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Graduate Handbook | Department of Computer Science and Engineering | Michigan State University

CSE Graduate Handbook

 

DEPARTMENT OF COMPUTER SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING
http://www.cse.msu.edu
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY
GRADUATE HANDBOOK

Ph.D. and M.S. Programs

February 2005
Revised: May 2005, August 2005, August 2007, July 2008, October 2008, October 2011, and June 2012, March 2013, September 2013, March 2014, May 2014, June 2014, October 2014, November 2014, May 2015, July 2015, October 2015, December 2015, December 2016, March 2017

1. Overview of Graduate Programs in Computer Science and Engineering

2.Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program: Components and Requirements

2.1.Admission Requirements and Process

2.2.General Requirements

2.2.1.Collateral Course Work

2.2.2.Credit Load for Full-Time Status

2.2.3.University Grade Point Average Requirement

2.2.4.Department Grade Point Average Expectation

2.2.5.PhD Student Annual Report Requirements

2.2.6.DF-Deferred Grades

2.2.7.Dismissal from Primary Status

2.2.8.Academic Advisor

2.2.9.Dissertation Advisor

2.2.10.Ph.D. Guidance Committee

2.2.11.Guidance Committee Membership

2.2.12.Change of Membership

2.2.13.Ph.D. Degree Program Plan

2.2.14.Ph.D. Degree Program Requirements

2.2.15.Modification of Ph.D. Degree Program Plan

2.2.16.Residency Requirements

2.2.17.Dissertation Credit Requirements

2.3.Primary Status

2.3.1.The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and Its Time Limit

2.4.Qualified Status

2.5.Candidacy Status

2.5.1.The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

2.5.2.Time Limits

2.5.3.Expectations of Candidacy Status

2.6.Graduation from Candidacy Status

2.6.1.Registration Requirement

2.6.2.Scheduling the Final Oral Examination

2.6.3.Final Oral Examination

2.6.4.Doctoral Dissertation

2.6.5.Dissertation Submission

2.6.6.Completion

2.7.Interdisciplinary Ph.D. Programs in Computer Science

2.7.1.Program Outline

3.Master's Degree Program: Components and Requirements

3.1.Admission Requirements and Process

3.2.General Requirements

3.2.1.Credit Load for Full-Time Students

3.2.2.Transfer Credit and Lifelong Education Enrollment Credit

3.2.3.Grade Point Average

3.2.4.DF-Deferred Grades

3.2.5.Probational Status

3.2.6.Evaluation and Academic Performance

3.2.7.Limitations

3.2.8.Academic Advisor

3.2.9.M.S. Degree Program Plan

3.2.10.Modification of M.S. Degree Program Plan

3.2.11.M.S. Degree Program Requirements

3.2.11.1.Plan A: Thesis

3.2.11.2.Plan B: Course Work

3.2.11.3.Breadth Requirement

4.Department Policies: Integrity and Safety in Research and Creative Activities

4.1.Key Principles

4.2.Responsible Conduct of Research Training

4.3.Misconduct in Research and Creative Activities

4.4.Research Involving Human Subjects

4.5.Research Involving Animals

4.6.Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

5.Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution

5.1.Student Conduct

5.2.Conflict Resolution

5.3.Department Procedures

6.Financial Support and Work Related Policies

6.1.Teaching Assistantships

6.2.Research Assistantships

6.3.The Graduate Employees Union (GEU)

6.4.University Graduate Assistantship Policies

6.5.Graduate Assistants Not Covered by the GEU Agreement

6.6.Graduate Assistants Covered by the GEU Agreement

6.7 External Fellowships

6.8.Use of Department Facilities and Supplies

6.9.Fees and Rates

6.10.Outside Work for Pay

6.11.Travel

6.12.Grief Absence Policy

7.University Resources

7.1.The University

7.2.The College

7.3.The Department

7.4.The Campus

7.5.The Lansing Community


1. Overview of Graduate Programs in Computer Science and Engineering

Today is an exciting time for Computer Science and Engineering! Advances in computing have transformed our world in the last several decades in ways that were once considered the substance of only dreams. Computing transcends boundaries---enabling multiple disciplines, connecting diverse peoples and cultures, and globalizing economies and work forces. At Michigan State University, Computer Science and Engineering has become a true microcosm of this important and exciting field.

Completion of a graduate degree in Computer Science and Engineering provides you with an opportunity to pursue career opportunities that would not otherwise be possible. Examples include cutting-edge research and development in business, industry, or a national laboratory, or a position in academia to engage in teaching and research. A graduate degree provides you with a deeper exposure to the field of computer science and engineering, and enhances your ability to pursue further independent study of new emerging areas of our discipline.

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering offers graduate study leading to the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) and Master of Science (M.S.) degrees. Advanced study and research are available in four general areas:

Software Systems:

  • Code generation
  • Component-based software engineering
  • Computer security
  • Database systems
  • Formal methods
  • High assurance software
  • Model-based development

Intelligent Systems:

  • Computational linguistics
  • Computer vision
  • Data mining
  • Human computer interaction
  • Humanoid robots
  • Machine learning
  • Natural language processing

Networking and Ubiquitous Computing:

  • Adaptive software/middleware
  • Augmented and virtual reality
  • Distributed systems
  • Mobile computing
  • Parallel and distributed processing
  • Peer-to-peer systems
  • Real-time systems
  • Sensor networks

Biological Computing:

  • Artificial life
  • Bioinformatics
  • Biometrics
  • Computational biology
  • Evolutionary computing

Interdisciplinary work with other departments is encouraged, and faculty and students involved in many of the research areas listed above are working with colleagues in other disciplines.

Our M.S. Program prepares students for professional opportunities as well as for moving on to a Ph.D. program. In completing a M.S. degree, a student has the options of doing a thesis. The thesis option places emphasis on new research. All M.S. students must satisfy breadth requirements as well as taking enough high-level courses.

The Ph.D. degree, whose bearer is generally regarded as having an expert understanding of a particular area, is appropriate for people who are committed to pursue a deep intellectual commitment in education and research. A Ph.D. program is qualitatively different from a M.S. program. It is an open-ended commitment, normally taking three or more academic years of study and research.

The requirements for the Ph.D. and M.S. degrees are described in other sections of this handbook. However, graduate students are engaged in educational and research activities outside of the classroom. Most M.S. students are involved in thesis research, and all Ph.D. students are engaged in dissertation research. Both of these activities provide students with the opportunity to work with faculty and other graduate students in research groups and laboratories within the CSE department and other departments. The Department hosts many guest speakers and visitors from academia and industry throughout each academic year. These visitors present lectures open to all students. In addition, all graduate students who are in their first year of study in the Department attend a research seminar series during the fall semester, where they learn about many of the ongoing research activities in the Department.

Graduate students can also participate in academic governance at the Department, College and University levels. At the Department level, graduate students elect voting members to the Department Advisory, Graduate Study and Research and Computing Environment Committees as well as a voting representative to the general Department Faculty Meeting. At the College level, graduate students have voting representation on the Engineering College Advisory Council and on the Engineering Research and Graduate Studies Committee. At the University level, graduate students elect voting members on the University Graduate Council, Academic Council and other committees as specified by the University Bylaws for Academic governance.

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2. Doctor of Philosophy Degree Program: Components and Requirements

Doctoral study is appropriate for people who are committed to intellectual achievement in education and research. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Michigan State University offers a doctoral program leading to the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. A Ph.D. program is qualitatively different from a Master of Science program. It is an open-ended commitment, normally taking three or more academic years of study and research, and not exceeding an 8-year limit. The doctoral program is signified by conferral of three statuses, Primary, Qualified and Candidacy, each recognizing certain achievements toward the completion of the Ph.D. degree.

