Information Science Doctoral Program

Doctoral Program in Information Science

The interdisciplinary doctoral program in Information Science is designed for persons interested in advanced study and applied research in the nature of information as a phenomenon, and in the character of the information transfer process, including the creation of new knowledge, the utilization of what is known, and the dissemination of knowledge in both conventional and electronic formats.

Information Science draws upon and integrates theory and application from several diverse disciplines. The Information Science Ph.D. program is a collaborative activity drawn from across the university. Research faculties from several other disciplines also participate.

Emphasizing research, teaching and the application of research findings to professional practice, the program is built on the model of the scientist-practitioner. It prepares graduates for both academic and research careers in Information Science or in a related discipline, and for higher-level management and policy positions in private and public sector organizations.


Applicants must satisfy the general University requirements for admission to doctoral study described earlier in this Bulletin. Admission to this program is highly selective and is based on judgments of the applicant's potential to make a major contribution to theory and practice in Information Science.

Normally, new doctoral students are admitted in the Fall semester. Candidates should have a substantial background of previous academic work, preferably at the graduate level, in a discipline concerned with perception, evaluation and manipulation of information and should possess appropriate analytic skills. Successful international applicants generally possess a prior degree from a U.S. university.

The doctoral admissions committee seeks evidence of energy and commitment to interdisciplinary study, academic achievement and interest in scholarly inquiry necessary for success at the doctoral level, strong oral and written communication skills and an adequate level of technical ability.

While the program is open to those who hold the baccalaureate degree, preference is given to candidates who have completed a master's degree in a comparable or related field.

Doctor of Philosophy Degree

The program requires a minimum of 60 credits beyond the baccalaureate, plus at least one additional year devoted to researching and writing a dissertation. Applicants who have completed graduate courses or programs may be admitted with advanced standing and be allowed a maximum of thirty credits for courses applicable to the Ph.D.

Course and research requirements are designed to provide the successful candidate with a firm grounding in the social and technical impacts of information creation, use, dissemination and storage. Development of an appreciation and understanding of the interdisciplinary nature of information research is also emphasized.

I. Program of Study

Prerequisite: Computer and Information Technology Competencies. All INF Ph.D. students are required to show competency in four areas of computer and information technologies: networking, programming languages, databases, and one other technology as agreed upon by their program committee. Students are required to take one to four modules of INF 523 Fundamentals of Information Technology to meet this requirement.

A. Core Courses

The four core courses are intended to expose INF Ph.D. students to a variety of issues related to information in various contexts. Students are required to take all four courses and earn a grade of B or better in each.

1. Inf 720 Managing Information and Technology in Organizations (3 credits)
This course will introduce information systems research paradigms grounded in organization theory and provide a framework for applying theoretical concepts and empirical tools to the management of information and technology in organizations.

2. Inf 721 Information and Society (3 credits)
Relationships between information and communication technologies (ICTs) and social action, how social and organizational factors influence information processes and systems, and how the use of ICTs influences our (changing) understanding and experience of dealing with information.

3. Inf 722 Information Organization (3 credits)
Text analysis for information extraction, organization of information for knowledge sharing, and visualization of information to support users' diverse cognitive styles.

4. Inf 723 Information and Computing (3 credits)
Development of theories and concepts that underlie the operation of information processing and retrieval systems; consequences derived from these theories that should be considered in designing such systems; theoretical foundations of information and computation; technologies and application areas.

B. Research Methods

This research sequence is intended to expose INF Ph.D. students to core Information Science research through becoming familiar with Information Science literature, developing a research plan, actively participating in research with faculty member(s), presenting research through poster session(s) and presentation(s), and developing research method and analysis skills. It consists of two major components: 11-12 credits of coursework and attendance at and participation in an annual INF Research Conference.

