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Department ofComputer Science

Suggested Schedule of PhD Milestones

The following graphic visualizes the various milestones towards completing the PhD. Naturally, there will be individual differences based on your particular circumstances. Please keep these timelines in mind as you plan your studies with guidance from your advisor. This will help you to assure your successful and timely progression through our graduate program. You are expected to make yourself familiar with these milestones and to take appropriate initiative in your own education to assure your success.

Legend Legend
MP = MS Proposal Finish PhD Bin Requirements
MS = MS Thesis done Form Committee
RQ = Research Qualifier Initial Research Activities
PP = PhD Proposal Research Activities & Publishing
CE = Comprehensive Exam Alternate Semester
PhD = Dissertation Defended Alternate Order

The above image shows how a typical PhD60 and PhD90 student progresses through these milestones. A PhD90 student is admitted into our PhD program with a BS degree only. Thus this student would be first completing her MS degree during her graduate studies here at WPI. While a PhD60 student has been admitted to our PhD program with a prior MS degree in Computer Science or a closely related field. We thus expect this PhD60 student to already have mastered most or all of the material at the MS level. Hence we anticipate that most PhD60 students will submit bin petitions, with guidance by their PhD advisor, for meeting one or more of our PhD Bin requirements.

We encourage you to talk to several faculty members during your first semester at WPI to learn about their respective research projects (highlighted by a yellow dashed box). As a PhD student, you are encouraged to get involved in research activities early on. This gives you sufficient time to acquire and practice the needed skills to succeed. This includes attending one or more of research meetings held by research groups in the Computer Science department, as well as attending departmental colloquium each week to stay abreast about new advances in the computing field.

As a PhD90 student (no prior MS), you would conduct an MS thesis first — thus typically in your second semester aim to identify an advisor for your MS thesis work. As a PhD60 student, you should delve into Phd research right away. Therefore, during your first semester at WPI, you should actively work on identifying a research advisor that will guide you through the research qualifier milestone. In many cases, his faculty member may then also serve as your PhD research advisor. However, you are welcome to learn about other research activities in the Department and to switch a dvisors and select a dissertation direction, once you are more familiar with research activities at WPI.

Of course, when you leave WPI, your knowledge and skill set as represented by your resume will largely be what you will be judged on. As such, your publication record and other visible research artifacts such as participation in professional societies, presentations at professional meetings, development of software contributing to the scientific community, and so on, are important. They serve as evidence of your skills, productivity, creativity and accomplishments. These activities and their outcomes will thus be critical for your future employment and career.

The yellow boxes in the diagrams are there to remind you that you should be engaged in research and learning on a continuous basis throughout your PhD studies. D ifferent areas of Computer Science may have different expectations on the expected publication outcome in terms of high-quality publications in top venues. We encourage you to seek advice from your research advisor about what is expected. It is clearly to your own advantage to acquire critical skills and to be able to showcase them in your resume — thus aim to go beyond expectations. Your resume and acquired skill set will stay with you for the rest of your life.

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