Ph.D. in Information Systems

The Ph.D. in information systems seeks to attract the very best students, train them to become excellent researchers and teachers, and place them in the very best research institutions. Designed to help young scholars gain the tools and training they need to compete for faculty positions at research-oriented universities, the Ph.D. in information systems is recognized as one of the leading programs in the world in the field. Through a combination of coursework, graduate research assistantships, and faculty mentoring, our program provides students with the tools and training needed to become a productive scholar. The program also provides an opportunity to develop teaching skills and gain the type of classroom experience that will help graduates be competitive on that dimension.

The Ph.D. in information systems requires a full-time commitment. On average, students complete the program in five years. All requirements for the degree, including the dissertation, must be completed within seven years from the time of entry into the program.

Health IT Fellowships

The Department of Computer Information Systems is seeking to fill multiple Ph.D. fellowship positions in health information technology (HIT) for 2018.
Learn more 

Meet an Alumnus

In the below video, Lynette Kvasny, who now is an associate professor at Pennsylvania State University, shares why she chose to pursue her Ph.D. in information systems at Robinson and why her studies enabled her to succeed.

Meet more of our graduates 

With wide-ranging expertise, the internationally recognized faculty of the Department of Computer Information Systems has built an award-winning program. The Ph.D. in information systems program is designed to develop theoretical and methodological competencies in a wide variety of topics in the field. The faculty is very prolific in research and publishes articles in the most prestigious industry journals including Management Information Systems Quarterly, Information Systems Research, Journal of Management Information Systems, European Journal of Information Systems, Information Systems Journal, Journal of the Association for Information Systems, IEEE Transactions on Software Engineering, ACM Transactions on Management Information Systems, IEEE Transactions on Data and Knowledge Engineering, ACM Transactions on Database Systems, Decision Support Systems and many others.
To produce Ph.D. graduates who can conduct outstanding academic research, publish in premier academic journals, obtain tenure track faculty positions at research universities and excel in the classroom.
The Department of Computer Information Systems generally admits students each year in the fall semester. Students should have a strong interest in information systems, and preferably have graduate-level academic background and/or work experience in a related field. We base admissions on a variety of factors including GMAT or GRE scores, academic background, academic and professional experience and achievement, essays, and recommendation letters. We do not pre-screen applicants or provide preliminary indications of the likelihood that a student will be accepted into the program.

Candidates should submit applications online. For details on the application procedure, links to the online application form, deadlines, the application fee, TOEFL requirements for international applicants, and other administrative questions, go to the Robinson College of Business Ph.D. program website »

Please direct all inquiries regarding the application procedure and related administrative issues to the Ph.D. Program Office and not to the Department of Computer Information Systems.

We cannot evaluate an applicant's chances for acceptance into the Ph.D. in information systems program without a formal application. The factors considered by the admissions committees include more than just the test scores and GPA. Only a complete application with transcripts and letters of recommendation provides the information that is necessary for evaluation.

Ph.D. in information systems students receive full tuition waivers and a stipend for living expenses through the first four years in the program. The student is expected to teach one course section per year after his/her second year as part of the program. Additional teaching and assistantships for extra compensation are possible, although not encouraged. All entering Ph.D. students must select a faculty member to work with as a graduate research assistant (GRA). During the first three years, students work with faculty as a GRA on specific research projects and often participate as co-authors in publications in order to gain experience. The department covers registration fees and travel-related expenses where possible to support students who present research papers at national or international conferences.
The Ph.D. in information systems program is designed to develop theoretical and methodological competencies in a wide variety of topics in the field. In consultation with their faculty supervisor and/or the Ph.D. coordinator, students create a customized program of study that will provide them with the methodological background and subject matter expertise for conducting top-quality research. This program of study will include doctoral seminars offered by the CIS department and throughout the college and can also include seminars in other colleges as well as neighboring universities.

Students must pass a comprehensive examination at the completion of coursework (before the fall semester of the third year). Students typically defend a dissertation proposal within one year of passing the comprehensive exams.

