Ph.D. Program

Research overview

At the Center for Spoken Language Understanding, we investigate the application of computer science and electrical engineering techniques to biological and medical problems. Living organisms are a source of signals. Such signals include neurological activity, as measured, for example by EEG, biochemical transmission of information, for example via mRNA in the construction of proteins, or linguistic communication, as with human speech and language. Such signals may be "normal," or they may be impaired — e.g., as is the case with the speech of a patient with mild to severe dysarthria. We seek to apply computational methods to the understanding of such signals.

Dissertation Advisory Committee, DAC

Each student will have a DAC, which consists of the student's advisor and two additional faculty from the program. After students Advance to Candidacy, a 4th member will be added who is outside of the program. Every six months students will give a seminar talk and will meet with their DAC to discuss their progress and which courses to take. 

Coursework requirements

By the time they graduate, Ph.D. students are expected to have a wide breadth of knowledge in their discipline. Students who do not have a master's degree in computer science or electrical engineering or a related field, need to complete the course requirements for our MS thesis program. For students with a master's degree, they will need to take at least 9 course credits as well as GEN 669 Scholarships Skills. Courses will be decided in consultation with their advisory committee.

Courses are just one part of a Ph.D. education. The other component is research. Students are expected to start doing research starting in their first term, and can spread their required courses over their first three years.

Oral examination

To advance into the Ph.D. program, second year students are required to pass an oral examination. This will comprise a substantial body of original research, a research paper on the research, and an oral defense.

Length of program

The Ph.D. program must be completed within 7 years. Most students take between 4 and 6 years. Students can take up to a one year leave-of-absence, which can be excluded from their 7 year deadline.

Financial support

Most Ph.D. students receive a stipend that covers the cost of living and full tuition support.