-level summer internships often lead to a publication, provide external committee members (see sections 6.3.1 and 6.4.1), and help in the student’s evaluation of possible careers. Research advisors, the SEAS Center for Engineering Career Development, and the UVA Career Center can help find suitable summer employment.

    Self-funded professional master’s students typically do not sign up for courses over the summer.  Summer internships are encouraged to gain even more experience with the commercial applications of knowledge.

    Doctoral students who do not receive internships are typically supported over the summer as research assistants. Graduate students who receive financial aid in the form of Graduate Research or Graduate Teaching Assistantships, or Fellowships, must register as full-time students (12 credits in Fall and Spring; 6 credits in summer).

    5. International Students

    5.1 Internships

    International students should contact the International Studies Office (ISO) when considering an internship. For example, students on an F-1 Visa may be required to complete the Curricular Practical Training form. The current CS department policy regarding CPT and course credit is:

    International students who take the Curricular Practical Training (CPT) engage in an internship at a company, typically during the summer. When returning in the following Fall semester, they take one credit hour of CS 6890 (Industrial Applications) with their academic or research advisor. The general requirement of the CS 6890 course is to report on (1) when, where, and with whom the internship was served, (2) what was learned and what new insights were gained, and (3) how the internship experience is expected to assist future academic or employment.  The details and specific requirements of the course are under the control of the advisor. Sign up for the CS 6890 section associated with your advisor.

    Students who complete a CPT internship in the Fall or Spring (this is rare) may either take the course for credit that same semester or the subsequent semester.

    5.2 Full-Time Status

    Students on F-1 Visas are usually required to take a minimum of 12 credit hours per semester (i.e., at least four three-credit courses) to qualify as full-time students and satisfy visa requirements.

    Students pursuing a Ph.D., a project-based MCS, or an MS degree can take additional credit hours corresponding to their research to reach the 12 credit hour requirement.  The full-time status requirement can also be met with undergraduate courses, independent study, ESL courses, and seminars.

    Students pursuing a Master’s degree will generally take 13 credits the first semester (four three-credit academic courses plus CS 6190 for one credit), 12 credits the second semester (four three-credit academic courses), and 6 credits (two three-credit academic courses) in the third and final semester. Coursework-based MCS students typically have no research project; therefore, such students might consider an independent study (CS 7993), but that requires a plan with a willing advisor worked out in advance; such independent studies are relatively rare and take time to arrange and thus should not be counted on at the last minute. Students pursuing a coursework-based MCS degree should follow the 13-12-6 plan.

    There are some exceptions to the full-time status requirement:

    1. In the student’s final semester, full-time status is not required. If the student is on a visa, then the student must go to the International Studies Office, bearing an email or letter from the department or advisor that certifies that the student does not need a full-time course load to graduate; the ISO will then make a new I20 form with a reduced course load authorization (during one final semester only). The Graduate Student Coordinator can inspect your SIS academic requirements report and provide you with such written documentation.
    1. Master’s students’ part time request requirements: Master’s students may request a change to part time studies if they are not funded by the department and do not have visa restrictions that mandate full time student enrollment. To request part time status, complete the appropriate form and have it signed by your advisor and the Graduate Student Coordinator. Part time enrollment consists of 1–9 credits. After all approvals are received, the graduate registrar will code you as such in SIS, and you may enroll as a part-time student.
    1. In the case of illness or medical issues, with formal approval through ISO, the Dean’s Office, and a doctor’s note, full-time status is not required.
    1. In the case of certain academic issues, such as improper placement in a course of study, and with formal approval through ISO, full-time status is not required. This is very rare, since part of the application for the Visa was an indication that one would not have academic issues. Students should not count on this exception at all.
    1. In special cases, a first-semester student who is struggling with a new country, a new language, a new school, a new academic program and/or a new social culture may be approved for part-time status during the first semester.  Talk to the Graduate Program Director.
    1. Minor Exception: A student with “AR1 Alien Registration”, a “green card” USA residency equivalent, can enroll part-time without going through the International Studies Office for verification or visa alteration.)

    5.3 English Language Proficiency Assessments (Written and Oral)

    The Center for American English Language and Culture (CAELC) administers the University of Virginia English Language Proficiency Exam (UVELPE) at the beginning of each semester. It also administers the SPEAK test each August, December and May.

    • International PhD students whose native language is not English, and who will ultimately serve as TAs as a requirement of the PhD degree, must take the SPEAK test.  International master’s students whose native language is not English, who might wish to becomes TAs at any time during their academic career, must take the SPEAK test.  No student may serve as a TA until he or she has taken the SPEAK test, and the results of the test (i.e., the degree of English oral proficiency) will determine what roles the student may fulfill (e.g., leading a lab section, meeting with students one-on-one, grading homeworks and exams).
    • All international graduate students must take the UVELPE test.

    Results and recommendations are made available after the SPEAK and/or UVELPE tests have been completed. Official recommendations often include particular ESL classes based on individual assessments. As per CS department policy, these ESL recommendations are taken very seriously and students must comply with the ESL recommendations. If CAELC recommends more than one ESL course, the department will defer (but not waive) courses such that no more than one ESL course is required per semester.

