Student Annual Review Procedure

The purpose of the Ph.D. student annual review procedure is to encourage and motivate Ph.D. student research, and provide additional mentoring for graduate study. The external doctoral program review committee that visited in Spring 2004 charged us to institute a department-wide review of Ph.D. students to provide department-wide quality control that does not depend on just the advisory committee members. The first Ph.D. student annual review took place in May 2004.

The Ph.D. review procedure consists of the following main steps:

  1. Annual progress report and other materials completed by the Ph.D. student. Dates vary by year, but the deadline is typically near the end of the spring semester.
  2. Annual evaluation form completed by advisor (if one exists) and other faculty (dates vary by year, but typically near the end of the spring semester).
  3. Review of the students by the entire faculty in mid-May.
  4. Notification letter to the student and advisor by early June.
  5. Improvement Process: Initiated for students who receive Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory ratings.
  6. Dismissal Procedure: Initiated for students who receive two consecutive Unsatisfactory ratings.

Review Criteria

Minimum requirements are that the student must comply with all academic rules, regulations, and time lines set forth by the Office of Graduate and Professional Studies and the Department of Computer Science and Engineering. These include, but are not limited to, maintaining acceptable degree plan and cumulative grade point ratios (GPRs), formation of an advisory committee and filing a degree plan, completing required course work, passing the Preliminary Exam, submitting a dissertation proposal, and passing the Final Exam (dissertation defense), all within allowable time limits. A student who has committed academic misconduct must complete the remedial actions required of the misconduct review process. These are all required actions.

In addition to meeting minimum requirements, students must demonstrate Satisfactory performance, based on faculty expectations. To provide guidance to students and faculty, descriptions of ranges of Satisfactory progress for students entering with a bachelor's degree or with a related master's degree are provided below:

A student will likely be rated Needs Improvement if they fall below these ranges, and they will likely be rated Unsatisfactory if they fall significantly below these ranges. It is important to note however, that the ranges provided are only guidelines and they should be adjusted accordingly based on each student's individual circumstances. For example, a student may join in mid-year, a student may come with a different background and need additional foundation courses, a student may initially focus on research and defer course work, or a student may go on an internship. The actual evaluation will take into account all the information available to the faculty.

The department will collect and distribute overall performance statistics to students. These statistics will be used to refine our guidelines.

Student and Advisor Reports

The student is required to prepare and file the materials listed below by the announced deadline, typically near the end of the spring semester. Failure to submit the required materials will result in a rating of Unsatisfactory for that year. Reports must be submitted at http://osis.cs.tamu.edu (only available behind the TAMU firewall or using VPN, students and faculty login using their TAMU NetID (neo) login and password).

  • An on-line academic progress report form. It includes documenting progress on required milestones, e.g., identifying an advisor, filing degree plan, completing course work with acceptable cumulative and degree plan GPRs, passing Preliminary Exam, submitting dissertation proposal, passing Final Exam, and submitting dissertation to the thesis office. For each requirement that has not yet been completed, the student will be asked to provide a tentative date by which they plan to complete that requirement. If the student does not have a degree plan on file yet, then they will be asked to provide the names of at most 3 professors that they are considering as potential advisors.
  • A one page annual report describing in detail the student's progress towards their Ph.D. degree in the last year, or since the date the student entered the Ph.D. program, whichever is more recent. This report must include a list of the papers the student has had published, accepted or submitted to conferences or journals limited to the period covered by the annual report. Acceptance ratios or percentages should be included for conference papers. (The report must be in PDF or PLAIN TEXT format.)
  • A current vitae (CV). The CV must include a complete listing (all years) of all the student's published, accepted or submitted conference and journal papers. Acceptance ratios or percentages should be included for conference papers. Examples of CVs can be found by searching the Web using the term curriculum vitae, or by asking your advisor. (The CV must be in PDF or PLAIN TEXT format.)

Complete and accurate documents are critical for a successful Ph.D. review. The student's advisor, if they have one, will provide their evaluation of the student's performance as Satisfactory, Needs Improvement, or Unsatisfactory and will provide written comments. Additionally, other faculty will have an opportunity to provide input on the student.

