Here are the current policies and procedures for taking the CS PhD qualifying exams:

  • The exams will be offered twice a year: during the week preceding the Spring semester, and during the week preceding the Fall semester.
  • If you wish to take one of these exams, you should submit a request to the Administrative Coordinator for the CS PhD program (Ryan Lucas,, 703-993-1530) indicating the exams you wish to take. Requests for taking exams are due two months before the exam date. 
  • The week before the exams, you will be notified about which exam will be scheduled in which time period. You will also be told the location where the exam will be given.
  • Students are allowed to withdraw from exams with no reason ten days before the exam. Once this time limit has passed, students with circumstances beyond their control, i.e., illness, car accident, family illness or other family issues, are required to notify the CS PhD program director at the earliest possible time and provide documentation to support their claim. The student will then be allowed to take the exam at the next available testing date. If the student is a no show for the exam or hasn’t contacted the program director to be excused, the student will automatically fail the exam.
  • You should bring with you writing materials (pens/pencils, paper) and a calculator (the exam instructions will indicate if you are allowed to use a calculator). If the exam is open book, you should also bring with you the appropriate reference materials. For more detailed information about an exam, please consult the web pages for the qualifying exam.
  • Qualifying exams are double-blind. Exam takers do not know the identity of the faculty members who prepare the exams and exam graders will not know the identity of the student taking the exam. A number will be assigned to the student once his/her scheduling confirmation is sent. Students should use this number to identify themselves when taking the exam.
  • We do not provide copies of previous qualifying exams.

Grade appeal procedures:  

  • Students who wish to appeal their grades must contact the Adminstrative Coordinator for the CS PhD program in the CS Departmental office. 
  • No frivolous grade appeals (i.e., based on exam style or types of questions) will be granted.
  • The CS PhD Program director will interact directly with the faculty member(s) in charge of writing the exams and with other faculty members as appropriate and will then inform the student the result of the grade appeal.
  • Grade appeals must be submitted in writing within one week of receiving the grade. Results of grade appeals will be sent to the student as soon as possible.