Computer Science

PhD Degree Requirements (pre-2012)

This document describes requirements for the PhD degree offered by the Graduate Group in Computer Science at UC Davis, prior to 2012. These degree requirements are not available to those who started the program in 2012 or later; those students must follow the most recent degree requirements.



Computer Science Breadth Requirements

All students receiving degrees through the Graduate Group in Computer Science must satisfy the “breadth” requirements. These requirements include:

  • Demonstrated proficiency at the undergraduate level in four fundamental areas of computer science, and in mathematics (see Appendix A)
  • PhD students must complete the Advanced Proficiency Requirements (see Appendix B)

Requirements for the PhD Degree

The PhD program is open to only the most qualified students, and is the most demanding in terms of research, examinations, and course work. The formal requirements for the Doctor of Philosophy are the satisfactory completion the advanced proficiency requirements and qualifying examination, completion of an approved program of study, and production of a dissertation that is acceptable to the Graduate Group in Computer Science and the University of California at Davis.

Undergraduate Proficiency Requirements

A student satisfies the undergraduate breadth requirements by demonstrating proficiency at the undergraduate level in the following areas:

  • Computer Architecture
  • Programming Languages
  • Operating Systems
  • Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science
  • Mathematical Foundations

A student satisfies the above requirements in one of the following ways:

  • Demonstration of proficiency in each area on the student’s previous undergraduate or graduate record. This is decided by a graduate advisor in consultation with the student.
  • Demonstration of proficiency in each area by completion of an approved undergraduate course in the area with a grade of B or better. (See Appendix A for a list of approved courses for each area.)
  • Demonstration of proficiency in an area by completion of a graduate course, with a grade of B or better, equivalent to one of the approved undergraduate courses in the area, or approved by the graduate adviser.
  • Demonstration of proficiency in an area by challenging one of the approved courses in the area, receiving a grade of B or better.
  • Petitioning the Graduate Advisors Committee of the Graduate Group to have the requirement removed, or have an acceptable substitute courses submitted in place of the requirement.

It is expected that the student will complete the Undergraduate Proficiency Requirements by the end of the first academic year of residence. This deadline may be extended only by approval of the Graduate Advisors Committee of the Graduate Group.

Advanced Proficiency Requirements

All students who are in the PhD program, or who expect to work toward a doctorate in computer science at UC Davis are required to complete the Advanced Proficiency Requirement. A student passes this requirement by a high level of achievement in graduate coursework and demonstrating “advanced” proficiency in the graduate breadth requirements.

To pass this requirement, a student must

  • have a 3.5 GPA in graduate courses taken at UC Davis.
  • demonstrate “advanced proficiency” in each of the four areas of the graduate breadth requirements by passing a “comprehensive examination” or by exhibiting a bypass course as a valid substitute for passing the examination.
  • have at least an A- in each of the four courses taken to satisfy the graduate breadth requirements.
Comprehensive Examinations

Students may demonstrate advanced proficiency in an area by passing a two-hour written examination in the area. A student is allowed to repeat the comprehensive examination in an area once.

Bypass Provisions

A student may demonstrate proficiency in an area by submitting a bypass course as a valid substitute for passing the comprehensive examination.

