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General Information 

Undergraduate Preparation:
Students applying to the program may have degrees in any field, though preference will generally be given to those with a technical or social science background.

Program of Study:
The broad field of informatics incorporates a variety of specific academic research areas, including human-computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, ubiquitous computing, software design, software studies, medical informatics, assistive technology, educational technology, and software and technology studies. The program is designed around a series of principles and desiderata.

We emphasize research (theory and skills) throughout the program and to make student research the central component of evaluation.

We ensure that students get a broad introduction to informatics research to avoid both premature specialization and tying students to just a single research group.
We connect to disciplinary areas outside of Informatics, particularly those that are important application areas for people’s research or areas of methodological specialization.
We incorporate regular assessment by the faculty as a whole.

Pre-Candidacy Course Requirements

Required Core Courses
INF 261: Social Analysis of Computing
INF 232: Research in Human Computer Interaction
INF 209S: Seminar in Informatics (twice, usually in first year)

Research Methods Core
INF 201: Research Methods
INF 203: Qualitative Methods
INF 205: Quantitative Methods
INF 207S: Doctoral Seminar on Research and Writing (pre-2016, this requirement was twice. It is now once, but depending on when you advance, you may need waiver. See the Vice-Chair for details.)

Research Experience
INF 299 (Independent Study): Four quarters required pre-advancement, recommended at least two quarters per year in each of the first two years.

Electives in Informatics (6 Ph.D. level classes)
A set of six elective courses. The selection of courses should form a coherent educational plan to be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and by the Informatics PhD program director. A written record of this plan and its approval must be filed with the PhD program director prior to advancement. Although the courses may be chosen from any PhD level courses on campus, it is recommended that at least three be chosen from within the school of ICS. Undergraduate courses cannot be uses as graduate electives.

Teaching Requirements:

To enhance their education and experience in teaching, all students will be required to work as readers or TAs for at least two quarters. Additionally, before or during the first quarter in which they are working in this capacity, all students will enroll in ICS 398A, a two-unit seminar. Those students wishing to gain more instruction around their teaching may also enroll in ICS 398B, the advanced teaching seminar, which is also a two-unit seminar.

Qualifying Exams:

Written Comprehensive Exam (often at the end of the student’s second year): The student develops an appropriate reading list to fit his/her areas of interest within Informatics, co-developed with the advisor. The student then completes a written exam synthesizing this literature and noting the areas that are currently interesting and under-researched. The paper serves as the basis for an oral examination, generally in the Spring quarter of the second year. This exam should take place with at least three faculty members, more from Informatics than not and is a closed or private exam consisting of just the student and the committee. Notification that the student has passed their comprehensive exam should be sent by email from the committee chair to Student Affairs and the Vice Chair.

*As your comprehensive exam approaches we encourage you to go fill out and submit an Advancement to Candidacy to Masters form (see below) IF you would like the possibility of leaving UCI with a masters degree. A masters degree is not automatically awarded along the way to achieving a Phd. The student must fill out this form and the degree requirements will be checked and the MS will be awarded after you have finished your comprehensive exam. If you would like to leave the program with an MS this form has to be filled out the quarter BEFORE you graduate with the MS so don’t forget this tip.

Advancement to Candidacy: (often in the student’s third year): The student will be evaluated by an assessment of a research portfolio. A portfolio should comprise three papers of publishable quality, as judged by the faculty. These papers might be expansions or developments from term papers developed in class; the goal is to determine the student’s capacity to produce research writing of publishable quality. Students may work on papers collaboratively, but the portfolio as a whole must demonstrate writing ability through single-authored or lead-authored work. (Collaboratively written papers will be accompanied by a statement of contributions signed by all authors.) Students are encouraged to report on projects conducted with at least two different faculty members. Advancement to candidacy is on the basis of an oral defense of the research portfolio, normally in the Spring of the third year. The advancement committee is formed in accordance with UCI campus regulations. The advancement is expected to be an open or public exam, which requires public announcement at least two weeks in advance.

* Scheduling for the oral defense should be considered months in advance, as juggling the schedules of various faculty can be difficult and it is expected that the student and their advisor will make every attempt to have on site attendance for the defense.

Doctoral Dissertation:

The dissertation defense committee is formed in accordance to UCI Senate regulations. This committee must approve the following for the student to pass the final examination:

Dissertation topic: The student must present a substantial written document representing the student’s dissertation plan. This document must include the proposed dissertation abstract, a dissertation outline, a comprehensive survey of related work, and a detailed plan for completing the work. The student must present this dissertation plan to the dissertation committee, who must unanimously approve the student’s proposal. This proposal meeting is typically private amongst just the student and the committee.

Dissertation document: The student must prepare the written dissertation in accordance with Academic Senate regulations and present this document to the committee with enough advance notice for appropriate review and critique prior to an oral defense. Following an oral defense of this document, any changes required must be approved by the entire committee.

Oral defense: The student must pass an oral dissertation defense that consists of a public presentation of the student’s research followed by an oral examination by the student’s doctoral committee. To ensure the public has an opportunity to participate in this examination, the student must announce the defense title, date, and time at least two weeks prior to the event to all faculty and doctoral students in the department.

* Scheduling for the oral defense should be considered months in advance, as juggling the schedules of various faculty can be difficult and it is expected that the student and their advisor will make every attempt to have on site attendance for the defense.