PhD in Computer Science Qualifying Exam

Note: The Qualifying Exam for the PhD in Computer Science, Computer Engineering or Electrical Engineering is the same except for the course selections (see the application form).

The Computer Science (CS) Qualifying Exam is a written exam intended to assess whether a student is ready to conduct research at the doctoral level and is able to publish in international conferences and journals. This exam must be passed for formal admission into the doctoral program. Students seeking the PhD degree are expected to take the exam during the second semester of their doctoral studies, excluding the Summer semester.

The exam addresses the student's knowledge of graduate and undergraduate course material and basic mathematical concepts and engineering methods required for research and professional practice at the doctoral level. The exam consists of six problems (one from each course) related to material covered in recent FAU graduate and undergraduate CS courses, which are prepared by faculty with input from the student and selected by the Graduate Committee. The exam, administered in the Fall and Spring semesters, is given in two 3-hour sessions, each session covering three courses, morning and afternoon, in one day. The student can bring three 2-sided pages of notes and a simple calculator to each session, but no books, computers, or phones. An overall minimum score of 70% or better is required to pass. A student failing the written exam may, upon re-application, take it a second time. Two failures will normally result in the student's dismissal from the PhD program.

Application for the Computer Science Qualifying Exam

Students need to fill out and submit an application for the qualifying exam. In filling out the form, the student should list six courses, at most four of which may be at the graduate level and at least two of which must be at the undergraduate level and selected from one of the lists below. Students can select at most one graduate course outside the CEECS department with the approval of the advisor. All other courses must have been offered by the CEECS department during the preceding three years but the student may have taken them anywhere or prepared for them on their own. The student will also list a primary area of research and at least one secondary area.

The application must be approved by the student's adviser and then submitted to the Graduate Committee. Upon approving the application, the Graduate Committee will arrange for preparation of the exam.

Computer Science Courses
  1. CDA 3201C Introduction to Logic Design or CDA 4102 Structured Computer Architecture
  2. COP 3530 Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis
  3. COP 4610 Computer Operating Systems
  4. COT 4400 Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  5. COT 4420 Formal Languages and Automata Theory
  6. STA 4821 Stochastic Models for Computer Science