Approved by the Information Studies Faculty, 8 November 2002. As amended 5/8/06, 4/15/11, 4/13/2012, 3/24/17, 1/19/18


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 Ph.D. in Science and Technology degree.

The Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology is a full-time, residency-based, research- oriented degree awarded for excellence in the advancement and dissemination of new knowledge in the information field. Our program addresses information-related phenomena in all settings: individual, organizational, societal, political, and technical.

Since the program’s inception in 1969 as the first broad, interdisciplinary doctorate in the field, the PhD in Information Science and Technology has been training researchers, educators, consultants, and others who share the view that information is a manageable resource.

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 Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology is also more technology-oriented than most programs in psychology, sociology, communications and management/organizations.

The focus in the PhD program is to train the next generation of scholars and intellectual leaders in the information fields. A strong Ph.D. program helps our research-active faculty to achieve their scholarly goals and expand their impact and both their and the school’s reputation. As such the Ph.D. program serves as a recruiting device, helping us to attract excellent young faculty. We are both extremely proud, and committed to ensuring, that our graduates are consistently winning scholarly awards and are prized by employers and colleagues for their broad, interdisciplinary training combined with methodological and topical depth.

The iSchool PhD is a research degree and about two-thirds of the 140+ graduates enter academia. The rest work in research labs, policy-oriented organizations in governments and the non-profit sector, and some become entrepreneurs. Given the focus on preparing future faculty peers, the PhD program also provides for advancing its graduates skills for teaching excellence.

Learning Outcomes


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. Currently, Steve Sawyer is the Doctoral Programs Director.

Program Manager

The Program Manager works in conjunction with the Program Director to execute all aspects of the program. The Program Manager provides program oversight, runs Ph.D. admissions, manages doctoral records and paperwork flow, oversees milestones, plans all program events and activities, and works with the faculty advisors and the Graduate School. In this role, he or she is your advocate for matters concerning process, administrative questions, and milestones. Currently, Jennifer Barclay is the Doctoral Programs Manager.

Faculty Advisors

Before the start of the first semester, each student is assigned a faculty advisor. The faculty advisor serves as a mentor for academic and professional development. Students may see their faculty advisor for questions about specific course content, questions regarding which electives to take to fulfill a specific career goal, etc. Students may seek advice from any faculty member, not only the advisor.

Graduate Academic Advisor

The Graduate Academic Advisor assists Ph.D. students and faculty with registration, add/drop forms, leave paperwork, and missing grades. He or she may also review and provide input on graduate petitions. Jose Tavarez ( is the Graduate Academic Advisor.

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. Kristina Ashley is the Graduate Program Coordinator.

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 by emailing . Enterprise level issues (e.g, web, email, learning technologies) are handled by the University’s ITS team at .

Center for International Services (CIS)

For international students, CIS is the first and possibly most important place you will visit on campus. CIS works closely with the Graduate School and all academic departments to assure that international graduate students enrolled at SU can achieve their academic objectives and become an integral part of the SU academic community.

CIS' primary objective is to assist international students in maintaining compliance with U.S. immigration laws, and provides information and updates on immigration regulations, weekly seminars on immigration topics, and walk-in appointments with an advisor. CIS is the place to go on campus if you have questions regarding curricular practical training (CPT), employment, health insurance, immigration regulations and status, optional practical training (OPT), passports, travel, the I-20, and visas. CIS staff is also the best resource for important check-in documents, information about different offices and points of contact around campus, and information about housing, banking, driving, taxes, and technology. If you have personal, social, academic, health, housing, or financial problems, the CIS staff offers advice and counseling.

CIS provides you with an orientation program designed and conducted especially for new international students. This orientation program is held the weekend prior to the opening weekend of the University. Check the website for the exact time, date, and location of orientation. To ensure you do not miss any important information, be sure to check your email account on a regular basis. Visit for more information.

Academic Rules

The official academic rules of Syracuse University are here:

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

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

Starting the program

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3+

Candidacy to Completion

Section 1: Administration of the Ph.D. Program

1.1 The Faculty, the Dean, the Ph.D. Program Director, and Program Manager are responsible for policies and procedures regarding the Ph.D. Program.

1.2 Doctoral Committee

Section 2: Doctoral Admissions

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

2.2  Applicants to the doctoral program are required to:

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

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

2.5  An applicant who is not accepted may reapply.

2.6  Students who have left the program for any reason before graduating may reapply.

Section 3: Financial Support

3.1 It is the intent of the School to award all students in satisfactory standing financial aid (stipend, benefits and tuition) during the first four years, and if possible the first five, of their study, including summer funding for 3 years. However, because of the limited availability of funds and the need to support both new and continuing students, support is not and cannot be guaranteed for any student.

