Admission to Candidacy

Admission to Candidacy

PhD in Computer science and learning sciences

Admission to candidacy is an important milestone on the road to a PhD in Computer Science and Learning Sciences. Admission to candidacy occurs after a student has completed several requirements:


Step 1: Qualifying

Written Qualifying Examination

Learning Sciences
In Learning Sciences, the written qualifying exam is a two-day take-home exam. Graduate students must take the exam by/at the end of their second year. It consists of three questions developed collaboratively by the Learning Sciences faculty. One question is devoted to each of the strands of the Learning Sciences: cognition, sociocultural context, and design. The written qualifying exam is designed to take 16 hours, with the expectation that students will work for eight hours a day over the two days of the exam. Students are not encouraged to work more than 16 hours on the exam.

Cognitive Systems
The Cognitive Systems Qualifying Exam is a one-day written exam, traditionally the Monday or Tuesday after Finals week of Spring Quarter. The exam is open-book, open-notes, and graded anonymously. Graduate students must take the exam at the end of their second year. The committee for a student’s Qualifying Exam is determined by the student’s adviser and CogSys Group’s faculty.

Second Year Research Presentation and Paper

Students are required to conduct a research project that they write up and present publicly. As part of this research, students must formulate a question or hypothesis and pursue it using an appropriate research methodology. The paper is due and the presentation takes place at the end of the summer of the second year.


Step 2: Admission to Candidacy

The Graduate School residency requirement

A student pursuing a doctoral degree must complete eight quarters of residency consecutively over two years, including summers.

Find more information on the TGS website.

The Graduate School and Learning Sciences course requirements

Dissertation Proposal

The dissertation proposal is a document that describes and justifies a plan for a research project to be completed by the student. This research project will be the basis for the PhD dissertation. The proposal must lay out a line of research that will make a substantial contribution to an important area of the Learning Sciences.

PhD Dissertation and Defense

The PhD dissertation is the culmination of a graduate career. A dissertation represents a substantial piece of work that makes a contribution to the field of Learning Sciences. Once the student's dissertation committee determines that the dissertation is ready to be defended, the student schedules a public dissertation defense.

Contact Us

Learning Sciences Program School of Education and Social Policy

2120 Campus Drive
Evanston, IL 60208
Northwestern University

Phone: 847/491-7494

Email: ls-programs@mail.sesp.northwestern.edu