In addition to coursework, we expect students to actively engage in research with faculty members. The Department of Computer Information Systems has an excellent history of co-authorship between faculty and Ph.D. students. Many students publish in top journals before the completion of their program as a result of their collaboration with faculty.

Recent graduates of the Ph.D. in information systems program have accepted faculty positions or currently hold faculty positions at universities such as University of Georgia, Emory University, Penn State University, University of British Columbia, Brigham Young University, Arizona State University, University of South Carolina, SUNY-Binghamton, HEC Montreal, Florida State University, University of Cincinnati, City University of New York (Baruch College), University of Memphis, Louisiana State University, Clemson University, Old Dominion University, and University of Massachusetts, among others.

Recent graduates have published in top information systems journals, including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and the Journal of Management Information Systems.

BA 9200 - Seminar in University Teaching

(3 credit hours)
The seminar is concerned with problems relating to teaching and research in business administration. Various teaching methods including lecture, case and incident methods, sociodrama techniques, and tutorial procedures are examined. The problems of particular subject fields, of different levels of classes of students, and of the function of the examination process are considered.

BA 9260 - Theory Development

(3 credit hours)
Students understand how to develop theory and surface a theoretical contribution. They understand the distinction between identifying a business problem and a scientific problem, and the approaches to achieve rigor and relevance. They learn about the elements of a theory and the approaches to build theory. They understand the distinction between process and variance models, and the importance of achieving correspondence between theoretical arguments and model specification. They develop an understanding about how to leverage context and time in building theory, and about multi-dimensional constructs and multi-level models. Cumulatively, they develop the skills and understanding to formulate a research question, synthesize the literature, build a theory, and specify a model.

BA 9300 - Qualitative Research Methods in Business

(3 credit hours)
This course helps develop knowledge and skills in the application and use of qualitative research techniques. The course provides a survey of the methodological literature on qualitative research methods paired with appropriate article-length exemplars in the disparate businesss disciplines. This course covers a variety of different research strategies including case study, ethnography, grounded theory, and action research. In addition, students acquire skills in developing a research design, and qualitative date collection and analysis techniques, and authoring research manuscripts.

BA 9320 - Managerial Decision Making

(3 credit hours)
Requirements: CSP - 1, 2, 6. This course introduces students to the subject of managerial decision-making. Decision-making is obviously a very important part of what managers do. Research into managerial decision-making is highly relevant to a wide variety of business school disciplines including: accounting, marketing, managerial sciences, information systems, risk management and insurance, and real estate. Drawing on relevant theories and academic journal articles, the student is introduced to bounded rationality, cognitive biases, bounded awareness and ethicality, framing effects, escalation of commitment, whistle blowing, negotiator cognition, and emotional influences on decision making.

BA 9340 E - Advanced Psychometrics

(1.5 credit hours)
The focus is on varied ways to develop and define theoretical constructs, diverse approaches for developing measures of constructs, statistical methods relevant to establishing construct validity. Current issues and topics related to academic publishing will be emphasized.

BA 9520 E - Principles of Multi-level Methods and Modeling

(1.5 credit hours)
The goal of the course is to gain familiarity in multi-level approaches, including data analysis, theoretical considerations, and study design. The course emphasizes conceptual, operational, and interpretational skill development, in all areas of inquiry where multi-level approaches can be valuable.

CIS 9200 - Digitally Enabled Collectives and Multiple Levels

(3 credit hours)
Information systems (IS) are known to affect individuals, teams, communities, business units, organizations and industries. Not surprisingly, a variety of research streams have developed that examine IS-related phenomena at each level of analysis. However, in reality these levels of analysis are not always independent of one another and, therefore, IS-related phenomena are not constrained to unfolding at a single level of analysis. The objective of this seminar is to provide an overview of research on collectives (this includes online communities, digitally-enabled teams, social networks) and the entities embedded within these collectives. Emphasis will be placed on conceptualization of collective-level constructs, operationalization of collective constructs, research that considers individuals as part of collectives, understanding core principles behind theorizing at, and across, multiple levels within these research domains. We will also spend some time understanding the analytical approaches to testing models that involve constructs at different levels of analysis.

