Fall 2020 DAIS PhD Qualification Process

Revision on the DAIS PhD Qualification Process (Effective on Sept. 1, 2020)

With the pandemic regulation on Social Distance, we have made the following changes on the PhD Qualification Process for the Fall semester of 2020, as follows.

Written exam (Four hours):

  1. Professor who participate this Fall’s DAIS exam will be responsible to give questions.  There will be more than 10 long questions from the following four research fields: DB (database systems), DM (data mining), IR (information retrieval), and IE (information extraction) & Text Mining.  There will be a reading list of research papers published at least three weeks before the written exam.
  2. Each examinee is expected to answer 4 long questions, with each worth 10 points (40 points in total).   (Note: If more than 4 questions are answered, the committee will randomly choose 4 to grade.)
  3. Each long question is expected to be answered in approximately 60 minutes.  Long questions are designed to test the mastery of in-depth knowledge on specific topics and the capability of solving some open problems.
  4. The written exam will take 4 hours (i.e., 240 minutes) in Open Book, Open Notes, Open Web style. Each examinee will receive the exam questions by e-mail from the QAIS qual supervisor.  The examinee should answer the questions independently (Communications with anyone outside are prohibited, except with the exam supervisor).  The answers to all the questions should be typed into a file.  After the exam, the examinee shall send the answers back by e-mail to the supervisor.  Figures or drawings, if any, in the answer should be attached in the same e-mail.  During the exam, any clarification questions should be passed through the supervisor, with e-mails.
  5. Double-blind review rules are enforced in the written exam: The identities of the examinees cannot be disclosed until all the exam questions are graded and reported to the DAIS secretary for DAIS faculty meeting and discussion.

Oral interview (up-to-one-hour one-on-one meeting with non-advisor):

  1. Each examinee needs to send by e-mail of his/her CV, unofficial UIUC transcripts, research plan, and a set of presentation slides to the interview professor at least two days before the scheduled interview time. At the interview, each examinee needs to present his/her research interest, progress so-far and research plan using electronic means (e.g., zoom or skype).  Each examiner needs to raise questions and make a judgement on the capability of research, research potential, and thinking on-feet of the candidate.   The interview time is expected to be 20 minutes to one hour, depending on the need and the progress of the interview.

Decision process: Pass, additional oral exam, conditional pass, and fail:

  1. Written exam should be conducted at least two weeks before the decision date so that the committee will have sufficient time to discuss all the cases and conduct an additional oral exam when needed
  2. The first round of the discussion may result in the following options: (1) pass; (2) fail; and (3) additional oral exam
  3. If the committee decides a candidate needs to take an additional oral exam, the candidate should be informed at least three days before the exam. The oral exam should be conducted with a group of at least three DAIS faculty members closer to the candidate’s research area, excluding the candidate’s thesis advisor.  Time, duration (expected to be one to two-hours), and contents should be determined by the committee and inform the candidate beforehand.  After the exam, the committee should decide one of the following: (1) pass, (2) conditional pass (and what the condition is), and (3) fail.   The decision will be informed to the Office of Graduate Study in the Department of Computer Science, which will then decide whether to approve the decision and pass it to the candidate.