Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

  1. Admission into the Ph.D. program in Computer Science is normally restricted to candidates holding a Master's Degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science or a closely related area. Others may be considered for admission. See Qualifications for Admission of the General Regulations. International applicants are strongly encouraged to submit results of the (general) Graduate Record Examination (GRE) Test.
  2. Each candidate for the Ph.D. shall complete a program of graduate courses prescribed by the supervisory committee. The normal minimum will be 9 credit hours.
  3. Students must obtain a mark of 65% or higher in each course to remain in the program. In addition, a mark of 75% or higher must be obtained in each course to maintain baseline funding from the School of Graduate Studies.
  4. Full-time students are expected to complete their course work by the end of the third semester. Part-time students are expected to complete their course work by the end of the sixth semester.
  5. The candidate shall take the Comprehensive Examination within the time limits specified in Comprehensive Examinations of the General Regulations.
    • In Computer Science, the comprehensive examination consists of two parts: written and oral. Candidates must pass the written part before taking the oral component of the examination.
    • Written Part
      • Candidates must demonstrate a mastery of the foundations of Computer Science.
      • The written part consists of three standard exams: a 2-hour exam on Theory and Mathematical Background, a 2-hour exam on Programming and Algorithms, and a 1-hour exam on Computer Architecture and Operating Systems.To pass the written part, candidates are required to obtain a minimum grade of 75% in each exam.
      • A candidate who does not pass an exam in the written part may submit an application for re-writing that exam to their supervisory committee. Only one such re-write is possible, which must be conducted not less than one month and not more than six months after the first examination. Candidates who do not have the approval of the supervisory conmittee or fail the re-write exam will be required to withdraw from the program.
      • The written part will be offered once a year around late September.
      • Full-time students who started in September or January must take the written part in the immediate September offering. Full-time students who started in May and part-time students may choose to write the test the next time it is offered.
    • Oral Part
      • The exam involves a presentation of a thesis proposal at an open seminar, which is followed by an oral examination behind closed doors. The thesis proposal must be a written document approved by the supervisory committee and submitted at least one month before the oral examination to the Head of Department for circulation to the Examining Committee.
      • The thesis proposal typically includes an in-depth survey of the literature related to the thesis, and a brief outline of the research goals. The purpose of the oral comprehensive examination is to assess the candidates’ understanding of the literature pertaining to their research, as well as their preparedness to accomplish the goals outlined in the thesis proposal. The seminar presentation and the oral comprehensive examination may be scheduled at any time after the completion of written part, but not later than the end of the fourth semester (sixth semester for part-time students) following the written part.
      • Students who fail the oral part will be required to withdraw from the program.
  6. The Department of Computer Science Graduate Student Research Forum takes place in the Winter term of the academic year (usually in March). All Ph.D. students must present at the Research Forum at least twice during their program.
  7. The Ph.D. Degree program will conclude with an oral defense of the thesis as described in Theses and Reports of the General Regulations.


Department of Computer Science

230 Elizabeth Ave, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1B 3X9

Postal Address: P.O. Box 4200, St. John's, NL, CANADA, A1C 5S7

Tel: (709) 864-8000