CIS 9200 - Doctoral Seminar on HIT

(3 credit hours)
This course is intended primarily for doctoral students who seek an introduction to the extant literature in the emerging domain of health information systems. It will provide an overview of the major issues in the application and impact of information technology (IT) in the healthcare industry. We will draw upon the literature in information systems and economics to understand and analyze the key IT-related issues in the area of healthcare. This is a seminar not a lecture course, which means that active class interaction is essential. Students are expected to come to class fully prepared to discuss all the readings on a particular topic. Class participation grades will be allocated on the basis of both the quality and the quantity of contribution.

CIS 9220 - Design Research Methods in Information Systems

(3 credit hours)
Design-science research focuses on developing solutions to problems that are of a particularly complex nature. These solutions may be manifested in a variety of forms. All designers have to some extent a very common thread, which is the design process. From the centrality of knowledge production viewpoint, design-science research has a dual mandate: 1) the utilization and application of knowledge (and theory) for the creation of novel or innovative artifacts that engender change or improvement in existing situations or problem spaces; and 2) the generation of new knowledge. This is accomplished by the ability of design-science research to produce knowledge and change (Simon 1996).

Design-science research is iterative and incremental. Therefore, knowledge production and artifact generation, while concomitant, may not necessarily be synchronous. Different types of knowledge production may occur through reuse of past artifacts, creation of new ones, reflection about the design process or about the artifact, or even in design instruction (Cross 1982). The artifacts generated can take several forms, including constructs, models, methods and instantiations (March and Smith 1995; Hevner et al 2004), technological rules, design principles (Markus et al. 2002; Sein et al. 2011), organizational designs and management practices (Neiderman and March 2012) and design theories (Walls et al. 1992; Gregor and Jones 2007).

The course focuses on developing skills for implementing and evaluating the techniques and methods used in design science research. The defining characteristics of design science research are discussed and contrasted to other types of research. Research methods and techniques are presented. A number of examples of design science research are presented and analyzed. The exemplars are from a variety of information systems areas including software engineering, data base and knowledge base systems, and communication systems.

CIS 9220 - Process Mining

(3 credit hours)
Topics in Information Systems Technology. Prerequisite: none. This is a research seminar that focuses on research issues and methods in one or more areas having to do with the technology of information systems. Topics include software engineering, communication systems, and databased/knowledge based systems. The focus of the course is announced in advance and the course syllabus is made available for students to review.

CIS 9240 - Doctoral Seminar on Software Development

(3 credit hours)
In this course, theories and models applicable to the analysis of systems structure and the processes of systems analysis and design are studied. Emphasis is on the applicability of the material covered to information systems in particular. The focus of the course is announced in advance and the course syllabus is made available for students to review.

CPI 9200 - Action Research Studies

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: Students are admitted into one of RCB's Ph.D. programs. Action research offers unique opportunities to study business practices through projects that are planned, and often executed, in close collaboration with firms and stakeholders. Students critique exemplar action research studies across different business disciplines and they study the roots and contemporary foundation for designing and executing rigorous action research in business studies. The students learn how to organize and present action research projects including: area of concern, theoretical framing, practical problem solving, data collection and analysis, and research contributions. Also, they develop an understanding of how action research can be combined with other research methods and practical problem solving methods to conduct and present business studies.

ECON 9710 - Econometrics I: Statistical Foundations

(3 credit hours)
This course covers probability and statistical tools necessary for studying econometrics. Topics covered include basic techniques of probability theory, estimation, hypothesis testing, and maximum likelihood methods. Applications of these concepts to economic problems and illustrations from economics are emphasized.

ECON 9720 - Econometrics II

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: ECON 9710 or MGS 9920. This course covers the econometric techniques for linear models. Subjects include the classical linear regression model, generalized least squares, instrumental variable methods, and generalized method of moments. An introduction to asymptotic distribution theory is provided. Emphasis is placed on inference and specification testing. Brief introductions to time series techniques and dichotomous choice models are included.

ECON 9730 - Advanced Econometrics

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: Econ 9720 or MGS 9950. The course deals with advanced econometric methods for the analyses of cross-section and panel data. Topics include generalized method of moments, semiparametric and nonparametric methods, and extensive coverage of panel data, discrete response, censored and selection models. Empirical implementation is an essential component of the course.

