Information Systems Department

Comprehensive Examinations


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The College of Business is NOT be admitting new students for the Information Systems Ph.D. emphasis. 
The program is inactive due to budgetary cuts.

The Ph.D. emphasis in Logistics & Supply Chain Management is accepting applications for new Ph.D. students for matriculation.

Graduate students in the Ph.D. program do not become "Ph.D. Candidates" until they have passed a comprehensive examination in the field of information systems (IS) and a supporting field examination in the student's chosen area.

The IS comprehensive exam, along with the relevant supporting field exam, will be offered twice each year. Each student is required to take both the IS comprehensive exam and the supporting field exam in the same cycle. However, if the student passes one of these exams but not the other, (s)he would only need to again take the failed exam.

A student will receive a maximum of two opportunities to pass each of these two exams. Moreover, the student would need to make the second (and final) attempt to pass the failed exam(s) the next time the exam is offered (i.e., within about six months) after the first attempt unless they write an appeal to the IS Ph.D. Committee.

The Information Systems Comprehensive Exam

The goals of the IS comprehensive examination are to assess the student’s familiarity with the substantive literature, theory and methods of IS, and to evaluate the student’s intellectual imagination and ability to apply this knowledge to broad IS-related research questions. Students are expected to know articles published in leading IS journals.

Format of IS Comprehensive Exam
The IS Comprehensive exam will consist of four parts.
1. A written exam, which will be conducted over two days, with a maximum of seven hours being available each day. This exam will assess the student’s knowledge of all the areas related to IS doctoral coursework. The exam will focus on six doctoral courses, with two questions per course. Each day will include questions on three of the doctoral seminars.

2. During each day of the written exam, each student will have access to a computer. Students may bring hard copies of published articles, syllabi, books or other reference material. Students may NOT bring soft copies or any other secondary storage device to the written exam.

3. Upon completing the written exam, the student will receive a take-home exam. This take-home exam will need to be completed, and submitted to the Director of the Ph.D. program, with a copy to the IS Area administrative assistant one week after the last day of the in-class written exam.

4. The oral exam will take place two to three weeks after the second day of the written, in-class exam. Each student’s oral exam will be scheduled for a two-hour duration. At the beginning of the oral exam, the student will have a maximum of 30 minutes to address shortcomings in the written exam as identified by the faculty. The remaining 90 minutes of the oral exam will include questions by the IS area faculty on the student’s presentation and written answers to in-class and take-home questions.
Preparation of IS Comprehensive Questions

For the in-class written exam, questions related to each doctoral seminar will be prepared by the faculty member(s) who taught that seminar to the students taking the exam. The IS Ph.D. Committee, and Director of the Ph.D. program, will review the questions received from the various faculty members, and make modifications, if necessary, in consultation with the concerned faculty members.

The IS Area Ph.D. Committee will also decide on the take-home exam, in consultation with the relevant IS faculty members.

Evaluation of IS Written Comprehensive Questions

Two faculty members will independently grade the answer to each question in the in-class written exam. Possible grades for each question are "Pass," "Low Pass," and "Fail." In this process, the course instructor's evaluation will receive a 60% weight, and the other grader's evaluation will receive a 40% weight.

In case a student receives a “Fail” on three or more questions (including take-home), a “Low Pass” on eight or more questions, or a “Fail” on two questions and a “Low Pass” on four or more questions, (s)he will be considered to have failed the entire comprehensive exam.

Schedule of IS Comprehensive Exam

The IS comprehensive exam, along with the relevant supporting field exam, will be offered twice each year -- in Fall and Spring.

A student wishing to take IS comprehensive exam and the supporting field exam should notify the Director of the Ph.D. program, with copies to the College of Business Administration Director of Graduate Studies, and the Area Coordinators for IS and the supporting field. This should be done no later than January 1 for Spring comprehensive exams, and no later than August 1 for the Fall comprehensive exams.

The Supporting Field Exam

The supporting field exam will only need to be taken by students who, upon approval by the Chair of the IS Ph.D. Committee, pursue option (a) for the supporting coursework, i.e., take 9 credit hours of graduate-level courses beyond foundation course work in a supporting field approved.

The supporting field exam will be coordinated by the "Supporting Field Coordinator," who will be either the Department Chairperson of the concerned department, or a nominee of this individual.