Data Science Ph.D. Qualifying Examination

A Data Science Ph.D. student must pass a Qualifying Examination, which tests whether a student 
possesses the fundamental knowledge and skills necessary for research in Data Science at the Ph.D. 
level. This requirement must be completed within a year of completing the Core Breadth and Depth 
Competency Course Requirements for Ph.D. 60 students, and within three years for the Ph.D. 90 
students. Each student registers for three credits of Directed Research (DS 597) with a Faculty 
Advisor from the Data Science Steering Committee, or upon approval by such, with an advisor from 
the list of WPI tenure-track faculty affiliated with the Data Science program.

The student must notify the Data Science Steering Committee that the Directed Research work is part 
of his or her Qualifying Requirements before the work begins. The student will identify the general 
area of the research, and the Data Science Steering Committee will appoint one Co-advisor who will 
work with the student and the Primary Faculty Advisor throughout the semester. Either the Primary 
Faculty Advisor or the Co-advisor will be faculty from the Data Science Program interdisciplinary 
areas, i.e.: Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science, or the Robert A. Foisie School of Business. 
The Co-advisor, with prior approval of the Data Science Steering Committee, may be an affiliated, 
tenure-track faculty, and preferably from a department other than that of the primary Research 
Advisor.

The Data Science Steering Committee will appoint a second, additional Co-advisor from among the 
Data Science affiliated tenure-track faculty. The Primary Advisor and two appointed Co-advisors 
will evaluate the student's work at the end of the semester to determine whether or not the student 
has shown sufficient research potential to become a Ph.D. Candidate. The student will submit a 
written report to his or her three advisors. After that, once approved by the committee to proceed, 
the student delivers an oral presentation about his or her research to the Data Science community 
during a public seminar. The student must give the Data Science Steering Committee at least 
one-week notice regarding the time and place of this presentation. While the examination is open to 
the public, there is a subsequent questioning period by the three Advisors of the student during a 
closed session.

Upon  successful  completion  of  the  Ph.D.  Qualifying  Requirement,  the  student  becomes  a
Data Science Ph.D. Candidate.

 

Dissertation Proposal and Defense

The student’s Dissertation Committee must be formed within the first year of candidacy, and is responsible for approving the Dissertation Proposal and the Final Dissertation Manuscript.

The Dissertation Committee must be constituted as follows:

  • The Research Advisor must be faculty within the Data Science Steering Committee or, upon approval by the Data Science Steering Committee, can be a WPI tenure-track faculty affiliated with the Data Science program.

  • The Committee must consist of at least four faculty members.

  • At least two different WPI departments participating in the Data Science program, Mathematical Sciences, Computer Science, and/or The Robert A. Foisie School of Business, must be represented on the committee.

  • At least one Committee member must be from outside of WPI.

DISSERTATION PROPOSAL

All Ph.D. students conduct research that constitutes a contribution to knowledge in the field of Data Science and must be of publication quality. Each student prepares a written proposal manuscript that demonstrates a sound understanding of the dissertation topic, the relevant literature, the techniques to be employed, the issues to be addressed, and the work done on the topic by the student to date. The student defends the dissertation proposal work orally in a public presentation, followed by a private examination by the Dissertation Committee. It is recommended that the proposal be defended within 4 years in the program for Ph.D. 90 and 2 years in the program for Ph.D. 60 students, and at least one year before the completion of the Ph.D. Dissertation.

The Dissertation Committee will assign the student one of three outcomes:

  • Fail: which results in dismissal from the Data Science Ph.D. Degree program.

  • Repeat: which requires the student to do additional work and to re-present a dissertation proposal. This must be done within six months of the date of the current Dissertation Proposal. Students may only repeat once.

  • Pass: with or without additional work or revisions to the document.

DISSERTATION DEFENSE

All Ph.D. students produce and orally defend their Dissertation. The research must constitute a contribution to knowledge in the field of Data Science and must be of publication quality. Each Doctoral Candidate is required to defend the originality, independence and quality of research during an Oral Dissertation Defense that is administered by the Dissertation Committee. The defense is open to public participation. At least two weeks prior to the defense, a public notification of the defense must be given. At least four week prior to the defense, each member of the examining committee must receive a copy of the Candidate's Dissertation. At the same time, an additional copy must be made available to members of the WPI community wishing to read the Dissertation prior to the defense. The Dissertation Committee will determine the acceptability of the student’s Dissertation and Oral Dissertation Defense.
In particular, the Committee will assign the student one of three outcomes:

  • Fail: which results in dismissal from the Data Science Ph.D. degree.

  • Repeat: which requires the student to complete additional work, and repeat the Dissertation Defense.

  • Pass: with or without additional work or revisions to the document.