Ph.D. Program Requirements


Ph.D. students are encouraged to finish their Doctorate program within 5 years.

Ph.D. Program Timeline

Doctorate Requirements

Most students complete these requirements in their first year, but you have up to 20 months to complete them. Minimum requirements include:

  • Three computing science graduate courses (either 500 or 600 level)
    • You may only include one "special topics" course (CMPUT 605)
    • Exceptions for obtaining credit for non-CS courses must be discussed with the Associate Dean Graduate.
  • One course on Teaching and Research Methods (CMPUT 603)
    • TA Training Requirements: We require that graduate students attend our TA Training Workshop (offered early in September). This is considered part of a requirement for CMPUT 603. We encourage graduate students to also take FGSR sessions on teaching during FGSR's Graduate Teaching and Learning week in late August or early January.
    • The Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement is required by FGSR. Beginning in Fall 2022, the Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement will replace the former Academic Integrity and Ethics Training Requirement. The new Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement will consist of two zero-credit, self-paced online courses: INT D 710: Ethics and Academic Citizenship (for both master’s and doctoral students) and INT D 720: Advanced Ethics and Academic Citizenship (for doctoral students). There are no instructional fees associated with these courses.
      • This requirement is handled by:
        • Successful completion of INT D 710 for all MSc students and both INT D 710 AND INT D 720 for all PhD students
  • Professional Development Requirement
    • For students who graduated with a MSC in Computing Science from the University of Alberta:
      • A PhD student holding a MSc in Computing Science from the University of Alberta (and therefore passed CMPUT 603) automatically satisfies the 8hrs of PD requirement. No further action is needed.
    • For all other PhD students:
      • Individual Development Plan must be completed within the first 18 months of your program. To meet this requirement, complete the workbook and review this with your supervisor.
      • Eight hours of professional development activities - these hours are covered by CMPUT 603. The topics covered in this course normally include career development (communication, networking, collaboration), professional practice, entrepreneurship and/or intellectual property, teaching skills.
      • Fill out the Individual Development Plan and Professional Development Requirement Form
        • On the form: Description of Professional Development activity input: CMPUT 603
        • On the form for the Time (hours) input: 8 hours
        • On the form for the date complete (term you completed CMPUT 603) input: TERM, YYYY (ex: Fall 2021)
        • On the form: the total hours input: 8
        • Remember to sign the form
        • Once you have met with your supervisor to discuss your IDP workbook, your supervisor needs to also sign the form.
        • You are to then submit the completed form here.
        • The Computing Science Graduate Program Administrator will review the IDP/PD form and verify the requirements have been completed. We will contact you if there are any issues with your IDP/PD form.
        • If CMPUT 603 has been waived for you, talk to the department about how to complete your PD requirement.
  • Maintaining a minimum GPA of 3.3 on a 4.0 scale in three graduate courses (excluding CMPUT 603) with none of these grades lower than a B-. Your overall GPA including undergrad courses and CMPUT 603, must be at least 2.7.

Note: Students enrolled in Statistical Machine Learning have their own set of course requirements.

Supervisory Committee and Annual Progress Reports

Every Ph.D. student must have a supervisory committee, by the end of year 2. The supervisory committee consists of three faculty members, typically computing science profs (your supervisor and two other profs, or one other prof if there are two supervisors). Where appropriate, a supervisory committee member may be from a different department.

The student should meet with their supervisory committee at least once a year. The supervisory committee meetings are tied to the annual reporting for Ph.D. students in the following way:

  • Students create an annual report at the end of each year in the program. For Fall admission the deadline is September 15, for Winter admission it is January 15.
  • After the completion of the first year, the supervisor provides a progress assessment in gradDB.
  • After the completion of the second year, each year the student must schedule, in collaboration with the supervisor(s), a meeting with the supervisory committee before the end of the academic term in which the report is due (Fall for Fall admission and Winter for Winter admission).
  • In exceptional cases, instead of the supervisory committee meeting, the student may meet separately with the members of the supervisory committee.
  • The supervisor must enter in gradDB the feedback, comments, and evaluation of the student's progress provided by the supervisory committee.
  • In the absence of an evaluation by the end of the term in which it is due, the Associate Dean Graduate may recommend that the student be put on academic probation until the pending evaluation is completed and the supervisory committee determined that there is sufficient progress.

The Associate Dean Graduate evaluates the progress of a student during the annual review. In the event that the progress is unsatisfactory, a meeting will be held with the Associate Dean Graduate, the student, and the supervisor to review the performance problem. If it happens to be the student of the Associate Dean Graduate, then another faculty member will be asked to chair the meeting. The review will determine the cause of the lack of progress, work to resolve the problems, and then set new milestones that will allow the student to graduate in time. Six months after the meeting, the performance of the student will be evaluated again. If the performance is still unsatisfactory and the student is found solely responsible for the lack of progress, then funding will be terminated immediately. The student may choose to convert to the M.Sc. degree program with no funding.

Graduate Seminars

You are required to give three publicly-announced Departmental seminars.

  • Seminar 1: Within the first 24 months of enrolling in the program
  • Seminar 2: Before the candidacy exam
  • Seminar 3 (Thesis seminar): Before the final oral thesis exam*

*Assuming all members of the committee agree, students are allowed to combine this seminar presentation with their defense by defending immediately after the presentation. As all committee members will be in attendance, the student will NOT be required to begin the defense with a 15-20 minutes summary.

Seminar Guidelines


Dissertation (Thesis)

To be deemed acceptable, a Ph.D. thesis must be original, worthwhile, and substantial in its contribution to knowledge.

FGSR states: "[The doctoral thesis] is a piece of work which must embody the results of original investigations and analyses and be of such quality as to merit publication, meet the standards of reputable scholarly publications, and constitute a substantial contribution to the knowledge in your field. "

Dissertation Guidelines


Candidacy Examination

The candidacy oral examination ensures you have the ability to pursue and complete original research at an advanced level and have an adequate knowledge of the discipline and subject matter relevant to your thesis topic.

Candidacy Exam Guidelines


Final Oral Examination (Defense)

The final examination (or Ph.D. thesis defense) determines whether your thesis meets the criteria. You must take the examination before the end of the fourth year.

Final Oral Exam Guidelines



The University of Alberta holds two convocations each year:

  • Spring Convocation in June
  • Fall Convocation in November
Convocation Deadlines and Details


Transfer to M.Sc. from Ph.D.

You may switch from the Ph.D. program into the M.Sc. degree program. Transfer must be supported by your supervisor and the Department.