Welcome to the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University.

This handbook is for all students pursuing the graduate program of study for the Doctor of Professional Studies in Information Management (hereafter DPS program).

The DPS program is a part-time, mixed-instruction, practice-oriented degree awarded for excellence in the application of academic knowledge and tradecraft in the information field.  Our program addresses information-related phenomena in all settings:  individual, organizational, societal, political, and technical.

Our students are expected to develop mastery across aspects of human uses of information, technologies that work with information, and theories of information. Our program is human-centered, rather than computer-centered – distinguishing us from the program in computer science and computer engineering. The DPS program is also more technology-oriented than most programs in psychology, sociology, communications, and management/organizations.

The focus in the DPS program is to train practitioners to become leaders in the information fields. We are both extremely proud, and committed to ensuring, that our graduates are consistently prized by employers and colleagues for their broad, interdisciplinary training combined with methodological and topical depth. The program has produced a strong cadre of people who use the DPS as a launch pad to professional leadership, and new students are admitted with an expectation that they will continue this tradition.

The iSchool DPS is a degree designed for many kinds of information workers, including but not limited to IT professionals, librarians, and members of the military and other government organizations.


  1. Develop research questions
  2. Read and synthesize relevant literature
  3. Select theories
  4. Understand the research approaches in the field and select and apply the appropriate ones
  5. Do analysis and synthesize data
  6. Develop skill in scholarly writing
  7. Application to changing or impacting practice


There are several faculty and staff resources supporting the Ph.D. program.

Program Director:  Each degree program in the School has a Program Director. The

Program Director acts as a central resource for questions regarding program requirements, curriculum decisions, funding, and has oversight of the program. The Program Director also acts as a liaison between individual programs and the School as a whole. In this role, he or she is your advocate for matters concerning policy and procedures, and for special problems that might arise.  He or she approves milestones, petitions, transfer credits, and leaves.

Faculty Advisors:  All students begin with the Director of the DPS program as their faculty advisor.  The faculty advisor serves as a mentor for academic progress. Students may see their faculty advisor for questions about their programs of study and progress in the program. Students may seek advice from any faculty member, not only the advisor. Students may shift to another faculty member to be their advisor, if that faculty member agrees to do so, in consultation with the DPS Program Director. 

Director of Academic Affairs: The Director of Academic Affairs serves as the liaison to all administrative aspects of the program such as changing advisors, scheduling defenses, completing requirements for graduation, etc.

Graduate School:  The Graduate School, located in Lyman Hall, provides a variety of professional development, research, and support programs for the nearly 4,000 masters and 1,400 doctoral students on our campus.  Individual graduate programs are administered by departments or interdisciplinary committees and are subject to approval by the appropriate schools and colleges and by the University Senate.  These policies and standards are administered by the Graduate School.  All post-baccalaureate degrees are awarded through the Graduate School, so all milestone paperwork will need to go through the Grad School to be certified.

Information Technology Services: The iSchool houses its own Information Technology Services (ITS) team, located in 002M Hinds Hall. The team's primary role is to assist faculty and staff with their technology needs but can help students with iSchool-related computing issues, such as questions regarding the lab computing environments, issues accessing the remote lab, and issues downloading software. For assistance, visit the online help desk form and submit a ticket via www.my.ischool.syr.edu/it.  Enterprise level issues (e.g., web, email, learning technologies) are handled by the University’s ITS team at www.its.syr.edu.


The official academic rules of Syracuse University are here:

Academic Rules and Regulations

Graduate School Specific Academic Rules

Any reference to Academic rules can be found in these links.

Nominal DPS Program Sequence of Events (Progress of a Student through the Program)

Starting the program

  • A student applies and is admitted (see section 2).

Year 1

  • The DPS program runs on a 12-month calendar. The year entails two one-week residencies (May and September) and three semesters of approximately 15 weeks apiece. The three semesters are comprised of remote coursework in addition to the on-campus study. Over the three years of the program, 51 total credits are earned, in a 18-18-15 sequence. The course of study is regularized with no electives and no opportunities to transfer existing graduate credits. Enrollment in a given semester of the program is contingent on receiving a passing grade in the previous semester, serving as evidence of satisfactory academic progress.

Year 2

  • During semester 5, the student forms a committee and schedules a committee meeting to obtain certification of completion of the thesis proposal (see section 8), which is due by the end of semester 6. A scaled-down version of the proposal is presented for comment in a public forum in the May residency that begins the third academic year.

Year 3

  • When the student obtains certification of completion of the thesis proposal, the School will certify the student as having completed the comprehensive exam (see section 10). At this point, the student becomes a doctoral candidate.
  • Within one (and not more than two) years of becoming a candidate, the thesis research is completed, the thesis is written, and a defense is scheduled with an examination committee (see section 11).


