PhD Regulations

Current Regulations

1. Course Requirements for the PhD Program

a) Course Requirements: Students will be required to have achieved at least a grade of "B" in at least eight half courses beyond the requirements for an undergraduate degree before completion of the PhD degree. At least three of these must be taken while the student is enrolled as a PhD student in Computer Science at the University of Calgary. Of the eight half courses, at least six must be graduate-level courses, with the remaining two courses being either graduate-level courses or advanced (500-level) undergraduate courses. At least four of the required courses must be taken from a degree-granting Computer Science Department. In addition to the above courses, Computer Science 699 or equivalent experience is required and does not count toward the minimum eight half courses above

b) Breadth Requirements: The above courses must be taken from multiple research areas. Not more than six courses in one research area are counted toward the minimum eight half courses. Courses in the intersection of two or more areas are counted in the area with the most completed course credits. The current research areas are:

  • Artificial Intelligence and Multi-Agent Systems
  • Bioinformatics and Biological Computations
  • Computer Graphics
  • Computer Vision and Image Processing
  • Database
  • HCI and Visualization
  • Networks and Systems
  • Security
  • Theory and Foundations
  • Scientific Computing
  • Software Engineering
  • Other areas in Computer science
  • External to Computer Science: Courses outside Computer Science must be approved by the student’s supervisor. Credits for courses external to the Department of Computer Science are only given on condition that no Computer Science course which covers similar content is counted toward the required eight courses. These courses will be counted toward the appropriate areas in Computer Science.

For PhD programs, at most two half courses at the 500 level may be taken as part of the course work requirement; at most one of these taken while registered in the current PhD program. This must be recommended by the supervisor and approved by the Graduate Director on the normal PhD Course Approval Form (please contact to obtain the form).

The list of all graduate courses offered in a term shows the category for each course.

In particular cases, course programs for PhD students can deviate from the above by designing and justifying an alternative breadth/depth program that satisfies the supervisor, the supervisory committee, and the graduate committee. In case of conflict an appeal committee will be struck by the Head of the Department.


2. Computer Science Doctoral Candidacy Requirements

Students admitted prior to May 1, 2018, can choose to have their candidacy examination conducted under the New Regulations (see below) or the old regulations.

New Regulations (May 1, 2018)

All doctoral students in the Computer Science Graduate Program must successfully complete the following components:

a) Course requirements as stated in the Graduate Calendar.

b) A Field of Study (FOS) written examination. The written exam consists of a literature review that the student prepares in consultation with the Supervisor(s) and is evaluated by the student’s Supervisory Committee. More details on FOS examination can be found in the Candidacy Regulation Document.

c) A thesis proposal oral examination based on a written thesis research proposal. The student must have submitted the thesis proposal when the thesis oral exam is scheduled. The thesis proposal provides the focus for questions related to the candidate's thesis topic. More details on the oral examination and thesis proposal can be found in the Candidacy Regulation Document.

All candidacy requirements must be completed within 28 months for students with a completed MSc and within 36 months for students with a Bachelor's degree or those who transfer to a doctoral program before completing an MSc.


3. Departmental Seminar

Every PhD candidate must give at least one department seminar on their research before their final oral defense.

4. Dissertation & Oral Defense

The dissertation must present significant, original research that represents an advance in knowledge in the field of specialization, and that warrants publication of its results in fully refereed recognized journals and / or high-quality conferences.

The final oral exam must be held at most six calendar years after initial registration. The dissertation is adjudicated by a Final Oral Exam Committee, which also conducts the final oral exam based on the Faculty of Graduate Studies regulations.

Normal PhD Timeline

  1. Within the first few weeks on Campus, the student needs to discuss course selection with the supervisor(s). The program needs then be documented by the student and submitted for approval by the graduate director or their delegate. Getting this approval at the start of the program ensures that the course selection is meeting the departmental breadth requirement and avoids that the student is required to take extra courses later on.
  2. The first two semesters in the PhD program are usually filled with course work.
  3. Faculty of graduate studies expects that a supervisory committee is set up within three months in the PhD program.
  4. In collaboration with the supervisor(s), the student determines the research topic.
  5. After completing all the required courses, students in consultation with their supervisor(s) establish a suitable context and scope for the literature review for their Field of the Study (FOS) written exam.
  6. The supervisory committee evaluates the literature review within three weeks of receiving the literature review document. A formal evaluation meeting chaired by the Supervisor shall be scheduled with the student and the Supervisory Committee.
  7. The thesis proposal oral candidacy examination needs to be scheduled after passing FOS examination and at least three weeks before the exam date. When the thesis proposal oral examination is scheduled, the student/Supervisor needs to submit the thesis research proposal to the Graduate Program Assistant of the department.
  8. All candidacy requirements must be completed within 28 months for students with a completed MSc
  9. The student finishes their research and submits a thesis.
  10. The oral exam is conducted following Faculty of Graduate Studies guidelines.