1 Route to the Ph.D. in Information Systems Roxanne Hiltz, Fall 2005 (Part 1: Overview and up to Qualifying Exam)- A series of requirements or “obstacles”
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1 Route to the Ph.D. in Information Systems Roxanne Hiltz, Fall 2005 (Part 1: Overview and up to Qualifying Exam)- A series of requirements or “obstacles” that must be completed in the correct order
3 Deviations from “Typical” Full time students with an MS in IS or CS from NJIT should be ready for the qualifiers within 12 months; could finish in three years (conceivably) Students entering with only a bachelor’s degree, or with extensive bridge course requirements, may take longer ( 5 years instead of 4) Part time students may take longer, but still need to finish within seven years, after which time courses “expire” and have to be retaken.
4 The first two years… You are taking the core required courses to prepare for and take qualifying exam You are getting into research in IS Seminar. You should find your topic and know your advisor by the end of the second year. You are participating in research and starting to publish. You are also taking some of the other courses to fulfill your requirements
5 “Ideal” first year program Fall semester: Math 661, IS 677, IS 673 or 679, IS seminar for credit Spring semester: IS 675, IS 673 or 679; data base or programming course; an advanced elective related to research interests
6 The second two years Finish up your courses while… Working on your SOTA, proposal and dissertation and Publishing papers and attending conferences Last year: significant time must be spent on interviewing and job search while finishing the dissertation.
7 Support rules You may be department supported as a TA/RA for a maximum of four years (but not guaranteed- usually you are expected to move to research support after a year or two). You may be supported for five years total if you are on a research grant for part of this time. You may not be working for pay off campus when you are being supported to be a full time Ph.D. student.
8 Supported students and Qualifying Exam Students who are being supported (as TAs or RAs) by NJIT are generally expected to take the qualifying examination within 12 months. In any case they must take and pass it within 18 months, or lose their support.
9 The General Qualifying Exam Objectives include: to make sure you have really mastered and can integrate core theory and skills, so that you are ready for independent research and for teaching. Based on the current syllabus for the required core IS courses, including readings marked “optional” for masters students; given just before the second semester in January, and in June or early July, each year. An all day exam!
10 The qualifying exam May have additional “classic” readings added from a list… Format is subject to change, e.g., we might give a “take home” article review as part of it. Even part time students should take the qualifier within 24 months. You are not certified as a candidate for the Ph.D. until you pass this exam, and you cannot start dissertation research until you pass. There is a primary grader and a second grader for each question; the second grader is used if the result is not a clear “pass.”
11 The General Qualifying Exam: Prerequisites and Logistics Prerequisites: You must have a B or better in each of the core courses ( if not, you must repeat that course before taking the qualifier) You must have a 3.5 average overall in the four core courses If you cannot obtain high enough grades to take the qualifier, or if you fail the qualifier, you are dismissed from the program. You may apply as a candidate for the M.S. in I.S. instead.
12 The General Qualifying Exam: Prerequisites and Logistics The IS core courses: currently 663 Advanced Systems Analysis and Design; 675; and 679; plus readings and materials from 677 and from IS Seminar may be used, though not as a separate question. Date for the exam, past exams, latest info on the upcoming exam is posted in a conference on Starwing WebBoard; look in there and indicate your intention to take it and your date preferences, about 4 months ahead
13 (At least the first time)- you must take the entire exam, not just parts of it. The exam questions are made up by the faculty member in charge of each of the core courses. They ( and other full time tenure track faculty teaching these courses) form the exam committee. ID’s are assigned so that faculty do not know who they are grading “Passing” is now 70%, for each section and overall. The General Qualifying Exam
14 The initial grading is usually done by the faculty member who made up the question. If a student does not receive a passing grade for a part, a second faculty member who teaches or has some expertise for that course, independently grades the question. If total score is near but not at passing, all sections may be regraded. New score is average of the grades. It takes the faculty 6-8 weeks to complete this process. Students will be notified by email. The General Qualifying Exam
15 The General Qualifying Exam If a student fails only one part, he or she may repeat that part at the next exam date. Sometimes, if it is really close to passing, an alternate procedure such as a special oral exam may be offered. If one part is failed: It should be retaken before or at the next scheduled exam time. It is the student’s responsibility to arrange to complete an alternate procedure if is offered; otherwise, come to the next exam and take that part.
16 Qualifying exam- retake procedures If more than one part is failed, the committee may or may not decide to allow a repeat of the entire exam, depending on how “bad” the failure is. Generally total scores under 50% are a “failure” and a repeat will not be allowed. Higher scores with over 70% on at least one part are usually considered a “partial pass” and retake of all or parts is allowed.
17 Preparing for the exam It takes significant review time to prepare for this exam- you should join a study group. The sooner you take it after completing the required core courses, the better, because the less you will forget and the less the syllabi will change!
18 Preparing for the exam It is suggested that you and your study group work through the past 2-3 exams to practice answering the types of questions you will have.
19 Passing rate Currently, only about 50% of those who take the exam, pass all parts the first time. A majority of those who do not pass the first time, do so the second time.
20 Why do we have failures? 1. Because we “took a chance” on some applicants who did not have the GRE scores that we normally require and which are good predictors of how a student will do on the qualifier, or who had little or no technical course background, because their work experience and motivation or some other quality indicated that they would benefit from the courses and might be able to “make it.” Related to this: poor English skills, unable to read and write and think at a Ph.d. level.
21 Why are there failures on the qualifying exam? 2. Ph.D. students are advised to take the courses from a full time faculty member, who will be involved in designing and grading the questions for each core course. Some ignore this. 3. The exam is on the CURRENT syllabus. Some students do not review material that is new since they took the course. 4. Students may have gotten through the core courses with good projects but poor exam scores; did not know material in the articles.
22 Why failures? Exhaustion and lack of sleep leads to inability to think! The most important thing you can do to prepare is relax and get a good night’s sleep the night before. Poor use of time– e.g., not allocating time in proportion to points, so that perhaps a last question worth 30 points is not even answered while an early question worth five points is given two pages of text…
23 “Insufficient progress” A student may be dismissed from the program at any time, if he or she is making insufficient progress towards the degree, e.g., does not pass the qualifier within the allotted time; Does not maintain at least a 3.2 average. Does not make progress on a state of the art paper and dissertation proposal within a reasonable time after passing the general qualifying exam. Supported students are held to higher standards in order to maintain department support as a Teaching Assistant. e.g., we expect a 3.5 average or above.
24 Note: Masters “on the way” AFTER you have passed a dissertation proposal defense, you may apply for a masters in IS if you have satisfied all the requirements. This request must be supported by your dissertation advisor and the program director.. For one semester or a period of time, your status switches to candidate for M.S.. instead of Ph.D.
25 Future talks: choosing advanced courses/ Specialty area, the SOTA and dissertation processes…