PhD | Graduate Programs | Faculty of Computer Science | UNB

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PhD in computer science

A PhD in computer science is primarily composed of independent original research that makes a significant contribution to knowledge in a field of computer science. The program also includes three advanced courses that complement the research topic. A PhD degree can be completed within three years.

PhD research is supervised by faculty members. A supervisor must be arranged before a student is accepted into the program. An advisory committee monitors the progress of the student throughout the program.

Course requirements

  • The minimum requirement is three approved graduate courses (nine credits) beyond the master’s degree, not including CS6998.
  • One directed studies course (CS6999) can be included in the course selection.
  • No more than two courses may be taken from the student's supervisor(s).
  • The student may be required to take additional courses depending on the student’s background and assessment of the student's breadth in computer science.

Breadth requirement

The breadth of the student's background in computer science will be assessed by their advisory committee. In order to remedy any deficiencies the student may be required to take additional courses or write a comprehensive examination within 12 months of such assessment. A comprehensive examination will be a written one and may be followed by an oral depending upon the performance of the candidate in the written examination. The student will normally be allowed to have only one more attempt should he/she fail the first examination.

The student will be responsible for the undergraduate computer science degree requirements including core subjects and at least two elective areas. One of the elective areas is expected to be at the master’s level.

Core areas include:

  • Algorithms and data structures
  • Computer architecture
  • Operating systems
  • Programming languages
  • Software engineering

PhD proposal/area examination

The PhD proposal is normally presented and examined within 20 months after the commencement of studies, though this can vary. The candidate is expected to conduct a thorough literature search, identify the open research problems and present a thesis proposal. The proposal is examined by the advisory committee, and will consist of an evaluation of the written document prepared by the student as well as the evaluation of the oral presentation by the student and student response to questions.

The proposal must be approved, and the proposal exam passed, in order for the student to continue in the program.

Advisory committee

The advisory committee is responsible for conducting the area examination and assisting the supervisor who is principally responsible for guiding the student’s research.

The student’s advisory committee will consist of:

  • Supervisor(s)
  • Two additional faculty members, at least one of whom is from the Faculty of Computer Science

The supervisor must establish the advisory committee, with approval by the director of graduate studies, before the proposal is submitted. The breadth assessment must be completed when the proposal is approved. Members of the advisory committee must also read the student's annual progress reports after which the chair of the advisory committee must send the director of graduate studies an email reporting on the student’s progress.

PhD part-time

The PhD degree at the University of New Brunswick is a research degree and by its nature normally requires the student to be in residence at the university so that he or she may benefit from direct supervision and guidance of experienced faculty.

However, under certain conditions it may be considered appropriate to permit a student to proceed to the PhD on a non-resident (part-time) basis. The regular academic regulations for the conduct and completion of a PhD program apply as stated for full-time PhD students. In addition, the following conditions, which have been approved by the executive committee, must be met:

  • The student must be living and working in the immediate environment of the university.
  • The student must clearly indicate what commitment in time and effort he/she is willing to make toward the completion of the degree and a written agreement must be obtained from the employer that such time will be made available.
  • The research program to be followed must be clearly defined, and a clear indication given as to where the research will be conducted.
  • The faculty supervisory committee must be established prior to approval of the program and the admission of the candidate. The committee will include a second faculty member familiar with the area of the proposed research, who is willing to act as supervisor in the event that the supervisor is unavailable.
  • The committee, the program and the student must receive the approval of the Faculty of Computer Science
  • Following faculty approval, each admission must be individually approved by the School of Graduate Studies prior to the commencement of the degree.
  • The regular seven-year time limit for the completion of the degree will apply.