A student accepted into the Ph.D. program typically is conferred the Primary Status. In this status, the student must pass the Doctoral Qualifying Examination and complete most of his/her course work. Upon passage of the Qualifying Examination, the student is given Qualified Status, which signifies the student has demonstrated research ability. Upon completion of the course work, the student prepares for the Doctoral Comprehensive Examination. Successful passage of the Comprehensive Examination will earn the student Candidacy Status, which signifies that the student has begun steps toward joining the Computer Science research community. Defending the doctoral dissertation is the final stage of the doctoral program.

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2.1. Admission Requirements and Process

Please refer to this page for the latest admission requirements and process information.
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2.2. General Requirements

Students should become familiar with both the University and College of Engineering requirements.

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2.2.1. Collateral Course Work

Admission to the doctoral program may be provisional implying that the student must complete specific collateral courses deemed necessary for the student to successfully pursue the Ph.D. Unless otherwise specified, a maximum of one year is allowed for completion of such provisional requirements.

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2.2.2. Credit Load for Full-Time Status

The minimum credit load requirement for full-time status for academic purposes for all semesters prior to the completion of the Comprehensive Exam is as follows:

1. Students without a graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 6 credits.

2. Students with a graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 3 credits.

3. Students engaged in department-approved off-campus fieldwork related to preparation of their dissertation must carry a minimum of 1 credit.

After the completion of the Comprehensive Exam, the minimum credit load requirement for full-time status for academic purposes is one credit if students are actively engaged in dissertation research; this is true whether or not the student is receiving financial support.

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2.2.3. University Grade Point Average Requirement

Per University requirements, the student must maintain a cumulative grade-point average of at least 3.0 in all courses listed on the student's Program Plan. Failure to do so may result in dismissal from the doctoral program. Collateral and transfer credits are not included in calculating the grade-point average. If a course is repeated, grades and credits for all courses repeated are included in the calculation of the grade-point average.

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2.2.4. Department Grade Point Average Expectation

While the University requires a 3.0 grade point average, the Department expects a Ph.D. student to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 on all course work. A student who is unable to meet the standards of quality of work may be asked to withdraw at the end of the semester.

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2.2.5. PhD Student Annual Report Requirements

Graduate students have the right to periodic evaluations to assess their academic progress, performance and professional potential (see section 2.4.8 of the MSU Graduate Students Rights and Responsibilities, available at http://grad.msu.edu/gsrr/docs/GSRR.pdf). To facilitate this feedback process, all PhD students in the College of Engineering are required to submit an annual report of their academic progress and research progress. Their research advisor will review and provide feedback on this report, and the final copy will be added to the student's graduate file. Annual reports are due by January 31 of each year; failure to submit a complete annual report by the deadline will result in a hold being placed on students' accounts. For more information and instructions on submitting your annual report, please see: https://www.egr.msu.edu/graduate/graduate-student-annual-reporting-requirements

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2.2.6. DF-Deferred grades

The required work must be completed and a grade reported within 6 months with the option of a single six-month extension. If the required work is not completed within the time limit, the DF will become U-Unfinished and will be changed to DF/U under the numerical and Pass-No Grade (P-N) grading systems, and to DF/NC under the Credit-No Credit (CR-NC) system. This rule does not apply to graduate thesis or dissertation work.

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2.2.7. Dismissal from Primary Status

Dismissal from Primary Status is possible if some provisional conditions are not met on schedule or because of inadequate academic performance. The University requires a yearly review of the performance of each Ph.D. student. A student who has some deficiency will be informed in writing and may be given an opportunity to take corrective action.

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2.2.8. Academic Advisor

At the time of admission, a temporary academic advisor is assigned by the Graduate Director to give a student a point of contact. A student may request the Graduate Director change his/her advisor. In many cases, this temporary academic advisor also serves as the student's initial Dissertation Advisor.

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2.2.9. Dissertation Advisor

A student's dissertation advisor chairs the student's Ph.D. Guidance Committee and becomes the student's academic advisor. Technically, the dissertation advisor is found by the student, appointed by the Graduate Director (acting for the Department Chairperson) and approved by the Associate Dean of Engineering (acting for the Dean of Engineering). In practice, the initial academic advisor serves as the dissertation advisor until the student informs the Graduate Director of a change in dissertation advisor. The dissertation advisor is formally approved during the process of formally approving the guidance committee and approving the Ph.D. program plan.

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2.2.10. Ph.D. Guidance Committee

The student has the responsibility to form a Guidance Committee no later than the third semester of doctoral study, or within two semesters beyond the master's degree or its equivalent. The guidance committee is formed by the student in consultation with his/her dissertation advisor and must be approved by the Graduate Director (acting for the Department Chairperson) and the Associate Dean of Engineering (acting for the Dean of Engineering). In practice, the guidance committee is formally approved at the same time that the Ph.D. program plan is approved.

2.2.11. Guidance Committee Membership

The guidance committee shall consist of at least four members of Michigan State University regular faculty, at least two of whom are from the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and one of whom is from a department outside the CSE Department. More than four persons may be members of the guidance committee. People who are not MSU regular faculty may serve as members provided the number of such persons does not exceed the number of regular faculty. An application for approving such people to serve on a committee must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School. The process for requesting such an approval is described here. At least three of the committee members, including the committee chairperson, must possess an earned doctoral degree. If appropriate, the guidance committee may have two members serve as co-dissertation advisors.

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2.2.12. Change of Membership

The student may make any desired or required changes in the membership of the guidance committee with the concurrence of the dissertation advisor and the Graduate Director (acting for the Department Chairperson). The membership of the guidance committee, with the concurrence of the student, may be changed as appropriate to the dissertation topic.

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2.2.13. Ph.D. Degree Program Plan

Within one semester after the Ph.D. guidance committee has been formed, the student must file a Ph.D. Degree Program Plan with the Dean of Engineering listing all courses the student should take. The Ph.D. Program Plan should be developed in consultation with the Guidance Committee. The Ph.D. Program Plan can be modified after full consultation between the student and his/her Ph.D. Guidance Committee with the approval of the Graduate Director (acting for the Department Chairperson) and the Associate Dean (acting for the Dean of Engineering). The course work prescribed by the Guidance Committee insures the student has a comprehensive knowledge of a major field and necessary related subjects. For students who started in the program beginning in Fall Semester 2012, the program plan must be submitted using GradPlan. Starting in Summer of 2017, GradPlan will be the only way to process final degree certification.

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2.2.14. Ph.D. Degree Program Requirements

The Ph.D. Program plan must include 30 credits of courses at the 4XX/8XX/9XX levels (excluding independent study (890)). At most 6 credits of coursework can be CSE 4XX courses (excluding CSE 429 and CSE 490).

The Ph.D. Program plan must satisfy the breadth requirement as defined by the Master's Degree Program Requirements; this includes taking at least 18 total credits from the courses used to satisfy the breadth requirement. The one exception to this policy is that dual-major PhD students must take a total of 15 credits from the courses used to satisfy the breadth requirement. For students admitted to the Ph.D. Degree Program with an M.S. degree, the breadth requirement must be completed by the end of the third semester (excluding summer semester) in the Ph.D. program. Credits from the M.S. program that are approved by the Graduate Director can be used to satisfy some or all of the breadth requirement. For students admitted to the Ph.D. with only a B.S. degree, the breadth requirement must be completed by the end of the fourth semester (excluding summer semester) in the Ph.D. program.

Students entering the Ph.D. program with an M.S. degree can apply a maximum of 24 credits from their M.S. degree towards the 30 credits requirement. The Graduate Director will determine which credits apply. In order to request that some M.S. degree credits be used to apply towards the 30 credits requirement, students must provide their initial academic advisor(s) a transcript along with course syllabi that includes a detailed description of topics covered and assigned textbooks for the appropriate courses within their first five weeks in the Ph.D. program. The transcript and course syllabi should be translated into English if they are not originally written in English. The academic advisor will then submit a proposal to the Graduate Director with a recommendation on credits and breadth areas to be waived. If you disagree with the decision made by the Graduate Director, you may appeal to the Graduate Studies and Research Committee. This process can be started immediately upon notification of acceptance into the doctoral program.