3.2 The Dean will make financial aid awards on the advice of the Director and Doctoral Committee.

3.3 Recommendations will be determined on merit, based on the multiple criteria that contribute to a student’s merit.

Section 4: Advisor

4.1 Every student must have a faculty advisor.

4.2 The student should receive guidance from the advisor about: 

4.3 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.

Section 5: Program of Study (Sequence and Selection)

5.1 The student is expected to spend two to three years (depending upon his/her background) completing a plan of study, which includes coursework that is relevant to research preparation, research and teaching practica, and other educational experiences. The Program of Study should be seen as a living document, started in the first semester, and updated regularly throughout the program.

5.2 A student’s choice of courses and other activities should be discussed with the student’s advisor.

Section 6: Practicum in Research and Teaching

6.1  Students are required to complete a minimum of four research (IST 810) and four teaching (IST 840) practica.

6.2  The Director (or another faculty member serving as the Research and Teaching Practicum Coordinator) will be assigned IST 810 and IST 840 as part of his/her teaching load. That faculty member will be responsible for:

6.3 Research practica (IST 810)

6.4 Teaching practica (IST 840)

6.5 If the student feels that research or teaching activities during a particular semester are not of educational value, he/she should discuss the situation with his/her advisor who will follow through with the Director.

Section 7: Curriculum and Course Catalog

7.1  The program is extremely flexible, with only 12 required practica and 18 required dissertation credits.

7.2  The program will offer at least nine credits of doctoral courses each semester to include:

7.3  IST 776 and IST 777, iSchool oriented research methods courses, will be offered in alternating falls.

7.4  Refer to the Graduate School Catalog for more information:  Ph.D. in Information Science & Technology on the Syracuse University Course Catalog

Section 8: Annual Evaluation

8.1  Unless otherwise stated, the policies in this section apply only for active students who have not been admitted to candidacy (see section 13).

8.2  The major purpose of the annual evaluation meeting is to provide the student with the Faculty’s collective assessment of his/her progress in the program and of his/her plans for the following academic year.

8.3  The student will schedule an annual evaluation for his or herself in the Spring semester and for each continuing student in the Fall semester.

8.4 It is ultimately the responsibility of the student to arrange the evaluation meeting, to ensure that the members of the committee are informed of the meeting and to obtain their input for the meeting.

8.5 At least two weeks before the evaluation meeting, the student will:

8.6 The following people will take part in a student’s evaluation:

8.7  Conduct of the meeting

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

8.9 On the basis of the prepared statements and the general discussion, the faculty present will determine by majority vote the student’s status in the program. They can decide that:

8.10 The evaluation committee may recommend an additional evaluation meeting for the student before the next regular meeting (see section 8.3).

8.11 Standards for evaluation

8.12 Every attempt should be made to give students an opportunity to improve their status. Ordinarily, students should not be asked to leave the program until they have been “not in good standing” for at least one semester.

Section 9: Inactive Status / Leave of Absence

9.1 A student may take a leave from active participation in the program (see Academic Rules, Section 15) by obtaining the permission from his or her evaluation committee at a regular or special evaluation meeting.

9.2  An inactive student is still in the program.

9.3  A student may return to active status by notifying the Director of his or her intention to return and by registering

9.4  A student may not remain in inactive status longer than thirty (30) months from the date inactive status was granted.

Section 10: End of Coursework

10.1 When a student has completed his or her program of study and developed a comprehensive mastery of his or her field, he or she may apply to end coursework.

10.2  The purpose of the end-of-coursework meeting is both retrospective (certification and acceptance of a program of study) and prospective (advice on defining or refining a dissertation topic).

10.3  To end coursework, a student’s program of study and the student’s comprehensive mastery of the field must be reviewed and certified as adequate by a committee comprising of at least the Director and three IST faculty members who are familiar with the student’s work.

10.4  At least two weeks before the end-of-coursework meeting, the student will:

10.5 Conduct of the meeting

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

10.7 Certification of completion of a program of study will be given, when, in the opinion of the committee:

10.8 A student whose program of study is not certified may schedule another end-of- coursework meeting.

Section 11: Credit Hours

11.1 Credit-hour requirements are not the primary basis of the decision that a student has completed an adequate program of study. That decision is based on the student’s demonstrated competency as well as credit-hour requirements.

