Information Sciences PhD - Curriculum 474

Program Manager

Dan C. Boger, Ph.D.

Glasgow West, Room 3005

(831) 656-3671, DSN 756-3671

Academic Associates

Alex Bordetsky, Ph.D.

Root Hall, Room 225

(831) 656-2287, DSN 756-2287

Brief Overview

The Department of Information Sciences at the Naval Postgraduate School will award the Doctor of Philosophy in Information Sciences degree as a result of meritorious and scholarly achievement in a particular field of information sciences (IS). This program includes course work, scholarly socialization, written and oral examinations, research, and a written dissertation. A candidate must exhibit scholarly application to the entire course of study, achieve a high level of scientific advancement, and establish ability for original investigation leading to the advancement of fundamental knowledge.

IS broadly encompasses the design, implementation, use, promotion and evaluation of organizations, processes and systems associated with knowledge, information, data and communication. It includes areas of concentration in information systems, information technology, information warfare, information operations, and command and control.

The study of IS is multidisciplinary, and no single theory or perspective dominates the field. In general, the field can be divided into technical and behavioral approaches. The technical approach to IS emphasizes mathematically based, normative models to study capabilities of systems and processes, in addition to emphasis on the technological artifacts that enable and support organizations, processes and systems associated with knowledge, information, data and communication. The behavioral approach to IS emphasizes behavioral problems associated with design, implementation, use, promotion and evaluation of organizations, processes and systems associated with knowledge, information, data and communication. A great part of IS research involves integrating these two, complementary approaches.

The Ph.D. in Information Sciences prepares scholars to conduct original research that contributes new knowledge in the domain of information systems, information technology, information warfare, information operations, or command and control. With such ability to conduct original research and contribute new knowledge, the IS Ph.D. helps to prepare scholars also to teach effectively.

Requirements for Entry

U.S. military officers, foreign military officers, U.S. Government civilians, and employees of foreign governments may apply. Applications should begin with the Office of Admissions (see In addition to a completed application form, the complete application should include: an application letter describing your general background, your interests and experience in research, and your career goals; Official or Certified copies of all academic transcripts; results of a GRE general examination taken within the past five years; and letters from three references relating to your suitability to pursue a doctoral degree. These materials should be sent directly to the Admissions Office. Foreign students who are not native speakers of English must provide scores from the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) examination.

An applicant should have a master's degree in any Information Sciences Department program or in a closely related field from another NPS school or civilian institution. Generally, an acceptable Ph.D. applicant must have above-average grades (GPA > 3.5) in a typical master's degree program. The Ph.D. Committee will also take other evidence of research or academic ability into account in making a recommendation as to whether to admit an applicant. Final acceptance will be based on the professional discretion of the Chairman, Ph.D. Committee.

Entry Date

The Ph.D. Program Committee will evaluate each applicant to gauge the minimum amount of time the applicant will need to complete the program (normal time is three years of full-time study). The Information Sciences Department may impose the condition that the applicant obtain authorization for at least four years to complete the Ph.D. Admitted Ph.D. students may begin in any quarter.

Program of Study

Each student's Doctoral Committee will guide the student in designing a program suitable for his/her special interests and background, alert them to opportunities both within the Department of Information Sciences and other departments at NPS, and monitor the student's progress.

The doctoral program is based on a core of courses designed to provide the student with the broad knowledge, analytic skills, and proficiency in research methods necessary for advanced course work and dissertation research. Additional course work in application areas may be required and is based on the discretion of the student's primary advisor.

Core Courses

Course NumberTitleCreditsLecture HoursLab Hours
IS4700Introduction to the Philosophy of Science



IS4710Qualitative Methods for Research



IS4720Quantitative Methods for Research



IS4730Design of Experiments for Research



IS4790Research Seminar for Ph.D. Students



Students who have taken the equivalent of these courses may waive one or more of these core requirements by the Departmental Ph.D. Committee.

Sample Ph.D. Program in Information Sciences

First Year: Complete the core program course and residency requirements for the Ph.D. program. Complete additional course work in accordance with the student's specific program requirements. Have a faculty advisor for course work appointed.

A diagnostic review will be conducted following the first year of study. The review will consider indicators of scholastic achievement, including performance in master's- and Ph.D.-level courses, as well as other indicators deemed appropriate by the examining faculty. The review culminates in a formal report to the Chairman of the Departmental Ph.D. Committee; includes a recommendation as to whether or not the student should continue in the program; and, if so, makes recommendations regarding how the student can improve his or her performance. A professor from the student's chosen academic unit then discusses the report with the individual, making a careful assessment of demonstrated strengths and weaknesses in order to help the student to progress more effectively.

Second Year: Finish course requirements, and prepare for the Written and Oral Qualifying Examinations. Take Qualifying Examinations, in residence, near the middle of the second year. Upon successful completion of both examinations, the student will establish a Dissertation Committee, defend a dissertation proposal, and then advance to candidacy. Students who fail either of the qualifying examinations can petition the Departmental Ph.D. Committee Chair for one additional attempt at passing it.

Third Year: Concentrate primarily on dissertation research, with perhaps a course or two related to the dissertation.

The dissertation culminates the student's academic endeavors. Working closely with faculty members from his or her committee during all phases of research, the student is expected to complete a dissertation of substantial magnitude, and to make a significant contribution to the advancement of knowledge in the Information Sciences field. It should be of sufficient originality and quality to merit publication, either in whole or in part, in a scholarly journal.

The dissertation is defended, in residence, at a final oral examination. It must be completed and accepted within five years of advancement to candidacy. The dissertation defense is held before an examination committee, and is open to the public. The defense will normally consist of a one-hour public segment and a one-hour private segment, but should, in no case, exceed two hours in length.

The pursuit of the Ph.D. is both challenging and rewarding. A Ph.D. is not a more in-depth version of the Master's Degree. It requires high-level, integrative, critical thinking; extended, independent research; self-motivated effort; and a commitment to expand one's perspective of the world. It is difficult to assess one's likelihood of success based on previous academic or professional performance. Applicants should be aware that admission to the program does not guarantee completion. It is anticipated that a number of candidates will not be allowed to continue after the diagnostic review (approximately one year), and that a number of candidates will self-select out of the program throughout its various stages. Applicants should seriously consider the effort that will be required for successful completion prior to applying.