Ph.D. Academic Progress and Financial Support Deadlines

Policy and Procedures as of October 2018

  1. Course Requirements and Preliminary Examinations

    There are four first-year sequences of courses. Students are required to complete three of these sequences. Two of the sequences, Applied Statistics (STAT 34300, 34700, 34800) and Mathematical Statistics (STAT 30400, 30100, 30210), must be completed by all students; for the third sequence, students can choose either Probability (STAT 30400, 38100, 38300) or Computational Mathematics and Machine Learning (STAT 30900, 31015/31020, 37710).

    At the start of their second year, the student takes preliminary examinations covering two of these areas, one theoretical (Probability or Mathematical Statistics) and one applied (Applied Statistics). Incoming first-year students have the option of taking any or all of these exams; if an incoming student passes one or more of these, then he/she will be excused from the requirement of taking the first-year courses in that subject.

    In their second year, Ph.D. students typically take a number of advanced topoics courses in statistics, probability, computation, and applications. These should be selected with the dual objective of (i) acquiring a broad overview of current research areas, and (ii) settling on a particular research topic and dissertation supervisor. Students have considerable latitude in selecting their second-year courses, but their programs must be approved by the Department Graduate Advisor. By the end of the second year, most students should have begun to work with a thesis advisor.

  2. Thesis Advisor and Dissertation Committee

    By the end of the third year, each Ph.D. student shall have a dissertation advisor and, after consultation with his or her advisor, shall establish a committee of at least three members, two of whom should be from Statistics. The departmental form listing the committee members, with their signatures, must be filed in the Department office by the end of Spring Quarter of the third year. The composition of the committee may be changed at any time if the student or faculty so choose; however, it must always include the student's dissertation advisor and at least two of the committee members must be regular faculty members from the Department of Statistics. Any such change must be filed as a resubmitted and newly completed and signed form with the Department office.
  3. Proposal Presentation and Admission to Candidacy

    By the end of Autumn Quarter of the fourth year, students should have completed a proposal presentation to their committee. This consists of a 5-page outline of planned research and relevant references and a 45-minute meeting with the committee discussing the proposed research. The proposal meeting will be scheduled by the student and his or her committee and reported to the department office. Acceptance of the proposal by the Dissertation Committee is a formal requirement of the Department's Ph.D. program. After a successful proposal presentation, the student will be formally admitted to candidacy for the Ph.D. degree. By University rules, the dissertation defense cannot occur earlier than 8 months after admission to candidacy, and the student should keep this in mind when scheduling both the proposal presentation and the defense.

    Following the fourth year, during each year that the student remains, the student is required to have a meeting with the committee no later than November 30th of Autumn Quarter or defend by that time.
  4. Foreign students will have their visas extended beyond the fifth year on a yearly basis depending on the decision of the committee.
  5. Sixth-year students who are allowed to continue by their committee and are not hired as RA’s will be required to teach every quarter. Students who have not completed their dissertation and defense by the end of the sixth year will no longer receive stipends or be employed by the department. These students are required to petition the department both in order to continue in the doctoral program and for any financial support (tuition, fees). Such petition is to be made to both the Chair and the DGA before the end of Spring Quarter of the sixth year and must also have advisor support for consideration.
  6. Dissertation Defense and Submission

    The Ph.D. degree will be awarded following a successful defense and the electronic submission of the final version of the dissertation to the University's Dissertation Office. In this process, a number of University and Department deadlines have to be obeyed. Listed in reverse order, the steps are:

a) Submission of Final Version of Dissertation:
The deadline is set by the University and is generally on a Friday in the 6th or 7th week of the quarter when the degree will be awarded. See:

for this deadline as well as guidelines for the formatting of dissertations.

b) Dissertation Defense:
The thesis defense will be an open seminar announced to the department. Following the regular question-and-answer session, the committee will remain, together with any interested faculty, and continue questioning the candidate. The decision on the thesis will then be reached in a closed meeting of the faculty present. The defense is to be scheduled at least two weeks before the University deadline indicated in point (a). A final draft of the dissertation must be made available to the entire faculty 8 days before the dissertation presentation.

c) Committee Approval of Scheduled Defense:
A draft of the dissertation should be distributed to the members of the dissertation committee no later than five weeks before the dissertation defense. At least four weeks before the defense, the student must file a departmental form in the Department office, signed by all members of the dissertation committee, indicating that the student can reasonably expect to defend the thesis within four weeks.

These rules delineate the minimum level of involvement of the dissertation committee. We strongly recommend that students set up their committees early and that they interact regularly with the members of their committees once they are established. In particular, we strongly recommend that those students wishing to complete the degree before September schedule their defense before the Summer Quarter, else unanticipated committee requirements may lead to the degree being delayed to the Winter Quarter.