The materials submitted by the student, their advisor, and other faculty will be available for review by the entire faculty.

Faculty Review

All Ph.D. students will be evaluated by the faculty at their annual retreat, typically held in mid-May. The evaluation by the faculty is based on the following information:

  1. Student's academic record. This includes courses, preliminary exam, Ph.D. proposal, etc.
  2. The materials submitted by the student as part of the annual review process (e.g., academic progress form, annual report, and CV).
  3. Evaluations submitted by the student's advisor (if the student has an advisor) and other faculty.
  4. Faculty discussion. The discussion will presumably include direct knowledge of the faculty about the student; and the student's performance as compared to faculty expectations.

Notification and Student Response Processes

After the faculty evaluation, each student will receive a rating (Satisfactory, Needs Improvement, or Unsatisfactory) and additional feedback regarding their degree progress and the criteria used for evaluation. Results will be available in the Ph.D. Review or Degree Information sections of the One Stop Information Service (OSIS) at http://osis.cs.tamu.edu (VPN is required for off-campus access, students and faculty login using their TAMU NetID (neo) login and password). Notification that results are available will be distributed electronically to the student's departmental email account. It is the student's responsibility to read their email regularly.

In the case of a rating of Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory (that is not a 2nd consecutive Unsatisfactory rating), the notification letter will include specific feedback explaining the evaluation, and what actions the student must take to improve to Satisfactory performance before the next Ph.D. Student Annual Review.

If a student disagrees with their rating, they may provide a written response that will be placed in their departmental record. This statement may include whatever justification or explanation of extenuating circumstances that the student may wish to provide. This statement will be available during future annual Ph.D. reviews and in any future dismissal proceedings.

Improvement Process

Students who are rated as Needs Improvement or Unsatisfactory (that is not a 2nd consecutive Unsatisfactory rating) must complete the following improvement process (IP) within four weeks of the date when notification of Ph.D. review results was sent to their departmental email account. This deadline applies even if the student is away from campus, e.g., on an internship, or if they are not registered for the summer.

Students will complete the improvement process with a mentor. If the student has filed a degree plan, then their mentor will be their advisor. The Graduate Advisor will be the mentor for students that have not yet identified an advisor. Students that have identified an advisor (including students changing advisors), but who have not yet filed a degree plan with that advisor, have the option of going through the process with their identified advisor (preferred) or with the Graduate Advisor (or, when changing advisors, their previous advisor).

The improvement process includes the following steps. This process can be completed remotely using email and/or conference calls as necessary if the student or their advisor is out of town. All improvement process materials should be submitted using OSIS at http://osis.cs.tamu.edu (VPN is required for off-campus access, students and faculty login using their TAMU NetID (neo) login and password).

  1. The student should develop a performance improvement plan with their identified IP mentor. This plan must include steps and a time line for achieving Satisfactory progress over the next year. Students completing the process with the Graduate Advisor as their mentor should format their improvement plans according to this template (pdf).
  2. The performance improvement plan should be submitted by the student to OSIS, and approved in OSIS by the student's identified IP mentor.
  3. After the performance improvement plan is approved by the IP mentor, the advising office will schedule an appointment for the student and their IP mentor to meet with the Department Head, or designate, to discuss the student's performance and the plans for improving it.
  4. The Department Head will decide whether and when all tasks in the improvement plan of a student are successfully completed. The recommendation by the IP mentor will be taken into account for this decision.

Consequence of an Unsatisfactory Rating

A student with an Unsatisfactory rating will in general not be eligible for departmental support until all tasks specified in the improvement plan have been successfully completed.

