Qualifying Examinations

The qualifying examination tests general academic preparation and competence in the theory and practice of computing. Students should apply for permission to take the exam through the PhD program director.

Students are expected to take four qualifying exams at the end of their first year in the program.

All Ph.D. students are required to take and pass the following two foundational subject area exams:

  • Data Structures and Algorithms (based on CS 610)
  • Computability and Complexity (based on CS 611)

Students may choose any two of the following areas to fulfill the pragmatic computer science requirements for the qualifying exams. Both chosen area exams must be passed as part of fulfilling the qualifying exam requirement. These areas include:

  • Operating Systems Design (based on CS 630), Prof Andy Sohn
  • Database Management System Design (based on CS 631), Prof DimitriTheodoratos
  • The Internet and Higher Layer Protocols (based on CS 656), Prof Grace Wang
  • Image Processing and Analysis (based on CS 659), Prof Frank Shih
  • Systems Simulation (based on CS 661), Prof Marvin Nakayama
  • Artificial Intelligence (based on CS 670), Prof ChengJun Liu
  • Machine Learning (based on CS 675), Prof Usman Roshan
  • Bioinformatics (based on BNFO 601/BNFO 602), Prof Usman Roshan
  • Data Mining (CS 634), Prof Jason Wang

It is highly recommended that you take these courses from the faculty member who manages the qualifying examination, so as to maximize your chances of success.

Samples of prior qualifying exams are available at: Previous PhD Qualifying Exams.