Ph.D. Program

Advising
The vice chair for graduate studies is the chief graduate advisor and heads a committee of faculty advisors who may serve as academic advisors. The research interests of the members of this committee span most of the major areas of statistics. During their first quarter in the program students are required to meet with an academic advisor who assists them in planning a reasonable course of study. In addition, the academic advisor is responsible for monitoring the student’s degree progress and approving the study list each quarter. Students are encouraged to begin thinking about their research interests as early as possible. After the student identifies a dissertation topic, the chair of the dissertation committee becomes the student’s academic advisor.

Continuing students should meet with either the vice chair for graduate studies or their academic advisor at least once each quarter. Each year a committee consisting of all regular departmental faculty meet to evaluate the progress of all enrolled doctoral students. This committee decides if students are making satisfactory progress, and if not offers specific recommendations to correct the situation. For students who have begin dissertation work, the determination of satisfactory progress is typically delegated to the academic advisor. Students who are found to be consistently performing unsatisfactorily may be recommended for termination by a vote of this committee. Doctoral students normally are considered to be making satisfactory progress if they perform satisfactorily in their coursework during the first year, advance to candidacy by the end of their second year, and perform satisfactorily in their research (and teaching, if applicable) in subsequent years. In order to advance to candidacy, students must perform satisfactorily on their written final exams and written final projects in the 9 core courses and must submit a satisfactory written background and summary of their research proposal before taking their preliminary oral qualifying exam. A student’s performance on these written exams and assignments will be used by the department to judge if the student is “on track” and thus ready to advance to candidacy for the PhD degree. If so, the student must also pass a preliminary oral qualifying exam and a final oral exam along with filing his/her dissertation.

Major Fields or Sub-disciplines
The strengths of current and prospective faculty dictate the specific fields of emphasis in the department: computational and computer-intensive statistics; applied multivariate analysis; bioinformatics; social statistics; computer vision; pattern recognition; machine learning; experimental design and environmental statistics. (Note: when graduating, transcripts and diplomas will not show the area of study).

Course Requirements
Students are required to pass, with a grade of B- or better, 54 units of approved graduate coursework and to maintain an overall grade-point average of 3.0 or better. At least 40 of these units must be in courses from this department; the remaining units may be from courses in related departments. PhD students must take the 9 core courses (Statistics 200ABC, 201ABC, and 202ABC) in their first year, unless approval to exclude one or more of these courses is provided by the graduate vice chair. All doctoral students are required to take Statistics 290, and 296 and/or 596, 498, or 599 during each quarter of enrollment.

Students with gaps in their previous training are allowed to take undergraduate courses offered by the department with the approval of their academic advisor. However, most 100-level Statistics courses will not count towards the the doctorate degree. Also, Statistics C236 will not count towards a graduate degree for Ph.D. students. Students who need a basic refresher course are encouraged to take Statistics 100abc.
All courses must be passed with the grade of B- or better and maintain an overall GPA of 3.0 in order to count towards degree.

Teaching Experience
Students are required to complete at least one quarter of service as a teaching assistant for a minimum of 25% time appointment. Students who serve as teaching assistants in the department must have taken or be currently enrolled in Statistics 495A-495B-495C. International students for whom English is a second language must pass the Test of Oral Proficiency before they may serve as teaching assistants.

Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations
PhD students must take written final exams and written final projects in the 9 core courses, and are required to submit a written background and summary of their research proposal before taking their preliminary oral qualifying exam. A student’s performance on these written exams and assignments will be used by the department to judge if the student is “on track” and thus ready to advance to candidacy for the PhD degree. If so, the student must also pass a preliminary oral qualifying exam and a final oral exam along with filing his/her dissertation.  Please see the Advice on Taking the Oral Exam for more information.

Upon submitting the written summary of the research proposal, students select a doctoral committee that administers the University Oral Qualifying Examination, required for advancement to candidacy. Students are encouraged to begin thinking about their research interests as early as possible and to seek out faculty members who might serve on their doctoral committee. Students making satisfactory progress are expected to pass the University Oral Qualifying Examination and thus advance to candidacy by the end of their second year. The Candidate in Philosophy (C.Phil.) degree is awarded in the quarter the student is advanced to candidacy.

Final Oral Examination (Defense of the Dissertation)
A final oral exam is required before the written dissertation is submitted and filed. Please see the Advice on Taking the Oral Exam for more information.

Time-to-Degree
Completion of the doctorate degree normally takes no more than five years. In order for a student to complete their degree, they must give a hard copy of the final dissertation to their advisor and submit an electric version of the final dissertation to support@stat.ucla.edu. A committee, consisting of all regular faculty, meets each year and discusses ALL Ph.D. students. They make the judgment if a student is making satisfactory progress or not, and they make specific recommendations for individual students. Students who are not making satisfactory progress are in danger of losing financial support. Usually, for senior students, the “satisfactory” judgment is delegated to the PhD advisor, but there is a possibility to discuss problem cases. The same committee also votes to make termination decisions for students who are too far off-target, or who have been off-target for two or more years. Given the Graduate Handbook text, this means the regular faculty serves as the graduate studies committee.  In the normal course of events, Ph.D. students are making satisfactory progress if they perform satisfactorily in their coursework during the first year, advance to candidacy by the end of their second year, and perform satisfactorily in their research (and teaching, if applicable) in subsequent years.

Termination of Graduate Study and Appeal of Termination — University Policy
A student who fails to meet the above requirements may be recommended for termination of graduate study. A graduate student may be disqualified from continuing in the graduate program for a variety of reasons. The most common is failure to maintain the minimum cumulative grade point average (3.00) required by the Academic Senate to remain in good standing (some programs require a higher grade point average). Other examples include failure of examinations, lack of timely progress toward the degree and poor performance in core courses. Probationary students (those with cumulative grade point averages below 3.00) are subject to immediate dismissal upon the recommendation of their department. University guidelines governing termination of graduate students, including the appeal procedure, are outlined in Standards and Procedures for Graduate Study at UCLA.

Special Departmental or Program Policy for Ph.D. Program
A student who does not advance to candidacy within seven quarters of full-time study is subject to a recommendation for termination. The graduate vice chair informs a student of such a recommendation and the student is asked to submit a written appeal to solicit letters of support from members of the faculty. There is a chance that students receiving funding and who have not advanced to candidacy after seven quarters may have the funding decreased. The appeal is considered by the Graduate Studies Committee who makes the final decision by vote as to whether the student is allowed to remain in the program.

Faculty Research Interest
See the faculty directory listing for current members and their interests at http://directory.stat.ucla.edu/.