1.Administration of the DPS Program

1.1        The Faculty, the Dean, the Senior Associate dean, the DPS Program Director, and the Director of Academic Affairs are responsible for policies and procedures regarding the DPS Program.

2. Doctoral Admissions

2.1        The Dean admits students to the DPS program, relying on the advice of the Director and DPS Admissions Committee.

2.2        Applicants to the doctoral program are required to:

  • Submit an application form including a statement about their academic plans relative to their career plans, commitment to a subdiscipline of Information Science & Technology, and an original interpretation and application to one’s professional experience of an assigned reading.
  • Provide an official copy of all post-secondary transcripts.
  • Provide two letters of recommendation. These are most useful if focused on the applicant’s experience, aptitude, and training in research.

2.3        An applicant’s suitability for the program will be judged based on the following considerations:

  • Abstract Reasoning: ability in both verbal and quantitative reasoning, as well as analytic writing, is essential.
  • Willingness and determination: ability to combine doctoral study in the context of career and family responsibilities for three years of intensive effort.
  • Commitment to research: the applicant must be interested in doing research as a major part of their professional activities.
  • Professional accomplishment: at a level that suggests the student will use the DPS to make a significant impact in their field.
  • Other potential contributions to the School: these to be discussed as part of the admissions process.

2.4        An applicant who is admitted is expected to enroll as a part-time student

  • An applicant who is admitted may defer acceptance for one year, after which the applicant must reapply. Similarly, once coursework begins, a student can pause the program for one year and rejoin the following cohort on the 1-year anniversary of the beginning of the semester of withdrawal. (See section 7)

3. Financial Support

3.1        The expectation is that all students are prepared to cover the costs of this program.

4. Advisor

4.1        Every student must have a faculty advisor.

  •  The advisor is the intermediary between the University (including the School) and the student. It is the advisor’s responsibility to assist the student in following the program of study and in orienting them to the formal and informal instructional and research programs of the School.
  • A student is assigned an advisor when admitted into the program (Doctoral Form #1).
  •  A student may change advisors after the first year by gaining the consent of the new advisor and filing Doctoral Form #2, which notifies the former advisor.
    • Any full-time, tenured or tenure-track member of the IST Faculty may serve as a student’s advisor with the agreement of the student and the faculty member.  This noted, every effort is made to be sure that the faculty member is research active.
    • Other qualified individuals may serve as a student’s advisor with the agreement of the student and the individual and approval of the Program Director.
    • A faculty member may continue to serve as an advisor for one year after they have left the School, with the agreement of the student and the individual and approval of the Program Director. Such an arrangement should be approved only for a student who expects to defend their thesis within the year.

4.2        The student should receive guidance from the advisor about:

Following the program of study

Selecting committee members

Choosing a thesis topic

Writing a formal thesis proposal

Writing the thesis

Other issues related to their academic program career planning

5. Program of Study (Sequence and Selection)

5.1        The student is expected to spend the first three semesters on coursework whose primary objective is to prepare them to write the thesis; the prior academic degree(s) and accumulated professional experience are presumed to constitute the bulk of the student’s subject-matter expertise. Beginning with semester 4, thesis-writing will be the focus of all semester coursework; residencies will continue to include both research- and content-focused material.

6. Curriculum and Course Catalog

6.1        The program is closely scheduled so the cohort will share deadlines and deliverables.

6.2        In addition to a rotating schedule of residency topics (IST 880), some of which are shared across cohorts, the program will offer at least three credits of doctoral courses each semester to include:

  • IST 801 and IST 790 (semester 1)
  • IST 776 and IST 777 (semester 2)
  • 6 credits of IST 997 (semesters 3-8)
  • 3 credits of IST 997 (semester 9)

6.3        Refer to the Graduate School Catalog for more information:

PhD Information Science & Technology Course Catalog

7. Inactive Status / Leave of Absence

7.1        A student may take a leave from active participation in the program (see Academic Rules, Section 15) by obtaining the permission from the Program Director.  The letter indicating a leave of absence must include the requirements to return to active status, and a date by which this must be done.

7.2        A student may return to active status by notifying the Program Director of their intention to return.

  • If conditions were placed on the student’s return, the student will notify the Program Director and the student’s advisor of how these conditions were met. The Director and advisor will agree that the conditions were met before accepting the student’s return to active status.
  • Should a student be allowed to return, they must register for the following year’s semester of withdrawal. (That is, if the student withdraws in October of year N, they may resume study at the start of the fall semester of year N+1 with the following cohort).
  • Missing registration or other deadlines means the student remains inactive.