    6. Funding Adjustments

    For those students who have been awarded financial aid, the following policy applies. Funding for master’s degree students, when available, is typically provided as a Master Teaching Assistant (MTA) award.  An MTA appointment pays a specific dollar amount per hour worked, but provides no other benefits (i.e., no salary, tuition, or health insurance). However, PhD students, whether GTAs or GRAs, are paid increasing amounts according to the following three-step scale:

    1. Incoming students (regardless of previous degree)
    2. Passed Qualifying Examination (see chapter 5)
    3. Passed Dissertation Proposal Examination (see section 6.3).

    7. Tuition and Course Costs

    Ph.D. students are typically fully funded via fellowship in their first year and via assistantships (GTA, GRA) thereafter. Self-funded professional master’s students typically pay their own tuition.

    For tuition purposes, the designation of a research class refers to CS  9999 (Dissertation Research), CS 9897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction), CS 8999 (Master’s Research), CS 8897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction), or CS 6890 (Industrial Applications). These are classes taken for a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory mark (rather than a letter grade) that represent research assistantship or teaching assistantship work. Because these courses are not letter-graded, they cannot be used as credit toward a degree.

    All other classes are non-research classes. Importantly, CS 6993/7993 (Independent Study), CS 7995 (Supervised Project Research), CS 6190 (Perspectives) and CS 6501 (Special Topics) are all non-research classes (they can be taken for a letter grade). In addition, students are required to carry health insurance. The default health subsidy paid by the department for students on teaching or research assistantships was valued at $x, xxx annually for the 201x–201x year. Self-funded students are required to demonstrate insurance. Assistantship students may decline the insurance, but doing so does not return any money, it just drops the insurance.  Thus this choice is not a good idea.

    8. Part-Time Status

    Students who wish to pursue a graduate degree in computer science on a part-time basis must be approved and meet all relevant requirements. This includes approval from the advisor and approval from the Graduate Program Director. Part-time status is rare for students in our graduate program (except for a student’s final semester).

    Note that as per the SEAS Graduate Record, you must enroll in a minimum of one semester of full-time study to obtain a Master’s Degree. In addition, graduate teaching assistantships and fellowships are only available to full-time students.

    Part-time tuition is calculated differently. See the Graduate Record for more information about part-time status.

    9. Graduate Stipends

    Computer Science Ph.D. graduate students supported by the department as Graduate Teaching Assistants or Graduate Research Assistants receive stipends. The computer science department uses three stipend levels based on student progress through Ph.D. degree milestones. As of August 2019, the milestone levels and stipend amounts are:

    • Level 1 — A student who has not yet passed the qualifying examination (see chapter 5) is paid $XXX every two weeks.
    • Level 2 — A student who has passed the qualifying examination but not the Ph.D. proposal (see Chapter 6.3) is paid $XXXX every two weeks.
    • Level 3 — A student who has passed the Ph.D. proposal is paid $XXXX every two weeks.

    Raises become effective in the term following the term in which the degree mile- stone is completed. For example, a student who passes the qualifying examination in Fall of 2019 would start receiving Level 2 rates in Spring of 2020.

    Note that the Computer Engineering (CpE) program uses different stipend amounts but tries to match CS rates when possible.

     

  • Master’s Degrees

    All Master’s Degrees offered by the CS department require 31 credits covering a number of technical areas. Many students choose to complete an MS or MCS degree while working on a PhD, and some courses and activities can fulfill requirements in both. Although most students finish within three or four semesters, the official time limit for degree completion after entering the Master’s program is five years for the MS and seven years for the MCS. (These generous time allotments help graduate students who are also working as full-time professionals in government or industry.) Degree requirements set by the School of Engineering and Applied Science (SEAS) are given in the SEAS Graduate Record (see chapter 7) and are additional to the CS Graduate Program requirements.

    Formally, the CS department offers two Master’s degrees: the Master of Science (MS) degree, which requires a thesis, and a Master of Computer Science (MCS) degree, which focuses on coursework (and optionally includes a project). There is no other difference between those degrees.

    In addition, there are special rules for students in a Master’s-only program or students who are terminating their graduate studies with a Master’s degree.

    1. Course and Degree Requirements

    Each student is required to meet both the SEAS-defined minimum number of credits for a graduate degree and the department-defined requirements regarding breadth of instruction. These accountings are performed independently; for example, CS 6161 counts as a course towards the minimum to earn a degree and also satisfies the department’s theory breadth requirement (see section 5.3).

    1.1 Minimum Credits

    Students must have a minimum number of graded, graduate-level credits. A graduate-level class is any class numbered 5000 or above. No grade lower than a “C” will be accepted towards satisfying this requirement, and the average of all grades in courses uses to satisfy CS graduate degree requirements must be at least a “B” (i.e., a cumulative GPA of 3.0).

    International students generally take 12 credits per semester (except for the last semester). International students pursuing a coursework-based Master’s degree thus take at least 12 credits the first semester, 12 credits the second semester, and 6 credits the third and final semester (see section 3.5.2 for more details). These credits come from graded, graduate-level, academic classes (e.g., graduate electives).