1. Research Seminar Sequence

A four-semester sequence of 1-credit research seminars (Inf 711, Inf 712, Inf 713, Inf 714) will facilitate an understanding of information science literature and research and development of students' research agendas. Taken for the first four semesters in sequence, students will interact with faculty while learning about their current research; begin to use and evaluate information science literature; learn research techniques, such as writing a literature review, maintaining a bibliographic database, presenting a poster session and presenting current research at a conference; and develop research relationships with faculty and other students.

2. Annual INF Research Conference

All INF Ph.D. students are required to attend the annual INF Research Conference. First year students plan and coordinate the conference, while also presenting at the poster session. Second year students present their current research with a faculty member. Third year and later students are encouraged to present their current research. This INF Research Conference develops a research community while offering opportunities for students to learn about research being done by other faculty and students in Informatics, and to hone their own research and presentation skills.

3. Inf 710: Research Design in Information Science

All INF Ph.D. students are required to take an INF research methods course. Students will examine research issues in information science at an advanced level, focusing on appropriate research design, data gathering techniques and analysis relating to data collection and measurement. Students will explore the research design process from both qualitative and quantitative points of view.

4. Additional Research Tool Requirement

Students will take at least one statistics/analysis course at the doctoral level, working with their Ph.D. advisor to find the best fit. This course may be chosen from those offered throughout the university, selected to be specific to their field of concentration. Although the requirement is for a quantitative course, students are strongly urged to take additional quantitative and qualitative courses to round out their research analysis skills.

C. Specializations

The Information Science Ph.D. program currently offers primary and secondary specializations in Data Analytics; Geographic Information Science; Information Assurance; Information, Government, and Democratic Society; Information in Organizational Environments; Knowledge Organization and Management; and Information for Risk, Emergency Management, and Security. All INF Ph.D. students normally select one primary and one secondary specialization. Primary specializations generally consist of six to seven courses, plus necessary prerequisites and include a comprehensive field examination. Normally, a secondary specialization consists of three courses and does not require a comprehensive examination. Self-designed secondary specializations require approval of the INF faculty.

1. Data Analytics (DA)

Working with understanding the massive amounts of data emanating from a complex world requires tools that bridge among technical aspects of computer science and conceptual issues related to human cognition and how users focus their attention and make sense out of masses of complex data. At the heart of this concentration are theories and views of how data are structured into information and made actionable, and how action in turn creates new data. This concentration is designed to provide deep knowledge in the tools and techniques needed for research in this field.


  • An advanced undergraduate course in descriptive and inferential statistics and
  • Competency in at least one analytics-oriented programming language.

Required courses - The specialization requires courses in two areas (9 credits):

1. Data management requirement (3 credits): Ist 506 Databases and Data Management

2. Analytic methods requirement (6 credits):

  • Inf 624 Predictive analytics or Csi 536 Machine Learning
  • Inf 625 Data Mining or Itm 603 Analytics and Data Mining or Csi 531 Data Mining

Data analytics elective courses: students must take 9 credit hours of elective courses as advised

2. Geographic Information Science (GIS)

Geographic Information Science encompasses the predominant tools for performing spatial analysis and for augmenting spatial decision making across a broad array of application domains. Practitioners representing fields as diverse as criminal justice, atmospheric science, sociology, public health, and many others require a common theoretical underpinning in the fundamental models and methods of analysis embodied in current systems. To that end, the specialization in Geographic Information Science focuses on the theoretical foundation of spatial data representation, analysis, and visualization as well as on its broad spectrum of applications. The specialization directly supports interests in the geosciences and social sciences, as well as in the theory and implementation of geographic information system design.

Required Courses (9 credits):

  • Gog 500: Introduction to Graduate Study in Geography: Geographic Thought (3 credits)
  • Gog 590: Advanced Cartography (3 credits)
  • Gog 596 (Pln 556): Geographic Information Systems (3 credits)

GIS Elective Courses - 12 credits of electives as advised in theory, methods, and substantive topics.

