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As part of the degree requirements for a Ph.D. in computer science or computer engineering, students must pass a final examination given by their advisory committee as described in the graduate catalog. The part of the exam that is related to the presentation of the student's research is public (the dissertation defense). The final examination may not be administered before the dissertation is available to all members of the student's advisory committee in substantially final form, and all members have had adequate time to review the document. Final corrected copies of the dissertation must be accepted by the thesis clerk no later than one year after the final examination or within the 10-year time limit, whichever occurs first. Failure to do so will result in the degree not being awarded.

Listed below are the major steps that should be completed for Ph.D. dissertation defenses in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. Much of this information is taken from the graduate catalogSteps to Fulfill Doctoral Degree Requirements page on the Graduate and Professional School website and the department's graduate brochure.


Final exam deadlines are listed on the Graduate and Professional School calendar (usually about eight weeks before graduation).

To be eligible to schedule the final examination, the student must meet the following requirements:

  • An approved dissertation proposal must have been submitted to the Graduate and Profesional School at least 15 days before the request to hold the final examination (dissertation defense) is submitted to the Graduate and Profesional School (or about four weeks before the defense). (This is a decrease - it used to be 14 weeks before the defense.)
  • All course work on the degree plan must be completed with the exception of any remaining CPSC 691 (Research) hours and the student must be registered for those hours. This means all petitions to change the courses on the degree plan must be filed and approved before the exam can be scheduled.
  • The cumulative and degree plan grade point ratios must both be at least 3.00. There cannot be any unabsolved grades of D, F, or U for any course listed on the degree plan. To absolve a deficient grade, the student must have repeated the course at Texas A&M and have achieved a grade of C or better.
  • All English proficiency requirements must be satisfied prior to scheduling the examination.
  • Students must be registered in the university in the semester or summer term in which the final examination is taken.

Listed below are the steps that should be followed in scheduling and administering final examinations (dissertation defenses) for Ph.D. degrees in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

  1. The student and the chair of the advisory committee should review the eligibility requirements for the final exam and ensure that the student has satisfied them all. If different courses were taken than are listed on the degree plan, then the appropriate petitions should be filed to make the necessary changes; all such petitions must be approved by the Graduate and Profesional School before the exam can be scheduled.

    Deadline: several weeks before exam.
  2. The student should consult with their advisory committee and select a mutually agreeable date and time for the defense. All advisory committee members should attend the final examination. If one of the members cannot attend the examination, he or she must find an appropriate substitute. The committee chair may not be substituted. (Note that the committee member and not the substitute should sign the dissertation approval pages.) Normally two hours should be reserved for the defense. The student is responsible for ensuring that a room is reserved for the defense; the advising office can help with this if needed. To book a room in Peterson, visit the department's room calendar page. 

    Deadline: Several weeks before the exam.
  3. The Request for Final Examination must be received by the Graduate and Profesional School at least 10 working days before the exam. An electronic copy in plain text (ASCII) of the title and abstract of the dissertation must be emailed to the advising office before the student brings the request for final examination, already signed by the chair(s), to the advising office for the department approval signature. The advising office will submit the request to the Graduate and Profesional School and they will announce and publicize the defense once the request is approved by the Graduate and Profesional School.

    Deadline: At least 15 working days before the exam. The additional days are to allow department processing.
  4. The student should distribute a complete draft ("nearly final form'') of the dissertation to the advisory committee.

    Approximately two weeks before the exam.
  5. The Graduate and Profesional School will send the advising office a Report of Final Exam before the exam. It should be completed and signed by the advisory committee at the defense. The student's chair should return the Report of Final Exam to the advising office and they will submit it to the Graduate and Professional School. If the Report of Final Exam is not submitted to the Graduate and Profesional School within 10 working days of the scheduled examination, then a failing grade may be recorded.

    Immediately after the exam (at the latest, within 10 working days of the exam).