A Ph.D. candidate in the ACM Program must successfully pass two defense examinations: The Prospectus Examination and the Dissertation Defense Examination. A Master's student in the thesis-based option must successfully pass a Master's Thesis Defense Examination. All of these examinations are conducted by the student's Supervisory Committee.Prosectus Examination
The Ph.D. student must prepare a Dissertation Prospectus that forms the basis of the Prospectus Examination and supply it to the Supervisory Committee sufficiently in advance of the examination (2 to 4 weeks is typical). The Prospectus is a detailed proposal for a dissertation that includes:
- A statement of the problem to be considered.
- A review of the relevant literature and a discussion of state-of-the-art approaches to the problem.
- A discussion of the current results obtained in the student's research thus far.
- A detailed plan of research for the completion of the dissertation.
The Supervisory Committee through the examination will determine if the proposed research is sufficiently novel and of depth sufficient to warrant a Ph.D., if the student is capable of completing the proposed dissertation, and if the proposed timeline is reasonable. The Supervisory Committee may also comment on the scope of the work and indicate their expectations for the completed research that will be defended at the Dissertation Defense Examination.Dissertation/Thesis Defense Examination
A Master's Thesis and a Ph.D. Dissertation must be successfully defended at a final Dissertation/Thesis Defense Examination. The student must provide the thesis/dissertation to the Supervisory Committee sufficiently in advance of the examination. The student should check University requirements but 4 weeks is typical. If the requirement is not met the University Representative on the Supervisory Committee is required to comment on the effect, if any, on the conduct of the examination.
The Supervisory Committee determines by a detailed examination of the thesis/dissertation and questioning of the student if the research novel and of the depth sufficient for the Master's or Ph.D. Degree in the ACM Program. The Supervisory Committee may require modifications to the thesis/dissertation and a specific procedure by which the modifications are to be validated. This may entail reconvening for further questioning of the student. Once the thesis/dissertation is accepted by the Supervisory Committee the student is eligible to receive the Master's or Ph.D. upon satisfying any remaining requirements of the University.