ECON 9740 - Time Series Econometrics

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: Econ 9720. This course is designed to provide students with the necessary theoretical and applied tools to conduct research involving time series data. The topics covered are stationary univariate (ARMA) and multivariate (VAR), and nonstationary univariate (unit roots) and multivariage (spurious regressions and cointegration) time series models; forecasting, estimation and asymptotic theory in the context of time series models; nonlinear models (ARCH/GARCH, regime shifts) and others.

IB 9920 - Cultural Frameworks and Cross-Cultural Behavior

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisites: None. Requirements: CSP - 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7. The primary objective of the seminar is to examine the conceptual foundations of culture and how culture affects organizational behavior in comparative and multicultural contexts. Conceptualizations of culture are studied from a number of different disciplinary perspectives. We examine how alternate conceptualizations of culture influence research design issues. Also addressed are critical methodological issues in implementing a cross cultural study, with a particular focus on psychometric considerations, as well as recent research on the ways in which cultures vary. We also investigate how national culture affects teams, leadership, conflict, and negotiation.

MGS 9470 - Seminar in Advanced Topics in Contemporary Behavior

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: Consent of instructor. Requirements: CSP - None. This course is devoted to the investigation of significant topics in organizational behavior. It is intended primarily for advanced doctoral students. The course can be repeated when the topics vary; topics are announced in advance.

MGS 9920 - Probability and Statistical Theory I

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisites: MGS 9910 and introductory statistics equivalent to MATH 1070. Requirements: CSP - 1. This course presents a general outline of the mathematical theory of probability and statistics. Topics include random variables, discrete and continuous probability distributions, sampling distribution theory, estimation, and multivariate distributions.

MGS 9940 - Design and Conduct of Experiments

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: MGS 9920. Requirements: CSP - 1, 2, 6, 7. This course examines epistemologies and methods that lie at the heart of experimental research. It covers validation of experimental instruments, internal and external validity, and statistical conclusion validity derived through the family of ANOVA techniques, regression, and structural equation modeling. Students learn how to properly design an experiment and how to handle problems that come up in actually conducting experiments.

MGS 9950 - Regression Analysis

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisites: MGS 9920 and BA 6000. Requirements: CSP - 1, 6. The focus of the course is on regression as an inferential tool for conducting empirical research. As such, in-depth coverage is given to the topics of parameter estimation, hypothesis testing, and residual analysis. Multicollinearity diagnostics and remedies are discussed, and several special topics are covered.

MGS 9960 - Multivariate Data Analysis

(3 credit hours)
Prerequisite: MGS 9950. Requirements: CSP - 1, 6. Multivariate data analysis is illustrated for data reduction, quasi-experimentation, and true experimentation. Critical assessment of published research is the key goal. Among various techniques covered are multivariate hypothesis testing, principal components analysis, factor analysis, cluster analysis, discriminant analysis, canonical analysis, multivariate analysis of variance, and multivariate analysis of covariance.

  1. Who should apply?

    Those who want to prepare themselves for a career in academia and have a passion for research and teaching. Applicants should have a strong interest and background in information systems. Preference is given to those with a master's degree in information systems or a related area (e.g., computer science or business administration). Work experience in information systems is not required but is beneficial. We base admissions on a variety of factors including GMAT or GRE scores, academic background, academic and professional experience and achievement, essays, and letters of recommendation. We do not pre-screen applicants or provide preliminary indications of the likelihood that a student will be accepted into the program.

  2. When is the application deadline?

    Applications for the Ph.D. programs will be accepted for once-a-year admission in the fall semester. The Ph.D. Program Office accepts applications in the fall and relevant deadlines can be found on the college website. All application materials must be received by early January in order to be considered. Note that applications should be submitted to the college and not the department.

