This page describes the essential components of the Ph.D. program such as the coursework, comprehensive exams, candidacy and dissertation. A more detailed description of each of these topics is given in the "Current Students: Doctoral Handbook" section of this Website.
The Ph.D. in IT program requires 90 credit hours of graduate-level studies. Undergraduate course credits taken at UNO or another institution cannot be counted toward the Ph.D. degree in IT. Dual-listed undergraduate courses ending in 8**5 cannot be counted as course credits in the Ph.D. program. Only three courses ending in 8xx6 are allowed in the 45 hours of doctoral-only coursework. The coursework consists of foundation courses, doctoral seminar and colloquia, a major field of study, an optional minor field of study, and the dissertation. The different categories of credit-hour requirements for the program are outlined below.
A. Foundation Courses (24 hours minimum):
Foundation courses constitute any of the courses offered in the Master’s Degree in an IT-related field, e.g., CS, MIS, Cybersecurity. In order to complete the breadth requirement, students must successfully complete a course in an area that is not their own.
B. Core Courses (12 hours)
The core of the program comprises of two courses CIST 9040 – 50 – 60 (3 credit hours), and CIST 9080(3 credit hours) that are described below. In addition to these two courses, at least one Graduate Research methods course (3 credit hours) and statistics course (3 credit hours) should be taken from anywhere on campus .
C. Major Field of Study or Concentrations (18 hours minimum):
Coursework in the major field of study provides students the advanced study needed to develop an in-depth knowledge of their chosen field of research. At least 3 courses (9 hours) must be in 9000-level courses. The remaining courses should include at least one 8000-level graduate-only course. The remaining 6 hours should be determined by the supervisory committee.
The coursework taken by a student is entered into a plan of study that must be approved by the doctoral program committee before the beginning of the second year of studies of the Ph.D. student. Undergraduate courses, either taken at UNO or at other universities are NOT allowed to be counted as credits towards the Ph.D. degree.
A maximum of 36 credit hours of graduate coursework can be transferred from courses that were taken in a graduate program before being admitted into the Ph.D. in IT program at UNO. All such credit transfers must be approved by the doctoral program committee as part of the student's plan of study.
Every Ph.D. student is required to teach at least ONE course while studying in the program. One semester before teaching a course, students will be mentored under the faculty member responsible for teaching the course through attending the lectures and doing additional duties as determined by the mentor. Students will be evaluated by the mentor and assigned to teach a course if they satisfactorily perform their duties while being mentored.
The comprehensive examination can be taken after the student has completed all coursework according to his/her plan of study and formed a supervisory committee. Further details about the preparation of the plan of study and the constitution of the supervisory committee are given in the "Current Students: Doctoral Handbook" section of this Website.
The comprehensive exam consists of a written part and an oral part. The written part of the exam is divided into two sub-parts that will be scheduled over two consecutive days.
- Written Part I Examination Format and Procedures: Before taking the written part of the exam , students will provide a selection of 4-5 topics from the areas covered in the CIST 9080 – Research Directions in IT course. The selected topics should not have significant overlap with the major or minor area of study given in the student’s plan of study. The topics should be selected so that they express a breadth in the areas in the core disciplines of the program in computer science, information systems and quantitative analysis, and interdisciplinary informatics. The doctoral program committee will select 2 topics from the set of 4-5 topics selected and inform the student in advance of the exam. The material related to the topic for preparing for the comprehensive exam (e.g., paper reading list) will already have been provided to the student when the student took the CIST 9080 course. Questions on the selected topic will be set by the faculty presenter(s) of the topic in CIST 9080. The answers will also be evaluated by the topic’s presenter(s) - either individually, or, by a group of faculty members selected by the topic’s presenter(s).
- Written Part II Examination Procedure: The questions for the second part of the written comprehensive exam evaluate the student's understanding of his/her major field of study. The questions are set and evaluated by the members of the supervisory committee of the student.
- Oral Examination Procedure: The oral component of the comprehensive exam is the defense of the student’s dissertation proposal.
A Ph.D. student advances to candidacy after successfully passing all parts of the comprehensive examination.
The dissertation of a Ph.D. candidate is supervised by the chair or co-chairs of the student’s supervisory committee in consultation with other members of the supervisory committee. When the supervisory committee deems it appropriate for the Ph.D. candidate to defend his/her dissertation, the Ph.D. candidate should prepare a dissertation thesis and submit it to the supervisory committee members and arrange for a dissertation defense.
After successfully defending his/her dissertation thesis, the student should contact the Office of Graduate Studies to apply for graduation.
A minimum of three years of full-time graduate study is normally required to complete a doctoral program. Historically, the average time required by a Ph.D. student to graduate from our Ph.D. in IT program has been 4-5 years. The Office of Graduate Studies allows a maximum of 8 years from the date of submission of the student's plan of study to the graduate office up to the student passing his/her dissertation defense. The UNO Graduate Catalog mentions that a minimum of 7 months must elapse between the date of the Ph.D. student’s advancement to candidacy and the date of his/her dissertation defense.
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