2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog 
    Jul 14, 2024  
2014-2015 Graduate Course Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Information Science and Technology, PhD

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Dr. Steve Sawyer, Program Director, 344 Hinds Hall, (315) 443-6147, istphd@syr.edu


Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology


The Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology at Syracuse University’s School of Information Studies is a research degree, one that prepares its graduates to address information-related phenomena in a broad range of diverse settings and across a wide range of analytic frames spanning technological, individual, organizational, societal, political perspectives.

The Information Science and Technology Ph.D. program is interdisciplinary, bringing together relevant knowledge and methods from information science, the behavioral and social sciences, organization studies, economics, computer science, linguistics, communications, law and public policy. Graduates of the Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology are world-renown for their excellence in the advancement and dissemination of new knowledge, both basic and applied, regarding the designs, uses and evaluation of information systems, services, and policies for individuals, for groups, for private-sector firms, and for nonprofit and governmental organizations.

The Ph.D. students in our program represent a wide range of education, training, experience and expertise that includes:

  • Information and Society: information and public policy, societal change and information and communication technologies (ICT), e-government, digital inequities, media convergence, community networks, libraries and access
  • Information and Organizations: new forms of digitally-enabled organizing, ICT governance e-commerce, technology-driven innovation/change, ICT-enabled organizations
  • Information and Individuals: human-computer interaction, information-seeking behavior, medical informatics
  • Information Systems: design, survivability, security
  • Information Technology: emerging technologies, wireless networks, natural language processing, middleware, information visualization.
  • Information Organization and Access: data science and massive data sets, metadata, representation, knowledge discovery, information retrieval, image retrieval
  • Networked Information: digital libraries, distribution of public information, digital reference
  • Information and Education: digital literacy, e-learning, school library media, asynchronous learning networks

Since the program began in 1969, over 110 students have earned their Ph.D.

  • More than half of these graduates pursue careers in academic and research institutions.
  • About 25% of the PhD program’s graduates pursue successful careers in information-related industries as entrepreneurs, consultants and policy experts.
  • About 25% of the PhD program graduates enter governmental organizations in policy, technology and organizational leadership roles.

We are delighted that so many remain in contact with the faculty, the iSchool and other PhD program graduates.


Admission requirements include a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in a broadly relevant area; GRE scores of 150 for Math and 162 for Verbal (equivalent to 600s on the old scoring scale) and an analytic writing score of at least four (4); TOEFL scores above 600 for students whose first language is not English; academic transcripts, three letters of recommendations from people who can evaluate the research potentials of the applicants; at least one writing sample; a current CV or resume; and a personal statement of research interests. Although not a requirement, most admitted students also have a master’s degree. In making decisions about admission, the committee considers an applicant’s career goals, motivation, research interests and potential fit to the faculty’s expertise, prior education and work experiences, evidence of research preparation and experiences, and oral and written communication skills. Applications are considered for the fall semester only. The deadline for receipt of the completed application is early January.

The PhD in Information Science and Technology is a full-time, residential program. Students will need to commit to moving to Syracuse for at least four years (and often five). The program of study is designed to maximize informal interaction and the apprentice-style of learning that is the hallmark of excellent PhD programs. The goal of the faculty of the School of Information Studies is to develop future peers through the PhD program, to advance knowledge for society through impactful research, to train the next generation of scholars, and to ensure that the graduates of this PhD program excel at what they choose to pursue!

Learning Outcomes:

Successful Ph.D. graduates will have the following set of skills and knowledge in:

  1. Comprehensive Mastery of a body of knowledge: Demonstrate mastery of the body of knowledge and research methods of a defined scholarly field and its relation to the interdisciplinary study of information science and technology. Given the interdisciplinary nature of the PhD in Information Science and Technology, comprehensive mastery includes both an assessment of the depth of knowledge in the focal area of one’s dissertation along with an assessment of a broader range of overlapping intellectual spaces. This combination of breadth and depth is the distinguishing characteristic of interdisciplinary PhD programs and reflects a set of analytic skills and command of a breadth of knowledge beyond what disciplinary PhD programs provide (or expect).
  2. Expertise with Research Design, Data Collection and Data Analysis methods: Demonstrate the ability to independently plan, design, execute, and report a scholarly research project.
  3. Competence with leading a college course and designing engaging learning experiences: Demonstrate the ability to plan and deliver instructional experiences at the post-secondary level.
  4. Prepared for Professional Practices: Demonstrate knowledge of the professional norms, practices, and ethical standards of a defined scholarly field.
  5. Pursue Academic Life: Demonstrate the ability to participate as an active contributor in the academic life as a faculty member or researcher.


The program requires 78 credits post-baccalaureate. Up to 30 of these credits can be transferred in for PhD students with a relevant MS degree. Thus, most PhD students need to complete 48 credits while at Syracuse.

Typically, 18 of their credits are devoted to the PhD thesis - the culminating and critical component of the Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology.

The Remaining 30 credits

The remaining 30 credits are taken through a combination of research methods courses, research seminars, and topical courses so as to maximize the PhD student’s ability to achieve mastery, advance their research skills, and develop as a college teacher.

12 Credits of Research and Teaching Practica

As such, the program is very flexible and can be constructed to meet individual student’s unique need. The only formal requirement is that PhD students must complete 12 credits of research and teaching practica (which typically takes four semesters). These practica are apprentice-like experiences working one-on-one with faculty - these serve as the foundation of the PhD in Information Science and Technology and are the common experience shared by all students in the program.

Additional Information

Given the nature of the PhD, the total number of credits accumulated (at Syracuse or elsewhere) is not a major consideration in a student’s progress through the program. Instead, what matters is a student’s mastery of the skills needed to become an independent, productive researcher. While coursework completed elsewhere may decrease the number of credits that must be earned at Syracuse, it may not necessarily decrease the length of a student’s program.

To move from taking courses to pursuing dissertation research, PhD students must showcase their comprehensive mastery of their field of study and research skills in a process we call “end of coursework” or “EOC.” The EOC requires both a written case to be made as to why the PhD student is prepared to move forward, followed by an oral defense of their case (typically in the third year of study). Students who successfully complete EOC are admitted to PhD candidacy. After that, a dissertation proposal and then a dissertation must be presented and defended. Students are expected to defend their dissertation in their fifth year of study.

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