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Breadth Requirements (Ph.D. students)

For Ph.D. students starting in Fall 2020 or later, the breadth requirement must be satisfied in addition to the general exam.


A total of 6 courses will be required. The first three constitute the core breadth requirement. You must take one course from each group — AI, Systems, and Theory — from the courses listed below. The remaining three courses can be any 400 or 500-level course from any department in the University, with approval required from your academic adviser and the Director of Graduate Studies for courses outside of Computer Science.  (Please note for Fall 2018 only:  ELE 396 will also count as one of the "remaining three courses")

All courses must be taken for a grade. A grade of B+ or higher is required to get credit towards course requirements, although at most one B will be accepted for a course that does not satisfy the core breadth requirements.

Individual research areas may set additional requirements for their students; they may specify certain courses to be taken or may require that courses in excess of the departmental requirement be taken.

Core Course List

Artificial Intelligence

  • 511 Theoretical Machine Learning
  • 513 Foundations of Probabilistic Modeling
  • 514 Fundamentals of Deep Learning
  • 524 Fundamentals of Machine Learning
  • 529 Advanced Computer Vision
  • 584 Advanced Natural Language Processing


  • 475 Computer Architecture (See ELE 475)
  • 518 Advanced Computer Systems
  • 561 Advanced Computer Networks
  • 563 Wireless Networks


  • 510 Programming Languages
  • 516 Automated Reasoning About Software
  • 521 Advanced Algorithm Design
  • 522 Computational Complexity
  • 585 Information Theory and Applications


To be readmitted you must satisfy the following schedule:

  • Year 1: Successful completion of 3 courses + research progress
  • Year 2: Successful completion of 4th course (including all three core breadth courses) + general exam
  • Year 3: Successful completion of Responsible Conduct in Research training (EGR 501)
  • Year 4: Successful completion of last two courses, for a total of 6

For students who previously earned a Computer Science MSE or M.Eng. degree at Princeton:  The courses you applied toward your Princeton COS Masters degree (MSE or M.Eng.) can be counted toward your Ph.D. course requirements based on successful completion of a lightweight examination process at your next PhD degree milestone (e.g., general exam or pre-FPO)

At your next milestone, you will be asked by your committee/examiners 1-2 questions per course that was originally counted toward your COS MSE or M.Eng. With your successful response to those questions, you will be considered to have shown competency for the purposes of the Ph.D.

Incidental Masters

For students who entered the Ph.D. Program before Fall 2018: The Master of Arts degree can be awarded after successfully completing all the year 2 requirements — 3 core courses, one additional course, and passing the general exam.  

For students who entered the Ph.D. Program Fall 2018 and after: The Master of Arts degree can be awarded after successfully completing the 6 required courses from the Breadth Requirements.

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