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Dissertation Process

students at a bank of computers in the CS work space

The dissertation represents the culmination of all the work in the PhD program.

This scholarly project allows students to engage in original research, complete a project that contributes to the state of knowledge in computer science, and crisply define their expertise and skills to future employers—including universities, corporations, government agencies, nonprofits, and other organizations.

To get a sense of recently completed dissertations from the UIC computer science department, see our dissertations page.

Dissertation Committee Heading link

Students and their faculty advisors work together to determine an appropriate dissertation review committee. Dissertation committees are put together according to guidelines similar to those for preliminary examination committees, except that one member must be from outside the UIC computer science faculty. The following guidelines must be met:

  • Five or more members in total
  • At least three members are full members of the UIC Graduate College
  • At least two are tenured (not just tenure-track) faculty
  • A majority of the committee holds at least a 50% appointment in the computer science department
  • One member must come from outside the department or the university (adjuncts are not considered external members)

For any outside members who are not full members of the UIC Graduate College, students must submit the person’s CV along with the committee recommendation form so that the Graduate College may determine that equivalent academic standards are met.

The committee recommendation form, along with an abstract, must be submitted to the computer science Student Affairs office at least three weeks prior to the scheduled dissertation defense date. The dean of the Graduate College formally appoints the dissertation at the recommendation of the department.

Dissertation defenses are scheduled upon mutual agreement of the student and faculty advisor, and at the convenience of the committee members. Only students in good academic standing are allowed to proceed to the defense of the dissertation.

Additional Guidelines Heading link

Federal regulations require that any research that involves the use of either human subjects or animals be approved by the Institutional Review Board (IRB) or the Animal Care Committee (ACC). The regulations are all-inclusive in that surveys, interviews, pre-existing data, and human tissues obtained for non-research purposes require review by the IRB before the research can be done. If the work is completed without IRB or ACC approval, it cannot be published, even as a thesis. Copies of the IRB or ACC approval must be included in the appendix of the final draft of the dissertation submitted for review by the Graduate College. It is university policy that any dissertations that are not in compliance with the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) will not be accepted for fulfillment of graduation requirements. For further information, visit this webpage.

Formatting and other guidelines for dissertation research are described in detail in a Thesis Manual published by the Graduate College. You must email a PDF copy of your dissertation to the computer science Student Affairs office for a format check one week prior to the deadline set by the Graduate College.