There are a number of issues that pertain to both the Master's and Ph.D. programs. Among other topics, the following sections deal with faculty mentoring, research ethics, financial aid, and courses taken at institutions other than Georgetown.

4.1  Faculty Mentoring

Faculty mentoring is a critical aspect of graduate education. Advice for graduate students generally divides into four categories: academic regulations, curricular issues, research, and post-graduation planning. As students progress toward the completion of their degree, the type of advising they need and the faculty from whom they can consult for advising changes.

After students decide to matriculate and at the beginning of their program, they can seek advice about all matters from the DGS. As students progress in their course work, they can seek advice from their instructors about curricular matters, especially if the instructors work in the area in which they are interested. Professors working in a student's area of interest are in the best position to provide advice on curricular matters, such as course selection and plans of study. The DGS remains available to talk to students about curricular matters throughout their time here.

As students progress from the conception to the completion of a thesis or dissertation, they can consult prospective advisors or their official advisor for guidance and mentoring on all matters. After students form committees, they can seek guidance from its members on relevant aspects of their research project. Crucially, students should recruit members for their committee who can provide such advice. Although students can seek advice from faculty members because of their roles as DGS, instructor, committee member, and advisor, students are free to find and consult mentors and advisors who are not acting in these official roles.

4.2  Scholarly Practice and Academic Integrity

At the most fundamental level, scholarly practice involves giving credit where credit is due. It is the way scholars acknowledge and document the ideas, statements, analysis, and the like, that influenced their own ideas, statements, and analysis. The mechanism for acknowledging and documenting the sources of such information is bibliographic citation.

The faculty assume that graduate students have had basic training in scholarly practice during secondary and post-secondary education. Through course work and research projects, the faculty will help graduate students develop further as scholars and researchers in computer science. However, graduate students are responsible for their own education on proper scholarly practice, especially if they have not yet developed sufficient skills and knowledge.

The faculty have adopted a default honor policy that defines acceptable practice for all of its courses. Professors may modify the default policy to suit their purposes. Professors often make clear with their syllabi and assignments their expectations for documentation, but if they are not clear or if they are not clear for a specific situation, then students are responsible for consulting the professor for clarification.

Graduate students, as scholars in training, are held to a high standard. Failure to follow proper scholarly practice, whether intentionally or unintentionally, is a serious matter. Other violations of academic integrity, such as cheating or fabrication of data, are also serious. The Graduate School urges anyone with a "reason to believe that a graduate student has engaged in academic misconduct…to report…such information…to the Dean of the Graduate School." See the Graduate Bulletin for more information about the policies and procedures governing academic integrity and academic misconduct.

4.3  Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy

Graduate students in computer science must pay particular attention to the university's Computer Systems Acceptable Use Policy. Research in computer science may involve activities that, without thoughtful design or proper approval, may constitute an unacceptable use of the university's computer systems. Regardless of the objective and importance of a class or research project, students must always use the university's systems acceptably. Students who conceive of a project that may or will violate the university's policy on the acceptable use of computer systems must consult with their instructor or advisor about how to design or gain approval for the project so it does not violate the acceptable-use policy. In many cases, professors who teach classes and conduct research that involve issues of acceptable use of computer systems have already obtained the approvals and engineered the networks and systems required for compliance with the university's policy. Students with questions about whether activities constitute acceptable use should consult with their professor or advisor.

4.4  Research Involving Human Subjects

"Federal law requires that all proposed research involving human subjects first be reviewed by an authorized institutional body in order to ensure that adequate protections are provided to those persons who are participants in or subjects of the proposed research" (Graduate Bulletin, Section IV.B.2). In computer science, research that involves human subjects includes but is not limited to user surveys, usability studies, expert labeling of data sets, and derivation of data sets from Web sites (e.g., social-networking sites). The issue of research on human subjects is likely to arise during a thesis or dissertation project, but it is also an issue for class projects, funded research projects, and independent projects. Regardless of the context, students must apply for and receive approval to conduct all proposed research projects that involve human subjects prior to their start.

Georgetown's Institutional Review Board (IRB) requires that all students and their advisors conducting research involving human subjects first complete a training course on protecting human subjects. After completing the course, students must file an application for approval to the appropriate IRB. For more information, students should consult their advisors and Georgetown's IRB.

The Graduate Bulletin requires students to include an approved IRB application with their proposal if the project involves human subjects. If students learn after the submission of the proposal that their project requires the involvement of human subjects, then they must apply for and obtain approval for the study through the IRB before proceeding further with the project. If the IRB approves the application, then students must submit the approved application and the IRB's letter granting approval to the DGS and to the Graduate School. If the IRB does not approve the application, then students must pursue another project or redesign the project and reapply for approval.

4.5  Financial Aid

The department provides two forms of financial aid to graduate students during the academic year: merit-based scholarships and research assistantships. Merit-based scholarships cover all or a portion of a student's tuition. Research assistantships provide a stipend and require students to work on research projects with faculty in the department for up to 15 hours per week.

Research assistantships are available during the summer. Students in good academic standing who wish to be supported during the summer should notify the DGS early in the spring semester.