The student is also encouraged to attend as many department seminars as possible throughout the course of the student's career but especially in the student's first year.

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2.2.15. Modification of Ph.D. Degree Program Plan

With reference to the Ph.D. Degree Program Plan, the following actions will not be approved:

  1. Adding or deleting a course for which a grade has already been assigned under any of the three grading systems (numerical, Pass-No Grade, or Credit-No Credit).
  2. Adding or deleting a course for which grading was postponed by the use of the DF - Deferred marker.
  3. Adding or deleting a course which the student dropped after the middle of the semester and for which W or N or 0.0 was designated.
  4. Adding or deleting a course during the final semester of enrollment in the doctoral degree program.
  5. Adding or deleting an enrolled course after the middle of the semester.
  6. Repeating a course in which a passing grade (2.0) has been received.

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2.2.16. Residency Requirements

The student may, with the approval of the Guidance Committee, carry on some of the work in absentia. The University requires at least one year of residency (two consecutive semesters as a full time doctoral student.)

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2.2.17. Dissertation Credit Requirements

In addition to the courses on the student's Ph.D. Program of Study, 24 credits of CSE 999 Doctoral Dissertation Research are required for graduation. Students can enroll for a maximum of 36 credits. A student may not enroll in CSE 999 until the Qualifying Examination has been passed or until granted permission by the Graduate Director. Requests for overrides to exceed the maximum of 36 credits of CSE 999 must be directed to the Office of the Registrar. To do so, access the "Request for RNR Override" at the Registrar's Online Forms Menu at https://www.reg.msu.edu/Forms/FormsMenu.aspx. Select the RN override and fill in the requested information. Should the total number of credits go above 45, the RO will confer with the Graduate School before considering the request for an override.

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2.3. Primary Status

A student is admitted to the Ph.D. program in Primary Status. However, a student who has completed an M.S. thesis in Computer Science at Michigan State University will be admitted with Qualified Status. The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination is required of all students admitted with Primary Status. Successful completion of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination moves the student from Primary to Qualified status. A student may not stay in primary status for longer than two years.

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2.3.1. The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination and Its Time Limit

Purpose

The purpose of the qualifying examination is to assess a doctoral student's ability to perform several fundamental research related tasks including:

  • reading and understanding relevant papers from the literature
  • synthesizing ideas from separate papers into a coherent framework
  • clearly expressing this framework in a written paper
  • clearly delivering this framework in an oral presentation
  • identifying possible extensions of the research described in the papers

In addition, the exam should serve as a chance for committee members to assess the background of the student (and possibly suggest remedies such as future coursework). The background component will be based both on mastery of topics related to the assigned papers as well as a mastery of a list of significant concepts presented to the student by the qualifying examination committee.

Committee

Three members assigned by GSRC. The advisor is not on the committee but will participate in the creation of the exam.

Procedures and Format

The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination consists of two parts: a written survey of a research area approved by the Guidance Committee, and an oral presentation of the survey to the Guidance Committee.

The oral component of the Examination will include a prepared presentation by the student summarizing the main points of the written survey. The Committee members may ask questions in order to assess the student's knowledge of the area and his/her ability to compare and contrast different research contributions.

  1. The committee, in consultation with the advisor, selects a topic area for the qualifying examination as well as background topics the student should be prepared to answer questions on.
  2. The student chooses a set of three papers in the topic area. Each paper should have been peer reviewed and published in a journal or conference proceedings. At least two of the chosen papers should have been published within the last ten years. The three papers should come from different research groups, and authors should not include individuals currently affiliated with Michigan State University.
  3. Once the student has selected the three papers on his/her own, the student should submit the papers to her/his advisor who will either approve the selected papers or reject some of them and direct the student to select others. Ideally, the papers should be chosen and approved by the end of the first week of the examination period.
  4. The student then prepares both a written and oral synthesis of the papers.
  5. The paper is submitted to the committee at least 2 weeks prior to the oral presentation. The paper should be prepared with no feedback from the advisor or other students. The length of the paper should be roughly 4000-5000 words excluding references.
  6. The oral presentation (roughly 45 minutes excluding time for questions and answers) is then prepared with no feedback from the advisor or other students. The anticipated time for the oral presentation with questions is 90 minutes.
  7. The qualifier will be a closed examination open only to the committee.
  8. During and after the oral presentation, the committee may ask questions that delve beyond the specific content of the set of papers; in particular, questions may be asked that relate to the list of significant concepts presented to the student by the qualifying examination committee.

Timing

One year for student entering with MS, 3 semesters for students entering with BS. The student must complete the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination by the end of his/her second year in the Ph.D. program.

Students entering with an MS in summer/fall semester:

Student submits short description of research interests by end of fall semester.
Committee selected by 5th week of spring semester.
Committee submits papers/directives/list of significant conceptsto GSRC by 10th week of spring semester.
Papers/directives/list of concepts given 2 weeks from end of summer semester.
Written survey due Friday of first week of classes of fall semester.
Oral presentations scheduled after 3rd week of classes of fall semester.

Students entering with an MS in spring semester:

Student submits short description of research interests by end of spring semester.
Committee selected by 5th week of fall semester.
Committee submits papers/directives/list of significant concepts to GSRC by 10th week of fall semester.
Papers/directives/list of concepts given at end of final exams of fall semester.
Written survey due Friday of first week of classes of spring semester.
Oral presentations scheduled after 3rd week of classes of spring semester.

Students entering with an BS in summer/fall semester:

Student submits short description of research interests by end of spring semester year 1.
Committee selected by 5th week of fall semester year 2.
Committee submits papers/directives/list of significant concepts to GSRC by 10th week of fall semester year 2.
Papers/directives/list of concepts given at end of final exams of fall semester year 2.
Written survey due Friday of first week of classes of spring semester year 2.
Oral presentations scheduled after 3rd week of classes of spring semester year 2.

Students entering with an BS in spring semester:

Student submits short description of research interests by end of fall semester year 1.
Committee selected by 5th week of spring semester year 2.
Committee submits papers/directives/list of significant concepts to GSRC by 10th week of spring semester year 2.
Papers/directives/list of concepts given 2 weeks from end of summer semester year 2.
Written survey due Friday of first week of classes of fall semester year 2.
Oral presentations scheduled after 3rd week of classes of fall semester year 2.

Evaluation and Possible Outcomes

Following the oral presentation, the Guidance Committee will decide whether the student has passed or failed the Qualifying Examination. In the latter case, the Committee may decide to allow the student to retake/revise one or both parts of the exam. The student's performance on the Examination must be approved by a positive vote of at least two thirds of the Guidance Committee members with not more than one dissenting vote from among the Michigan State University regular faculty members of the Guidance Committee.

The committee will decide the outcome based upon the written paper, oral presentation including question and answer period, and the student's academic record.

Possible Actions (not mutually exclusive and possibly not complete)

  • Student passes.
  • Student fails and is dismissed from the program.
  • Student is required to take some courses by a certain deadline with a minimum GPA. The deadline and GPA is to be determined by the committee.
  • Student is required to retake qualifier in the next semester. A student can take the qualifier at most 2 times.
  • Student is required to undergo writing training of some form.

Notes

  • A student with Qualified Status can change advisor and/or research area without losing his/her Qualified Status.
  • The Ph.D. Qualifying Examination will satisfy the University required written component for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination. Note: a Ph.D. Guidance Committee may require an additional examination.
  • The student’s short description of research interests should be roughly one paragraph. It will be used to guide the selection of an appropriate qualifying examination committee.