    Students employed as TAs should also register for TA credits (Master’s students take CS 8897 and PhD students take CS 9897; see section 3.2)); these TA courses do not count toward the requirements of any degree.

    All students must take “Computer Science Perspectives” (CS 6190) during their first Fall semester.  The minimum number of credits depends on the particular degree sought.

    2. Master’s Degree Requirements

    This subsection describes the official requirements for a Master’s Degree. The Master’s Degree requires a minimum of 31 graduate-level credits, including

    • 1 credit of “Computer Science Perspectives” (CS 6190)
    • can be waived by permission of the Graduate Program Director although this is rare
    • 3 credits of a graded graduate-level Mathematics Elective
    • MATH, APMA and STAT courses are acceptable
    • “Machine Learning” (CS 6316) from Fall 2015 onward is acceptable
    • “Introduction to Machine Learning and Data Mining” (CS 6501) from Spring 2015 or earlier is acceptable
    • other non-CS graduate courses with a significant mathematical component can also satisfy this requirement with the prior written approval of the Graduate Program Director

     

    • 12 credit hours of graded graduate-level Categorized CS Electives
      • 3 credits from the “Computer Systems” category
      • 3 credits from the “Software Systems” category
      • 3 credits from the “Application Systems” category
      • 3 credits from the “Theory” category
      • See section 5.3.1 for category definitions

     

    • 15 credit hours of graded graduate-level Graduate Electives, following one of three options:
      • Project. Exactly 3 credits of CS 7995 must be used. No credits of CS 8999 may be used to satisfy this degree’s requirements (but CS 8999 may be taken for other purposes; see below). A project presentation before a minimum of two faculty must be completed (in the same semester that CS 7995 is taken).
      • Thesis. Exactly 6 credits of CS 8999 must be used. No credits of CS 7995 may be used. A thesis presentation must be completed.
      • Coursework. No credits of CS 7995 or 8999 may be used to satisfy this degree’s requirements (but CS 8999 may be taken for other purposes; see below). No presentation is necessary. You may not continue on to the PhD program.

     

    • Restrictions on Graduate Electives:
    • no 5000-level CS courses at all
    • no more than 6 transfer credits (see chapter 7)
    • no TA credits (CS 8897 and CS 9897; see section 3.2)) count toward the degree
    • no more than 3 credits of Independent Study (CS 6993/7993) can be counted toward the degree

     

    • Three (of four) Assessments forms, chosen from:
      • “Engineering Analysis” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives or your CS advisor
      • “Engineering Design” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives or your CS advisor
      • “Oral Communication” assessment form, completed with an instructor from one of your Graduate Electives of your CS advisor
      • “Plan of Study” assessment form, completed with your CS advisor.

    Note that while CS 8999 only satisfies degree requirements for students pursuing the Thesis option, it can be taken by Coursework or Project students to help qualify for full-time status (12 credits per semester). In that case it helps with full-time status but does not count toward Master’s degree requirements.

    3. Master’s Degrees and Transfer Credit

    Students interested in transferring credit from another institution are referred  to  the UVA SEAS Graduate Record (e.g., http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/content.php?catoid=41&navoid=2577). The 2019–2020 text is quoted here for convenience:

    Master of Science and Ph.D. Candidates may include a maximum of six credits of graduate course transfer credit on their program of study at the University of Virginia. These graduate courses must have been completed at another school of recognized standing, and cannot have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree. Only courses with a grade of B or better may be transferred. All requests for the inclusion of transfer credit in the University of Virginia program of study are subject to the approval of the candidate’s academic department and the Office of Graduate Programs.

    We note, for emphasis, that credits “cannot have been used to satisfy requirements for another degree.” That is, courses taken as part of a previous Master’s Degree else- where cannot be transferred to UVA to satisfy UVA CS Master’s Degree requirements. The transfer credit rules for the PhD degree are more lenient (see Chapter 6.2), and classes taken elsewhere can help you with the qualifying examination breadth component (see Chapter 5.3). However, we reiterate that the Engineering rules for transfer credit to satisfy the Master’s Degree proper are quite strict, and you even if you have a previous master’s degree you cannot transfer and “double count”’ those courses to get another Master’s degree here.

    4. Master’s Degree Forms

    To receive a master’s degree, students must file form “Application for Graduate Degree” (see Chapter 8) at the start of the semester during which they expect to graduate (i.e., no later than 1 October, 1 February, or 1 June, respectively).

    Students should double-check their completion of the requirements using the report offered by the Student Information System (SIS) website.

    After the Master’s degree, a student can either continue on in the program or leave the program:

    • A student who plans to continue on to the PhD program after a master’s degree will need to fill out the “Request Program or Plan Change Form”. This administrative form allows the student to temporarily be listed as a Master’s student, receive the Master’s degree, and then return to the PhD program. It is purely a temporary bookkeeping measure required by the UVA system and is not a punitive or permanent change in any way.
    • A student who plans to leave the program after the Master’s degree should complete the “Graduate Student Leave Request Form” (see section 2.5).

     

     

  • Qualifying Examination

    The qualifying examination is designed to evaluate a student’s ability to pursue and successfully complete graduate-level research and is required of all PhD candidates.  Successful completion of the qualifying exam entitles a student to an automatic raise in salary.