11.2  A minimum of 78 credit hours are required: 60 credit hours of coursework and 18 credit hours of dissertation work. 

11.3  There is no time limit for including courses in a student’s program.

11.4  Up to 50 percent of relevant coursework credits (30 credits) may be transferred from outside Syracuse University. The other 50 percent must be taken within Syracuse University. (Academic Rules, Section 20).

11.5 A graduate course / credit can count for two degrees, therefore it can only be used twice within the University.

Section 12: Registration and GRD 998

12.1 A student must be registered full time (9 credits) for fall and spring in the program

12.2  A student needs to register for GRD 998, a zero credit, zero dollar “Degree in Progress” placeholder that will maintain student status in the system.

12.3  In order to submit a diploma request, a student must be registered.

Section 13: The Comprehensive Examination and Candidacy

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

13.2  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 passed End of Coursework (see Section 10).

13.3  A student must become ABD within 7 years of matriculating into the program. Failure to do so will require the student to register for GRD 991 each fall and spring semester until ABD status is achieved. If the students does not register for GRD 991, he or she will be withdrawn from the program.

Section 14: Masters of Philosophy in Information Science & Technology

14.1 The degree of Masters of Philosophy in Information Science & Technology (M.Phil.) may be awarded to students who:

14.2  The M.Phil. may only be awarded to students who are matriculated for the Ph.D. in Information Science & Technology.

14.3  The M.Phil. is not a prerequisite for the Ph.D. in Information Science & Technology.

14.4  The M.Phil. may not be used as transfer credit under section 14.4.

14.5  The end-of-coursework committee (see section 10.3) will determine the acceptability of the Masters Thesis.

14.6  Students whose Masters Thesis is not accepted may submit another thesis.

Section 15: Preparation and Defense of Dissertation Proposal

15.1 A student must prepare and defend a dissertation proposal.

15.2  The dissertation proposal must contain: (a) an introduction to the problem being studied, (b) a review of the relevant literature, and (c) a description of the methodology to be used. In most cases, these will correspond to the first three chapters of the dissertation.

15.3  The dissertation proposal must be reviewed, and formally accepted, at a proposal meeting, by a committee consisting of at least four members, of which three must be IST faculty.

15.4  At least two weeks before the proposal defense the student must:

15.5  Conduct of the meeting

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

15.7  The committee must decide by majority vote whether:

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

Section 16: Dissertation Research and Final Oral Exam (Dissertation Defense)

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

16.2  The dissertation 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. The exact form of the dissertation, number of chapters, and structure of the elements are to be decided in consultation with your advisor.

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

o The Examination Committee consists of seven members:

 A chairperson (appointed by the Graduate School)

 The student’s committee (consisting of four people, at least three from the
iSchool, as noted in 15.3)

 A reader from the IST faculty, appointed by the Director

 A reader from outside of IST, chosen by the student’s advisor and the Director

o The oral examination cannot be scheduled until the student’s advisor and at least one other member of the student’s committee, or the Director, have certified the “dissertation is acceptable for the purpose of examination”. (Academic Rules, Section 32).

o The dissertation 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.

16.4 At least two weeks before the final oral examination the student must:

o Schedule the exam with his/her examination committee and announce the meeting.

o File Doctoral Form #9.

o Distribute an abstract of the dissertation to all IST Faculty members, all resident Ph.D. students, and interested Master’s students.Provide each member of the examination committee with a reading copy of the dissertation (the “defensible draft”) and have one additional copy.

The dissertation 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

16.5  Conduct of the meeting

o The chairperson appointed by the Graduate School chairs the meeting (Academic Rules, Section 32).

o The final oral exam is open to all interested faculty members and students. They

may participate in the examination.

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

o The minutes will contain the date of the meeting, the names of those present and the committee’s decision regarding the acceptance of the dissertation. If the committee does not accept the dissertation, the minutes must include the reasons for the decision. If the dissertation is accepted with modification, the minutes must record details of the required revisions.

o A copy of the minutes will be given to the student.

o A copy of the minutes will be included in the student’s permanent file.

o The student’s advisor must file Doctoral Form #10 to record the committee’s decision.

16.7  The examination committee must decide by majority vote (per Academic Rules and

Regulations) whether:

The dissertation as written is accepted.

The dissertation with modifications is accepted. 

The dissertation is not accepted.
o A student can attempt a second defense if the dissertation is not accepted.

16.8  All members of the examination committee, including the student’s advisor, vote on

acceptance of the dissertation.

16.9  If the dissertation 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.

o 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.