Doctoral students in good academic standing can expect five years of funding. Full-time Master's students in good academic standing that have been given merit awards can expect up to two years of funding.

Doctoral students who receive partial or full support from external sources must provide documentation annually affirming their support and detailing its terms. Sources of external support include support from universities, governments, foundations, and corporations.

4.6  Expectations for Supported Students

Students who receive merit-based scholarships, assistantships, or both through the department must maintain high academic standards, maintain satisfactory, sustained progress toward the completion of their degree requirements, and participate in the academic life of the department. To remain eligible for departmental support, Master's students and doctoral students must maintain and complete their course work with a grade-point average of 3.0. Criteria the department uses to determine merit include but are not limited to academic standing, enrollment status, attendance of departmental seminars and colloquia, faculty assessment, participation in faculty research, scholarly publication, scholarly presentation, and attendance of scholarly meetings, such as conferences. For students who hold assistantships, if they accept employment outside of the department, they must report this employment to the DGS, and it must be limited to eight hours per week.

The department expects supported Master's students to complete all degree requirements before the end of their second academic year. The department expects supported doctoral students to complete all degree requirements before the end of their fifth year. Furthermore, the department expects supported doctoral students to complete their Master's course work before the end of their second academic year, pass their qualifying exams by the end of their third year, and defend their dissertation proposal before the end of their fourth year, and successfully defend their dissertation before the end of their fifth year. Supported students who obtain advanced standing because of a previous graduate degree are subject these same guidelines, although they will be adjusted based on individual circumstances.

4.7  Failure to Meet Expectations

The department expects all students to maintain high academic standards, make satisfactory, sustained progress toward the completion of their degree requirements, and participate in the academic life of the department. Students who do not meet the expectations and standards set forth in this handbook and in the Graduate Bulletin may be informed that they are not making satisfactory progress toward their degree, may have their financial support reduced or eliminated, or may be dismissed from the program. Students having difficulty for any reason should immediately contact their professor, advisor, mentor, or the DGS, since waiting could eliminate the possibility of mitigative or corrective action.

At the end of each semester, the department reviews the progress and standing of all students in its graduate programs. Students who are not meeting expectations, depending on the duration and severity of the situation, may receive an oral or written warning from the department, a written warning from the Graduate School, or a letter of termination from the Graduate School.

Students who earn unacceptable grades or whose GPAs fall below the required minimums for departmental funding or for good academic standing are placed on probation for one semester. The department's Graduate Committee communicates specific academic goals for the probationary semester. Failure to meet these goals may result in another probationary semester or termination from the program. When it becomes mathematically impossible for students to raise their GPAs above required minimums, they are ineligible for funding or may be dismissed from the program.

For the first unacceptable grade students earn, they receive a warning from the DGS; for the second, the Graduate Committee reviews student's overall standing and progress, and may recommend dismissal from the program. Students cannot retake courses (unless they receive a failing or unsatisfactory grade), and they cannot take additional courses beyond those required for the degree in an effort to raise their GPA above a required minimum.

Doctoral students ineligible for department support must obtain support from a member of the faculty, unless they have support from a legitimate external source. Doctoral students without such support will be dismissed from the program. Doctoral students can not "self-pay."

4.8  Success in Exceeding Expectations

The department expects all students to maintain high academic standards, make satisfactory, sustained progress toward the completion of their degree requirements, and participate in the academic life of the department. Students who exceed the expectations and standards set forth in this handbook may have their financial support increased or may be eligible for an award or other recognition.

At the end of each semester, the department reviews the progress and standing of all students in its graduate programs. Students who have significant accomplishments may receive department recognition.

4.9  Departmental Talks

When graduate students publish papers in top journals and conference proceedings in their area, they should consider giving a talk in the department. Such talks could be useful in advance of a presentation at a conference. Every semester graduate student colloquims are organized to allow students the opportunity to do so. Students are encouraged to share their research when colloquium oppotunities arise. 

4.10  Outside Courses

Students who wish to take courses outside of the department as an external elective must apply in writing to the DGS and obtain approval before registering for the course. This includes Consortium Courses and courses that may be eligible for transfer, such as non-degree courses taken at another university over the summer. Students should provide course descriptions, syllabi, and any other information about the courses that will help with the review. The Graduate Committee reviews petitions for outside courses in the same manner that petitions for transfer credits are reviewed.

4.11  Transfer of Credits

Master's and Ph.D. students can apply to transfer up to three graduate-level courses (i.e., 25% of the required course work) from another institution toward the MS requirements provided that the courses have not been used for an earned degree. Students must have earned a grade of B or better in the courses.

After the first semester of full-time registration, students may apply for transfer credit through the DGS by completing and submitting the Graduate School's form Student Petition for Change to Graduate Program. Students should also provide course descriptions, syllabi, unofficial transcripts, and any other information about the courses that will help with the review. Students must also ensure that the Graduate School has official transcripts for all courses.

After receiving a petition, the DGS contacts a faculty member qualified to evaluate the petition and asks the faculty member to make a recommendation to the DGS. The DGS makes a decision based on the faculty recommendation. The DGS communicates the decision to the student, and if it is positive, then the DGS forwards the decision as a recommendation to the Graduate School. If the Graduate School accepts the recommendation, then it records the grade and credits on the student's transcript, but the grades do not count toward the student's grade-point average.