Students entering Ph.D. program with an MS Thesis

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an MS Thesis from MSU will be deemed to have passed the Ph.D. qualifying examination. Their thesis will serve serve as the required written component for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination.

Students who enter the Ph.D. program with an MS Thesis written in English from another institution may apply to have their thesis serve as the written portion of the qualifying examination. They process for determining this would be as follows:

  1. Within two weeks of arrival at MSU, the student submits her/his MS thesis to the Graduate Director along with a short justification for why the thesis should satisfy the written portion of the qualifying examination. This written justification should include evidence such as portions of the thesis were published in strong peer-reviewed venues.
  2. If the Graduate Director approves, then the Graduate Director will create a qualifying examination committee to administer the qualifying examination that semester for the student.
  3. The MS thesis will be given to the qualifying examination committee as the written portion of the qualifying examination along with the justification for why the thesis should satisfy the written portion of the qualifying examination.
  4. The qualifying examination committee will briefly review the thesis and prepare a list of background areas the student should be prepared to answer questions on in the oral presentation. The committee may also overrule the Graduate Director and require that the student take our regular qualifying examination.
  5. After a three week period, the student will give an oral presentation of the thesis to the qualfying examination committee and be prepared to answer questions from the committee.

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2.4. Qualified Status

The Qualified Status signifies the student has demonstrated research ability. A student is either given Qualified Status upon admission, or after the successful passage of the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. A student may not stay in Qualified Status beyond the fifth year after his/her first semester enrolled in the Ph.D. program.

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2.5. Candidacy Status

The student's Guidance Committee uses the student's Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination performance to confer Candidacy Status on the student.

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2.5.1. The Ph.D. Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Examination is administered by the student's Guidance Committee, and is expected to be a formal written and oral examination covering the student's background and testing whether the student is prepared to write a dissertation. The Comprehensive Examination consists of a thesis proposal and a background examination. The background examination is separate from the thesis proposal.

The Comprehensive Examination should be taken within two years of completing the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. It is expected that the prescribed course work as specified on the student's Ph.D. Program Plan will have been substantially completed by this time. Furthermore, the College of Engineering stipulates that the Comprehensive Examination must be completed at least 6 months prior to the Final Oral Examination and defense of the Ph.D. dissertation.

The student's Guidance Committee has the final responsibility for setting the format of the Comprehensive Examination. At least one component of the Comprehensive Examination must be written and must be maintained in the Department office for three years.

The format of the thesis proposal is determined by the Guidance Committee, but normally contains the equivalents of: Chapter 0 - Background and related material for the area of the dissertation; Chapter 1 - Review of current research topics, results and methods of the field; Chapter 2 - Proposed research. In addition to the written thesis proposal, the student will present an oral presentation of the thesis proposal summarizing its main points.

The written proposal should be submitted to the Graduate Secretary and the Guidance Committee members at least two weeks in advance of the oral presentation. The thesis proposal is approved or rejected by the committee after the student's oral presentation of the proposal.

The student's performance on the Comprehensive Examination must be approved by a positive vote of at least three-fourths of the Guidance Committee members with not more than one dissenting vote from among the Michigan State University regular faculty members of the Guidance Committee.

The student is allowed to have one additional opportunity to retake the Comprehensive Examination if the student should fail. A student may be required by the Guidance Committee to re-take the Comprehensive Examination if the student changes his/her major field of research. The duration of each Comprehensive Examination normally will not exceed one month, but in no case may exceed a three-month period.

Usually, the student must be registered during the semester when the Comprehensive Examination is taken. However, if a student takes the comprehensive examination during summer semester and is enrolled in the preceding spring semester or will be enrolled in the ensuing fall semester, the student may apply for a waiver of the enrollment requirement. The waiver request must be sent to the Graduate School and endorsed by the student's department and college.

The date the student passes the Comprehensive Examination is the date on which she/he passes the final component of the Comprehensive Examination. The results of the Examination are recorded and submitted to the Department Chairperson and the Dean of Engineering.

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2.5.2. Time Limits

A student may not stay in Candidacy Status beyond the eighth year after their first semester enrolled in the Ph.D. program. A student must complete all graduation requirements for a Ph.D. degree within eight years of the first enrollment date. In exceptional circumstances, the Department may allow a student more than eight years to complete graduation requirements. In such a case, the student must retake and pass the Comprehensive Examination.

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2.5.3. Expectations of Candidacy Status

The student should begin to show participation in the scholarly research community. The student may show evidence of the ability and of the desire to obtain new knowledge from its source by:

  • Attending Department research colloquia.
  • Attending major technical meetings in the area of the student's research.
  • Conducting meaningful correspondence with other researchers in the field.
  • Becoming acquainted with graduate students and faculty at other universities working in his or her area.
  • Acting as a referee or reviewer of papers.
  • Participating in other appropriate professional activities, e.g., collaborating with the faculty, helping to organize or participate in a technical conference, short course, research proposal, etc.
  • Publishing technical reports.
  • Submitting papers to conferences and journals.

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2.6. Graduation from Candidacy Status

The student shall fulfill the requirements listed in the University and College of Engineering regulations and procedures. Most importantly, this includes completing the Final Oral Examination and submitting the final dissertation to the university.

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2.6.1. Registration Requirement

Students must be registered during the semester in which the Final Oral Examination is taken. Since the student will be in Candidacy Status, the student only needs to register for one credit.

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2.6.2. Scheduling the Final Oral Examination

The student must complete a few actions two weeks prior to scheduling the final oral examination. First, the student must submit the doctoral candidate information form at least two weeks prior to the Final Oral Examination. Second, the student must distribute a draft dissertation and accompanying materials to the Guidance Committee at least two weeks prior to the Final Oral Examination.

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2.6.3. Final Oral Examination

The Final Oral Examination in defense of the dissertation is conducted and evaluated by the Guidance Committee. This Examination consists of two parts. The first is a presentation that must be open to faculty members and members of the public without a vote. The second is the examination portion of the defense, and only Guidance Committee members may attend this portion of the defense. The dissertation and the student's performance on the Examination must be approved by a positive vote of at least three-fourths of the Guidance Committee members with not more than one dissenting vote from among the Michigan State University regular faculty members of the Guidance Committee. Results of the vote must be recorded and submitted to the Department Chairperson and the Dean of Engineering.

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2.6.4. Doctoral Dissertation

The doctoral dissertation is defined in the Academic Programs Catalog as "original reserach upon which a dissertation, which makes significant contribution to knowledge is to be prepared and published."

While not required, a public or lay audience Abstract to precede the conventional disciplinary/technical abstract is strongly recommended. The formatting requirements for this additional abstract are identical to those for the conventional abstract.

In computer science, the typical expectation is that some chapters of the dissertation will have been previously published in peer-reviewed venues. Each such chapter that is based on a previously published paper must have a footnote that cites the corresponding paper including title, publication venue, and ordered list of authors. If multiple articles are included in the dissertation, these must be tied together with a required general introduction and summary/discussion.

In computer science, it is now typically the case that papers are multi-authored rather than single-authored, and it is frequently the case that multiple authors are students. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering is fully supportive of including such work in a student's doctoral dissertation.

Given the prevalence of papers with multiple authors, we now require the following documentation to be included with all dissertations. This information will be used by the student's Guidance Committeee to help evaluate if the student has made a signficant enough contribution to merit earning a doctoral degree.

