Grad School FAQs


Where can I find the prelim policies?
The prelim policies are available in detail at the below links:
CIS PhD Prelim Policy Document
CIS Prelim Policy
You are expected to be aware of the policy and deadlines.

When are the PhD prelims conducted?
All prelims exam research projects will be conducted during regular semesters, either Spring or Fall.

Will I be informed about my prelim exam by someone during that semester?
You may or may not receive an email indicating that you are due to complete your PhD prelims in the current semester.
You are expected to do prelims before the end of your 4th semester in the PhD program.
Hence all decisions related to prelims need to be taken within the first 6 weeks of the start of the semester (including prelim proposal report submission).

Can a student do prelims before the 4th semester?
You can prepone a semester or two if you are ready but you need approval from Prof. Kambhamettu and you need to inform Prof. James Clause of any such preponement so that she can share a Google Drive folder with you.
Make sure you have completed or about to complete the prelim course requirement (i.e. 3.5 GPA or above in 5 breadth courses).

Can a student extend the prelim deadline?
If you have a concern or you are not expected to meet a deadline, you must contact the CIS GPC chair (email ahead of the deadline to discuss your options.
Please do not wait until after the deadline passes to ask for help.

With whom should one work to choose my prelim project, prelim committee, date, etc?
Please work closely with Prof. Kambhamettu to meet your prelims requirement, at any time you may email if you have a concern regarding the prelims policy.

What is the student expected to provide for prelim?
The student must provide a research proposal and decide the date, time, and place of the oral exam in consultation with the committee and provide this information to the GPC Chair before the end of week 6 of the semester.

When are the prelims scheduled?
All oral exams will be scheduled during the last 5 weeks of the semester (up to the last day of final exams).

How are prelim presentations related to SIG presentations?
To the extent possible, they will be advertised as a SIG presentation in an appropriate SIG.
You are expected to try to plan your research exam in a SIG: CISC890 Courses.

Will the student be notified of Google Drive?
A folder in Google Drive will be shared with you only if it is your 4th semester (an invite will not be sent).

When should the student send the final prelim report?
The final report of the student must be given by the student to all committee members and published online at least 2 weeks before the date of the oral exam.

When is the prelim proposal due?
The end of week 6 in the Spring semester, observed at 11:59 p.m.

Whom to notify about the prelim proposal?
Notification of time/date/place and committee should go to not the later end of week 6

Where to upload the prelim proposal?
Use your google drive folder to upload/publish your proposal not later than the end of the 6th week after the start of the semester.

When to send the advertising email regarding prelims?
An advertisement email with title, abstract, date, time, zoom link (if online) and committee members list indicating Prof. Kambhamettu as advisor needs to be send no less than 1 week before the prelim date.
The email can be sent either by Prof. Kambhamettu or the faculty managing the SIG for that semester.

Any form that need to be submitted after prelims?
Yes, this form Prelim Research Evaluation needs to be signed from the committee members and should be submitted to Prof. James Clause.

When and whom to send prelim reminders?
On the day of prelim send the reminder email to SIG group (by Prof. Kambhamettu) and to the committee members (by student).


Where can I find the proposal defense policies?
The proposal defense policies are available in detail here: Qualifying Exam/PhD Proposal
You are expected to be aware of the policy and deadlines.
Grad College requirements are in the online graduate catalog under Doctor of Philosophy here: CIS Prelim Policy

When are the PhD proposals conducted?
Timeline: All proposal defense can be conducted at any time of the year (preferably during the regular semesters, either Spring or Fall - holidays/breaks excluded).

Will I be informed about my proposal defense by someone during that semester?
You may or may not receive an email indicating that you are due to complete your PhD proposal in the current semester. You are expected to discuss and plan about your proposal with Prof. Kambhamettu. You are registered in pre-candidacy (CISC 964) and are working toward your proposal. When you are ready, the first step is to form your committee and get it approved.

How to form the PhD Proposal defense committee?
Please discuss with Prof. Kambhamettu regarding the committee formation before contacting a potential committee member.

What courses should I be enrolled in during the semester in which my proposal is scheduled/due?
You should have completed all the PhD course requirement a semester before and should be enrolled into 9 credits of CISC 964.

