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Explore your personal research interests at one of the top-ranked institutions for Information Sciences

Thanks to constant advancements in technology, we have access to more information than ever before. How can technology use this information to enhance and improve our lives? Our program lets you explore the intersection of information and technology. By enrolling in our PhD in Information Science degree program, you’ll receive interdisciplinary training, conduct high-impact research, and pursue and succeed in careers in both higher education and industry.

Led by their own curiosities, our PhD students are researching 3-D brain reconstruction, human-robot interaction, geoinformatics, high performance cloud computing, user-centered design, data visualization, machine learning, health informatics, and more.

Graduates from this program have contributed their expertise at major research universities, research and development organizations, and international government agencies.

For more information, please view our PhD in Information Science guidelines.

Program Structure

A minimum of 48 credits, including 30 course and seminar credits beyond the master’s degree, and at least 18 dissertation credits are required. Students without a master’s degree will be required to take a minimum of 12 additional credits of coursework or seminars, for a total of 60 credits beyond the bachelor’s degree. Students who did not take the prerequisite courses as part of earlier studies should expect to complete admission requirements or equivalent courses.

Core Courses

Four graduate-level courses, one in each of the following areas. Students, who have taken two or more of these courses (in any cluster described below) as part of a degree at the University of Pittsburgh, may take additional courses from the remaining areas. Prerequisites for the core courses are not counted as part of the PhD course requirements.

Research methods cluster
  • INFSCI 2040 Research Design
  • INFSCI 2160 Data Mining
  • INFSCI 2591 Algorithm Design
Foundations cluster
  • INFSCI 2120 Information and Coding Theory
  • INFSCI 2125 Network Science and Analysis
  • INFSCI 2130 Decision Anal and Decision Sup Systems
  • INFSCI 2140 Information Storage and Retrieval (for students enrolled prior Fall 2014)
  • INFSCI 2150 Information Security and Privacy
  • INFSCI 2180 Knowledge Representation and the Semantic Web (for students enrolled prior Fall 2014)
  • INFSCI 2410 Introduction to Neural Networks
  • INFSCI 2170 Cryptography
Design cluster
  • INFSCI 2430 Social Computing
  • INFSCI 2460 Spatial Reasoning for GIS
  • INFSCI 2470 Interactive System Design
  • INFSCI 2511 Information Systems Design (for students enrolled prior Fall 2014)
  • INFSCI 2550 Client Server Systems (for students enrolled prior Fall 2014)
  • INFSCI 2620 Developing Secure Systems
Information cluster
  • INFSCI 2140 Information Storage and Retrieval
  • INFSCI 2415 Information Visualization
  • INFSCI 2480 Adaptive Information Systems
  • INFSCI 2560 Web Technologies and Standards (for students enrolled prior Fall 2014)
  • INFSCI 2711 Advanced Topics in Database Management
  • INFSCI 2801 Geographic Information Systems

Independent Research: 6 credits of independent study focused on a research project are required. This research will normally be supervised by the student’s advisor over two terms, but any Information Science faculty member who is a member of the graduate faculty may supervise the student. The student may opt to have different faculty supervise different parts of the independent study. The result of this research will be an original, publishable, quality research paper, which will serve as the basis of the preliminary exam.

The goal of the preliminary evaluation is to assess your breadth of knowledge and ability to conduct research in information science. The evidence of your breath of knowledge is your performance in the core courses and seminars. The evidence of your ability to conduct research is provided by authorship, presentation, and public defense of a publishable quality research paper that:

  • presents work you have done under the direction of a graduate faculty member in the department;
  • demonstrates your ability to conduct research and clearly report the results of that research;
  • shows your mastery of the subject matter, both in the written paper and in your oral presentation and defense.

Previously published work may not be used to fulfill this requirement, although the independent research project might build upon previous work done by the student.

Doctoral Seminars: Three doctoral seminars (9 credits), including a required Introduction to Doctoral Research (IS 3005), are required. IS 3005 is offered every fall/spring and should be taken during the first year of study. This course will cover the scope of research in Information Science. Advanced doctoral seminars will be focused on single research themes.

List of Areas of Research

Adaptive Web Systems
Big Data
Cloud Computing
Data Visualization
Human Robot Interaction
Intelligent Web Information Access
Learning Technology
Machine Learning
Network Science
Spatial Informatics
Social Computing
Wireless Information Systems
Decision-theoretic Decision Support Systems

Statute of Limitations

All requirements for the PhD degree must be completed in no more than six calendar years from the time of first registration. Students may, in extenuating circumstances, submit a formal request for extension of their statute of limitations or for a leave of absence from the program. The request must be submitted to the advisor and then presented to the IST graduate faculty.

In all other matters of policy, refer to the University publication, Regulations Governing Graduate Study at the University of Pittsburgh.

Faculty Advisors

Peter Brusilovsky
Marek Druzdzel
Rosta Farzan
Roger Flynn
Daqing He
Stephen Hirtle
James Joshi
Hassan Karimi
Michael Lewis
Paul Munro
Michael Spring
Vladimir Zadorozhny