Joining the Program
Yes, there is a one-day orientation for new doctoral students, which provides lots of useful information about critical contact people in the college, registration, and how to set up accounts, among various other topics. Attendance is mandatory. As part of the Decision and Information Science’s brown bag series there will also be a “Welcome new doctoral students” lunch — a great opportunity for new doctoral students to meet the faculty.
Your first contact person for academic or administrative questions is the MIS doctoral coordinator, currently Blake Ives. The doctoral coordinator may refer students to LaToya Rogers, the DISC Department Business Administrator, for information on specific administrative procedures.
The MIS area does not require new doctoral students to attend this workshop because its content is geared toward finance, accounting, and modeling.
Accepted doctoral students are hired as Instructional Assistants (also called RAs - Research Assistants) for 20 hours a week for four years and receive competitive year-round stipends of $33,000. This includes a $2,100 per month stipend (on a 12-month basis), a university fellowship during the first two years ($3600), and teaching compensation thereafter ($3,000 per course). All these amounts are on a pre-tax basis. Students receive a tuition waiver for four years (less student-paid fees).
Doctoral students have two options for health insurance: they may purchase their own insurance, or they may choose the university’s insurance (HealthSelect Blue Cross Blue Shield). In the first case, students receive a $150 stipend per month and are free to make their own decisions about what insurance to buy. In the second case, the cost of the university’s insurance is $185 (for member only), but students receive the $150 stipend so that they only pay the difference. In terms of the insurance for the summer, students receive the $150 summer stipends in advance in April and May ($450/2=$225).
The following table lists the options available under the university’s plan:
|Member & Children||$387.18|
|Member & Spouse||$489.30|
|Member & Family||$696.23|
Every semester doctoral students need to pay tuition and fees before they are due. Tuition will be reimbursed within one to two months. It is recommended to have a “fund” of $5,000 designated for paying the tuition every semester. Students could pay tuition from this fund, get it reimbursed, and then use this fund again for the next semester’s tuition and so on. The student’s out-of-pocket costs every semester, including the summer semester will be about $1,000 in non-reimbursable student fees. “Emergency loans” (also known as “bridge loans”) are an option available online to students every semester when they log in to make the tuition payments. These loans are due in 90 days (3 months).
The Graduate Assistant Tuition Fellowship (GATF) is the tuition reimbursement award that doctoral students receive for four years, up to about $12,233, depending on tuition actually charged. Tuition reimbursement beyond the fourth year is unlikely to occur.
Student loans are available at the Welcome center – financial office.
RAs may not have another full-time or part-time position. Students may leave their RA position and accept another job after they are at the dissertation proposal stage of the program. In such cases, students will lose their RA income and their GATF fellowship (tuition waver) and they will be responsible for paying all courses and fees. Historically, we have found that students who leave early have great difficulty finishing, so we strongly discourage all students from working any additional jobs until they have graduated with their Ph.D.’s.
Computers, Supplies, And Parking
The DISC Department provides laptop computers for all new students. Students typically receive their laptops by Sept. 1.
Doctoral students receive an account number with a predetermined limit of photocopies. Once students reach the limit, they can pay $25 to the Office Coordinator to increase this amount.
Our Office Coordinator, will be the contact person for students to get their Bauer email account.
Student permits are available at https://www.parking.uh.edu/eservices/cmn/index.aspx. The cost of the permit is added to tuition, so students need a PeopleSoft number to apply for a permit.
Textbooks are usually available at the UH bookstore, but it may be more affordable to get them online. There’s a search engine that allows students to compare book prices across several online vendors with just one search. Several classes do not require textbooks but rather students receive a reading list of journal articles. Students tend to keep their books for future use in research projects.
Students need to contact their Advisory Committee Chair to make these decisions. During the first year in the doctoral program, the departmental doctoral coordinator serves the role of the advisory committee. In the spring semester of the first year, students should form an advisory committee following the specifications described in the departmental policies.
