Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination Policies
Students in the Doctorate of Philosophy in Computer Science program must pass comprehensive examinations after they have completed their formal course work as a partial requirement to earn the degree.
Computer Science Ph.D. Examination Policy
The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination serves to provide evidence that each student has a broad knowledge of computer science, can communicate that knowledge, and is able to perform directed research. The Comprehensive Examination is to be taken after the student has completed all formal course work included in the student's doctoral program of study. See the Florida Tech Graduate Policy Manual for additional information on the Comprehensive Examination.
The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination is given in two parts. The first part is a breadth exam that tests the student's knowledge of areas such as the theoretical foundations of computer science, software, computer-based systems, and applications. The breadth exam is prepared and graded by members of the CS graduate faculty - possibly with assistance of graduate faculty from other departments. The Ph.D. Faculty Advisor has overall responsibility for defining the breadth exam in collaboration with faculty who agree to serve on the student’s Breadth Exam Committee. The breadth exam should be completed within two years (four years for part-time students) from the time the student first enrolls in the program. The Breadth Exam Committee may choose to leverage the MS comprehensive exams being given in the MS programs in Computer Science, Software Engineering, or Information Assurance & Cybersecurity. It is the Breadth Exam Committee that determines whether these comprehensive exams will be used to satisfy breadth exam requirements in whole or in part.
The second part of the Ph.D. Comprehensive is a depth examination administered by the student's Doctoral Committee. It tests the student's knowledge of a proposed research area, but may also include other areas considered appropriate by the Doctoral Committee.
The Breadth Examination
The breadth examination is prepared, and graded by FIT graduate faculty under the direction of the Breadth Exam Committee. It may be scheduled at any time. However, if MS comprehensive exams are included in the breadth exam, these are usually given within the first month of the beginning of Fall and Spring semesters. Generally each student is allowed a maximum of three sittings for the breadth exam – but final pass/fail decisions are made by the Breadth Exam Committee. This committee may also decide to accept (as sufficient for the Breadth Exam) the results of MS comprehensive examinations taken at FIT by a student who enters the Ph.D. program after completing the MS degree in Computer Science or Software Engineering, or Information Assurance & Cybersecurity at FIT.
The Depth Examination
The depth examination is administered by the student's Doctoral Committee. The event is published by the Graduate School and open to all members of the Graduate Faculty. To pass the exam, the student must have the unanimous approval of the Committee. Reports of the depth exam are reported to the Graduate Program Office. Graduate Program Policy provides for a total of three attempts to pass comprehensive examinations.
The content of the depth exam is determined by the Doctoral Committee in consultation with the student. The exam should provide evidence that the student is prepared to accomplish original, directed research in a field of Computer Science. The Ph.D. depth exam is normally scheduled for two or more hours.