IX. Graduate Programs

Computer Science

PhD Program

The School of Computer Science (SOCS) offers the PhD degree in Computer Science in the fields of applied modelling, artificial intelligence, distributed computing, and human computer interaction as detailed below:

  1. Applied Modelling (AM): Students working in this field will engage in research on topics such as graph theory and algorithms, formal specifications, hardware-software co-design, and interdisciplinary work in environmental modeling and disease spread modeling.

  2. Artificial Intelligence (AI): Students working in this field will engage in research on topics such as Bayesian techniques, artificial neural networks, evolutionary computation, fuzzy systems, datamining, pattern recognition, intelligent agents

  3. Distributed Computing (DC): Students working in this field will engage in research on topics such as parallel computing, distributed systems, embedded systems, multi-agent systems, mobile computing, wireless networks, and ad hoc networks.

  4. Human Computer Interaction (HCI): Students working in this field will engage in research on topics context-aware systems, usability, interface design, mobile and ubiquitous computing.

Admission Requirements

Most spaces are filled in March for entry the following September, and in October for entry the following January. Prospective students should check the SOCS website http://www.socs.uoguelph.ca/ for admission procedures and deadlines.

General Requirements

Admission to the PhD program will normally require a recognized master's degree in Computer Science or a closely related discipline obtained with high academic standing. Entrants are expected to have previously studied the following areas in Computer Science:

  • Advanced Programming

  • Computer Architecture

  • Data Structures

  • Operating Systems

  • Databases

  • Software Engineering

  • Discrete Mathematics

  • Algorithms

  • Computer Networks

and the following areas in Mathematics and Statistics:

  • Calculus

  • Linear Algebra

  • Probability and Statistics

  • Numerical Analysis

Students who lack sufficient breadth may be required to complete specific courses as a condition of admission. Students entering the program are expected to have demonstrated good research potential, an ability to critically evaluate experimental or theoretical results, and strong communication skills. Evidence for these are normally provided by scholarly publications during and immediately following the master's degree.

English Proficiency

A test of English proficiency is required of all applicants whose first language is not English. Required scores are shown below:

  • Paper-based TOEFL- 600.

  • Internet-based TOEFL- 100, 26 speaking and writing, 21 reading and listening

  • IELTS- 7.5.

  • MELAB- 90, speaking 3, no score lower than 80.

  • CAEL- 70 overall, 70 writing and speaking, no score lower than 60.

  • University of Guelph English Language Certificate at the Advanced Level.

The proof of English proficiency requirement may be waived in exceptional circumstances (e.g., applicants who have studied full-time for two years in a country where English is the native language AND in a university where English is the language of instruction). Graduate Committee approval required.

GRE Tests

Students who have obtained a Masters degree from a university outside of Canada are encouraged to supply GRE scores (GRE General and/or GRE Subject in CS).

Admission without an MSc Degree

A student who has achieved excellent standing in an honours Computer Science degree (or an equivalent 4-year Computer Science degree) and who wishes to proceed to doctoral study may enrol, in the first instance, in the MSc program. If the student achieves a superior academic record and shows a particular aptitude for research, the student may be transferred into the PhD program without completing the MSc degree. The application for transfer must be made between the end of the second semester and the end of the fourth semester.

In exceptional circumstances, a student who has completed an honours Computer Science degree (or an equivalent 4-year Computer Science degree) may apply for direct admission to the PhD program. The successful applicant must have an outstanding academic record, breadth of knowledge in Computer Science, demonstrated research accomplishments, and strong letters of recommendation. Contact the SOCS for additional information.

Transfer From Another PhD Program

A student who wishes to transfer from another closely related PhD program at the University of Guelph into the PhD in Computer Science program should submit:

  • a program transfer application form;

  • original transcripts from all past programs; and

  • a written description of the progress in the previous program including copies of qualifying examination documents or thesis proposal where available.

Part-Time Study

Students may not enter the PhD program as part-time. A full-time PhD student may apply for part-time studies only after the minimum duration for the degree has been completed. The application will not be granted unless the candidate has completed the qualifying exam and the thesis research is well established.

Degree Requirements

Once a student has been admitted to the PhD program, the following components are required for the successful completion of the PhD degree:

  • Completion of the minimum specified duration of the program.

  • Completion of the Technical Communication and Research Methodology course CIS*6890 (unless the student has taken an equivalent course in the MSc program) and at least four other graduate courses with an overall average of at least 70%. Students who are admitted without an appropriate MSc are required to take the Technical Communication and Research Methodology course CIS*6890 and at least eight other graduate courses with an overall average of at least 70%.

  • Satisfaction of the breadth requirement.

  • Completion of the seminar requirement.

  • A successfully completed Qualifying Examination.

  • An accepted thesis and the successful completion of a final oral examination.