RA work incorporates the entire spectrum of research activities. On one side, students may help professors with photocopies or trips to the library. On the other side, students may become coauthors with their professors in research projects and contribute to the theory and/or methods part of a journal submission. Other typical activities of RAs are data collection, data entry, and literature searches. The research assignment typically does not include teaching assistance for their assigned professor, with the exception of helping to proctor exams.
We encourage students to seek out faculty and ask about areas of expertise and interest and to use the entire department as a resource as they pursue their Ph.D. Students invite faculty to be their advisor of the research practicum, chair of their advisory committee, or chair of their dissertation committee. The faculty tend to honor those requests when possible. The student’s topic is not tied to the advisor’s area of research, but the more aligned the interests the better the synergy in the collaboration. RA assignments are made by the doctoral coordinator with consultation with the faculty. When making assignments an attempt is always made to match the interests of the doctoral student with the interest of the faculty member, however this is not always possible.
When doctoral students finish all their coursework, they need to take nine hours of dissertation credits while they study for comps. These hours do not need to be with their eventual dissertation chair. In the semester after students pass their comps, they register for nine dissertation hours with their actual dissertation chair. Students need to take two years of dissertation hours (nine in the fall + nine in the spring + six in the summer, per year). Also, being an RA requires students to be full-time students and take nine dissertation hours in the fall/spring or six dissertation hours in the summer semesters. When students have enough dissertation hours and are not RAs anymore, they only need to take three dissertation hours per semester to meet the college’s continuous enrollment policy. As a general rule, students will be responsible for nine dissertation hours (and six in the summer) until they are in the 5th year and then they can take three dissertation hours.
Typically, students are in the job market after they have defended their dissertation proposal. In most cases this happens during the summer after the third year in the program. Many students use the placement services of the Association for Information Systems. A student’s dissertation chair and other members of faculty are a great source of information during the job search.
Successful graduating students tend to have one to two papers published, as well as several conference presentations in national conferences. With an invigorated push for research and more involvement of doctoral students in research, the expectation is that all students should be able to be successful researchers upon graduation. (This Expectations page prepared for doctoral students in the Bauer Management Department, is a useful guide for MIS doctoral students as well).
Students need to check current departmental and college policies for conference funding or ask the Ph.D. coordinator for advice. Students typically get reimbursed for conference expenses when they present papers at national conferences or are on the job market.
We encourage students to attend the the International Conference on Information Systems (ICIS) or the annual conference of the Association for Information Systems as many times as they can as these conferences will be helpful to them to meet scholars and other doctoral students, learn about the academic profession, and prepare for future job searches, among many other learning and networking opportunities. Doctoral students are strongly encouraged to submit their papers to national conferences such as the ICIS or AIS as early in the program as possible. Often, for these early publications, students tend to choose topics that were aligned with a faculty member’s interest.
Yes, attendance to the colloquium series, job talks and student defenses is required since these activities are both learning and networking opportunities.
Yes, in addition to their grades and informal conversations with faculty members teaching their courses, doctoral students are evaluated every year by the doctoral coordinator, their advisory committee chair, or their dissertation committee chair depending on their year in the program. As specified by college policies, students receive an annual review letter by June 30th of each year. The Management Department’s Expectations page provides a useful template for ensuring a positive annual review.
All MIS doctoral students will teach at least one course after completing their coursework and comprehensive exam, if not earlier. Rather than being a TA or teacher’s assistant, the doctoral student is in charge of everything: syllabus, course preparation, exams, etc. Typically, the first class taught is “Introduction to MIS,” or a program language course. Subsequent doctoral student teaching is at the discretion of the department chair and may fluctuate based on departmental needs. Thus, when subsequent teaching is needed, students may be asked to continue teaching an introductory course, may be assigned a different course, or may be allowed to create a new elective.
The College will organize teaching workshops every year. In addition, and where feasible, one semester before teaching a class, students are required to audit the classes of a faculty member teaching that course.
Living in Houston
A new building with loft-style apartments and mixed retail shops for students is now available next to the school of business. Affordable housing can also be found in many off-campus neighborhoods.