Area Bypass Courses
Architecture Tier I
ECS 201A Advanced Computer Architecture
EEC 270 Computer Architecture
Tier II
ECS 201B High-Performance Uniprocessing
ECS 203 Novel Computing Technologies
ECS 289B Special Topics: Architecture
EEC 277 Graphics Architecture
Systems Tier I
ECS 240 Programming Languages
ECS 251 Operating Systems
ECS 260 Software Engineering
Tier II
An additional course from Tier I
ECS 243 Code Generation and Optimization
ECS 244 Principles of Concurrent Programming
ECS 289C Special Topics: Programming Languages and Compilers
ECS 289D Special Topics: Operating Systems
ECS 289E Special Topics: Software Engineering
Theory Tier I
ECS 222A Design and Analysis of Algorithms
Tier II
ECS 220 Theory of Computation
ECS 222B Advanced Design and Analysis of Algorithms
ECS 223 Parallel Algorithms
ECS 224 String Algorithms and Applications in Computational Biology
ECS 225 Graph Theory
ECS 227 Modern Cryptography
ECS 228 Cryptography for E-Commerce
ECS 226 Computational Geometry
ECS 230 Applied Numerical Linear Algebra
ECS 278 Computer-Aided Geometric Design
ECS 289A Special Topics: Theory
Applications Tier I
ECS 231 Large Scale Scientific Computation
ECS 234 Computational Functional Genomics
ECS 235A Computer and Information Security
ECS 236 Computer Security Intrusion Detection Based Approach
ECS 252 Computer Networks
ECS 256 Performance Evaluation
ECS 265 Distributed Database Systems
ECS 267 Wide-Area Distributed Information Systems
ECS 268 Scientific Data and Workflow Management
ECS 270 Artificial Intelligence
ECS 271 Machine Learning and Discovery
ECS 272 Information Visualization
ECS 274 Automated Deduction
ECS 275A Advanced Computer Graphics
ECS 276 Advanced Volume Visualization
ECS 277 Advanced Visualization
ECS 278 Computer-Aided Geometric Design
ECS 279 Topics in Character Animation
Tier II
ECS 229 Advanced Computational Structural Bioinformatics
ECS 235B Foundations of Computer and Information Security
ECS 256B High Speed Networks
ECS 257 Mobile and Wireless Networks
ECS 258 Internet Quality of Service
ECS 259 Optical Networks
ECS 273 Applied Visual Computing
ECS 275B Advanced Computer Graphics
ECS 280 Principles of Virtual Reality
ECS 289F, G, H, I, J, K, M, S Special Topics

The student can satisfy the Bypass requirements in one of the following ways:

  • Completion of a Tier I course with a grade of A- or better.
  • If required grade is not received in Tier I course, a Tier II course must be completed with a grade of A- or better for the requirement to be satisfied.
  • Demonstration of a similar graduate course taken at another institution with a grade of A- or better. (A graduate advisor must approve this option.)

Unit/Course Requirements

  • A student’s program of study must contain a minimum of 45 units of graduate and upper-division work.
  • With the approval of the graduate advisor, up to 15 units of graduate course work taken as a student prior to attending UC Davis, may be used toward partial satisfaction of this 45-unit requirement.
  • At least ten (10) graduate courses are required, exclusive of seminar (290, 290C, 298) and research (299) units. This may include all courses taken in the Master’s program if applicable.
  • No undergraduate courses completed to satisfy the undergraduate breadth requirements may be counted toward the 45-unit requirement.
  • A grade of B or better must be obtained in all coursework used to satisfy degree requirements.

Majors and Minors

The student must declare both a major and minor area of study. The major area must include at least thirty (30) units of course work, with at most six (6) units of 299, which form a consistent program of study in a research area of computer science. The minor area must include at least fifteen (15) units of course work, including at least three graduate courses, and excludes any units of 299.

Program of Study

The student, in conjunction with the faculty/dissertation advisor, develops the program of study for a PhD student. All programs of study must be approved by the Educational Policy Committee of the Graduate Group, which is the sole body with authorization to grant exceptions from the stated PhD requirements.

No course with a grade less than a B will be accepted on the program of study.

PhD Dissertation Committee

The PhD dissertation committee consists of three members who will guide the student in research. Graduate Studies at UC Davis must approve this committee. Guidelines for choosing the members of the dissertation committee are given in Appendix C.

The Qualifying Examination

To be eligible for the Qualifying Examination, the student must have satisfied all course requirements, have removed all deficiencies, and must have at least a 3.5 GPA in courses taken in the program of study.

The Qualifying Examination is administered by a faculty committee appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies, in conjunction with the student’s faculty advisor. Student input into the selection of the committee is sought and encouraged (see Appendix C).