Each student must prepare a separate document that describes the origin of each chapter of the dissertation. Possible choices include

  • Adapted from a previously published paper
  • Adapted from a paper in submission
  • Adapted from the related work section from multiple papers that are previously published, in submission, or some combination of the two
  • Written solely for this thesis

When a chapter is adapted from at least one paper, additional information should be included such as

  • Title of paper
  • Authors listed in order; advisor should be highlighted as well as any other student authors
  • Venue (if published or submitted)
  • Description of student's contribution to the paper when the paper has multiple authors

The Department provides no set guidelines as to how a multi-authored paper might be appropriated by each student author towards their dissertations, but the Department offers the following suggestions. There should be some discussion, preferably in advance and preferably moderated by the advisor(s), about which portions of the work might be used by individual students in their dissertations. In general, students should not include work taht they did not contribute significantly to. In rare cases, it may be possible for some material to be included in multiple dissertations if multiple students made significant contributiosn to the work. This should be carefully documented by each student in the supplemental documentat describing the origin of each chapter of the dissertation.

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2.6.5. Dissertation Submission

The student is expected to provide to his/her thesis advisor an electronic copy of the thesis along with any product (software, hardware, etc.) constituting his/her thesis work. The student must abide by other submission requirements set by the Department, College and the University. In particular, students should be familiar with the University requirements for completing the thesis including the final date for submission of the thesis. This final date is typically FIVE working days prior to the first day of classes for the next semester. Graduation on the semester of the electronic submission is only guaranteed if the document is APPROVED on or before the final date for that semester. 

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2.6.6. Completion

A student completes Candidacy Status upon passing the Final Oral Examination defense of his or her dissertation and having the corrected copy accepted by the Graduate School for distribution.

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2.7. Interdisciplinary (Dual Major) Ph.D. Programs in Computer Science

The Department of Computer Science and Engineering supports interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs centered on the student's pursuit of an interdisciplinary research project. The primary goals of such programs are to attract excellent graduate students to Michigan State University, to provide an educational experience making them highly competitive in the future job market, and to foster cutting-edge interdisciplinary research.

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2.7.1. Program Outline

Under MSU guidelines, research-based graduate degrees can be designed across disciplines/graduate programs, with the concurrence of the graduate programs involved (see Dual Major Doctoral Degrees). The interdisciplinary graduate degrees outlined here involve the Department of Computer Science and Engineering together with another department (e.g., Biochemistry), with one department being the student's primary affiliation (and home of the principal advisor), and the other a secondary affiliation (home of a secondary advisor). The degree is called, for example, a Ph.D. in Computer Science & Engineering and Biochemistry & Molecular Biology, when the primary affiliation for the Ph.D. is Computer Science and the secondary affiliation is Biochemistry. Admission requirements to graduate school are based on the primary department. In order to qualify for such a program, the student's dissertation must include significant research contributions in both disciplines. In particular, simply using existing computational techniques or simply including a programming element is not sufficient to qualify someone for this program. Students must satisfy the same course requirement as all other computer science Ph.D. students with the exception that only 15 credits are required from the courses that make up the breadth requirement. Comprehensive examinations are specified according to the guidelines of the primary department and must meet the standards of a guidance committee including members from both departments. If a student decides to leave the interdisciplinary degree program, he/she can revert to the requirements of the primary affiliation. A student could be admitted as an interdisciplinary degree student with concurrence of the two departments. Currently it is typical that the student is admitted into the primary program and then arranges the secondary affiliation upon choice of a research project and advisor. Finally, subject to dual major doctoral degree requirements, all dual amjor doctoral degrees must be approved by the Dean of the Graduate School, and a request for the dual major degree must be submitted within one semester following its development and within the first two years of the student's enrollment at Michigan State University. A copy of the guidance committee report must be attached. the student must apply for this program within two years of enrollment at MSU.

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3. Master's Degree Program: Components and Requirements

The Master's Degree Program prepares students for professional opportunities as well as for moving on to a Doctoral Program. In completing an M.S. degree, a student has the option of doing a thesis. The thesis option places emphasis on new research. All M.S. students must satisfy breadth requirements as well as taking a sufficient number of high-level courses.

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3.1. Admission Requirements and Process

Please refer to this page for the latest admission requirements and process information.

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3.2. General Requirements

Students should become familiar with both the University and College of Engineering requirements.

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3.2.1. Credit Load for Full-Time Status

The minimum credit load requirement for all semesters except last is defined as follows:

1. To be considered full time for academic purposes, students without a graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 9 credits.

2. An international student without a graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 9 credits.

3. Students with 1/4 or 1/2 time graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 6 credits in fall and spring semesters and 3 credits in summer semester.

4. Students with 3/4 time graduate assistantship must carry a minimum of 3 credits.

During the last semester in which all the requirements for the degree will be completed, the minimum enrollment is one credit.

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3.2.2. Transfer Credit and Lifelong Education Enrollment Credit

Up to a combined maximum of nine graduate credits (excluding research, thesis and independent study credits) earned in another graduate program, an MSU graduate certificate program, or in lifelong education enrollment status may be accepted by the Department. For transfer credits, the completed Credit Evaluation: Graduate Program form is to be included with the program plan. Transfer credit will be given only for courses in which a grade of 3.0 (out of 4) or better was earned and whose content is still relevant and timely.

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3.2.3. Grade Point Average

The student must maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.0 in all courses listed on the student's Program Plan. Failure to do so will result in dismissal from the master's program. Collateral and transfer credits are not included in calculating the grade-point average. If a course is repeated, grades and credits for all courses repeated are included in the calculation. Students appointed as graduate assistants are expected to maintain a cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5.

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3.2.4 DF-Deferred grades

The required work must be completed and a grade reported within 6 months with the option of a single six-month extension. If the required work is not completed within the time limit, the DF will become U-Unfinished and will be changed to DF/U under the numerical and Pass-No Grade (P-N) grading systems, and to DF/NC under the Credit-No Credit (CR-NC) system. This rule does not apply to graduate thesis or dissertation work.

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3.2.5. Probational Status

A student having an overall grade-point average below 3.0 will be placed on probational status. In such status, the student cannot take any non-competitive special problems courses as part of the Master's Degree Program. In addition, there may be additional restrictions imposed by the Graduate School.

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3.2.6. Evaluation of Academic Performance

Both the academic progress and the professional potential of the student are evaluated annually by the student's advisor. A copy of this evaluation will be communicated to the student and a copy shall be placed in the student's file. A student whose performance does not meet the standards of quality will not be permitted to continue to enroll in the master's program, and the College and Department will take appropriate action.

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3.2.7. Limitations

The requirements for the M.S. degree must be completed within five calendar years of the date of enrollment in the first course included for degree certification. Normally, teaching assistantship support for students in the M.S. program is limited to two years.

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3.2.8. Academic Advisor

At the time of admission, an academic advisor is assigned by the Graduate Director to give a student a point of contact. A student may request the Graduate Director change his/her advisor.

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3.2.9. M.S. Degree Program Plan

A Master's Degree Program contains the list of the courses the student is planning to take and the M.S. Plan option (thesis or course work). All M.S. students, with the help of their advisors, must file a formal Master's Degree Program before the completion of their second academic year semester. Failure to file such a form on time may result in enrollment blockage. The program plan must be submitted using the College of Engineering Graduate Tracking System.

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3.2.10. Modification of M.S. Degree Program Plan

Given the approval of their advisor, students may make changes in their Master's Degree Program. However, the following actions will not be approved:

1.Adding or deleting a course for which a grade has already been assigned under any of the three grading systems (numerical, Pass-No Grade, or Credit-No Credit).

2.Adding or deleting a course for which grading was postponed by the use of the DF - Deferred marker.

3.Adding or deleting a course which the student dropped after the middle of the semester and for which W or N or 0.0 was designated.

4.Adding or deleting a course during the final semester of enrollment in the master's degree program.

5.Adding or deleting an enrolled course after the middle of the semester.

6.Repeating a course in which a passing grade (2.0) has been received

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3.2.11. M.S. Degree Program Requirements

The student must complete a minimum of 30 credits in 4XX-, 8XX- and 9XX-level courses under Plan A or Plan B. Further, a student's M.S. degree program under either plan must satisfy the Breadth Requirement.