16.10 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.

o The deadline for these revisions must be less than 1 year from the defense date o Failure to submit the revisions by the deadline means the dissertation is not accepted (and the student cannot continue after a second non-acceptance, per 16.6).

Section 17: Exceeding Time to Degree Requirements and GRD 991

17.1 The Graduate School follows for a policy of charging doctoral students who are beyond established time limits for achieving ABD status or completing dissertations (see Academic Rules, Section 32)

o Doctoral students must achieve ABD status within 7 years of matriculation.

o Doctoral students must successfully complete and defend their dissertation within 5 years of achieving ABD.

17.2  A student who does not meet these requirements must enroll in one credit hour of GRD 991 for the fall and spring semesters until their milestone is achieved.

17.3  If you fail to register for GRD 991 for a given term, you will be withdrawn from the program.

Section 18: Voluntary Withdrawal

18.1 A student may voluntarily withdraw from the Ph.D. program at any time by informing the Ph.D. Program Director, his or her advisor and filing the required University paperwork.

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

18.2 A student who has withdrawn may reapply for admission to the program.

Section 19: Participation on Committees; Ph.D. Cohort Mentor

19.1 Students are encouraged to take an active part in the life of the School and to serve on School committees during their residencies.

19.2  Ph.D. students who would like to serve on committees or as Ph.D. student representative to the Faculty Meetings should express their interest early in the Fall semester.
o If more than one student expresses interest in a position, the representative will
be chosen by a vote of the Ph.D. students.

19.3  At the end of the first year, one student from Cohort 1 will volunteer to serve as the
PhD mentor for the next year’s incoming Cohort. The PhD cohort mentor will serve as a resource for the new cohort and serve as an informal point of contact to support their transition to doctoral studies.

Section 20: Records

20.1 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.

o 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.

20.2 It is the student’s responsibility to see that his or her records are up to date and


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

Section 21: Full Time Status

21.1 Syracuse University considers you a full-time student, and the Registrar can confirm your full-time status, if you meet one of the three criteria, below, for the semester in which verification of full-time status is requested. Your status is used for a variety of purposes, including the determination of federal loan eligibility and/or repayment.

o You are registered full-time by taking 9 credits in the fall or spring

o You hold an appointment as a graduate assistant or fellow and are registered o You are engaged, at a level equivalent to full time study, in actively working on your dissertation

21.2 Most students who have obtained ABD and have earned 78 credits will need to get a Certification of Full Time Status form filled out and signed every semester until they submit a diploma request. This form is required by the Slutzker Center.

Section 22: Health Insurance

22.1 Syracuse University requires every full time, matriculated student to have health insurance coverage.

22.2 You must be able to provide proof of insurance. If you have access to qualifying health insurance already, you may waive the SU plan. Qualifying coverage is:

22.3 Please visit for more information

Section 23: Auditing a Course

23.1  Auditing means that you attend and/or participate in a class without earning credit

23.2  Audited classes do not meet any degree requirements and aren’t counted towards enrollment status.

23.3  You may audit a class with approval of the instructor, and in consultation with your advisor.

Future Professoriate Program (FPP)

Syracuse University requires every full time, matriculated student to have health insurance coverage.

You must be able to provide proof of insurance. If you have access to qualifying health insurance already, you may waive the SU plan. Qualifying coverage is:

Provided by a U.S. based insurer

Covers emergency and non-emergency services in the Syracuse area Compliant with all aspects of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)

Please visit for more information 23 Auditing Courses

Section 24: Future Professoriate Program (FPP)

24.1  The Graduate School offers the FPP, a structured professional development experience that prepares graduate students to be future faculty members

24.2  iSchool Ph.D. students should enroll in FPP for their first two years.

24.3  Students are eligible for stipends both years for meeting participation requirements

24.4  Please visit Future Professoriate Program for more information

Section 25: Application of these Policies

25.1 These policies apply to all Ph.D. students in the School of Information Studies who first register after 8 November 2002.

25.2 Students who first registered before 8 November 2002 are subject to the policies in effect when they first registered.

o Students may elect to be subject to the current policies by filing a written request

with the Ph.D. Program Director (This election cannot be reversed).


  1. Assignment of initial advisor
  2. Change of advisor
  3. Evaluation team report
  4. Committee members
  5. Meeting to end program of study 
  6. End of program of study results 
  7. Scheduling a proposal defense
  8. Proposal defense results
  9. Scheduling a thesis defense
  10. Thesis defense results
  11. IST 810—Research practicum plan
  12. IST 840—Teaching practicum plan
  13. IST 810—Research practicum evaluation
  14. IST 840—Research practicum evaluation