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This page features a collection of policies, definitions, and recommendations related to Computer Science graduate programs.

Table of Contents

Module Courses

The course COMP 910 is a device called a “module course” that permits a student to take part of a course for part of the credit.

A student who is familiar with the content of part of a course, but not the whole course, is not forced to choose between omitting the course and taking all of it. This helps a student with better than minimum preparation to make room for more advanced courses in the student’s area of interest.

The decision to create a module of a course belongs to the instructor of the full course. The student should begin by contacting the instructor to negotiate what the module(s) should cover. The instructor should communicate the decision to the Associate Chairman for Academic Affairs before the end of the first week of classes.

Establishment of a module and registration for it must be handled on a case-by-case basis by the Associate Chairman for Academic Affairs and the Department Registrar. (The Associate Chairman and Registration Coordinator do not approve or disapprove the instructor’s decision, but they must coordinate with the Registrar’s office to establish the module, and given the primitive computing support there, this must be handled on a case-by-case basis.)

Transfer of Credit

Up to six semester hours of graduate credit may be transferred from another accredited institution, or from courses taken at UNC-CH before admission to the Graduate School, or for courses taken in a different graduate program at UNC-CH, in partial fulfillment of the 30-hour total credit requirement.

Course transfers should be indicated on the Program of Study form and must be approved by the Graduate Studies Committee and by the Graduate School. The Graduate School may require the student to pass an examination on the course content before approving the transfer.

Courses taken at Duke University, NC Central, NC State University, UNC-Charlotte, and UNC-Greensboro may count as home courses with Inter-Institutional Registration. For more information and forms regarding Inter-Institutional Registration, please see The Graduate School Handbook ( under the heading Registration, and the Office of the University Registrar.

Graduate Courses Taught By Graduate Students

Graduate School policy states that graduate students may not receive graduate credit for a course taught by another graduate student in the same program. This policy can be excepted for cause.

Computer Science graduate students who wish to take a course that is scheduled to be taught by another Computer Science graduate student should consult with the Director of Graduate Studies to ensure that the course can be counted for graduate credit.

Courses Outside Computer Science

Each M.S. student is strongly urged to elect at least three hours taught by a department other than Computer Science, unless the student has an unusually broad background.

Ph.D. students should be aware that their guidance committees may require courses outside the CS department. It may be in your interest to examine the offerings of other departments to determine what courses offered there might be relevant for your program of study.

Computer Science students often take courses offered by the Departments of Mathematics, Statistics, Psychology, Biomedical Engineering, and various departments in the School of Medicine, especially when such courses are related to the student’s area of research interest.

Academic Minors in Graduate Programs

The election of a minor field is optional and infrequent. The election is indicated on the appropriate Program of Study form (CS-3 for M.S., CS-6 for Ph.D.).

If a minor for an M.S. degree is elected, it must include at least 9 hours of courses that are taught by departments other than Computer Science (and not merely cross-listings of COMP courses). The minor must also meet all the requirements described in the Graduate School Handbook.

A minor in a Ph.D. program must include at least 15 hours of courses that are taught by departments other than Computer Science (and not merely cross-listings of COMP courses). The minor must also meet all the requirements described in the Graduate School Handbook.

Advisor Assignments and Changing Advisors

When a student enrolls in the department, a faculty member is appointed to serve as the student’s initial Program Adviser.

While the department administration tries to match student and advisor interests in the assignment of initial Program Advisors, these assignments are based on incomplete information and are not binding. Students should change the faculty advisor as appropriate as the student’s plans and interests change.

Advisors provide advice, of course, but they are also contact points for advising bulletins and alerting the student to academic progress milestones. During the faculty’s review of student progress, the program advisor is called upon to describe the student’s progress and discuss any problems or delays in that progress.

Consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies is recommended in advance of a change of advisor for any reason other than designation of the research director as the program advisor. (Changes of advisor for that reason are completely normal and almost automatically approved.)

To request a change of advisor, the student should send the request by e-mail to the Student Services Manager with copies to the Director of Graduate Studies and the involved faculty (old and new advisors). Such requests are usually approved without comment, but factors such as faculty load sometimes intervene.

The Director of Graduate Studies serves as the backup advisor for routine signatures if the program advisor is not available.