The Qualifying Examination is a formal, oral examination to ascertain the student’s readiness to conduct PhD level research in the major area of study. Prior to the Qualifying Examination the student must prepare a paper containing a thorough discussion of a proposed thesis topic. This paper must be submitted to the Qualifying Examination Committee at least two weeks prior to the examination.

The examinations differ in structure, depending on the area of research and the members of the examining committee. In this examination the student will be asked to give a formal presentation of the thesis proposal. The committee will question the student on this proposal, and will question the student to determine the student’s competence in both the major and minor areas of study.

The committee can issue the following grades for the examination:

Pass

In this case student can apply to the Graduate Studies for Advancement to Candidacy for the degree. At this time a dissertation committee is officially selected to direct the student in the research, and to guide the student in the preparation of the dissertation. The committee must be approved by Graduate Studies.

Not Pass

In this case, the committee has two options:

  1. It can decide that the student’s research proposal is not sufficient and ask that it be re-thought/re-written to better reflect a PhD-level research project. In this case, the committee will ask the student to remedy the difficulties in the proposal and retake the examination within a specified time frame.
  2. It can decide that the student’s knowledge within the major and minor areas is not sufficient for continued progress for the PhD. In this case, the committee can ask the student to take some additional course work and retake the examination within a specified time frame.

Fail

In this case, the student is not permitted to continue in the PhD program.

The committee can meet with the major advisor as part of its deliberations.

The student can only retake the qualifying examination once. If a passing grade is not achieved by the second attempt, the student cannot continue in the PhD program.

Dissertation

The PhD dissertation demonstrates the ability of the student to carry out an independent original research project of high quality. It reflects a level of attainment in research and not the fulfillment of a list of requirements. An acceptable PhD dissertation is not only an original contribution to the field, but is generally characterized by a broad scope of universal applicability.

Exit Seminar

Each student is required to participate in an exit seminar, in which the candidate’s research is presented to the UC Davis academic community. This seminar will be administered by the dissertation committee and will take place after all committee members have approved the dissertation, but before the dissertation has been filed with the Office of Graduate Studies.

Teaching Requirement

The Graduate Group requires all PhD candidates demonstrate at least one quarter of college level teaching experience. We strongly recommend that this includes lecturing or leading a discussion section.

Residency Requirement

A student must be in residence a minimum of six (6) quarters.

Normal Progress

It is expected that the student will complete the breadth requirements within the first four quarters of study, the advanced proficiency requirements within the first four quarters of study, and the Qualifying Examination between the sixth and ninth quarters of study.  Completion of all requirements is normally accomplished in fifteen quarters of study. The maximal time period allowed for completion of each requirement is as follows:

  • A student’s Program of Study must be submitted and approved by the end of four quarters of study.
  • The student must complete the Advanced Proficiency Requirements by the end of the sixth quarter of study.
  • The student must complete the Qualifying Examination by the end of the ninth quarter of study.
  • The student should complete all requirements for the PhD by the end of the 15th quarter of study.

Students who fail to complete all the requirements within the “normal” time period are referred to the Educational Policy Committee of the Graduate Group. The Committee considers the student’s entire record, including examination scores and letters of support, particularly from the student’s major research advisor. The Committee exercises wide discretion: it may decide that no action is necessary (i.e., when a student has one or more quarters to complete the requirements); that the student should be allowed more time in which to complete the requirement; that certain requirements should be waived; that certain remedial actions should be taken; or that the student should be advised to leave the program.

The committee attaches great weight to the major research advisor’s letter of support. It is therefore extremely important that students involve themselves in research under some faculty member very early in the program – preferably by the end of their third quarter.


Appendix A
Undergraduate Proficiency Course Requirements

Computer Architecture

  • ECS 154A Computer Architecture

Operating Systems

  • ECS 150 Operating Systems and System Programming

Programming Languages

  • ECS 140A Programming Languages

Theoretical Foundations of Computer Science

Both of the following are required:

  • ECS 120 Theory of Computation
  • ECS 122A Algorithm Design and Analysis

Mathematical Proficiency

One of the following:

  • MAT 131 Mathematical Probability
  • STA 131A Introduction to Probability Theory

One additional mathematics course at the upper division level.