  3. What tests do I need to take?

    Either the GMAT or GRE is required. For details on the application procedure, links to the online application form, deadlines, the application fee, and other administrative questions, visit the Robinson College of Business Ph.D. program website »

  4. Are there any additional requirements for international applicants?

    In addition to the general Ph.D. program admission requirements, an international applicant whose native language is not English must submit official scores from the Educational Testing Service on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). An international applicant who has received a degree from an accredited U.S. institution is automatically exempt from this requirement. The school code is 5251. Applicants may also submit the IELTS.

  5. Do I need a master's degree to be eligible to apply?

    While we do occasionally admit students without a master's degree, preference is given to applicants who have a master's degree.

  6. Will I have an on-campus interview?

    Typically not. If our admissions committee wants to schedule an interview, we will contact you by email or phone to set up a Skype interview with one or more members of the admissions committee. We do sometimes invite promising applicants who are local or able to travel to Atlanta to visit and get to know us better as part of the admissions process.

  7. What is the Center for Process Innovation (CEPRIN)?

    The Center for Process Innovation (CEPRIN) is a college-level research unit within the J. Mack Robinson College of Business. CEPRIN was founded in January 2004 in collaboration between the college and the Georgia Research Alliance. CEPRIN focuses on "end-to-end business process innovation" enabled by information technology.

    CEPRIN houses two professors (Arun Rai and Lars Mathiassen) who are actively involved in supervising Ph.D. students and who are also members of the Department of Computer Information Systems. Research at CEPRIN typically involves close collaboration with industry partners, faculty members from different departments at the Robinson College of Business and from other colleges at Georgia State University, and scholars at universities in other countries.

    Learn more about CEPRIN 

    Learn more about Arun Rai 

    Learn more about Lars Mathiassen 

  8. What is the relationship between the Department of Computer Information Systems (CIS) and the Center for Process Innovation (CEPRIN)?

    CIS is an academic department that offers undergraduate and MS programs as well as a Ph.D. program offering the opportunity to work with more than a dozen research-active faculty, while CEPRIN is a center dedicated to research that administers its own Ph.D. program. CIS and CEPRIN faculty work closely together on research projects. Both units are housed within the Robinson College of Business. The coordinators of the CIS program and the CEPRIN program work together to ensure that applications are considered by both programs when appropriate. Ph.D. students from the CIS department and the CEPRIN Ph.D. programs receive a Ph.D. in information systems from the Robinson College of Business at Georgia State University.

  9. How do I decide whether to apply to CIS or CEPRIN?

    CIS generally admits students every year, while CEPRIN typically admits students every other year. Students should decide in advance which program they would like to apply to. Prospective students are encouraged to review the CIS department Ph.D. faculty profiles in deciding which program to apply to. If a prospective student wants to work under the direction of a faculty member in CEPRIN, the student should apply directly to the CEPRIN Ph.D. program. Interested students should contact the CEPRIN Ph.D. coordinator, Dr. Arun Rai »

  10. How long will it take to complete the Ph.D. in information systems program?

    Some students complete the Ph.D. in information systems within 4 years while others take longer. Most students take about 5 years to complete the program. We have had students complete the program in as short as 3.5 years, and we have had students who have taken as long as 7 years to complete the program. This really depends on the individual student, their level of preparation coming into the program, how focused they are, and the extent to which the student is willing to build a solid publication record before hitting the job market.

  11. Will I have to pay tuition?

    No. Your tuition will be completely covered if you are accepted into our program. For out-of-state graduate students, this represents a benefit of approximately $49,000 per year if you register for fall, spring, and summer.

  12. Are there other fees that I will have to pay?

    You will be responsible for paying the mandatory student fees set by the university. The university's current fee structure is $1,064 per semester (fall and spring) and $846 if you register for summer. Historically, most CIS Ph.D. students have not found the need to register for summer unless they are taking a directed readings course or are receiving a graduate research assistantship (GRA) or graduate teaching assistantship (GTA) for summer. Please note that you will also need to pay a student health insurance fee or if you have health insurance from another source, you will need to apply for a student health insurance waiver. The current premium for student health insurance is $1,295 per year.