    The qualifying examination consists of two parts: breadth and depth. The breadth portion of the exam seeks to assure that the PhD student has a broader range of knowledge that just his or her research specialty.  The breadth requirement is to take a minimum of one course in any four of six areas.  The courses which belong to the six areas are revised each semester and made available as a public document.   Completion of the breadth portion is primarily an administrative function (i.e., did you take four acceptable courses?).

    The depth portion of the exam focuses on the student’s research potential and requires the student to propose and then complete a semester-long research project guided by his or her research advisor. The student then prepares a written report and oral defense for evaluation by a faculty committee. The student’s committee is responsible for approving both the breadth and depth portions of the qualifying exam.

    Each element of the qualifying process has an associated deadline. During periodic reviews of graduate students, the faculty will note any missed deadlines related to the qualifying examination and communicate them to the student in the annual progress review. In the worst case, students who do not complete the requirements in a timely manner will be asked to leave the program.

    Students brought in by a transferring faculty member who have already passed their qualifying examinations at a previous institution are exempted from both the UVA CS qualifying examination and the UVA CpE qualifying examination.

    1. Qualifying Examination Timeline

    While the qualifying exam has no hard and fast deadline, completion of coursework (breadth) and identification of the one-semester research project (depth) is preparatory to making progress on the PhD dissertation research.  In practice, a student schedules the qualifying exam when his or her advisor has checked the breadth requirement and has approved the written and oral research presentation. All students completing the qualifying examination are recommended to adhere to the following timeline.

    • Ideally by the end of the student’s third semester (but can be later). The qualifying examination committee must be formed and the proper paperwork filed and approved by the Graduate Program Director.  The advisor must have approved the qualifying examination proposal (written and oral).  The written research proposal should be about 5 pages in length and should be thoroughly checked for proper grammar and spelling, as well as providing a satisfactory outline of the problem, the proposed solution path, the metrics of success, and a timeline.
    • Ideally by the end of the student’s fourth semester (but can be later). The breadth and depth portions of the qualifying examination should be entirely completed (see section 5.5).

    Students are responsible for calibrating committee activities with regards to these expectations.

    2. Qualifying Examination Committee

    The student must form a qualifying examination committee prior to scheduling the qualifying exam. The qualifying exam committee comprises the student’s research advisor and three other CS faculty members. Alternative committee compositions must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

    Form “Appointment of Final Examination Committee” should be filed after a student has formed a qualifying exam committee, selecting “Master of Science Final Exam” (see chapter 8) even for students not electing to earn a Master’s degree. Each committee should have an explicit chair, who directs meetings procedurally. Any member of the committee (although typically not the advisor) may serve as the chair for the qualifying exam committee.

    For a student entering with a master’s degree, the committee should be formed as soon as the student and advisor are in agreement regarding the research work to be accomplished.

    Satisfactory completion of the breadth portion of the exam is certified by the Graduate Student Coordinator or the Graduate Program Director. The committee evaluates the student’s research proposal, including the reading list selection. The committee members read and evaluate the student’s written report and attend the student’s oral defense of qualifying research. Attendance at the qualifying examination by videoconferencing is permitted. The committee’s objective is to gauge the student’s research ability and likelihood of succeeding in the graduate program.

    3. Qualifying Examination Breadth Requirement

    The breadth requirement is to take a minimum of one course in any four of six topical areas. The courses which are allowed in each of the six areas are revised each semester to accommodate new material. The complete list of areas and courses are detailed at:

    https://docs.google.com/document/d/1p7WQRGtIlAMCpnKE-7McSynXPGoGcFQabCCwYqxPtVM/edit

    4. Qualifying Examination Depth Requirement

    The depth component of the qualifying examination begins with a written proposal document and an informal meeting with the student’s committee. Together, the document and meeting establish the project expectations. The student must provide the committee with the proposal document (nominally five pages) at least one week prior to the meeting. The meeting also allows discussion of the student’s reading list. The student should open the meeting with a ~20-minute presentation about the proposed work.

    4.1 Qualifying Examination Proposal Document

    The student’s proposal document should be sufficient for the committee to make a determination about the research quality of the project. It should be about five pages in length and contain the following elements:

    Abstract. An executive summary, no more than one-half page.

    Motivation. What is the problem and why is it important? What is the hypothesis of the proposed research?

    Contributions. What are the main ideas and why do they matter? In what way are these ideas novel?

    Related work. What is the relevant prior work and state-of-the-art in this area?

    Detailed research plan. What specific goals or milestones will be completed during the research project and how will they be implemented, designed, and evaluated? For projects with a significant implementation component, give enough details of the features to be implemented and the experimental setup involved for the committee to judge the feasibility of the proposed work. For projects with a significant formal component, give enough details of the formalisms used (e.g., proposed theorems, proof schemas, and logical frameworks) for the committee to judge the feasibility of the proposed work.

    Summary. A short summary of the above and potential future work.

    The ordering of the sections above may vary depending on the committee’s preferences. Many proposals also include a section devoted to the work completed by the student prior to the proposal.