Duration of the Program

At least 5 semesters of full-time study must be completed in the doctoral program following completion of a recognized master's degree in Computer Science or a related discipline. At least 7 semesters are required for those who are permitted to proceed from the honours baccalaureate without completing a master's degree. The actual length of the program depends on the academic preparation of the student and the choice of research topic. A typical PhD student (after an MSc) is expected to complete the program in 12 semesters.

Course Requirement

A PhD student, following the completion of a recognized master's degree in Computer Science or related discipline, is required to take the Technical Communication and Research Methodology course CIS*6890 (unless the student has taken an equivalent course in the Masters program) and at least four other CIS graduate courses with an overall average of at least 70%. With approval from the Graduate Committee, a CIS graduate course requirement may also be met by a non-CIS graduate course. At most one may be a reading course CIS*6660.

A PhD student admitted without an appropriate Masters is required to take the Technical Communication and Research Methodology course CIS*6890 and at least eight CIS graduate courses with an overall average of at least 70%. With approval from the Graduate Committee, a CIS graduate course requirement may also be met by a non-CIS graduate course. At most two reading courses CIS*6660 and at most one 4000-level course can count towards the course requirement.

Breadth Requirement

For breadth requirement purposes, the subject matter of computer science is divided into three broad categories, and each category is subdivided into two to three areas:

Systems (category S)
  • Software Engineering (area S1)

  • Programming Languages (area S2)

  • Computer Architecture and System Software (area S3)

Mathematics of Computation (category M)
  • Algorithms and Complexity (area M1)

  • Scientific and Symbolic Computing (area M2)

Applications (category A)
  • Artificial Intelligence (area A1)

  • Databases (area A2)

  • Graphics, Imaging and User Interfaces (area A3)

Each SOCS graduate course falls into one of the eight areas. A student must have sufficient background in five of these areas, including at least one from each category.

A student has gained sufficient background in an area if the student:

  • has taken a CIS graduate course in the area**, or

  • has taken a non-CIS equivalent course in the area** (approval required from Graduate Committee), or

  • has extensive industrial experience in the area (approval required from Graduate Committee), or

  • has written a Master thesis in the area (approval required from Graduate Committee).

**Each course must have a grade of at least 70% and at most one reading course may be counted towards fulfilling the breadth requirements.

A student must satisfy the breadth requirement no later than the fourth semester after entering the program, otherwise the student may be required to withdraw from the program. The student, therefore, should develop a plan of study no later than the end of the second semester, and seek approval from the Graduate Coordinator.

Seminar Requirement

A PhD student must give two publicly announced research seminars on his/her PhD thesis research.

The first seminar is intended to be an exploratory look at the student’s research area. It may include a Literary Review and a Survey of the area. The following apply:

  • Must be presented prior to the Qualifying Examination.

  • The student will be allocated times and dates for the seminars.

  • Must be attended by the student's advisor and at least one other member of the student's Advisory Committee.

  • The quality of the presentation is graded on a pass/fail basis.

The second seminar is intended for students to present their preliminary results to get feedback on analysis presentation and progress towards defense. The following apply:

  • Must be presented prior to the thesis defence.

  • The student will be allocated times and dates for the seminars in consultation with the Advisory Committee.

  • Students will provide a title and extended abstract to the Graduate Secretary at least two weeks before seminar.

  • Must be attended by at least two members of the student’s Advisory Committee and two SOCS regular graduate faculty members.

  • Must be one hour in length. The student must speak for a minimum of thirty minutes and no more than forty-five minutes.

  • The quality of the presentation is graded on a pass/fail basis. The student must receive three or more pass votes to pass. Two pass votes and two fails votes will mean the student must attempt the seminar again.

Qualifying Examination

The student must satisfy the breadth requirement before the Qualifying Examination (QE). The QE must be completed no later than the final semester of the minimum duration for the degree (either 5 or 7 semesters). The focus of the examination is to assess the candidate's ability and promise in the selected research area.

Arrangements for the QE should be made at least 4 weeks prior to the anticipated date of the QE oral presentation, and the student must submit a research proposal to the Examination Committee at least 2 weeks prior to the QE. The research proposal should contain, as a minimum, the following items:

  • A survey of appropriate background literature.

  • A description of the proposed research.

  • A statement describing the merits and scholarly value of the proposed research.

  • A schedule of the research program that the candidate will follow, including a sequence of milestones and objectives.

The examination consists of an oral presentation by the student followed by questions from the Examination Committee.

Thesis Defence

Arrangements for the PhD thesis defence should be made 8 weeks prior to the anticipated date of the defence, and the student must submit his/her PhD thesis to the Examination Committee at least 4 weeks prior to the defence. The examination consists of an oral presentation by the student followed by questions from the Examination Committee.

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