3. Information Assurance (IA)

Born in the context of the development of secure operating systems, IA has blossomed into a truly interdisciplinary area of study that deals with providing assurance that all aspects of information systems maintain the essential criteria of Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability. Today, the field of Information Assurance extends to a wide array of topics including secure operating systems, protection of assets, preventive/detective/protective/deterrent/corrective measures relating to incidents on computer networks, disaster planning, information protection, computer & network forensics and auditing, cryptography, Steganography, and intrusion detection.

Required Courses (12 credits):

1. Information Systems: (3+ credits. One of the following)

  • Itm 601 Business Systems Analysis and Design (3)
  • Inf 505 Advanced Concepts and Practices in Software Development (3)
  • Csi 518 Software Engineering (4)

2. Networks: (3+ credits. One of the following)

  • Itm 604 Databases and Business Intelligence (3)
  • Inf 503 (Cybr 503) Advanced Networks and Security (3)
  • Csi 516 Computer Communications Networks I (3)

3. Databases: (3+ credits. One of the following)

  • Ist 506 Database systems and Data Analysis (3)
  • Inf 507 Modern Issues in Databases (3)
  • Csi 508 Database Systems I (3)
  • Equivalent Graduate Course Work, as advised.

4. Statistics: (3+ credits; selected in consultation with IA faculty.)

IA Elective courses – students must also complete at least 3 courses (9 credits) in theory, methods, and substantive topics, as advised.

4. Information, Government, and Democratic Society (IGDS)

This concentration focuses on the role, use, influence and consequences of information and information communication technologies in government and democratic society. Researchers in this area study how people interact with government, public institutions, political organizations, and other citizens through communication technologies, focusing on the social and political impacts of technology-enabled discourse. Researchers also study the information management and public communication policies and practices of government, as well as governmental use of information and technology to provide services, impose requirements, respond to emergencies and monitor the activities of individuals and groups.

Required Courses (9 credits):

  • Ist 560 Information and Public Policy (3)
  • Pad 550 Foundations of Government Information Strategy and Management (3 credits)
  • Com 520 Theories and Research in Political Communication (3 credits)

IGDS Elective courses – choose 12 credits of electives as advised in theory, methods, and substantive topics.

5. Information in Organizational Environments (IOE)

Contemporary organizations are built as webs of information exchange and flow. The study of information in these organizational environments requires a multidisciplinary approach. This approach draws its knowledge, theories, and methods from a host of social sciences including information and communication studies, sociology, psychology; and business, education, and public administration.

Furthermore, the growth of information and communication technologies —and differential access to them-- profoundly impacts and is transforming the ways that organizations function and interact with internal and external stakeholders as well the broader social, economic, and political environments.

The IoE specialization includes two tracks; General Organizational Studies and Human-Computer Interaction and Organizational Transformation. There are no required courses, however students must complete 24 credits in the areas of theory, methods, and substantive topics in their chosen track, as advised.

General Organizational Studies: at least 24 credits in courses that include a range of
perspectives on organizational studies from the micro to the macro level: with a minimum of 3
courses in micro-organizational studies and 3 courses in macro-organizational studies. These
courses are typically distributed in:

  • substantive/disciplinary courses (e.g., group dynamics and teams, motivation research, and strategic management),
  • theoretical courses (e.g., administration and management theories), and
  • methodology/methods courses (e.g., network analysis) in addition to Inf 710, and the additional methods course required of all doctoral students.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Organizational Transformation: at least 24 credits in courses that include a range of perspectives on human-computer interaction and organizational transformation. A suggested
minimum of 3 courses in HCI and 3 courses in organizational transformation. Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Courses are primarily concerned with the theories and practice of the HCI field, and include user-centered
research, interface design and programming, cognitive modeling, and user engagement and experience. Organizational Transformation (ORG Transformation) primarily address theories and models of organizational
design and culture, organizational change, and group processes.