    The proposal document is not binding in either direction. However, should the execution of the work result in significant deviations from the proposal, such changes should be discussed with the committee. The proposal document is intended to assist the student in the formalization of the research project and to ensure that the student is not undertaking too much or too little work. If the committee is not satisfied with the proposal, it may request amendments or changes and set appropriate due dates. Typically, the committee will indicate weaknesses in the proposal that must be addressed in the final report and presentation for the student to pass the depth requirement. The committee will also indicate deadlines for any required revisions.

    These meetings are informal and are intended to be helpful.  Constructive criticism from the committee is encouraged.  There is no paperwork associated with these informal meetings.

    4.2 Qualifying Examination Reading List

    The qualifying exam proposal should include a reading list that the oral examination may cover. The student and research advisor prepare an initial reading list, which should be included as an appendix in the proposal document. During the initial meeting, the committee may make changes or additions to the reading list. During the proposal presentation, the selection of materials for the reading list may be reviewed and amended. During the report presentation, the student may be questioned about the content of each work on that list.

    The reading list consists of:

    Focus papers. A small number (typically two or three) papers representing the state of the art in the area. The student will be expected to know these papers in detail.

    Background readings. Typically, a textbook and one or two book chapters or survey papers, or no textbooks and four or five book chapters or survey papers. The student will be expected to have a firm command of the material covered in these readings, as shown through general understanding and an ability to place the work in context, but will not be questioned about them as closely as on the focus papers.

    Related works. The proposal (and later project report) bibliography comprises the rest of the reading list. The student should understand the main idea of each such paper, why that paper is cited, and its relevance to the proposed research.

    5. Qualifying Examination Defense

    The qualifying defense comprises a final project report written by the student and a public oral defense of the research.

    5.1 Qualifying Examination Final Report.

    The report should convey the results of the project and include evidence and arguments that those results are valid. The report should be 10–12 pages long using a typical publication format from conferences in the topical field. The exact format and style of the report may vary somewhat across topics but in general will include the following elements:

    • Presentation of the work’s motivation, hypothesis and contributions.
    • Placement of the work in the context of prior art.
    • An explanation of how the proposed work was carried out. Where applicable, this should provide enough information for the reader to replicate the results.
    • Was the hypothesis verified?
    • Conclusions drawn from the work and a discussion of future research directions that the project suggests.
    • A copy of the final reading list should be included as an appendix in the final report.

    The report should be self-contained and independent of the corresponding proposal (i.e., should not require the reader to reference the initial proposal). The report should provide enough context and detail so that a reader of the proposal can readily see how the work fulfills the promises in the proposal.

    The report and all associated materials must be provided to the committee at least one week in advance of the defense meeting.

    5.2 Qualifying Examination Oral Defense

    The student’s final presentation to the committee is open to the public. The student must provide the final report to the committee at least one week in advance. The student must also arrange for the Graduate Student Coordinator to publicize the time, date, place, committee members, and abstract to all CS faculty.

    The oral defense must be budgeted for two hours. This is the minimum time needed for the student presentation (~30 minutes), questioning regarding the project (about 30 minutes), questioning regarding the reading material (about 30 minutes), and commit- tee deliberations and form processing. The chair of the committee (see Chapter 5.2) is responsible for ensuring that there is time for both phases of questioning (i.e., questioning about the project and questioning about the reading material).

    The oral examination begins with a 30-minute presentation by the student providing an overview of the research project undertaken by the student. The presentation is followed by questioning from the committee and the general audience. Exam questioning should cover the project itself as well as the material from the reading list.

    In addition to questions about the student’s work, the student should be prepared to answer questions about their depth area in general and their research project in particular. The student should be:

    • able to explain the main idea, conclusions, and relevance of any paper in their report’s bibliography. The student is not expected to be completely familiar with every detail of every paper.
    • an expert on the focus papers from their reading lists. These papers represent the state-of-the-art in the area, and the student will be held to a higher standard for these papers. Deep questioning regarding them should be expected.
    • familiar with the major concepts from the background readings in the reading lists. The student will be expected to demonstrate a firm command of the back- ground readings, as shown through general understanding and an ability to place the work in context, but will not be questioned about them as closely as on the focus papers.

    Student are encouraged to provide the committee members with copies of the slides used in the proposal presentation. Slides can be distributed in an electronic form a few days in advance of the presentation or printed out and distributed at the oral examination itself. Providing numbered slides is a courtesy that helps the committee follow the presentation and keep track of their comments.

    Upon completion, the student should file (1) the “Report on PhD Exam” form and (2) the “Computer Science Qualifying Exam Assessment” (see chapter 8) with the Graduate Student Coordinator.

    5.3 Qualifying Examination Depth Outcomes

    Based upon the student’s final project report and oral exam, the examination committee will determine if the student passed the depth portion of the qualifying exam. If the student’s performance is not acceptable, the committee may permit a second attempt, in which case the exam must be re-taken within (30 business days (excluding holidays or days when the University is not in session).  A total of at most two attempts are allowed.

    5.5 Qualifying Examination Overall Outcomes

    Based upon the student’s performance on both the breadth and depth components of the qualifying exam, the advisory committee will decide if the student has passed the over- all qualifying examination.

