Doctoral

Requirements for a Ph.D. in Management Information Systems (MIS)

This document describes the Ph.D. policies adopted by the MIS area within the Decision and Information Sciences Department in the Bauer College of Business (Bauer). These policies are in addition to those mandated by Bauer (see Bauer Doctoral Program) and the University of Houston Graduate Student Policies (see University of Houston Graduate School). The MIS Ph.D. program requires full-time continuous enrollment and consists of approximately two years of coursework. Coursework is followed by a comprehensive exam, the development of a dissertation proposal, and your dissertation research. The program length varies depending on the time required to complete the dissertation. However, four and one half years is a reasonable estimate.

Coursework

Major Field

Each student will take the following 21 hours (7 courses) that cover the MIS Major Field. Students must earn a grade of at least 3.0 (A = 4) in each of their Major Field courses.

MIS Content Seminars Most recent instructor
Survey of Past, Current, and Future MIS Research Blake Ives
Theory Building & Critical Analysis of MIS Research Randy Cooper
Current Theories in MIS Mark Grimes
MIS Methods Seminars Most recent instructor
Design of Experiments Norm Johnson
Introduction to Qualitative Research Jaana Porra
Structural Equation Modelling Wynne Chin
Advanced Qualitative Methods Leiser Silva
MIS Foundation

Each student will audit 9 hours (3 courses) from the MIS undergraduate program. This is required for the following reasons.  (1) Exposure to a variety of MIS practitioner issues provides insight into opportunities for MIS research. (2) Our graduates are expected to teach these courses in business schools, and experiencing how such courses are taught is valuable.  (3) Students then will be eligible to teach these undergraduate courses for the DISC department. Students will choose 3 from the following list of courses (though the choices may be constrained by DISC department teaching needs). This requirement may be reduced or waived for those students who have already taken these courses and received a grade of at least A-.

MIS Undergraduate Courses
Information Systems Introduction MIS 6A41
Systems Analysis and Design MIS 3360
Java or Transaction Processing MIS 3370 or MIS 3371
MIS Management MIS 4387
Supporting Field

Each student will take 12 hours (4 courses) from their supporting field, in order to get a masters-level understanding from which to draw for their dissertation research.  This understanding will include sufficient depth in terms of theory and research methodology to enable them to publish in a respected journal in the supporting field.  The breadth of understanding depends on the student’s research interests.  For example, if the student is interested in economic aspects of the firm, supporting field courses may focus on microeconomic production issues and exclude macroeconomic issues. Supporting fields may be found inside Bauer (e.g., Management, Supply Chain Management, Finance, and Marketing) and outside Bauer (e.g., Sociology, Psychology, Economics, Engineering, Anthropology, Computer Science) and are not limited to single colleges or departments. Students must earn a grade of at least 3.0 (A = 4) in each of their supporting field courses.

General Research Methods

Each student will take 9 hours (3 courses) of research methods from the list below. These courses are in addition to the MIS Methodology seminars and in addition to the Supporting Field courses; i.e., no double counting. Research methods courses should be chosen with the following in mind. Achieving breadth in research methodology and data analysis techniques provides students with a variety of options when confronting a research problem.  Rather than being constrained to a specific research approach ("using a hammer to solve every problem"), a more appropriate research approach can be employed for each problem. Such breadth also enables an appreciation of alternative approaches used by other researchers.  This can be helpful after graduation when reviewing articles, counseling Ph.D. students, etc. Students must earn a grade of at least 3.0 (A = 4) in each of their general research methods courses.

General Research Methods Courses
Course Content Example Courses
Regression Analysis BZAN 8397
Multivariate Statistical Methods MARK 8394
One more course, such as Non-Parametric Statistics, Panel/Time Series Methods
Research Practicum

The object of the practicum is to help students develop and publish research prior to their dissertation. We expect at least one conference paper by the end of a student’s first practicum and one journal paper by the end of a student’s spring practicum in his or her third year. Students who have not passed their comprehensive exams are required to take one practicum course each fall, spring, and summer semester, starting in their first summer semester. This typically results in 6 research practicum courses. Students must earn a grade of at least 3.0 (A = 4) in each of their practicum courses.

Teaching

Students will teach at least one undergraduate course as a Teaching Fellow. Students will first attend each MIS undergraduate course that they will teach. (See MIS Foundation, above.) Students will teach more than the minimum 1 course, depending on DISC department needs. However, this teaching shall not disrupt their progress toward publishing research and successful defense of their dissertation. Students are eligible to teach starting in fall of their second year.

Dissertation

All graduates of the program must research, write, and defend an original piece of research in the field of management information systems. This Dissertation must be completed within four years of the comprehensive examination (college policy); a student who fails to successfully defend a dissertation within six years of entering the program must retake the comprehensive examinations (college policy). Further details about the Dissertation are available here Bauer Dissertation Policies.

Dissertations can take the traditional form, with the following typical structure (from Davis, G.; Parker, C.; and Straub, D. (2012) Writing the Doctoral Dissertation: A Systematic Approach, 3rd  Edition, Barron’s, New York):

  • Abstract
  • Introduction of problem
  • Theoretical background
  • Hypotheses and research design
  • Data Collection and Analysis
  • Discussion of Results
  • Contribution of Research
  • Limitations and Future Research

Alternatively, students may opt for an alternative “three-article” form. MIS policies for this alternative can be found here.

Required Examinations

Comprehensive Examination

The purpose of the Comprehensive examination is to determine if the student has achieved acceptable mastery of the Management Information Systems field in order to successfully complete a doctoral degree in this program. The comprehensive examination has a written and oral component. Each student must complete the comprehensive examination by the end of the Fall semester of the third year of studies after completing the coursework specified in their degree plan (as specified by the College Ph.D. policies). MIS faculty will assign the materials, design the comprehensive examination questions and grade the questions. The examinations are graded as a “pass” or a “fail” and the student will be notified within the timeline specified by the College Ph.D. policies. If the student has failed either the written or the oral part of the comprehensive examination, they must retake both parts of the exam within six months of the notification that they have failed. Only one reexamination is allowed

Dissertation Proposal Defense

The dissertation proposal defense is an oral examination that takes place during the dissertation process. It establishes that the student has a solid understanding of the prior work that supports his or her dissertation, and provides an opportunity for the student and his or her dissertation committee to reach agreement about the research plan and potential outcomes. All course work must be successfully completed prior to the Dissertation Proposal Defense and the Comprehensive Examination Passed. This is usually completed at the end of year three of the program.

Final Dissertation Defense

This is an oral examination following the draft submission of the written dissertation. It is the final hurdle to obtaining a Ph.D.

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