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3.2.11.1. Plan A: Thesis

Under this plan, 21 of the required 30 credits must be at the 8XX-9XX level (excluding CSE 801, CSE 890 and CSE 899). Further, the student must complete at least 6, but not more than 8, credits in Master's Thesis Research offered as CSE 899.

1.The student has the responsibility of finding an M.S. thesis advisor. The thesis advisor chairs the student's M.S. thesis review committee and becomes the student's academic advisor.

2.The student, in consultation with his/her advisor, forms an M.S. thesis review committee consisting of at least three MSU regular faculty members, including the thesis advisor. One of the committee members may be from outside the Department.

3.The thesis review committee must be formed and the committee must approve the thesis proposal before the student may enroll in CSE 899.

4.The student is required to make a public presentation and pass an oral certifying examination in defense of his/her M.S. thesis. The M.S. thesis and the student's performance on the examination must be approved by a positive vote of at least two-thirds of the thesis review committee members.

5.The student is expected to provide to his/her thesis advisor an electronic copy of the thesis along with any product (software, hardware, etc.) constituting his/her thesis work. The student must abide by other submission requirements set by the Department, College and the University. In particular, students should be familiar with the University requirements for completing the thesis including the final date for submission of the thesis. This final date is typically FIVE working days prior to the first day of classes for the next semester. Graduation on the semester of the electronic submission is only guaranteed if the document is APPROVED on or before the final date for that semester.

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3.2.11.2. Plan B: Course Work

Under this plan, 24 of the required 30 credits must be at the 8XX-9XX level (excluding CSE 801, CSE 890 and CSE 899).

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3.2.11.3. Breadth Requirement

The student's M.S. degree program plan must contain at least one course from each of the following three groups, and the student must receive a grade of at least 3.0 in at least one course from each of the three following groups. Furthermore, the student's M.S. degree program plan must contain at least 18 total credits from the courses listed in the following three groups (the courses eligible to satisfy the breadth requirement).

Group 1: System Design and Analysis

CSE 812 Distributed Systems

CSE 814 Formal Methods in Software Development

CSE 820 Advanced Computer Architecture

CSE 820 Parallel Computing

CSE 824 Advanced Computer Networks and Communications

CSE 825 Computer and Network Security

CSE 870 Advanced Software Engineering

CSE 880 Advanced Database Systems

Group 2: Theory and Algorithms

CSE 830 Design and Theory of Algorithms

CSE 835 Algorithmic Graph Theory

CSE 836 Probabilistic Models and Algorithms in Computational Biology

CSE 860 Foundations of Computing

Group 3: Data Analysis and Applications

CSE 802 Pattern Recognition and Analysis

CSE 803 Computer Vision

CSE 841 Artificial Intelligence

CSE 842 Natural Language Processing

CSE 843 Language and Interaction

CSE 847 Machine Learning

CSE 848 Evolutionary Computing

CSE 872 Advanced Computer Graphics

CSE 881: Data Mining

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4. Department Policies: Integrity and Safety in Research and Creative Activities

Integrity in research and creative activities is based on sound disciplinary practices as well as on a commitment to basic values such as fairness, equity, honesty and respect. Through interaction with faculty and students, with their faculty advisors, and by emulating exemplary behavior, students learn to value professional integrity and high standards of ethical behavior.

Every graduate student should become familiar with the resources available relate to the issues of integrity and safety, in particular, the MSU Graduate School website on Research & Scholarly Integrity. The Graduate School also provides information concerning student workshops on a variety of topics including responsible conduct of research. A listing of presentations for the academic year at Michigan State University on aspects of research integrity can be found at the Responsible Conduct of Research website.

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4.1. Key Principles and Expectations

Integrity in research and creative activities embodies a range of practices that includes:

  • Honesty in proposing, performing, and reporting research
  • Recognition of prior work
  • Confidentiality in peer review
  • Disclosure of potential conflicts of interest
  • Compliance with institutional and sponsor requirements
  • Protection of human subjects and humane care of animals in the conduct of research
  • Collegiality in scholarly interactions and sharing of resources
  • Adherence to fair and open relationships between senior scholars and their coworkers

Graduate students are expected to exhibit integrity in all aspects of their professional, instructional, research, and educational activities. During the annual review, students will be evaluated on these aspects in addition to academic performance and progess towards the degree. Failure to meet established norms may lead to dismissal from the program. 

4.2. Responsible Conduct of Research Training

Michigan State University takes seriously the responsibility to train students in the responsible conduct of research. In alignment with policies established by the University and the MSU Graduate School (http://grad.msu.edu/researchintegrity/), all graduate students within the College of Engineering are required to participate in appropriate RCR training each year. Please see the college website (http://www.egr.msu.edu/academics/graduate/rcr) for information on specific training requirements, reporting procedures, and annual deadlines. Failure to complete and report annual RCR training by the specified deadlines will result in a hold being placed on students' accounts.

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4.3. Misconduct in Research and Creative Activities

Federal and University policies define misconduct to include fabrication (making up data and recording or reporting them), falsification (manipulating research materials, equipment or processes, or changing or omitting data such that the research is not accurately represented in the record), and plagiarism (appropriation of another person's ideas, processes, results, or words without giving appropriate credit). Serious or continuing non-compliance with government regulations pertaining to research may constitute misconduct as well. University policy also defines retaliation against whistle blowers as misconduct. Misconduct does not include honest errors or honest differences of opinion in the interpretation or judgment of data.

The University views misconduct to be the most egregious violation of standards of integrity and as grounds for disciplinary action, including the termination of employment of faculty and staff, dismissal of students, and revocation of degrees. It is the responsibility of faculty, staff and students alike to understand the University's policy on misconduct in research and creative activities, to report perceived acts of misconduct of which they have direct knowledge to the University Intellectual Integrity Officer, and to protect the rights and privacy of individuals making such reports in good faith. More information can be found at MSU's Research Integrity Officer web site

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4.4. Research Involving Human Subjects

The MSU Human Resource Protection Program's (HRPP) primary mission is the protection of individuals who are the subjects of research at MSU. It is composed of several Institutional Review Boards (IRB).

Federal and University regulations require all research projects involving human subjects and materials of human origin be reviewed and approved by an IRB before initiation. Approval of the research protocol must be in place BEFORE the investigator begins data collection. These regulations are of specific concern to graduate students because research includes the preparation of Master's Theses and Doctoral Dissertations. By regulation, an IRB may not approve data gathered without its prior review and approval of the project. Only in exceptional circumstances will the Graduate School accept a thesis or dissertation containing data from human subjects does not have IRB approval. Therefore, if you do not receive IRB approval for your project prior to beginning data collection, and keep your approval current during the entire time you collect data, your project may not receive approval by the Graduate School.

Instructions for applying for approval are available on the HRPP website.

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4.5. Research Involving Animals

The use of vertebrate animals in research, teaching and outreach activities is subject to state and federal laws and guidelines. University policy specifies all vertebrate animals under University care (i.e., involved in projects under the aegis or sponsorship of the University) will be treated humanely, and prior to their start, all vertebrate animal projects must receive approval by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC). Information concerning policies and procedures can be found at the IACUC website.

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4.6. Environmental Health and Safety (EHS)

Surveillance of University practices dealing with a variety of environmental hazards will reside with Environmental Health and Safety (EHS). Protective services, fire safety, accident prevention and general safety will be the responsibility of the Department of Police and Public Safety (DPPS). DPPS reports to the Office of the Vice President for Finance and Operations, and Treasurer. The special matter of risk management in the course of delivering treatment in MSU clinics or by MSU physicians, nurses and other licensed clinicians comes under the special risk management procedures of the respective clinic and the All University Risk Management Committee.

