The boxes below summarize significant steps in the completion of a PhD for students admitted without an MS in CS (or a closely related field) at the time of admission. Detailed requirements are contained in the PhD program requirements page. If requirements conflict, requirements in the PhD Program page take precedence.

1 Find an Advisor During or before second semester

Before admission, and in many cases before applying to the program, identify a professor in the CS department to serve as your advisor. This will involve communicating with potential advisors. Your advisor should be doing research you find interesting and should be someone you get along with.

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2 Be Resident Entire MS and PhD program

Satisfy both the CS Department and BYU Grad Studies residency requirements. The department requires PhD students to be resident which means being present during most business hours. The University requires PhD students to register for at least 2 consecutive 6-hour semesters on the BYU Campus. Exceptions to the department requirement for research-focused internships are regularly approved.

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3 Update your Graduate Profile Twice a year in September and February

Profile updates are used during twice-yearly PhD Progress Reviews. At these reviews, the graduate CS faculty review all PhD students. Students are placed on "satisfactory", "warning", "marginal" or "unsatisfactory" status.

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4 Complete an MS in CS Within two years of admission

Complete all requirements for an MS in CS using the thesis option. PhD students should generally complete an MS in 2 years---well before the departmental 3 year limit. Note that the thesis defense will be used as the Qualifying Exam for your PhD.

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5 Form a PhD Dissertation Committee and Submit Study List Shortly before defending MS thesis

With your advisor, select graduate faculty to serve as your 4th committee member. This professor should attend your MS thesis defense---which also serves as your qualifying exam. Create and submit a study list that satisfies coursework requirements for a PhD in Computer Science.

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6 Pass Qualifying Exam During MS thesis defense

The MS thesis defense is also the qualifying exam presentation. The thesis is to be used as the paper suitable for publication. Ensure that all members of the dissertation committee are present for the defense.

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7 Teach a Class After defending MS thesis

A PhD student must teach at least one Computer Science course. Make requests for teaching by indicating your desires for teaching, both the semester and course, at the time you submit your report for progress reviews. These requests should be made well in advance because the department plans teaching assignments in January.

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8 Propose a Dissertation Soon after passing qualifying exam

The dissertation proposal comprises a document and an oral presentation. The proposal presents a problem, discusses closely related work and the broader research area, and describes a research agenda to solve the problem and evaluate the solution. The proposal must explain the importance of the research problem and the research agenda.

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9 Apply for Graduation The semester in which you defend

See Jen Bonnett for details.

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10 Defend your Dissertation Within 7 years of admission

Working with your advisor, prepare a dissertation. After your advisor approves, obtain approval from other committee members. After the committee approves, schedule a defense 3 weeks in advance. Please reach out to Jen Bonnett, the Graduate Academic Advisor, early in the semester in which you hope to defend to create a plan to accomplish your goals.

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