MS Project and PhD Preliminary Evaluation

For this requirement, the student must complete a research project, approved by the student's preliminary evaluation committee, involving (1) significant research, design, or development work, (2) a written report, and (3) an oral presentation. Students must form a master's project committee or a preliminary evaluation committee (PhD) consisting of three faculty members, two of whom must be ISP faculty. The student's adviser chairs the committee, and must be an ISP faculty member.

Preferably, the research project is completed by the end of the summer term of the second year. Students who have not defended their research project by end of the fall term of their third year in the program will be placed on provisional status in the program, unless extenuating circumstances warrant an extension, as judged by the student’s preliminary evaluation committee.

Although not a requirement, it is strongly suggested that the student submit the project report for publication in a refereed journal or conference. Thus, the scope of the research project is intended to be at the level of a paper that is of publishable quality in a peer-reviewed AI journal or conference.

The steps to completing the project are as follows:

  • Submit a project proposal to your committee for its approval.
  • Perform the work, and write a project report.
  • Submit your project report to your committee at least two weeks in advance of your oral presentation of the work.
  • Present your work in a talk given to your committee. As a guideline, you should give about a 30-minute talk and leave about 30 minutes for questions and discussion. The ISP faculty should be invited to the oral presentation. General questions relating to the field of AI are appropriate at this examination. The oral presentation may take place in an open forum, such as the ISP AI Forum, followed by a closed session with just your committee and any other ISP faculty members who wish to be present.

The committee will evaluate the project and presentation. The following criteria should be considered: The project and presentation should represent independent research, design, or development work; they should be technically sound; and they should be relevant to the ISP. Also, the student should display breadth of knowledge, understanding of the significance and motivation of the work, and understanding of the relationship of the work with prior work; and, the presentation should be clear. The committee will combine that evaluation with an evaluation of the student’s progress in coursework to arrive at an overall evaluation of one of the following:


  • Pass
  • Provisional pass: Must complete additional requirements specified by the committee in order to obtain a pass
  • Fail


  • Pass at the PhD level
  • Provisional pass at the PhD level: Must complete additional requirements specified by the committee in order to obtain a pass
  • Pass at the Master's level: Student obtains a terminal master's degree, once all course requirements for the master's degree are completed
  • Fail

Students who pass will need a card signed by their committee to obtain credit for passing. Contact the ISP program secretary at least two weeks before the oral portion of the preliminary evaluation, so the card can be available at the meeting to be signed.