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Level 2

The goal of Level 2 is the development of a dissertation proposal acceptable to a doctoral thesis committee. During this phase you will work under the close direction of a research advisor and participate in research seminars. In addition to making presentations at departmental research seminars, you are expected to make a presentation of preliminary research results at regional or national research conferences on and off campus.

Doctoral thesis committee

During Level 2 a PhD student will form a doctoral thesis committee consisting of at least five graduate faculty members, each of whom should be able to contribute some relevant insight and expertise to guide the student. One or two committee member(s) should be from outside the student’s specific research area. While the committee may include members from outside of the Department of Computer Science or UAB, the majority of the Committee is recommended to be from the Department. A candidate member who is not already on the UAB Graduate Faculty, especially if from outside UAB, should request for appointment to the Graduate Faculty prior to being included in the thesis committee. Refer to UAB Graduate Catalog for further details.

The main on-campus research presentation event is Graduate Student Research Day, held during the spring semester. Regional conferences that are popular and convenient for this initial presentation and publication are the annual meetings of the Alabama Academy of Science and the Mid-Southeast Chapter of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery), and the ACM Southeast Conference.

During this phase of the program you are required to:

  • demonstrate the ability to critically evaluate published research
  • confirm your understanding of the important issues in the chosen area, and
  • propose an original contribution that will advance the state of knowledge in that area.

Multi-disciplinary research is encouraged so that your contributions will not only impact the field of computer science but other disciplines and research groups on campus as well.


Advanced courses and seminars in your area of research are assigned by your advisor. Directed research hours (CS 796) are usually appropriate.

The Dissertation Proposal

The culmination of Level 2 is the development of a dissertation proposal, which is evaluated by your doctoral thesis committee in the Level 2 Exam. If the committee approves your proposal you will be admitted to candidacy.

All Institutional Review Board (IRB) approvals must be obtained in advance of the Level 2 exam and of the work that is being done. Please see the UAB IRB website for details.

A copy of the approved Level 2 thesis proposal must be given to the Graduate Program Director after the successful Level 2 Exam to place into the student’s file.


The Level 2 Exam must be successfully passed within 2.5 years of the completion of the Level 1 Qualifying Exam.