Jun 22, 2024  
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 
School of Graduate Studies Calendar, 2022-2023 [-ARCHIVED CALENDAR-]

Computer Science, Ph.D

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Outstanding students with a Master’s degree in a field other than Computer Science will be counselled about the breadth and depth of the comprehensive examination before proceeding with the application. Each student’s background will be assessed and his/her program of study designed to ensure appropriate depth and breadth in Computer Science.

Students holding a Bachelor’s degree should enrol at the Master’s level. Excellent students may be transferred to the Ph.D. program prior to completing their Master’s thesis.


Students must successfully complete the following requirements:

Graduate courses in the Dept. of Computing and Software are grouped in three categories, i) Theory of computation and mathematics of computing (Theory), ii) Software and its engineering (Software), and iii) Computer systems and applications (Systems). Categorization of existing courses can be found in the department handbook.

Students must successfully complete four half courses (or equivalent) including i) two courses in Systems or Theory, and ii) one course in a category differing from i). At most one graduate course from outside the department subject to the approval of the student’s thesis advisor and the graduate advisor. Additional courses may be required for students with gaps in their background. Students are required to take the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination and successfully defend a Ph.D. thesis. All programs of study are subject to the approval of the Department.

Pass a two-part Comprehensive Examination. Part I tests breadth of knowledge and Part II is a defense of a thesis proposal.

Prepare and successfully defend a thesis.


  • Departmental seminar attendance
    • Minimum 4 times or 50% per academic year, whichever is lower during each year of the first two year of their programs
  • Technical presentation
    • Students are required to participate in the graduate poster & demo competition that is held annually once in the first two years of their programs

Exception upon approval of petition, to be submitted by the student, explaining the reasons that attendance was not feasible by supervisor & graduate advisor.

Accelerated Direct-Entry Ph.D.

The accelerated direct-entry PhD program in Computer Science and the accelerated direct-entry PhD program in Software Engineering are designed for talented students with Bachelor’s degrees in CS, SE or closely related fields for direct entry to PhD programs. Typical duration of the programs are 5 years with a total course load of 6 courses.

Industrial Ph.D. Option

The general Regulations for the degree Doctor of Philosophy appear earlier in the Calendar. This program option offers the candidate the potential to conduct all or a portion of their research at their company or research institute of employment. To be enrolled under the option, the candidate must be a full-time student in the degree program, have previously completed a Masters of Applied Science or its equivalence, and be employed by a company or research institute outside of McMaster continuously till degree completion. A candidate is required to complete the normal course requirements of their enrolled department as well as any milestones, but is exempt from seminar requirements. As a doctoral candidate they must take the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination that is designed to test the breadth of knowledge and the ability to synthesize and integrate ideas from within and peripheral to the candidate’s research area. The Comprehensive Examination will normally take place between 6 and 18 months after the candidate initially registers in the Ph.D. program. A supervisory committee monitors the progress of a Ph.D. candidate and determines when the candidate is ready to write the thesis. The student is required to defend the thesis at a Final Oral Examination.

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