Dismissal Procedure

Two consecutive Unsatisfactory ratings from the annual Ph.D. review constitute unsatisfactory progress toward the Ph.D. degree and lead to the dismissal procedure. All materials relating to the dismissal procedure should be submitted using the One Stop Information Service (OSIS) at http://osis.cs.tamu.edu (VPN is required for off-campus access, students and faculty login using their TAMU NetID (neo) login and password). The procedure is as follows:

  1. A student who receives two consecutive Unsatisfactory ratings will be informed in the annual review notification letter (available in the OSIS system as described above) that the dismissal procedure has been initiated. The student's advisory committee, if it exists, will also be notified.
  2. The student can submit a written statement and supportive materials arguing why they should not be dismissed. The student may include written statements and materials from the advisory committee.
  3. The statements and materials must be submitted via OSIS within 4 weeks of notification.
  4. The Graduate Advisory Committee (GAC) will then consider the case, taking the student's record, statements and materials into consideration, and will submit a written recommendation to the Department Head. Normally, the GAC will make the recommendation within two weeks after receiving the statements and materials.
  5. If an advisory committee exists, its members may submit written recommendations to the Department Head within four weeks of the notification of the student.
  6. The Department Head will make the final decision about the dismissal of the student from the graduate program. Normally, the Department Head will make the decision within two weeks after receiving the recommendations of the GAC and advisory committee.
  7. If the student is dismissed, they may appeal to the Graduate Appeals Panel per university rules (http://student-rules.tamu.edu/rule59).

B.S. to Ph.D. Satisfactory Progress Guidelines

Below are recommended guidelines for judging the progress of a full-time Ph.D. student admitted directly to the Ph.D. program with a B.S. Note there may be significant variation from these depending on the student's individual circumstances, and in this case the schedule below should be adjusted accordingly. For example, a student may join in mid-year, a student may come with a different background and need additional foundation courses, a student may initially focus on research and defer course work, or a student may go on an internship. The expectations for part-time Ph.D. students are scaled appropriately.

The notation "B+i" means the i-th year after the B.S. degree.

Year B+1 The student is expected to find an advisor, to complete several core courses (or foundational courses in the case of CE majors), to start their research. The student may file a degree plan.
Year B+2 The student is required to file a degree plan (by the end of their third semester). The student is expected to complete most of their course requirements. Some progress in research should be documented (for instance, submission of a paper to a conference or journal).
Year B+3 The student is expected to complete their course work. The student is expected to complete their preliminary exam. The student should have tangible research results, such as refereed publications in recognized outlets. The student is expected to complete their Ph.D. proposal.
Year B+4 The student is strongly expected to complete their Ph.D. proposal. The student must have made substantial progress towards the completion of the Ph.D. dissertation. There should be evidence that the candidate has produced original, significant research contributions. Lack of publications will be an indicator of inadequate progress.
Year B+5 The student should complete and defend the dissertation.
Year B+6 The student is strongly expected to complete and defend the dissertation.

Related M.S. to Ph.D. Satisfactory Progress Guidelines

Students may enter the full-time Ph.D. program with widely varying Master's degree backgrounds. The assumption made here is that the student completed a broad Masters degree (often from another school) and is not already in a specific research activity. These are the suggested goals for each year for Satisfactory progress for a full-time Ph.D. student. Note there may be significant variation from these depending on the student's individual circumstances, and in this case the schedule below should be adjusted accordingly. For example, a student may join in mid-year, a student may come with a different background and need additional foundation courses, a student may initially focus on research and defer course work, or a student may go on an internship. The expectations for part-time Ph.D. students are scaled appropriately.

The notation "M+i" means the i-th year after completing the Master's Degree.

Year M+1 The student should be familiar with the CSE faculty and their research activities such that agreement with an advisor can be finalized quickly. The student should (nearly) complete course work, start their research, and is expected to file a degree plan. Progress in research should be documented (for instance, submission of a paper to a conference or journal). A student may engage in more research and correspondingly less course work.
Year M+2 The student must file a degree plan (by the end of the third semester). The student should complete all course work. The student is expected to complete their preliminary exam. The student must have tangible research results, such as refereed publications in recognized outlets. The student should submit their dissertation proposal.
Year M+3 The student must have made substantial progress towards completion of the Ph.D. dissertation. There should be evidence that the candidate has produced original, significant research contributions. Lack of publications will be an indicator of inadequate progress.
Year M+4 Expected to complete and defend dissertation.
Year M+5 Strongly expected to complete and defend dissertation.