4.12  Advanced Standing

Doctoral students who have earned Master's degrees can apply for advanced standing. Advanced standing gives students who have a Master's degree to reduce the overall amount of coursework needed to complete their doctoral degree. After students have been accepted to the doctoral program and have indicated their intent to matriculate, they work with the DGS at the beginning of the fall to discuss the process for applying for advanced standing.

4.13  The Timing of Reviews and Defenses

Graduate students writing theses or dissertations must understand and take into account the overall time required for the review of the documents required for the degree requirements. Committees have at least three weeks to complete their review, but the review could take up to five or six weeks, especially if members are away from campus or if there are problems with the draft. Modifications to a document after a review could require one or two additional weeks. It is reasonable for students to assume that the members of their committee will be available and responsive during the academic year, but they may be less available and responsive between semesters and during the summer. Indeed, faculty members are under no obligation to review documents or attend presentations during the summer.

Once an advisor informs a student to produce the final draft of the thesis, proposal, or dissertation, the student should contact the members of the committee and determine their availability for the current or forthcoming semester.The best strategy for increasing the likelihood that the review proceeds in a timely manner is to make sure the final draft of the thesis or dissertation is well-written and ready to defend before submitting it to the advisor and committee. Naturally, the advisor is responsible for helping the student make this determination. Additionally, students should communicate with their committee throughout the research project, but communication with the committee is particularly important during the period leading up to the review and defense.

4.14  Defending during the Summer

Students and their advisers must notify the DGS if they plan to defend their thesis or dissertation during the summer, defined as the period between the Graduate School's last date to defend for the spring semester and the start of classes of the following fall semester. Because summers are difficult for scheduling, the adviser and the student must ensure that their committee is available for a summer defense. 

4.15  Requests for Extension of Time Limits

Students may request for extensions of time through their advisor, the DGS, and the Graduate School using the Student Petition for Change to Graduate Program. See the Graduate Bulletin for more information about requests for extension of time limits.

4.16  Optional and Curricular Practical Training

International graduate students may participate in off-campus employment through Optional Practical Training (OPT). MS and PhD students may also participate in Curricular Practical Training (CPT). by signing up for an internship elective course that is 0.25 credits. The course number is 901 in the fall and summer semesters, and 902 in the spring semester. Doctoral students with the approval of their dissertation advisor may participate in CPT during summer semesters by registering for Thesis Research after they have completed their requirements for the MS program. Students may enroll in 901 and/or 902 multiple times. 

To qualify for post-completion OPT, course-work Master's students must complete all of their courses. Master's students writing a thesis must pass the review with only minor revisions and schedule a date for their defense. Doctoral students must pass the pre-defense and schedule a date for their defense.

Graduate students who plan to participate in OPT while employed by the department must first obtain permission from their academic advisor and the DGS. The student, advisor, and DGS must develop a work arrangement for departmental duties given the additional outside employment.

4.17  Outside Employment

Doctoral students and graduate students employed by the department must limit employment outside of the department to no more than eight hours per week if they are full time students. Students who intend to pursue employment outside of the department, such as consulting or teaching, must first obtain permission from their academic advisor and the DGS. (International students should consult the previous section on Optional Practical Training.)

4.18  Application to Graduate

Within the first month of the semester that they intend to complete the requirements for the degree, students should apply to graduate and notify the DGS of their intent. Note that students who plan to attend commencement ceremonies in May must apply no later than February 1 to have their diploma available and their names printed in the program.

4.19  Students in Other Georgetown Graduate Programs

Graduate students in other departments or programs can take graduate courses in computer science or undergraduate courses in computer science for graduate credit in their home department if their home department allows this. Graduate students in other departments or programs can take up to two graduate courses in computer science with permission from their advisor or DGS. Taking more than two graduate courses in computer science requires a petition to the DGS of the Department of Computer Science. The petition must state how the classes support the student's plan of study and must include a letter of support from the student's advisor or DGS.

Graduate students in other departments or programs can take undergraduate courses in computer science for graduate credit in their home department. The home department must work with the Department of Computer Science to create a cross-listed graduate-level course in the home department for an undergraduate course in computer science. For the cross-listed course, an instructor in the home department must be the primary instructor of record and the instructor of the undergraduate course must be the secondary instructor of record. The Department of Computer Science allocates seats for the cross-listed graduate course, and the home department manages the enrollments in the course. The instructor in the home department is responsible for making the material covered in the undergraduate course relevant to their discipline and for defining and grading the additional assignments required for graduate credit. The students in the home department enroll in the cross-listed course, participate in and complete all of the assignments required for the undergraduate course, and complete all of the additional assignments required for graduate credit. At the end of the semester, the instructor of the undergraduate course provides the student's grades and any other pertinent information to the instructor in the home department, who assigns the final grade for the graduate course.

4.20  Departmental and Graduate-School Deadlines

For any Graduate-School deadline, unless specified otherwise, the department's deadline is one week prior.