PhD in Information Systems

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Who Gets One & What to Expect

Network-based information systems, electronic commerce, and the internet continue to influence growth in international business and corporations. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects an 11% increase in occupations for computer and information systems managers from 2018 through 2028.

There are multiple opportunities for those who hold master’s degrees in this field, but a Ph.D. in information systems online trains professionals to become subject matter experts. Ph.D. students acquire the knowledge and skills to qualify for prestigious roles in the field. Ideal candidates possess excellent critical thinking skills, intrinsic motivation, a desire to lead, and an affinity for advancing the information systems field.

Reasons to Pursue an Online Ph.D. in Information Systems

Prospective students considering a Ph.D. in information systems online should identify their motivation for pursuing this advanced degree. The list below includes a five potential reasons to enter a doctoral program:

  • Academic Research and TeachingStudents who earn a Ph.D. in information systems online qualify to teach advanced coursework in the field at colleges and universities throughout the country. Professors often participate in curriculum development and school-funded research.
  • Career AdvancementA Ph.D. in information systems online leads to elite opportunities for which professionals with undergraduate or graduate degrees do not qualify. These roles may include leadership and mentorship opportunities.
  • Better PayEmployers often offer higher salaries to candidates who hold Ph.D. degrees in information systems. Employers also view doctoral candidates as experts in the field who stay abreast of new innovations and practices.
  • Job SecurityEarning a doctorate in information systems online creates a competitive advantage and job security in the field, as Ph.D. holders possess solid knowledge, skills, and experience.
  • CredibilityProfessionals who complete a Ph.D. in information systems online hold a terminal degree that requires dedication and an extensive time commitment. Therefore, stakeholders view these graduates as credible resources.

What Can I Do With an Online Doctorate in Information Systems?

Prospective job titles may vary, but a Ph.D. prepares students for roles in research and in designing, evaluating, and executing information systems. These professionals also examine how technology, organizations, and the economy influence each other. Students pursuing academia may research and publish their discoveries in scholarly journals or books.

Common Career Paths and Salaries

A Ph.D. in information systems online opens up career options across the field. Students should identify their career goals before pursuing a doctorate, since doctoral programs allow learners to customize their experience. The list below details five potential careers, their median pay, and an overview of each role.


  • Postsecondary Teachers

    Professors prepare lectures, oversee class discussions, and develop assignments. They also grade assignments, provide detailed feedback, and administer exams. Additional duties may include collaborating with other instructors to develop new courses or programs.

    Average Annual Salary: $78,470


  • Computer and Information Research Scientists

    These professionals oversee research and generate reports on behalf of organizations. They might also gather new information and process data. This role requires teamwork and effective communication.

    Average Annual Salary: $110,315


  • Chief Information Officer

    Chief information officers make important decisions to direct an organization’s framework. Responsibilities include approving large purchases, assessing needs for system upgrades, and deciding how to install equipment.

    Average Annual Salary: $158,100


  • Director of Information Technology

    Information technology directors prepare, update, and maintain policies and procedures. Other duties include providing documentation for platforms operations. These directors collaborate with IT professionals, as well.

    Average Annual Salary: $118,410


  • Principal Software Engineers

    Principal software engineers manage the most technical projects. They assume responsibility for minimizing costs, leading development teams, and upholding organizational standards. Professionals typically work indoors at their computers or in teams.

    Average Annual Salary: $135,510


Information Systems Ph.D. Program Requirements and Outcomes

An accredited Ph.D. in information systems online provides students with a deeper understanding of the organizational and technical aspects of information systems. Coursework varies, but these programs generally emphasize research on information security and privacy, the economics of design, and information technology. Programs also strive to build students’ methodological skills and substantive depth. Learners must satisfy core curriculum coursework and conduct original research.

Students access most of their coursework online, but universities may require occasional in-person attendance. Programs often require up to 120 credits, but students with master’s degrees can speak with admissions counselors about getting certain courses waived. Applications often call for a statement of purpose essay or personal history statement, a resume, official transcripts, and GRE scores.

Students should prepare to submit at least three letters of recommendation prepared by faculty members or professional colleagues who can discuss students’ potential for success in detail. Some universities may require an in-person interview, in which key faculty members determine whether students can meet program standards.

Common Courses

Universities develop their own curricula, so students should anticipate some differences in coursework. However, most online Ph.D. in information systems programs offer similar foundational coursework. Students should consult a department or school advisor to learn about elective course offerings. The list below includes five potential courses available to information systems Ph.D. students:

ECONOMETRICS
This course examines the regression methods used to analyze economic data. Students develop techniques to address statistical issues with economic data. Course outcomes include writing code, analyzing data, and testing hypotheses.

