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Information Systems PhD Specialization

General Information

The Department of Information Systems & Operations Management (ISOM) supports two areas for doctoral study: Information Systems (IS) and Operations Management (OM). Both areas are designed for persons seeking academic and research careers.

The area of Information Systems deals with the management of development, use, and impact of information systems and technologies in organizations. It is an interdisciplinary area, combining the study of information technologies and systems with other areas such as economics, operations research, decision theory, and psychology. Information systems have impact on all aspects of a modern organization — from providing solution to current problems to new business models and opportunities. With the rapid growth and globalization of businesses, information systems have taken on a more important role.

Department web site
Information Systems Faculty

Admission Requirements

Applicants must have completed an undergraduate degree at an accredited university and should have a reasonable training in mathematics and economics. An admission committee of faculty members in the Information Systems & Operations Management Department reviews all completed applications. While the committee considers all relevant factors in its recommendations, important factors include past academic performance, GMAT scores (which are usually above 650 for successful applicants), and previous work experience. The GRE exam can be substituted for the GMAT but the GMAT is strongly preferred. In some cases we may request a personal interview.

Recommended Preparation Prior to Entry

It is assumed that students entering the information systems area are knowledgeable in advanced calculus, linear algebra, basic statistics, and a high level programming language. Any student who is deficient in these areas should consider taking appropriate coursework prior to entering the program.

Information Systems Area Faculty Coordinator

Prof. Yong Tan, Information Systems Area Faculty Coordinator, would be glad to answer your questions. Contact him by phone (206-616-6785) or by email (

Student Advising

The Department’s Doctoral Review Committee will guide new students until they establish a Supervisory Committee. Students are required to establish a Supervisory Committee by the end of their first year. The Supervisory Committee assists the student in choosing appropriate courses, approves course of studies, and monitors the student’s progress.

The following courses are required of all IS majors. The number of credits for each course is indicated in parentheses after the course number.

Course Number Catalog Title
I S 545 (4)(IS 445 if IS 545 not offered) Database Systems and Applications
I S 560 (4)(IS 460 if IS 560 not offered) Information Systems Development
I S 570 (4)(IS 410 if IS 570 not offered) Business Data Communications and Networking
OPMGT 550 (4) Project Management
I S 580 (4) Advanced Research Topics in Information Systems I
I S 581 (4) Advanced Research Topics in Information Systems II
I S 582 (4) Advanced Research Topics in Information Systems III
I S 599 (1,1,1) Doctoral Seminar

All IS students must enroll in the doctoral seminar (IS 599) until all coursework is completed and the IS area examination is successfully completed; after this milestone, we strongly encourage all students to continue participating in the doctoral seminar.

Research Methods Minor Area Requirements
All students majoring in Information Systems must select Research Methods as one of their minor areas. The Research Methods area is designed to ensure that all students are knowledgeable with research tools needed to conduct high-level research in Information Systems.

The requirements below are viewed as minimal preparation for conducting doctoral level research; we strongly recommend that students expand their research methods area beyond the courses listed below. Certain substitutions of courses, upon approval from the chair of the supervisory committee may be allowed.


BA 580 (4) Problems in Microeconomics
ECON 500 (4) Microeconomic Analysis I
ECON 501 (4) Microeconomic Analysis II
ECON 508 (4) Microeconomic Analysis III


Optimization / Stochastic Processes / Queuing

QMETH 580(4) Mathematical Programming
MATH 514 (3) Networks and Combinatorial Optimization
STAT 491 (3) Introduction to Stochastic Processes
QMETH 592 (4) Queuing and Simulation



ECON 580 (4) Econometrics I
ECON 581 (4) Econometrics II
ECON 582 (4) Econometrics III


Other Suggested Courses

OM 587 (4) Inventory Management
ECON 516 (3) Game Theory
ECON 518 (3) Contract Theory
ECON 587 (3) Applied Microeconomics


Other Minor Area Requirements
In addition to Research Methods, IS students must select one additional minor area depending on the student’s interest. Possible minor areas include:

Computer Science,
Economics or Business Economics,
Operations Management,

Assuming adequate background preparation, students are expected to complete the following coursework in their first and second years. The normal schedule is as follows but course offerings and quarter offerings might change depending on faculty availability.

First Year

Autumn Winter Spring Summer
IS 545 (IS 445)Database Sys. /IS 570 (IS 410)Data Com. & Network. QMETH 580Math. Programming OPMGT 550Project Management BA 580 Problems in Microenomics
ECON 580Econometrics I IS 570 (IS410)Data Com & Network. /IS 545 (IS 445) Database Sys. IS 560 (IS 460)Info. Sys. Develop. Internship / Independent Research
ECON 500 Microeconomics I ECON 501 Microeconomics II ECON 508Microeconomics III
IS 599Doctoral Seminar IS 599Doctoral Seminar IS 599Doctoral Seminar
Teaching Effectiveness Seminar


Second Year

Autumn Winter Spring Summer
IS 580Ad. ResearchTopics I IS 581Ad. Research Topics II IS 582Ad. ResearchTopics III Research MethodsArea Exam
STAT 491Stochastic Processes I ECON 581Econometrics II ECON 582Econometrics III Second year paper(due 9/30)
MATH 514 Networks & Comb. Opt. QMETH 592Queuing Theory Elective
IS 599Doctoral Seminar IS 599Doctoral Seminar IS 599Doctoral Seminar

Students who select Information Systems as a minor area must take all three courses in Group I and two courses from Group II.

Group I. MBA level courses:

Course Number Catalog Title
I S 545 (4) Database Management
I S 560 (4) Information Systems Development
I S 570 (4) Business Data Communications

If an MBA course in the above list is not offered, students may take a corresponding undergraduate course with permission.

Group II. Doctoral level courses:

Course Number Catalog Title
IS 580 (4) Advanced Research Topics I
IS 581 (4) Advanced Research Topics II
IS 582 (4) Finance Research Workshop

Written Area or Qualifying Examination
After completing all coursework in his or her major area, each student will take a written area examination consisting of questions contributed by all appropriate area faculty and administered by the chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee. The exam is graded on a high pass, pass, low pass, or fail basis; if appropriate, the departmental faculty members in the Supervisory Committee may require additional work and/or classes as a condition for passing the exam. If the student fails the exam, he or she can take the exam one additional time after satisfying deficiencies.

Second Year Paper
At the end of the second year, in order to demonstrate competency and ability to conduct research in IS, each student is required to write a paper. The work is to be supervised by the chair of the student’s Supervisory Committee and then graded by the departmental faculty members in the student’s Supervisory Committee on a high pass, pass, low pass, or fail basis. The departmental faculty members in the Supervisory Committee may require additional work as a condition for passing the paper.

General Examination
After successfully completing the written area exam, each student takes a general (oral) examination. Members of the Supervisory Committee which includes a representative of the Graduate School and any other interested faculty and students, administer this examination. Typically, this exam involves a defense of the student’s dissertation proposal; however, the chair of the Supervisory Committee determines the precise format of the general exam.

After successfully completing the general examination, the student is admitted to Candidacy and continues work on his/her dissertation research. A Reading Committee guides the student in working with the dissertation. It is also expected that the student will present his or her research to the Information Systems and Operations Management Department at the doctoral seminar.

Final Examination
When the dissertation is completed, the Supervisory Committee administers a final defense of the dissertation.