PhD Program of Study Process

The Ph.D. Program of Study is designed to allow students some flexibility to develop their curriculum in accordance with the Ph.D. graduation requirements and with the expectations of their Program of Study committee.

Students are assigned three committee members during the first semester of their Ph.D. program, based on their research interests. Two committee members are appointed from the student's primary area of research interest and the third member from the secondary area of research interest.  Effective Fall 2020, the student's (prospective) advisor can serve as a committee member.

Students must prepare the Program of Study form in consultation with their Program of Study committee through individual meetings, a group meeting, or other forms of correspondence. Students will discuss their area of interests with their committee to determine what required courses must be completed and develop strategies for meeting educational and career goals as well as the Ph.D. graduation requirements.

  1. Required Coursework: A minimum of one course and a maximum of three courses (not including CS 591 PHD and CS 591 TA seminars) must be identified as required courses. Required courses are courses you and your committee agree that you must complete. Each of these courses should be marked as pre-qual or pre-prelim.
    Pre-qual courses must be completed prior to taking your qualifying exam. Some exceptions can be made for any courses you take in the same semester as your qual. Pre-prelim courses must be completed before you can schedule your preliminary examination.
    Any changes to your required courses must be approved by all members of your Program of Study Committee and a revised form must be completed. 
  2. Recommended Coursework:  Courses that your committee suggests and you plan to take that are intended to help you plan your studies during your research. These courses are not required and any changes to recommended courses do not require an update to your program of study form. These courses will meet the minimum credit hours required for your degree.
  3. Strategy: brief explanation of the motivation for the choice of coursework.

Here is a "Sample" of a program of study form to view. Students must have all three committee members electronically approve the completed Program of Study form by the posted deadline announced when committee assignments are released. The Program of Study form may be altered by the student at any time, but a revised copy must be completed and approved by the Program of Study committee if any of the "Required Coursework" is changed.

Requests for a change of a Program of Study committee member may be submitted to Viveka P. Kudaligama ( for consideration.

Note: Students' progress with respect to their Program of Study and the quality of the Program of Study itself are open to evaluation at the annual area meetings, where all Ph.D. students are evaluated. For a student who is not making satisfactory progress in terms of Qualifying Examination preparation, depth of coursework, breadth of coursework, and so on, will receive a warning indicating the requirements to be completed.

How to access the Program of Study Form

The Program of Study Form is an online form available through My.CS portal in the "Grad Student Toolbox" area. Students can "Save" the form and return to complete the form over multiple sessions. Once all data is entered, students must click "Submit for Committee Review" at the bottom of the form, which closes the form.   Prior to submitting the form for committee review, students must also confirm with their committee members that each individual committee member will approve the submitted course list.  Please keep in mind this may take several iterations for all committee members to approve the proposed plan, and plan for time accordingly. Once submitted, the form will be routed to the committee members for electronic approval. All committee approvals must be logged in My.CS system by the posted deadline.  (First-year PhD students in the CS 591 PHD/PH2 seminar may have an earlier deadline to have the approval process completed.)

Note: If the Program of Study Form is not available in the "Grad Student Toolbox" area,  please use the drop-down menu "Add content to above column" to add Program of Study Form. If Grad Student Toolbox is not visible, the same menu can be used to add it to the main account page. 

A few things to remember when completing this online form.

  1. When entering in a CS 598 and CS 591course, it is important that you start the course name off with the section number - RHC Special Topics or PHD Advanced Seminar. We need to know what section you plan to complete when entering in a 598 or 591. This also goes for any 498 courses as well.
  2. Two courses can be entered for one required course. Students should use this if the committee says that either course would be acceptable. To do this, enter in the first course and click "Add". Then under "Action" next to the course that was just added, click on the "OR". This will allow you to add the other course. This means that you must complete one of these two courses in order to meet that required course requirement.
  3. When entering in "Strategy", "General Comments", or any other comments in the text boxes, avoid using apostrophe.

Any problems with accessing or completing the online Program of Study form, please contact either Viveka P. Kudaligama ( or Engineering Tech Support (

Additional Recommendations and Information to Consider


Graduate Advising

The Graduate Academic Office, a guiding hand for CS graduate students, assistance is available every weekday.