TECHNICAL ISSUES IN INFORMATION SYSTEMS
This course examines how the science of design influences analysis, blueprint development, and design. Coursework also focuses on handling information assets, system applications, and data. Course outcomes include project management methodologies and knowledge of system development.

RESEARCH SEMINAR IN DATA SCIENCE
Data science research focuses on methods for practical application and for extracting information from large-scale data. Topics include machine learning, information retrieval, graphical models, and model elevation.

BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE AND ANALYTICS
This course helps students develop data-driven decision-making skills. Course objectives include applying correct terminologies to the data analytics process and utilizing software tools for business intelligence.

INFORMATION SECURITY MANAGEMENT SAMPLE SYLLABUS
Students in this course learn to identify and prioritize information assets and threats to information assets. Other course objectives include information security strategy and architecture, identifying legal and public implications of security, and creating contingency plans for personnel decisions.

Other Requirements

Students earning a Ph.D. in information systems online can complete most coursework without any in-person requirements. However, this program may require applied coursework, which allows learners to gain experience and demonstrate their knowledge and skills. Program requirements vary, but may include the following:

Internship
Accredited Ph.D. in information systems online programs often require field experiences. These experiences emphasize skill development and applied practice of fundamental knowledge and theories. Interns receive direct mentorship from experienced professionals. Internships often lead to employment and can serve as valuable networking experiences.

Research Methods
The best information systems Ph.D. programs often include a research methods experience. Students engage in ongoing research projects examining current issues in the field. Research method courses also vary in length. Universities may allow students to work on in-house research, but some require students to work with local organizations.

Dissertation
Dissertations challenge learners to apply their knowledge and skills in developing new theories, information, or practices. A Ph.D. in information systems online typically requires a dissertation. Dissertations summarize extensive research, which students may complete over the course of their program. This final step is the most important culminating piece of an information systems Ph.D.

Skills and Competencies

Students graduating with an online Ph.D. in information systems develop finely tuned, field-specific skills and competencies that satisfy the requirements for an array of roles. The list below contains six possible skills students in information systems Ph.D. programs may gain:

Research

Ph.D. programs develop advanced research skills, which apply in multiple professional settings. These allow professionals to uncover, collect, analyze, interpret, and assess information about a topic of study.

Problem-Solving

Students learn to address complex issues that may arise in the information systems field. This skill also requires learners to develop innovative solutions to emerging problems. Problem-solving requires active listening, engagement, and collaboration.

Communication

Information systems professionals often collaborate in teams to effectively execute tasks. A Ph.D. in information systems online teaches students to effectively communicate information to stakeholders.

Project Management

Information systems doctoral students learn to manage projects through effective multitasking, time management, delegation, and troubleshooting. This skill also provides additional practice in communication and leadership.

Collaboration

Emerging information technology professionals often collaborate with peers to complete projects. In the field, information systems also requires collaborative efforts to achieve company goals and desired outcomes.

Leadership

Information systems Ph.D. holders enter the field as subject-matter experts, taking on leadership and advisory roles. Programs often explore team-building and coaching techniques.

Information Systems Professional Organizations

As the field of information systems continues to expand, professionals must conduct ongoing research and collaborate with each other to develop cutting-edge theories and best practices. Students and seasoned professionals alike can benefit from joining professional organizations, which offer digital resources and forums for information systems incumbents to access at their leisure. These organizations also allow recent graduates to establish meaningful relationships with active professionals, potentially growing into mentorship opportunities.

Distance learners particularly benefit from active, field-specific communities, as online learning environments may not offer groups or student associations. Emerging professionals should consult their own counselors or department administrators regarding local chapters of the most prominent organizations. Professional organizations offer resources including annual conferences, workshops, seminars, or continuing education coursework. Members gain access to organizational roles such as a board member or committee treasurer.

The Association for Information Systems

  • AIS strives to advance information systems knowledge and cultivate an active community. It also seeks to promote excellence in information systems education and scholarship. Members access opportunities for collaboration and career advancement.

Information Systems Security Association International

  • The ISSA remains committed to the individual growth of cybersecurity professionals who manage technology risk and ensure infrastructure protection. Member benefits include digital networking forums, continuing education coursework, and career development.

Society for Information Management

  • SIM gathers professionals in information management to align information technology businesses, develop innovative information technology, and improve policy legislation. Memberships offer digital and in-person networking opportunities, publications, and annual conferences.

Urban and Regional Information Systems Association

  • URISA provides a space for professionals to collaborate and address current and emerging issues in the information systems field. URISA members can access training, newsletters, online publications, and conferences.

Association of Information Technology Professionals

  • AITP, a leading global tech association, offers multiple membership packages for students and working professionals. Members gain access to discounted products, competitions, scholarships, career support, and professional events.

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