The Office of the Vice President for Research and Graduate Studies and the Office of the Provost are responsible for promoting liaison between the University faculty, students and staff engaged in interaction, research and service, activities involving environmental hazards including related moral and ethical issues.

EHS provides live and on-line training classes throughout the year to educate the employees and students of Michigan State University on safe work practices. Completion of these courses by MSU personnel ensures the university is fulfilling local, state and federal requirements in radiation, chemical, biological, hazardous waste and environmental safety. The type of training you require depends on the nature of your duties and responsibilities. Details about available and required training can be found at the EHS website.

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5. Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution

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5.1. Student Conduct

Michigan State University expects student conduct and behavior to reflect qualities of good citizenship. The out-of-classroom activities of University students should favorably reflect upon the institution and should demonstrate the personal integrity of the individuals. Two documents, Student Rights and Responsibilities and Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities, provide information on specific policies, ordinances, and regulations and define some of the relevant University expectations.

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5.2. Conflict Resolution

The University has established a judicial structure and process for hearing and adjudicating alleged violations of recognized graduate student rights and responsibilities.

Conflict involving a graduate student may be handled informally or, at the request of a party or parties, formally. The document Student Rights and Responsibilities contains details of students' rights and responsibilities as well as grievance procedures. Information specific to graduate students is contained in the section Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities. The College of Engineering's Hearing Board follows specific procedures to deal with such issues which can be found here. The Office of the Ombudsperson is a resource for additional information.

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5.3. Department Procedures

Grievances initiated by a graduate student will be handled according to the procedures outlined here. These procedures correspond to those defined in Article 5 of the Graduate Student Rights and Responsibilities document.

A grievance should be brought to the attention of the department chairperson. If informal resolution of the grievance is not possible and the graduate student initiates a request for a formal grievance, the chairperson will bring the matter to the attention of the Department Hearing Board for adjudication of the grievance in a timely manner.

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6. Financial Support and Work Related Policies

This section provides current and prospective graduate students in Computer Science and Engineering with information regarding work related policies, information regarding financial support and information regarding tuition and fees.

Financial support for graduate students takes different forms and may include one or more of the following: fellowship, research assistantship, or teaching assistantship. Specific award amounts change with time to reflect changes in tuition, fees, and the general cost of living. The Department of Computer Science and Engineering has a limited number of fellowships and assistantships available for qualified graduate students. Applicants for admission into either the M.S. or Ph.D. programs are automatically considered for financial support.

Sources of financial support include the University, the College of Engineering, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and off-campus organizations in both the public and private sector. Qualifications for receiving specific types of aid vary depending upon the funding source. Some financial aid packages place certain restrictions/responsibilities upon the recipient. For example, a half-time graduate assistantship would require the recipient to perform an average of twenty (20) hours per week of duties in service on average to the University during the appointment period.

Most financial support packages require that the student make satisfactory progress toward completing a degree of study. The Department's criteria for satisfactory academic progress includes: course credits completed per semester, the nature of these courses, the grades received, successful completion of required qualifying/comprehensive examinations, and progress in completing M.S. thesis or Ph.D. dissertation research.

In addition to satisfactory progress toward completing the degree, continuation of graduate support depends upon the following: the recipient has performed the assigned duties satisfactorily; past level of support and total number of semesters of support; the availability of funds to continue the current level of financial assistance; the needs of the Department for the particular services for which the recipient is qualified to perform. When resources for financial support are limited and the demand for support exceeds the funds available, continuation of financial support for an individual student will depend upon merit relative to others requesting aid and the needs of the Department.

For graduate assistants holding an appointment during the spring semester, the Department will advise each assistant by some date before the end of spring semester whether or not the assistantship will be renewed for the following academic year. The notification will provide details as to the type of assistantship support and the length of the appointment (fall semester or the entire academic year). For graduate assistants appointed only for the fall semester, the Department will provide notification of renewal for the following spring semester by December 1.

Finally, all TAs and RAs must complete the on-line training about the Relationship Violence and Sexual Misconduct Policy. To access the training, login to the ORA training website at http://goo.gl/pLh01o. Click "Register", "Complete Registration", and then "Launch" to begin the training. (If it indicates that you have already registered, use "In Progress Training", then "Launch."). You will want to reserve approximately 30 minutes to complete all assignments. If you need assistance, contact the Helpdesk at 517-884-4600 or train@ora.msu.edu.

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6.1. Teaching Assistantships

2011-2015 MSU/GEU Contract

In considering the assignment of Teaching Assistantships (TA), the Department Graduate Studies and Research Committee uses a set of criteria as a guideline for selecting applicants for TA positions. These criteria are intended to support the Department's teaching and research missions. The criteria for TA appointment decisions listed in order of priority are:

1.Those students to whom the Department has a prior commitment to provide support, such as students who have received a multi-year support offer on admission.

2.Ph.D. students actively involved in research who do not have a research assistantship, fellowship or other support. Normally, a Ph.D. student will not receive more than six semesters (excluding summer semesters) of support as a TA.

3.M.S. students in a thesis (Plan A) who do not have a research assistantship, fellowship or other support. Normally, an M.S. student will not receive more than four semesters (excluding summer semesters) of support as a TA.

4.M.S. students in the course work option (Plan B) who do not have a research assistantship, fellowship or other support.

Academic performance and qualifications to teach a particular course will also be considered in all TA appointment decisions. For students for whom English is not the official language of their home country, a minimum score of 50 on the SPEAK test is required.

Newly appointed TAs will receive course specific training from the faculty in charge of the course at the beginning of the semester.

Teaching Assistants who do serve as a TA for 6 semesters shall be appointed as Level 3 teaching assistants in subsequent semesters.

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6.2. Research Assistantships

Individual faculty members generally select research assistants from the graduate student body and qualified applicants. Research assistants are often selected to work on a specific research project or projects for which the faculty member has funding. Often, but not necessarily always, the work is related to the thesis work of the student. Renewal of research assistantships is based on satisfactory performance and availability of funds.

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6.3. The Graduate Employees Union (GEU)

All teaching assistants should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under the current version of the contract between MSU and the GEU. The Department provides each student appointed as a TA with a copy. The agreement is also available online .

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6.4. University Graduate Assistantship Polices

Graduate Assistants (including research assistants and teaching assistants) are available only to graduate students who are making satisfactory progress toward their degree, including maintaining at least a 3.00 grade point average. Graduate assistants are appointed on a quarter-time, half-time or three-quarter time basis. The academic year encompasses two appointment periods- August 16-December 31 and January 1-May 15. Summer appointments cover the period approximately from May 16-August 15. During each appointment period a graduate assistant's duties to the University require an average of:

  • 10 hours per week for a quarter-time stipend.
  • 20 hours per week for a half-time stipend.
  • 30 hours per week for a three-quarter time stipend.

The student is expected to be available during the appointment period. Any absences, including for attendance of professional meetings, must be arranged with the supervising faculty member and the Department.

Graduate assistants must be registered each semester in which they hold assistantships. The minimum enrollment for doctoral students who have successfully completed all comprehensive examinations is 1 credit for all graduate assistantship levels in all semesters. Otherwise, the minimum enrollment for doctoral students with any graduate assistantship in any semester is 3 credits. The minimum enrollment for master's students with quarter-time or half-time graduate assistantships in fall and spring semesters is 6 credits; in summer semester or with a three-quarter time graduate assistantship, this minimum is 3 credits. Deviations from these minimum enrollment requirements are only permitted during the semester in which the degree is granted during which time the student must be enrolled for at least 1 credit.

The maximum enrollment per semester is determined by the type of assistantship. For quarter-time appointments, the maximum enrollment for any student is 16 credits (excluding credits in 899 or 999). For half-time appointments, the maximum enrollment for any student is 12 credits (excluding credits in 899 or 999). For three-quarter time appiontments, the maximum enrollment for any student is 8 credits (excluding credits in 899 or 999.