Legacy Clause

If degree requirements change during a student’s stay in the department, the student has the option of continuing under the old rules or switching and instead satisfying all the new rules. In other words, the student can elect at any point in time during his or her stay in the department to satisfy all the rules in effect at that time.

When instances arise in which the above rule cannot be observed for practical reasons (i.e. major curriculum change) then the student will negotiate with the guidance committee and the Graduate Studies Committee to determine what the actual requirements to be met will be.

Pre-Pay Holds

If you have a pre-pay hold on your registration account, you will need to pay tuition and fees in one of two ways:


1.) Call the Cashier’s office and pay over the phone with a credit card. You will tell the cashier how many hours you intend to register for, and they will tell you the amount of tuition and fees.

2.) Log into your Student Central portal in Connect Carolina. Click on Pay Bills/Manager Student Finances (even though it may say you do not owe anything at this time). Manually enter the tuition and fee amount. Then pay with your credit card. (First semester graduate students must add an additional fee to their payment.)

FEE DEDUCTION: (if you have an RA or TA position)

Fee deduction is on option that takes a portion of your student fees from three of your monthly stipend checks. You must have an RA or TA position (receiving a stipend check) in order to be able to use the fee deduction option. Fill out the form and return it to the Student Services Manager.

Computing Residence Credit

A very important Graduate School requirement that could slip past your attention is the required “residence credit” which is sometimes referred to as “semesters in residence.” Described below are the details for calculating the semesters in residence for both M.S. and Ph.D. students:

In the calculation, enrolled credit hours are converted to residence credit as follows:

Credit Hours Residence Credit
>=9 hours 1 semester
6-8 hours 1/2 semester
3-5 hours 1/4 semester
0-2 hours no credit

Credits earned in any summer session count toward residence credit on the same basis as courses taken in fall and spring semesters.

Requirement for M.S. students

M.S. candidates are required to complete a minimum residence credit of two full semesters, either by full-time registration (9+ hours), or by part-time registration (3-8.5 hours) over a larger number of semesters. the residence credit requirement requires UNC-Chapel Hill registration (i.e., transferred credit is not included in the residence credit calculation).

Requirement for Ph.D. students

Doctoral students are required to complete a minimum residency credit of four full semesters, either by full-time registration (9+ hours), or by part-time registration (3-8.5 hours) over a larger number of semesters AND at least two of the required four semesters of residence must be earned in contiguous registration (e.g., fall ’98 and spring ’99 OR spring ’99 and fall ’99) of no fewer than six credit hours on this campus. While summer session registration is not required to maintain contiguous registration, any credit of three to six hours per session will be computed on the usual basis as part of the required two-semester contiguity. The residence credit hour requirement requires UNC-Chapel Hill registration (i.e., transferred credit is not included in the residence credit calculation).

Departmental Oversight and Implementation

The Graduate Studies Committee (a standing committee of the department’s faculty, chaired by the Director of Graduate Studies) interprets degree requirements, approves plans of study, and acts on petitions from students to the department and to the Graduate School.

As a former Director explained, the job of the Admissions Committee is to get you IN; the job of the Director of Graduate Studies is to get you OUT, preferably but not necessarily with the degree to which you aspire.

A full-time Student Services Manager maintains student records, answers admission and on-board student queries, and directs student requests to the Graduate Studies Committee and to the Graduate School. Most student requests for forms, office assignments, RA/TA assignments, scheduling of exams, and so on, may be made through the Graduate Student Services Manager. The Manager will forward completed forms and/or requests to the appropriate authorities and may advise the student on how to complete them.

Calingaert Score

The Calingaert Score is a weighted average of course grades, where the weights are chosen so that a score of 0 reflects an average letter grade between a P+ and an H-. The weights for the letter grades are as follows:

Grade H+ H H- P+ P P- L+ L L-
Weight +5 +3 +1 -1 -3 – 5 -7 -9 -11

For example, the Calingaert Score for three courses with letter grades P+, H-, and H would be (-1 + 1 + 3)/3 = +1.0 (assuming the three courses carry the same number of credit hours). The name recognizes Dr. Peter Calingaert, professor emeritus, who devised the measure when he was Director of Graduate Studies.