  13. Will I receive a stipend to cover my living expenses?

    Yes. Our stipend for incoming students is competitive with what other schools offer (especially considering the relatively low cost of living in Atlanta) and it is guaranteed for four years. Duties include serving as a graduate research assistant (GRA) to one faculty member. While we encourage students to complete the program in four years if possible, there are support options, such as Ph.D. teaching fellowships (offered by the Robinson College of Business to students with an excellent teaching record), for those who take 5 years or longer to complete their degree.

  14. How many courses do Ph.D. in information systems students take and what are they like?

    Students are required to take a total of 42 credit hours of courses which typically translates into 14 semester-length courses. These courses fall into three areas: methods courses (which give you the skills to design research studies and to analyze research data), major courses (which give you the foundational knowledge of the information systems domain and related bodies of literature that IS researchers often draw on), and electives (which allow you round out your program of study).

    At the Robinson College of Business and through the economics department at our neighboring college (the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies) we offer more than 25 methods related courses on a regular basis. You are also free to take courses offered by other colleges and departments at GSU (for example computer science, psychology, anthropology). Finally, you may cross register for courses at our neighboring institutions (Georgia Tech and Emory). Thus students have access to a tremendous selection of courses and can, with the help of their faculty advisor, customize a program of study that best meets their needs, including one-on-one directed readings courses with a faculty member.

  15. What happens after I finish my coursework?

    Students must pass a comprehensive examination at the completion of coursework (before the fall semester of the third year). Students typically defend a dissertation proposal within one year of passing the comprehensive exams. In addition to coursework, we expect students to actively engage in research with faculty members. The Department of Computer Information Systems has an excellent history of co-authorship between faculty and Ph.D. students. Many students publish in top journals before the completion of their program as a result of their collaboration with the faculty.

  16. Which universities have hired your Ph.D. graduates?

    Recent graduates of the Ph.D. in information systems program have accepted faculty positions at universities such as Virginia Tech, University of British Columbia, Emory University, Penn State University, University of Georgia, Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, Drexel University, Florida State University, State University of New York at Buffalo, Clemson University, City University of New York (Baruch College), HEC Montreal, State University of New York at Binghamton, University of Cincinnati, and University of Memphis, among others.

  17. What are the visa requirements for international students?

    International Student and Scholar Services provides extensive information on visa requirements, pre-arrival procedures, and orientation information for international applicants. Some additional resources that may be useful are Study in the States and Education USA. These sites provide the latest international student-related information and resources in the form of news articles, interactive videos, and blog posts.

  18. What is Atlanta like?

    The Atlanta metropolitan area has a population of 6.1 million people and is the ninth-largest metropolitan area in the United States. Located in the heart of downtown Atlanta, the city is integral to the Georgia State University educational experience. Students and faculty are a part of a living laboratory in the center of a modern city where the corporate headquarters of 16 Fortune 500 companies are located, affording numerous research opportunities. Atlanta is a city that has much to offer including a major international airport, world-class historical and cultural attractions, and a warm climate with mild winters.

    Read more about life in Atlanta 

  19. Is it expensive to live in Atlanta?

    Atlanta has a relatively low cost of living (i.e., your dollar stretches much further in Atlanta than in most other large metropolitan areas such as New York, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., etc.). Compared to other metropolitan areas, the price of groceries, housing, utilities, transportation, healthcare, etc. is much lower in Atlanta. The below chart will help in understanding the cost of living index across popular United States cities.

    cost-of-living

    As an example, based on the cost of living index, living on a budget of $25,000 in Atlanta would require a budget of $56,668 in Manhattan, New York; a budget of $42,887 in San Francisco; and a budget of $36,000 in Washington, D.C.

For information on program admissions, please contact the CIS doctoral coordinator, Dr. Mark Keil, or go to the Ph.D. Program website.

Ph.D. in Information Systems Coordinator

Mark Keil
mkeil@gsu.edu
Robinson College of Business building, Room 938
404-413-7365

CIS Department

J. Mack Robinson College of Business
Georgia State University
35 Broad Street, NW
P.O. Box 4015
Atlanta, GA 30302-4015
Phone: 404-413-7360

Faculty Contact

Balasubramaniam Ramesh, Ph.D., department chair, bramesh@gsu.edu