7.3        A student may not remain in inactive status longer than 24 months (two cohorts) from the date inactive status was granted.

  • Petitions for extending this deadline will not be approved except in the most extreme and extenuating circumstances.
  • Any student who has not regained active status before the end of the thirty-month period will be considered to have voluntarily withdrawn from the program.

8. The Thesis Proposal

8.1        At the end of semester 6, all students will present a public and summary version of the thesis proposal, ideally during residency so all students in the program can attend.

8.2        The purpose of the summary proposal presentation is primarily prospective (inviting advice on defining or refining a thesis topic) but it also serves as a milestone of satisfactory academic progress.

8.3        Prior to the public summary proposal presentation, a thesis proposal must be successfully defended before a committee of no fewer than two members: the Program Director and the student’s advisor (if different than the Program Director), and at least one thesis committee member. Additional committee members are allowed by petition to the Program Director. The goal is to have three or more faculty involved in the committee.

8.4        At least 21 days before the thesis proposal meeting, the student will:

  • File Doctoral Form #3 to formally establish the committee.
    • As membership in the committee changes, Doctoral Form #3 should be refiled.
  • File Doctoral Form #4 to schedule the meeting. This should be done as soon as possible; usually way earlier than three weeks before
  • Prepare and make available to all members of the committee a thesis proposal draft approved by the Program Director. This draft must include:
    • A description of the intended topic and methods for the thesis
    • A summary of relevant literature in support of the effort
    • A work plan detailing the major research and writing tasks and their intended completion dates
    • A progress update on IRB approval (if required).
  • Confirm that all participants have been informed of the meeting and will attend.

8.5        Conduct of the meeting

  • The Program Director chairs the meeting.
  • The student presents a brief slide deck outlining the professional context, highlights of the existing academic and professional literature, and the method(s) whereby the student will apply theory to practice.

8.6        The committee must decide by majority vote whether:

  • The proposal as written is accepted.
  • The proposal with modifications is accepted.
  • A detailed list of the modifications needed to be acceptable must be provided to the candidate.
    • The proposal is not accepted.
  • A detailed explanation of the issues must be provided to the student.
    • The Program Director files Doctoral Form #5 recording this decision.

8.7        If a proposal is not accepted, the student may submit another proposal.

  • The current members of the committee, including the supervisor, are not obligated to continue on their committee, though they may opt to do so.

o   If the second proposal is not accepted, the student is not allowed to continue in the program.

o   If the student either fails to properly schedule or does not pass the thesis proposal in semester 6, they will be provided a one-semester grace period to begin with the start of semester 7.

o   The student will face a more difficult task in finding faculty readers in the summer semester, and no public summary proposal presentation will be held; the grace period is an emergency backup plan and should be viewed as such.

o   If the September 1 deadline for successful prospectus defense is not met, the student must wait until the spring semester (the following cohort’s semester 6), enroll, and defend a year after their original deadline.

9. Credit Hours

9.1        Credit-hour requirements must be completed but are not the primary basis of the decision that a student has completed their program of study. That decision is based on the student’s demonstrated competency as well as credit-hour requirements.

9.2        Students must complete a minimum of 51 credit hours as part of their DPS program of study: 12 credit hours of coursework, and 39 credit hours of thesis-writing work.

9.3       All DPS students must provide transcripts of successfully-completed prior degree(s) as part of their application. Credits earned in a master’s program cannot be used to substitute for prescribed DPS courses except in cases of direct duplication, in which case a one-time substitution will be determined.

10. The Comprehensive Examination and Candidacy

10.1    The Graduate School rules refer to a qualifying exam (Academic Rules, Section 32).

  • When a School certifies that the student has passed the qualifying exam, it certifies that the student’s knowledge of the field is sufficiently current.
  • Upon passing the qualifying exam, the student becomes a doctoral candidate and is ABD (All But Dissertation) (Academic Rules Section 32).

10.2    Because the iSchool does not require that students take a comprehensive exam, the Dean will certify to the Graduate School that a student has successfully completed the qualifying exam when the student’s committee has certified that the student has completed an adequate program of study and successfully presented the thesis proposal (see Section 9).

11. Thesis Research and Final Oral Exam (Thesis Defense)

11.1    The final formal requirement of the program is that a candidate will research, write, and defend a thesis (Academic Rules, Section 32).

  • The candidate should work closely with their thesis advisor in doing the thesis research and writing the thesis.
  • A thesis must be defended within two years of certification of the qualifying exam (successful proposal defense) (see section 8)

11.2    The thesis must contain:

(a) an introduction to the problem being studied,

(b) a review of the relevant literature,

(c) a description of the methodology to be used,

(d) a review of the data collection and its analysis, model construction and validation, or specifics of the research conducted, and

(e) a discussion of the findings and outcomes, linking this to relevant literature and suggesting implications.