When are the proposal defenses scheduled?
Proposal defense will be scheduled as per the availability of all the committee members (preferably during or end of the Fall/Winter/Spring semesters).
Grad College deadlines and steps to graduate: Steps to Graduation
CIS does not have a documented department timeline for your proposal (qualifier) but PhD students must be making progress working with Prof. Kambhamettu with a goal to reach candidacy and a goal to defend your dissertation.

When should the student send the final proposal report to committee members?
The final proposal report must be sent by the student to all committee members at least 3 weeks before the date of the proposal defense date.

When to request proposal defense documentation from Prof. James Clause?
Once you have confirmed from Prof. Kambhamettu with a tentative date and committee members, formally contact the committee members to confirm their interest to be on you proposal committee and their availability on the date.

What documentation you will be asked to prepare by Prof. James Clause for proposal committee approval?
You will find a link to the form in Graduate Resources under Paperwork here. The guidelines for forming a committee are explained on the form itself.

You must attach to the form:
1) Brief description of your area of research
2) Your anticipated proposal date
3) Short write-up on every member explaining why you have chosen them for your committee
4) CV/bio only on the external committee member(s)

Send all that to Prof. Kambhamettu to review and confirm you have satisfied items 1-4. You will email those attachments to me at least three weeks ahead of your anticipated proposal date to give CIS faculty time to vote/approve your committee. (You do not send anything directly to the grad office).

Whom to notify about the proposal defense once the committee is approved?
You will create a zoom link and draft your announcement to Prof. James Clause to email to CIS faculty and grads. Format your draft like our other proposal announcements with a title, abstract, committee, time, date, and zoom link/location. We should be emailing the announcement no less than one week ahead of your defense.


What documentation work do I need to complete the post-proposal defense?
You will need to complete the "DOCTORAL DEGREE CANDIDACY RECOMMENDATION FORM" for the Grad College after you pass your proposal. On the form, your proposal date is your qualifying exam date. For the competency exam date, please put the month/year that you passed your prelims. Your committee members need to sign in Section 2 and contact Dr. Sethi at to sign the form on behalf of the Department Chair.
You will email the signed form directly to Dr. Mary Martin will respond and handle adding Doctoral Dissertation credits to your registration and she will determine when you're eligible for sustaining. Questions about those things handled by the Grad College should be emailed directly to Dr. Martin at

What should be my enrollment after proposal defense?
After you propose and you quickly turn in your signed candidacy form to Dr. Martin at and perhaps cc She will likely be able to put you in sustaining in Fall/Spring/Summer if this can all happen before the respective Fall/Spring/Summer drop/add deadline!! But it is your responsibility to get it done and fast directly with Dr. Martin. Prof. James Clause does not do sustaining or candidacy.


How do I apply for a graduate student travel award?
Fill out this Application Form.

What kind of travel is eligible for support?

How does the travel award work?
The Graduate College requires 1:1 cost sharing from another source like, your department. For instance, if you apply for a travel fund of $1,000, the Grad College provides $500, given that, your department is willing to provide the remaining $500. Matching may come from internal university sources or external grant funding.

Does this mean I need to email the CIS department before applying for the travel award?
As long as you have communicated with Prof. Kambhamettu, you can assume that you have the support and permission of your department to apply. You do not need to email your department as suggested in the Graduate College site. The application you submit through this website will route to the department for approval.

Who do I mention as my department contacts in the application?
As of 08/30/2023, the CIS department chairperson is Rudolf Eigenmann and your deparment contact is Mayra Ortiz.

How many times can I apply for the travel award? What is the maximum amount I can request?
You can apply more than once, but the total award permitted during the course of your graduate study is $1,500 from the Graduate College. So with the 1:1 match requirement, you are eligible for up to $3,000 in travel support.

What expenses are allowed under the travel support?
Travel expenses may include items such as: parking, airfare or train ticket, roundtrip mileage at current IRS rate, poster printing fee, registration fee, food, lodging, and taxi/bus/shuttle fares. Alcoholic beverages are NOT an allowable expense.

What are my obligations upon receiving a travel support?

Do I need to save any of my travel receipts?
Yes. You need to submit the original receipts to your department.

Can I apply for travel funds from the CIS department alone without the 1:1 match?
Yes, you can. But, please note that you may only receive a maximum of two travel awards with a limitation of one travel award per academic year.

I am still confused. Who do I contact for more information?
You can contact Prof. James Clause, the CIS Graduate Academic Advisor.