The IDS program is designed to produce world-class scholars with capabilities in research, teaching and service. Students are expected to develop skills in recognizing and conceptualizing critical research questions and problems that need to be addressed in one or more areas that make up IDS. Students must also master one or more methodologies for conducting empirical or theoretical inquiry. These methodologies must be both grounded in basic academic disciplines (e.g., psychology, economics, computer science), and potentially fruitful for the study of how individuals and organizations use information and make decisions with the aid of technology.


Students must take a minimum of 40 semester credits of coursework. Required major field coursework includes all offered IDSc PhD seminars (IDS 8511, 8521, 8531, 8541, 8721, and 8801) in addition to APEC 8211 and 8212 for a total of 24 major field credits. At least 16 credits of supporting/methodology coursework is required. These credits must be 5000-level or above and can include such courses as regression, experimental design, multivariate statistics, econometrics, microeconomics, game theory, data mining, or business intelligence. Students who lack in technical and business knowledge of IDS will need to take MBA courses to make up any deficiencies.

Course descriptions:

IDSc 8511: Conceptual Topics and Research Methods in IDSc

This course covers the relationships of IDSc to underlying disciplines; major research streams; seminal articles; survey literature; and major researchers. Provides the framework for organizing knowledge about information and decision sciences.

IDSc 8521: Seminar in Systems Development

Concepts and practice in information systems development; process and data analysis; system development life cycle research issues; research methods with an emphasis on modeling and simulation.

IDSc 8531: Organizational Theory and Research in Information Systems

Introduction, adoption, use/exploitation of information systems in organizations. Critically examine empirical work. Formulate research questions. Conduct research.

IDSc 8541: Introduction to Economics of Information Systems

Classical research questions. Methods/findings that form backbone of economics of IS. Online auctions, electronic markets, off shoring, human capital issues.

IDSc 8721: Behavioral Decision Making

Traditional/current research. Major models/methodologies. Issues of preference, judgment, and choice under conditions of certainty/uncertainty. Seminar format.

IDSc 8722: Heuristic Decision Making

How decisions are made, how knowledge is stored/used, how knowledge of variability/feedback influence decisions. Decisions at strategic, operational, individual level. Exceptional performance, pathologies of decision making. Basis for "best practice." How knowledge is managed in decisions, decision failure. Folly, normal accidents, decision problems in which individuals manipulate information to influence/deceive others.

IDSc 8801: Research Seminar in IDSc
New areas of research, research methods, issues.

  • Special Topics: Social Media
  • Special Topics: Data Mining & Personalization


First Year Exam

The first-year exam consists of students reviewing a selected set of papers, with consideration given to students’ respective areas of interest. Students are asked to define their interest area (e.g., organizational, computer science, economics, or behavioral decision theory). IDS faculty choose papers to be critiqued from published and unpublished papers of varying quality. Four articles are assigned to each student usually in early May with the reviews being due in late May. After faculty examine the reviews, an oral exam takes place to provide faculty with additional input to more fully evaluate areas of weakness that may have been identified in the written reviews. Immediately after the oral exam students are given oral feedback on their performance on the exam as well as on coursework and their TA/RA assignments. Students not performing up to standards will be encouraged to address their deficiencies or withdraw from the program.

Second Year Paper

After the first year exam, students are expected to work towards a second-year original research paper under the supervision of a second-year paper committee. The committee will be created by the end of the first year summer, consisting of the PhD coordinator and two other IDS tenure track faculty members. A second-year paper proposal needs to be submitted by the beginning of September of the student's second year in the program. By the beginning of December, students should turn in a work-in-progress paper for the first mid-term review. By the beginning of March, students should turn in the first draft of their second-year paper for the second mid-term review. By the beginning of May, students should turn in the final draft of the second-year papers. The second-year paper should be independent work, and students need to be the principal writer of the paper. At the beginning of July, students will make a half-hour presentation of the second-year paper to the full IDS faculty.

Written Prelim

Both the second-year paper and the comprehensive exam are part of the written preliminary exam. The comprehensive exam is an in-house exam based on core materials discussed in the required IDS seminars (IDSc 8521, 8531, 8541, and 8721). The in-house exam is open book/note, conducted in mid-June for a period of two days, with three hours allocated to each subject. The comprehensive exam will be evaluated by the full IDS tenure track faculty.

Oral Prelim

Students must schedule an oral exam before the end of the semester following completion of the written prelim exam (usually the fall semester of their third year). Format varies based on committee makeup.

Proposal Defense

Students must develop a written dissertation proposal describing their research problem and method of addressing that problem. The proposal must be defended before the dissertation committee, generally during the fourth year.


All students are required to attend the IDS Friday workshops and PhD brownbag seminars. First and second-year students are required to discuss and obtain approval for their courses with the PhD coordinator. Third-year and above students also need approval of the PhD Coordinator for taking non-thesis credits. Students should TA at least one MBA course to help develop their teaching skills and also help prepare and deliver at least one class session under tutelage of the faculty instructor. Two course instructor experiences are expected, usually during the third and fourth years. Prior to interviewing for a faculty position, each student should have a defended proposal and presented their thesis work at an IDS workshop where they can obtain constructive feedback.