Appendix B
PhD Advanced Proficiency Requirement

This appendix lists coursework that may be used to fulfill the PhD Advanced Proficiency Requirements.

PhD Advanced Proficiency Requirement

Students must complete one course from each of the following areas with a grade of A- or better.

Architecture

Tier I

  • ECS 201A Advanced Computer Architecture

Tier II

  • ECS 201B High-Performance Uniprocessing
  • ECS 203 Novel Computing Technologies
  • ECS 289B Special Topics: Architecture
Systems

Tier I

  • ECS 240 Programming Languages
  • ECS 251 Operating Systems
  • ECS 260 Software Engineering

Tier II

  • An additional course from Tier I
  • ECS 243 Code Gernation and Optimization
  • ECS 244 Principles of Concurrent Programming
  • ECS 289C Special Topics: Programming Languages and Compilers
  • ECS 289D Special Topics: Operating Systems
  • ECS 289E Special Topics: Software Engineering
Theory

Tier I

  • ECS 222A Design and Analysis of Algorithms

Tier II

  • ECS 220 Theory of Computation
  • ECS 222B Design and Analysis of Algorithms
  • ECS 230 Applied Numerical Linear Algebra
  • ECS 224 String Algorithms and Applications in Computational Biology
  • ECS 225 Graph Theory
  • ECS 226 Computational Geometry
  • ECS 227 Modern Cryptography
  • ECS 228 Cryptography for E-Commerce
  • ECS 278 Computer-Aided Geometric Design
  • ECS 289A Special Topics: Theory
Applications

Tier I

  • ECS 231 Large-scale Scientific Computation
  • ECS 235 Computer and Information Security
  • ECS 252 Computer Networks
  • ECS 265 Distributed Database Systems
  • ECS 270 Artificial Intelligence
  • ECS 271 Machine Learning and Discovery
  • ECS 275A Advanced Computer Graphics

Tier II

  • ECS 230 Applied Numerical Linear Algebra
  • ECS 236 Computer Security Intrusion Detection Based Approach
  • ECS 256 Performance Evaluation
  • ECS 257 Mobile and Wireless Networks
  • ECS 258 Internet Quality of Service
  • ECS 259 Optical Networks
  • ECS 267 Wide-Area Distributed Information Systems
  • ECS 273 Applied Visual Computing
  • ECS 274 Automated Deduction
  • ECS 276 Advanced Volume Visualization
  • ECS 277 Advanced Visualization
  • ECS 278 Computer-Aided Geometric Design
  • ECS 279 Topics in Character Animation
  • ECS 280 Principles of Virtual Reality
  • ECS 289F, G, H, I, J, K, M, S Special Topics

Appendix C
Guidelines for Committee Selection

Qualifying Exam Committee

  1. The qualifying examination committee will be composed of five members.
  2. The primary dissertation adviser must be selected before the examination. This person can be on the qualifying exam committee but cannot be chair of the committee.
  3. The membership of the qualifying exam committee must satisfy the following conditions:
    1. The chair of the committee must be a member of the Academic Senate of the University of California, Davis, and a member of the Graduate Group.
    2. At least three members of the committee must be members of the Academic Senate of the University of California and members of the Graduate Group.
    3. It is recommended (by the Academic Senate) that one member of the committee be a faculty member outside of the Graduate Group in Computer Science.

PhD Dissertation Committee

  1. The PhD dissertation committee will be composed of at least three members.
  2. At least two of these members must be members of the Academic Senate of the University of California.
  3. At least two of these members must be members of the Graduate Group in Computer Science.
  4. The Chair of this committee must be a member of the Graduate Group in Computer Science.

Proposed committee members that are not members of the Academic Senate of the University of California must be approved, first by the Educational Policy Committee of the Graduate Group in Computer Science, and then by Graduate Studies.

border