Proficiency examination

To demonstrate knowledge of computer science fundamentals at the undergraduate level, all Ph.D. students are required to pass the proficiency examination within one year of starting the program. This examination will be given once near the beginning of each Fall and Winter semester. The first attempt must be made at the beginning of the semester of admission unless a Ph.D. student is admitted in the Spring/Summer semester. In that case, the first attempt must be taken in the Fall semester immediately following the Spring/Summer semester in which the student was admitted. All three parts must be taken in the first attempt. If a student does not pass all the parts in the first term, the second attempt must be made in the next semester in which the exam is administered.

Specifics of the proficiency examination:

  • Three undergraduate subjects will be covered: data structures and algorithms, discrete math, and object-oriented programming skills.
  • Each exam will last 90 minutes with the exception of the programming test, which will last three hours.
  • Each exam is passed or failed separately. If all parts of the exam are not passed within the first year, the student will not be allowed to continue the Ph.D. program in our department. The student may be given the opportunity to pursue a master’s degree, if the student is in good academic standing.
  • Students will be given two attempts to pass each subject.
  • The first attempt must be taken in the beginning of the student’s first term.
  • All three subjects must be taken in the first attempt. If a subject is failed, the student must make a second attempt at passing that part in the next semester.

The emphasis will be on programming skills rather than knowledge of C++/Java/C#. Students should be able to write, compile and debug a simple program, consisting of couple of classes. The allotted time for this exam will be three hours. Work should be compressed as a single archive to be collected by the exam administrator. Your archive should contain all source code and executable. The environment to complete this exam will be Microsoft Visual Studio 2013 (C++/C#) and Eclipse (Java) depending on the programming language used to implement the exam. Please contact csgradadvisor@cs.wayne.edu for the latest copy of the exam announcement, which lists the reference texts and topics for each subject.

Qualifying examination

In order to demonstrate critical reasoning skills and written communication skills in the English language, especially with regard to technical and theoretical material, the student will be required to pass the written qualifying examination. By the end of their second year in the Ph.D. program, all students are required take their first attempt at the written qualifying examination. This exam will be offered in March and November.   

Specifics of the qualifying examination: 

  • The written part will consist of a literature survey based on a topic chosen by the student and his/her advisor that is relevant to the student’s intended Ph.D. dissertation topic.  
  • The oral part of the exam will consist of a presentation by the student of the contents of the literature survey. Students are expected to explain the different research papers included in the survey, as well as future research directions on this topic. 
  • Students must provide a copy of the literature survey to each member of the Qualifying Exam Committee at least two weeks prior to the announced oral presentation date. This committee is comprised of the student’s advisor, a member of the Graduate Committee who is not the student’s advisor, and two additional faculty members from the Department of Computer Science chosen by the student in conjunction with the advisor, and with agreement of these faculty members. 
  • To the extent possible, all oral presentations will be held on the same date. Presentations will be limited to 30 minutes, including five minutes at the end for questions. Following the public presentation, the committee will meet with the student for additional questions and answers. 
  • Students who fail the written literature survey must also repeat the oral part of the exam. 
  • Students must have completed CSC 6500 and CSC 6580, both with a grade of "B" or better, before taking the exam in their fourth semester.
  • If a student fails to pass the entire exam after two attempts, that student will be withdrawn from the Ph.D. program. The student may be given an opportunity to pursue a master’s degree, if the student is in good academic standing.