     

     

     

     

  • PhD Degree

    The PhD degree culminates with the student writing and defending a dissertation based on the result of independent, original research that makes a significant contribution to the student’s field of study. The work is expected to be of sufficient quality to merit multiple peer-reviewed academic publications.

    1. PhD Requirements

     

    The PhD degree requires 72 graduate-level credits, including:

    • at least 24 credits of graded graduate-level coursework (of which up to 18 can be transfer credit — see below), containing
    • one graded graduate-level mathematics course (may be satisfied by transfer credit)
    • MATH and APMA and STAT courses are acceptable
    • “Machine Learning (CS 6316) is acceptable. 
    • similar courses from other SEAS departments are acceptable at the discretion of the advisor and the Graduate Program Director
    • no 5000-level CS courses
    • at least 6 credits of graded graduate-level coursework in excess of that required for the Master’s degree (if possessing or obtaining a Master’s degree)
    • these credits cannot be transferred; you must actually take at least 6 credits of coursework at UVA to get a UVA PhD
    • CS 8897 and CS 9897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction) and CS 6190 (Perspectives) and all ESL courses cannot be used to satisfy this 24-credit requirement (but see below)
    • 48 graduate-level credits, typically satisfied via research hours such as CS 9999, containing
      • at least 12 credits in any combination of CS 8897 and CS 9897 (Graduate Teaching Instruction), corresponding to four semesters as a half-time, 10 hour per week TA (see section 3.2), or equivalent
    • Completion of the Qualifying Examination (see chapter 5)
    • Completion of the PhD Proposal (see section 6.3)
    • Completion of the Oral Defense of the written Dissertation (see section 6.4)

    These requirements have significant overlap with the MCS and MS degree requirements; many students choose to earn one of those Master’s degrees as part of their PhD studies.

    2. PhD Degrees and Transfer Credit

    All transfer credits must be approved by the student’s PhD committee (see section 6.3.1 or 6.4.1). Students should not assume that transfer courses will be accepted prior to evaluation by the Graduate Program Director. Students may take additional courses beyond those required for graduation.

    Logistically, the Graduate Registrar uses the following procedure:

    PhD students who have a Master’s degree are able to request a “bulk transfer of credit” with the ‘Request Requirement Change’ form (http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/form_request_requirement_change_ waiver.pdf). Assuming they provided the graduate registrar with their final, official transcript conferring their Master’s degree in a STEM field and that has been coded in SIS with the Student Group MEXT (external Masters), we do not need another transcript as it is in their file online.

    Note that at most Master’s degree credits (limit 24) can be transferred in this manner. Note that the Graduate Program Director may decide that some courses do not transfer.

    Note that the transfer credit requirements for the PhD are much more lenient than those for the Master’s degree (see section 4.3). With Graduate Program Director approval you can transfer in courses previous used for another degree (e.g., a previous Master’s degree at another school) to satisfy Master’s coursework requirements. In the limit, you could use transfer credit to satisfy all of the in-class coursework requirements except the “six additional credits” requirement and only have to take six credits of classroom work at UVA.

    3. PhD Proposal

    Each PhD student must present a dissertation proposal, created under the guidance of the student’s advisor. This proposal should be presented prior to performing extensive research, in order to receive early faculty approval of the suitability of the proposed research. It is recommended that the proposal be completed by the end of the student’s third year.

    3.1 PhD Proposal Committee

    In most cases, the PhD proposal committee is the same as the PhD defense committee (see section 6.4.1). However, other committee compositions are possible provided  the committee contains the student’s research advisor, a chair, a minor representative (outside the student’s department and major curriculum study area), and at least one other person.

    There is no form to indicate the PhD Proposal Committee in advance. Instead, the committee is indicated on forms used the day of the PhD Proposal Oral Examination (see section 6.3.3). Students must obtain verbal confirmation from their committee members before scheduling the proposal.

    3.2 PhD Proposal Document

    The student’s proposal document should clearly and unambiguously convey the scope of the work and the criteria for success. Every proposal should include the following elements:

    Abstract. An executive summary, no more than half a page long;

    Motivation. What is the problem and why is it important? What is the hypothesis of this research?

    Contributions. What are the main ideas and why do they matter? In what way are they novel?

    Related work. What is the relevant prior work and state-of-the-art in this area? A comprehensive literature review may be included as an appendix, which is not subject to page limitations, although such an appendix is not a substitute for the related work section in the body of the proposal.

    Detailed research plan. What specifically will be completed during the course of the research and how will it be implemented, designed, and evaluated? For projects with a significant implementation component, give enough details of the features to be implemented and the experimental setup involved so that the committee can evaluate the feasibility of the project. Similarly, for projects with a significant theoretical component, give substantial details of the formalisms used (e.g., proposed theorems, proof schemas, and logical frameworks) for the committee to judge the feasibility of the proposed work.

    Summary. What was accomplished and what was learned.

    Proposals can also include a section devoted to the work completed by the student thus far although this section is not formally required.

