Ph.D. in Information Science

Graduates with the Information Science doctorate are well positioned for rewarding, challenging careers in either research or information-dependent roles in business, government, education, or the nonprofit sector.

Detailed information on the Ph.D. program in Information Science can be obtained from the 2017-2018 INF Ph.D. Manual.

This interdisciplinary program is designed for persons interested in:

  • Advanced study and applied research in the nature of information as a phenomenon.
  • The character of the information transfer process, including the creation of new knowledge, the utilization of what is known.
  • The dissemination of knowledge in both conventional and electronic formats.

Emphasizing research, teaching, and the application of research to 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 related disciplines and for higher-level management and policy positions in private and public sector organizations.

At Albany, the Information Science Ph.D. Program is a collaborative effort of the College, the School of Business, the College of Arts and Sciences, the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, the School of Education, and research faculty from several disciplines and centers across the University. Here are the lists of the Information Science faculty (rank of Assistant Professor and above), as well as the affiliated faculty who teach in the Ph.D. program.

Important forms for PhD students can be found here.

Admissions Requirements

Applicants to the INF Ph.D. Program must satisfy the general University requirements for admission to doctoral study described in the Graduate Bulletin. Admission to this program is highly selective and is based on an assessment of the applicant’s potential to make a major contribution to theory and practice in Information Science.

New doctoral students are typically admitted only for 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.

The doctoral Admissions Committee seeks evidence of motivation, energy and commitment to the discipline, academic achievement sufficient to promise 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 information science, computer science, communication, geography and planning, public administration, business, management information systems, information management, accounting, criminal justice, library science, or a related field.

Applicants must submit official transcripts for all prior undergraduate and graduate coursework and scores from the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT), or the Law School Admissions Test (LSAT). Applicants whose native language is not English must also submit scores on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination. Three letters of recommendation are required, at least one of which should speak to the candidate’s academic abilities. For candidates with substantial work experience in the information field, one or more letters from current or former supervisors or co-workers are appropriate.

Candidates are encouraged to submit additional documentation, such as a curriculum vitae, a portfolio of previous work, publications, reports, research papers, or examples of such work as computer systems, programs or other materials that might be helpful to the Admissions Committee in assessing capacity for doctoral study and independent research.

Admission Timetable

Application for doctoral admission must be received by January 15 for the fall semester. In addition to coordinating the review and decision-making process for each applicant, services are available at the Office of Graduate Admissions to assist students who desire clarification or more detailed information about programs and admission standards. Individual counseling sessions with faculty from any of the program’s schools can also be arranged.

Information concerning admissions policies and processes can be found at the University’s Office of Graduate Admissions. For further information or an application packet, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions.

Program of Study

The INF Ph.D. Program consists of five major components: (1) Core interdisciplinary courses, (2) Research sequence, (3) Technology competencies, (4) Primary and secondary specialization areas, and (5) Doctoral dissertation.

The university 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.

Courses 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.

Each student will develop an individualized program of study to meet these requirements under the advisement of the Program Director and the student’s Program Guidance Committee.

Requirements for Admission to Candidacy

Formal admission to degree candidacy occurs after successful completion of all prerequisites and core courses with at least a B average, primary and secondary specialization requirements, literature review requirement, comprehensive examination, and residency requirement. 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. Only upon admission to candidacy can a student register for doctoral dissertation load credit (IINF 899). The following requirements are necessary for students to be admitted to candidacy and begin dissertation work.

  1. Program Plan of Study
  2. Full-Time Study in Residence
  3. Qualifying Requirements
  4. Technology Competencies
  5. Core Course Work
  6. Research Sequence
  7. Primary Specialization Course Work
  8. Secondary Specialization Course Work
  9. General Comprehensive Examination
  10. Literature Review
  11. Primary Specialization Publishable Paper

Doctoral Dissertation

The completion of a dissertation is expected to demonstrate that the candidate is capable of doing independent scholarly work and is able to formulate conclusions which may in some respects modify or enlarge what has previously been known.

Detailed guidelines and procedures governing the Ph.D. dissertation at the University at Albany are contained in a publication called “General Regulations Governing the Submission of a Dissertation in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for a Doctoral Degree.” Each student entering the dissertation process should obtain a copy from the Office of Graduate Studies.

It is important to remember that dissertations that include research involving human subjects must be approved by the University’s Institutional Review Board. Copies of University guidelines for such approval are available from the Office of Regulatory Research Compliance.

The doctoral dissertation is subject to the general regulations outlined in the current Graduate Bulletin of the University.


Students must complete two individualized sequences of courses, practicum, and supervised research in primary and secondary areas of specialization. Currently approved areas of specialization are:

  • Data Analytics (DA)
  • Geographic Information Science (GIS)
  • Information Assurance (IA)
  • Information, Government, and Democratic Society (IGDS)
  • Information in Organizational Environments (IOE)
  • Knowledge Organization and Management (KOM)
  • Self Designed Specialization (subject to program approval)
  • Business Information and Decision Systems (BIDS)--May not be offered
  • Information Technology and Learning (ITL)--May not be offered