These courses are typically distributed in:

  • substantive/disciplinary courses (e.g., change management, information behavior, dominant information systems),
  • theoretical courses (e.g., computer-mediated communication), and Add two concentrations
  • methodology/methods courses (e.g., organizational research methods) in addition to Inf 710, and the additional methods course required of all doctoral students.

6. Knowledge Organization and Management (KOM)

This specialization covers all aspects of knowledge representation, organization, management and retrieval for information/knowledge in all formats and their use. Substantive areas include classification and categorization structures to represent knowledge, models of indexing and classification systems to aid in the construction of dictionaries and thesauri, models to facilitate visualization and retrieval of information.

Required Courses (6 credits):

  • Ist 533 Information Storage and Retrieval (3 credits)
  • Ist 602 Information and Knowledge Organization (3 credits)

KOM Elective courses – 15 credits of electives as advised in theory, methods, and substantive topics.

7. Information for Risk in Emergency Management and Security (IRES)

Emergency and crisis management, security, and intelligence organizations and those functions within other organizations are embedded in complex webs of information exchange and flow. As a result, they depend on the effective collection and analysis of data to enable strategic decision-making and operations in environments characterized by risk. This specialization examines how these organizations use and produce information to address risk from natural hazards and anthropogenic threats. It draws on a multidisciplinary approach, which includes knowledge, theories, and methods from a host of social science disciplines, such as anthropology, security studies, disaster science and emergency management, information and communication studies, sociology, geography, psychology; and business, education, as well as history, political science, and public administration.
Required Courses (9 credits):

  • Ehc 600 (Emh 600): Fundamentals of Emergency Management (3 Credits)
  • Ehc 609 (Emh 609): Risk Analysis (3 Credits)
  • Ehc 610 (Emh 610): Fundamentals of Homeland Security (3 Credits)

IRES Elective courses – 9 credits of electives as advised in theory, methods, and substantive topics.

II. Qualifying Requirements

The INF PhD program requires each student to meet qualifying requirements, demonstrating foundational knowledge in the core areas of Information Science. The qualifying requirement includes completing each of the four core courses (the 720-723 series) with a B or better.

III. Comprehensive Examination

The Comprehensive Exam will consist of a literature review article comprised of two parts – one written, and one oral. The literature review must be on a topic within the student’s primary area of specialization, agreed upon between the student and their program committee. Furthermore, the literature review must be completed in one of the following formats, agreed upon between the student and their program committee: a systematic review, a scoping review, or a more “general review.” After the literature review is approved, an oral exam will take place where the student will defend their review before an audience of the community.

Normally, each specialization will require one paper of publishable quality as part of the exam. In order to meet the publication requirement, the student would:

  • Get a peer-reviewed paper published, OR
  • Present a paper at a peer-reviewed national or international conference, OR
  • Complete a paper of publishable quality, as determined by the student's program committee

Note: Papers may be co-authored with one other person (student or faculty member) with the student making the largest contribution.

IV. Admission to Degree Candidacy

Formal admission to degree candidacy occurs after successful completion of the following requirements:

  • all prerequisite, core and research courses with at least a B (3.0) average,
  • all primary and secondary specialization coursework,
  • research tool requirements,
  • qualifying requirements, and both parts of the comprehensive examination process,
  • and the University residency requirement

The student is recommended for admission to degree candidacy by the program faculty on recommendation of his or her program guidance committee. Admission to degree candidacy occurs only with the approval of the Dean of Graduate Studies acting on recommendations of the Graduate Academic Council, the program director and program faculty.

V. Dissertation

Upon admission to degree candidacy, the student begins formal work on the dissertation. Students should obtain the detailed statement on the doctoral dissertation from the program director.

Please note: This program offers an internship, field experience, study abroad component, or clinical experience in the course listing as an option to fulfill course requirements. Students who have previously been convicted of a felony are advised that their prior criminal history may impede their ability to complete the requirements of certain academic programs and/or to meet licensure requirements for certain professions. If you have concerns about this matter please contact the Dean’s Office of your intended academic program.