    Proposal documents should not exceed 15 single-spaced pages (or 30 double-spaced pages). The bibliography and any appendices (appendices are not required to be read by the student’s committee) are not included in this page limit. Proposals should favor brevity over exhaustiveness. Significant departures from these guidelines must be approved in advance by the student’s proposal committee. The written proposal document must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks in advance of the proposal presentation. Some faculty members have preferences on formatting details (e.g., double-spaced text). In the absence of any particular instruction, students should follow National Science Foundation (NSF) grant proposal formatting guidelines.

    3.3 PhD Proposal Oral Presentation

    The PhD Proposal Oral Presentation must be publicly announced two weeks (14 calendar days) in advance via the Graduate Student Coordinator.

    As a rule of thumb, presentations should not exceed 30 minutes, but should be scheduled for at least 120 minutes to allow for questions and a post-presentation discussion by the committee. The student must bring forms (1) “Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy” and (2) “Engineering Dissertation Proposal Assessment” (see Chapter 8) to the PhD proposal presentation to be filled out by the committee and filed immediately afterwards.

    Student are encouraged to provide the committee members with copies of the slides used in the proposal presentation. Slides can be distributed in an electronic form a few days in advance of the presentation or printed out and distributed at the presentation itself. Providing numbered slides is a courtesy that helps the committee follow the presentation and keep track of their comments.

    3.4 PhD Proposal Outcomes

    If the committee decides that the proposal is sufficient they will accept it without changes, communicating any feedback to the student personally. The committee may also decide that formal amendments to the written document are required before the proposal can be accepted. In such a case the committee chair will often “hold” the forms until all committee members have indicated their satisfaction with the updated material.

    Once accepted, the proposal is a binding document on the committee. If the student competently carries out the work described therein, the committee will not reject the student’s PhD dissertation on the grounds that too little has been done. It is not binding on the student, who is free to adjust the research plan. However, there is no guarantee that research other than that outlined in the proposal adjusted will be of sufficient depth and quantity to satisfy the PhD requirements: students adjusting research plans should thus confer with their committees.  Significant departures from the proposed work must be approved in advance by the committee.

    In the event that a suitable proposal is not presented but the faculty believes the student has sufficient research potential, another research presentation will be scheduled within six months. If a suitable proposal is still not presented, the student is subject to dismissal from the program. One final outcome of the proposal presentation might be that the student does not have sufficient research potential to complete a dissertation in a timely fashion; in this case the student will be subject to dismissal from the program.

    4.PhD Defense

    Student should double-check their completion of the requirements using the report offered by the Student Information System (SIS) website.

    To receive a graduate degree, students must file form “Application for Graduate Degree” (see chapter 8) at the start of the semester during which they expect to graduate (i.e., no later than 1 October, 1 February, or 1 June, respectively).

    4.1 PhD Defense Committee

    A PhD student’s Final PhD Examining Committee (i.e., PhD Defense Committee) shall consist of a minimum of five members constituted according to the following rules. There must be at least three Computer Science faculty members, at least one UVa faculty member from outside the Computer Science department, and at least one other member with expertise in the research area. The Department recommends one of the committee members to be an expert from outside the University. The dissertation advisor must be a member of the Computer Science faculty. Faculty with partial time appointments to CS may be dissertation directors; faculty with zero-time appointment in CS must be co-advised by a CS faculty member. This committee evaluates the student’s PhD dissertation and oral defense.

    The student must file the form “Appointment of Final Examination Committee”, selecting “Ph.D. Final Exam”, to officially create the committee (see chapter 8).

    4.2 PhD Dissertation

    The dissertation should convey the research hypothesis, research paradigm, and research results and then defend the proposition that the results are valid and correct. The exact form of the dissertation can vary across topics, but in general a dissertation will include the following elements.

    • Presentation of the work’s motivation, hypothesis, and contributions.
    • Placement of the work in the context of prior art.
    • An explanation of how the proposed work was carried out. Where applicable, this should provide enough information for the reader to replicate the results.
    • Conclusions drawn from the work and a discussion of future research directions suggested by the project.

    A dissertation should be a self-contained document. In particular, it should not assume that the reader has read the corresponding proposal, but it should provide enough context that a reader who has read the proposal can readily understand how the performed work fulfills the promises in the proposal.

    The written dissertation document must be submitted to the committee at least two weeks (14 days) in advance of the oral defense. Additional formatting requirements are published by Printing and Copying Services (see Chapter 7).

    4.3 PhD Oral Defense

    The dissertation defense, which must be announced publicly two weeks (14 days) in advance via the Graduate Student Coordinator, is an oral defense before the student’s advisory committee as well as other faculty, students, and anyone else interested in the work. The written dissertation document must have been submitted to the committee at least two weeks (14 days) in advance of the oral defense. Generally, presentations should not exceed 45 minutes, but should be scheduled for at least 120 minutes to allow for audience questions and a post-presentation discussion by the committee.

    The student should bring forms “Report on Dissertation or Thesis Final Examination” and “Engineering MS Thesis PhD Dissertation Assessment ” to the defense so they may be filled out by the committee and submitted immediately afterwards (see chapter 8). The student must also complete the “Survey of Earned Doctorates” at https://sed.norc.org/doctorate/showRegister.do.

