University-wide Doctoral Program Requirements

Qualifying Examination and Advancement to Candidacy

The qualifying examination is the second examination (the first being the written comprehensive examination) taken by the Ph.D. students and is a requirement to advancement to candidacy. It coincides with the department's own Research Exam. Prior to taking the qualifying examination a student must have satisfied the departmental graduate requirements and have been accepted by a CSE faculty member as a Ph.D. thesis candidate. All doctoral students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of four years from the first quarter of registration. It is administered by a doctoral committee appointed (approved) by the Dean of the Graduate Division and Research and consists of faculty from CSE and other departments. More information on the composition of the committee can be obtained from the CSE graduate office. The examination is taken after the student and his/her advisor have identified a research area and a set of papers that will form the basis of the exam.


The Dissertation Defense is the final Ph.D examination. A candidate for the Ph.D. is expected to write a dissertation and defend it in an oral examination conducted by the doctoral committee.

Departmental Ph.D. Time Limit Policies

Students must be advanced to candidacy by the end of four years. Total university support cannot exceed seven years. Total registered time at UCSD cannot exceed eight years.