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Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science

Thanks to constant advancements in technology, we have access to more information than ever before. How can technology use this information to enhance and improve our lives? Our program lets you explore the intersection of information and technology. By enrolling in our PhD in Information Science degree program, you’ll receive interdisciplinary training, conduct high-impact research, and pursue and succeed in careers in both higher education and industry.

Led by their own curiosities, our PhD students are researching 3-D brain reconstruction, human-robot interaction, geoinformatics, high performance cloud computing, user-centered design, data visualization, machine learning, health informatics, and more.

Graduates from this program have contributed their expertise at major research universities, research and development organizations, and international government agencies.

Degree Requirements

A minimum of 48 credits, including 30 course and seminar credits beyond the Master’s degree, and at least 18 dissertation credits are required. Students without a Master’s degree will be required to take a minimum 24 additional credits of coursework or seminars, for a total of 72 credits beyond the Bachelor’s degree. Students who did not take the prerequisite courses as part of earlier studies should expect to complete admission requirements or equivalent courses.

A student pursuing a PhD degree is first admitted to graduate study in Information Science. During the first year of study, and in preparation for the preliminary examination, PhD students should complete initial course work and attend the PhD orientation session (a two-hour review of requirements for the PhD degree).

Core Courses

Four graduate-level courses, one in each of the following areas. Students, who have taken two or more of these courses (in any cluster described below) as part of a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, may take additional courses from the remaining areas. Prerequisites for the core courses are not counted as part of the PhD course requirements.

Research methods

  • INFSCI 2040 – RESEARCH DESIGN
  • INFSCI 2160 – DATA MINING
  • INFSCI 2591 – ALGORITHM DESIGN

Foundations

  • INFSCI 2120 – INFORMATION AND CODING THEORY
  • INFSCI 2125 – NETWORK SCIENCE & ANALYSIS
  • INFSCI 2130 – DECISION ANALYSIS AND DECISION SUPPORT SYSTEMS
  • INFSCI 2150 – INFORMATION SECURITY AND PRIVACY
  • INFSCI 2410 – INTRODUCTION TO NEURAL NETWORKS
  • INFSCI 2170 – CRYPTOGRAPHY

Design

  • INFSCI 2430 – SOCIAL COMPUTING
  • INFSCI 2460 – SPATIAL REASONING FOR GIS
  • INFSCI 2470 – INTERACTIVE SYSTEM DESIGN
  • INFSCI 2620 – DEVELOPING SECURE SYSTEMS

Information

  • INFSCI 2140 – INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL
  • INFSCI 2415 – INFORMATION VISUALIZATION
  • INFSCI 2480 – ADAPTIVE INFORMATION SYSTEMS
  • INFSCI 2711 – ADVANCED TOPICS IN DATABASE MANAGEMENT
  • INFSCI 2801 – GEOSPATIAL INFORMATION SYSTEMS (GIS)

Independent Research: Six credits of independent study focused on a research project are required. This research will normally be supervised by your advisor over two terms, but any IS faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty may supervise you. You may opt to have different faculty supervise different parts of the independent study. The result of this research will be an original, publishable quality research paper, which will serve as the basis of the preliminary exam (see below). Previously published work may not be used to fulfill this requirement, although the independent research project might build upon previous work you have done.

Doctoral Seminars: Three doctoral seminars (9 credits), including a required INFSCI 3005 Introduction to Doctoral Research, are required. INFSCI 3005 is offered every fall/spring and should be taken during the first year of study. This course will cover the scope of research in Information Science. Advanced doctoral seminars will be focused on single research themes.


Admissions Information

You must submit as evidence of the ability to undertake doctoral work, an essay (not to exceed 1,000 words) indicating, as specifically as possible, your academic and professional goals in relation to the Information Science and Technology doctoral program and identifying potential areas and/or topics in which you expect to pursue dissertation research. This essay is a critical component of the admissions process, and will be used in assigning the student’s initial program advisor.

Prerequisites

IS PhD applicants must either have or demonstrate the following prerequisite knowledge. These courses or their equivalents should be taken before seeking admission but may be taken during the first four terms of study. All courses must be at the graduate level and may have been taken in the course of pursuing another graduate degree:

  • Statistics or Discrete Math (INFSCI 2020)
  • Cognitive Psychology (INFSCI 2300 or INFSCI 2350)
  • Systems Analysis and Design (INFSCI 2510)
  • Data Structures (INFSCI 2500)
  • Database Management (INFSCI 2710)

Applicants must have a Master’s degree from an accredited university, a recognized international program, or the equivalent is required and have attained a minimum grade point average (GPA) of 3.3 (on a scale with an “A” having a value of 4 points per credit). An international student’s GPA will be calculated on the basis of equivalency from universities that use a different scale.

Letters of Recommendation

Identify and seek the recommendations of three individuals (e.g., professors, employers, information professionals) who are in a position to evaluate your academic performance or your potential as an information professional. Two must be from professors, preferably with PhDs.

Transcripts

Only scanned copies of official transcripts will be accepted and processed at the application stage.

Graduate Record Examination (GRE)

You are required to submit a recent score (within five years of the date of application) on the Graduate Record Examination as part of your admission credentials. Scores on all three sections (verbal, quantitative, and analytical) of the General Section should be submitted.

Other Required Documentation

Please include the following with your online application:

  • CV; and
  • Statement of Intent (not to exceed 1,000 words) indicating, as specifically as possible, you’re your academic and professional goals in relation to the Information Science doctoral program and identifying potential areas and/or topics in which the student expects to pursue dissertation research.

For International Applicants

Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to participate successfully in graduate study. International applicants must submit either the TOEFL or the IELTS (taken within two years of the date of application). A minimum score of 80 on the TOEFL or a minimum result of Band 6.5 on the IELTS is required.


Tuition and Fees

Tuition rates and fees for the upcoming academic year can be found on the University’s Institutional Research Web site.