    Students are encouraged to provide the committee members with copies of the slides used in the oral defense. Slides can be distributed in electronic form a few days in advance of the presentation or printed out and distributed at the defense itself. Providing numbered slides is a courtesy that helps the committee follow presentation and keep track of their comments.

    4.4 PhD Outcomes

    Based upon the student’s dissertation document and oral exam, the dissertation committee will either:

    • sign the forms indicating the student has earned a PhD degree, or
    • require formal amendments to the written dissertation and hold the evaluation forms until they are made satisfactorily, or
    • specify significant amendments to the dissertation to be followed by a new defense, or
    • declare the work unsatisfactory and dismiss the student from the program.
  • University Policies and Resources

    The Department of Computer Science is part of the School of Engineering and Applied Science within the University of Virginia. All students are expected to comply with SEAS and UVa policies as defined and published by their respective governing bodies. For reference, information about some of those policies is listed here.

    University Registrar

    http://www.virginia.edu/registrar/

    Academic Calendar

    http://www.virginia.edu/registrar/calendar.html

    Transfer Credit

    Transfer classes will show as “Courses Not Approved for Graduate Engineering” until you complete the following form and bring or send it to the Graduate Office (A108 Thornton Hall).  Once approved, such courses will appear as satisfying   the departmental course credit requirements:

    http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/FormRequestforApprovalofTransferCredits.pdf

    and http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/SEAS_grad_course_ approval.pdf

    Enrollment and Degree Certification

    http://www.virginia.edu/registrar/status.html

    Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA)

    http://www.virginia.edu/registrar/privacyact.html

    Student Information System (SIS)

    http://www.virginia.edu/sis/

    Transcripts

    http://www.virginia.edu/registrar/transcript.html

    Equal Opportunity

    UVa is committed to equal opportunity and affirmative action. If students feel they have been subject to discriminatory practices they may seek redress through the resources outlined at http://www.virginia.edu/eop/

    Graduate Record

    Students at UVa are subject to the university’s academic, financial, and non- academic rules and regulations, as outlined in the “Regulations” chapter of the graduate record. These include policies on tuition and fees; class registration, auditing, and attendance; grievances and redress; graduation and diplomas; military personnel, both veterans and those on active duty; parking and transportation on grounds; legal issues such as copyright, confidentiality, and harassment; and many other topics: http://records.ureg.virginia.edu/

    Theses and Dissertations

    All PhD dissertations and Master’s theses are printed and bound by Printing and Copying Services. Submission guidelines are maintained online at http:// www.virginia.edu/uvaprint/copy_dissertations.html. The CSGSG maintains links to student-generated LATEX style files that satisfy these guidelines at http://www.cs.virginia.edu/˜csgsg/links.php

    Honor System

    http://www.virginia.edu/honor/

    SEAS Graduate Program Contact Information

    The Associate Dean for Graduate Programs, Employment Services Specialist, Graduate Payroll/Financial Aid Administrator, and Graduate Admissions Office can all be useful to graduate students. Contact information for them is maintained at http://www.seas.virginia.edu/admin/gradprog.php

    SEAS Graduate Student Payment Paperwork

    SEAS handles the payment of those students with funding or employment within the department. Students are responsible for ensuring that all relevant paper- work has been filed with the Graduate Financial Aid Administrator. A list of documents that must be filed prior to being paid through the university, either as an employee or a grant recipient, may be found at http://www.seas. virginia.edu/admin/hr/grad/forms.php

    SEAS Center for Diversity

    SEAS maintains a center for diversity in engineering to assist students from underrepresented populations in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. All students are welcome to utilize these services; more information may be found at http://www.seas.virginia.edu/admin/diversity/

    Teaching Resource Center

    http://trc.virginia.edu/Publications/

     

     

  • Forms

    The most relevant forms are collected on the department webpage:

    http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/index.html

     

    For your convenience, direct links to some common administrative forms are also provided here.

    Appointment of Final Examination Committee

    (replaces old form “G105”)

    http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Form%20Final%20Examination% 20Committee.pdf

    Report on PhD Exam

    “PhD Exam Report” (for Quals, replaces old form “G107”)

     http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Form%20PhD%20Exam% 20Report.pdf

    Computer Science Qualifying Exam Assessment

    (replaces old CS-specific form “G107”)

    http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/CSqualexamassessment. pdf

    Dissertation Proposal and Admission to Candidacy

    http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Form%20Dissertation_ Proposal.pdf

    Engineering Dissertation Proposal Assessment

    (replaces old G108-A)

    http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Engineering_dissertation_ proposal_Assessment.pdf

    Application for Graduate Degree

    (replaces old form “G113”)

    http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Form%20Application% 20for%20Graduate%20Degree.pdf

    Report on Dissertation or Thesis Final Examination

    “Final Report on Final Examination” (replaces old form “G111”)

     http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Form%20Report%20on% 20Final%20Examination.pdf

    Engineering MS Thesis PhD Dissertation Assessment

     http://www.seas.virginia.edu/advising/Engineering_thesis_ &_dissertation_Assessment.pdf

    Graduate Student Annual Report Form

    http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/GradAnnualReport.docx http://www.cs.virginia.edu/forms/GradAnnualReport.tex