International students should also be aware of minimum credit enrollments to satisfy visa requirements. The MSU Office of International Students and Scholars is an important resource of information in this regard.

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6.5. Graduate Assistants Not Covered by the GEU

For all graduate research assistants and all graduate teaching assistants who are not included in the GEU agreement, current information concerning stipends, tuition and fee benefits, health insurance and other benefits can be found at the Graduate School web site.

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6.6. Graduate Assistants Covered by the GEU

For GEU covered assistantships, please see the current MSU/GEU agreement for information regarding stipends, tuition and fee benefits, and health insurance coverage.

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6.7. External Fellowships

Receipt of externally funded fellowships by students who have written their own grant applications and worth at least $20,000 (direct costs) now makes the students eligible for in-state tuition rate. The in-state tuition rate applies only to the semesters during which the student is supported by the fellowship. This policy applies only to grants funded through a competitive process by a US institution/agency/foundation. Funds obtained through non-competitive processes (e.g., need-based fellowships) or from international sources do not qualify the students for in-state tuition rates. For more information contact Melissa Del Rio (mdelrio@msu.edu) in 110 Linton Hall.

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6.8. Use of Department Facilities and Supplies

Graduate students supported as graduate assistant in the Department are provided with a campus mailbox in the Engineering Building. All graduate students in the Department have access to computer systems maintained by the Department as well as facilities provided by the Division of Engineering Computing Services. Graduate assistants are provided with office space and telephone access for local and campus calls. Copy machines are available in the Engineering Library with a customary charge per page. Teaching assistants may have required materials copied for their teaching duties by the office copying machine without charge.

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6.9. Fees and Rates

For current information regarding tuition, fees and housing rates associated with enrolling in the Graduate Programs in Computer Science and Engineering, please see the Online Calculator.

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6.10. Outside Work for Pay

Outside work for pay must be undertaken within any guidelines established by Michigan State University or the College of Engineering.

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6.11. Travel

Students traveling abroad should visit the Travel Smart Web site before their trip. When students appointed as TAs or RAs travel outside the U.S. to conduct required thesis or dissertation research or to collaborate with investigators conducting research abroad, the department or research grant supporting the work will be required to pay for all needed vaccinations and or medications (e.g., anti-malarials) as determined by the MSU Travel Clinic. Students may include those costs in applications for funds from the Research Enhancement or Travel Grant programs administered by the Graduate School.

Department Travel Procedures

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6.12. Grief Absence Policy

For master's (Plan A), master's (Plan B) with reserach responsibilities, and doctoral students, it is the responsibility of the student to: a) notify their advisor/major professor and faculty o fhte courses in which they are enrolled of the need for a grief absence in a timely manner, but no later than one week from the student's initial knowledge of the situation, b) provide appropriate verification of the grief absence as specified by the advisor/major professor and faculty, and c) complete all missed work as determined in consultation with the advisor/major professor and faculty. It is the responsibility of the advisor/major professor to: a) determine with the student the expected period of absence - it is expected that some bereavement processes may be more extensive than others depending on individual circumstances, b) receive verification of the authenticity of a grief absence request upon the student's return, and c) make reasonable accommodations so that the student is not penalized due to a verified grief absence. If employed as a RA or TE, the graduate student must also notify their employer. Both employer and student will swiftly communicate to determine how the student's responsibilities will be covered during their absence. Graduate teaching assistants (TAs) should refer to the bereavement policy in the MSU GEU CBU Article 18. Students who believe their rights under this policy have been violated should contact the University Ombudsperson.

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7. University Resources

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7.1. The University

Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. It is known worldwide as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 14 degree-granting colleges and affiliated private law school offer 200 programs of study. They attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

Students from all 83 counties in Michigan, all 50 states in the United States, and about 125 other countries are represented in the student body of 44,452 students (fall, 2003). There are approximately 4,500 faculty and academic staff, and approximately 6,000 support staff employees. Library resources include a research collection of approximately 4.5 million volumes housed in the main library and nine branch libraries across campus. More than 500 registered student organizations include honoraries; professional organizations and professional fraternities and sororities; recreational and athletic groups; and international, racial/ethnic, religious, academic interest area, political, social service, volunteer, and media organizations.

The Graduate School at Michigan State University provides programs to serve all graduate students, including a variety of free workshops throughout the year. Useful links include

The Council of Graduate Students represents all registered MSU graduate and graduate-professional students. The Graduate Employee's Union represents Teaching Assistants.

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7.2. The College

Michigan State University's Engineering College offers graduate programs through six academic Departments: Agricultural Engineering, Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, Civil and Environmental Engineering, Computer Science and Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. The college houses many research centers and laboratories, which vigorously promote the interdisciplinary collaboration of its faculty members with each other, and with other university Departments, other universities and the general public.

A $34.5 million addition and renovation in 1989 provided 167,000 square feet of space for laboratories, classrooms, offices and the engineering library. The Engineering Building, constructed in 1962, underwent a $14-million, 46,000-square-foot addition in 1997, accommodating the Herbert H. and Grace A. Dow Institute for Materials Research, one of the premier facilities in the world for the study of composite materials. Other facilities include the Engineering Facility at the MSU Research Complex; the Jolly Road Research Facility; and the Automotive Research Experiment Station located in the Hulett Road Research Facility.

Many college resources for graduate students can be found at the following link: http://www.egr.msu.edu/academics/graduate/current-students

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7.3. The Department

The computer science and engineering graduate program has approximately 150 students, of which about 70% are doctoral students and 30% are master's students. The graduate students work in close relationship with the approximately 30 faculty in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering in a strong and growing research program. Students also engage in interdisciplinary research through extensive collaborative research projects conducted by faculty of Computer Science and Engineering together with faculty colleagues from many other disciplines at Michigan State University. Indeed, interdisciplinary research collaboration is a hallmark of the computer science and engineering discipline, and is a strength of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

Useful links include:

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7.4. The Campus

Campus cultural and other special centers include the Wharton Center for Performing Arts, Kresge Art Museum, MSU Museum, Kellogg Center, Abrams Planetarium, WKAR-AM/FM public radio and WKAR public television. Sports devotees can follow the performance of any of the 25 men's and women's intercollegiate teams on campus. Those wishing to participate in athletics can take advantage of any of the many facilities available. These include gymnasiums for basketball and racquet sports, an indoor ice-skating rink, five swimming pools, a number of outdoor tennis courts and two 18-hole golf courses. The intramural sports program is one of the largest in the nation.

The campus has been called an "academic park" and the beautiful gardens and landscaping are testimony to many generations of careful stewardship. The 5,200 acres, located three miles east of Michigan's Capitol in Lansing, represent a unique blend of the traditional and the innovative and is adjacent to its college town, East Lansing. The Red Cedar River traverses the campus and offers opportunities for lively activities such as canoe races or quiet reflection for those who wish to walk or study along its tree-lined shores.

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7.5. The Lansing Community

The greater Lansing area, with a population of approximately a half-million, boasts a fine symphony orchestra which performs at the Wharton Center; several dance and theater groups, art galleries; the state capitol building, museums, state and local libraries; an arboretum, a zoo, a variety of parks, and a number of restaurants to suit most pocketbooks and tastes.

Graduate students in need of a change of scene can take the train to Chicago from East Lansing or drive an hour or two to Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids or Detroit. In addition, day or weekend jaunts can be made to such attractions as Greenfield Village and the Henry Ford Museum, the Irish Hills, the Kellogg Biological Station, numerous National and State Forests in the lower and upper peninsulas, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron beaches and parks, and Mackinac Island. Recreational activities in Michigan are highlighted by water sports in the summer months and skiing in winter.

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