11.3    The thesis must be reviewed and formally accepted at an oral examination by an Examination Committee (Academic Rules, Section 32).

  • The Examination Committee consists of at least four members:
  1. Your advisor, who must hold a terminal degree and be a full-time member of the faculty in the School of Information Studies.
  2. A second member of the Syracuse University faculty, preferably from the School of Information Studies. They can be pre-tenure, tenured, or a research professor.
  3. A thesis reader with a) a doctoral degree and b) relevant expertise pertaining to the thesis topic. This individual can come from Syracuse University, another college or university, industry, or government.
  4. The oral exam chair is a tenured or tenure-track faculty member at Syracuse University from outside the School of Information Studies who presides over the exam and ensures that the regulations and declared policies of the Graduate School and the School of Information Studies are followed.
  • The oral examination cannot be scheduled until the student’s advisor and at least one other member of the student’s committee, or the Program Director, have certified the “thesis is acceptable for the purpose of examination.” (Academic Rules, Section 32).
  • The thesis defense cannot be scheduled during a time when the faculty are not on academic year appointments. This means that no defenses can be held during holiday breaks or summer.
  • All thesis defenses are open academic meetings.

11.4    At least 21 days before the final oral examination the student must:

  • Schedule the exam with their examination committee and announce the meeting.
  • File Doctoral Form #6.
  • Distribute an abstract of the thesis to all IST Faculty members, all other DPS students, and interested Master’s students.
    • Provide each member of the examination committee with a reading copy of the thesis (the “defensible draft”) and have one additional copy available for loan. The reading copies of the thesis should be in the format required by the Graduate School
    • The thesis must be complete in all substantive ways, including chapters, appendices, bibliography, title, footnotes and table of contents and should adhere to the formatting standards of the University.
    • Acknowledgements should be omitted

11.5    Conduct of the meeting

  • The chairperson appointed by the Graduate School chairs the meeting (Academic Rules, Section 32).
  • The final oral exam is open to all interested faculty members and students. They may participate in the examination.

11.6    The student’s advisor will take the minutes of the meeting.

  • The minutes will contain the date of the meeting, the names of those present and the committee’s decision regarding the acceptance of the thesis. If the committee does not accept the thesis, the minutes must include the reasons for the decision. If the thesis is accepted with modification, the minutes must record details of the required revisions.
  • A copy of the minutes will be given to the student.
  • The Program Director must file Doctoral Form #7 to record the committee’s decision.

11.7    The examination committee must decide by majority vote (per Academic Rules and Regulations) whether:

The thesis as written is accepted.

The thesis with modifications is accepted.

The thesis is not accepted.

  • A student can attempt a second defense if the thesis is not accepted.

11.8    All members of the examination committee, including the student’s advisor, vote on acceptance of the thesis.

11.9    If the thesis is accepted, the student must provide the School of Information Studies and the University Library with bound copies of the complete thesis after all of the changes and corrections have been made.

  • The School’s copy will become the property of the School and will be made available to all interested students and members of the faculty.

11.10 If the committee finds that, as a result of the defense, revisions are required, a deadline must be set by the committee for the student to complete.

  • The deadline for these revisions must be less than 1 year from the defense date
  • Failure to submit the revisions by the deadline means the thesis is not accepted (and the student cannot continue after a second non-acceptance, per 12.7).

12. Voluntary Withdrawal

12.1    A student may voluntarily withdraw from the DPS program at any time by informing the Program Director and filing the required University paperwork.

  • Withdrawal terminates a student’s relationship with the School, and results in the cessation of any benefits being received from the School. 

12.2    A student who has withdrawn may reapply for admission to the program up to two years after withdrawal.

13. Records

13.1    A student’s records are available for examination by the student at any time, with the exception that the student does not have access to letters of recommendation written for him/her if confidentiality was guaranteed to the writer.

  • Such recommendations will be filed separately from the student’s other records so as not to interfere with the student’s ready access to other records.

13.2    It is the student’s responsibility to see that their records are up to date and accurate.

  • Errors in the records should be brought to the attention of the Director or Program Manager for correction. 

14. Application of these Policies

14.1    These policies apply to all DPS students in the School of Information Studies who first register after March 1, 2021.

14.2    Students who first registered before March 1, 2021 are subject to the policies in effect when they first registered.


  1. Assignment of initial advisor
  2. Change of advisor
  3. Committee members
  4. Scheduling a proposal defense
  5. Proposal defense results
  6. Scheduling a thesis defense
  7. Thesis defense results

  • No labels