The Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Systems and Communications degree program at Robert Morris University addresses the expanding needs of professionals who conduct research, manage information resources; solve information, communication and technology-related problems in organizations; or who educate or train others in applications of information systems and communications.

An interdisciplinary degree delivered in a flexible education format, the program incorporates the latest international guidelines adopted by information systems and information sciences organizations for the education of professionals who solve problems in a competitive and changing work environment.

A Research Doctorate Program

The D.Sc. in Information Systems and Communications is a research degree appropriate for professionals with decision-making and problem-solving responsibilities related to information systems, communications and technology, including:

  • Chief information officers, chief knowledge officers, network administrators, in-house consultants, training specialists and other managers of information technology resources in corporate and professional organizations
  • Educators and academic administrators in two-year, four-year and graduate institutions, as well as information officers and managers in educational institutions
  • Professionals with a master's degree whose qualifications will be enhanced by such a doctoral degree, including those in fields such as accounting, finance, MIS, management, marketing, health care administration, telecommunications and corporate communications.

Format of Study

The D.Sc. in Information Systems and Communications is designed to be completed in a minimum three-year period of study. You'll enroll in the program as part of a cohort and progress through the program with your group. Additional course work may be elected or required depending upon your background, career goals and/or range of professional and technical experience. 

Program Goals

In this interdisciplinary doctoral program, you will:

  • Develop and apply skills in a range of investigative methods, including qualitative methods grounded in economic, social and ethnographic disciplines, and quantitative methods grounded in statistical and social scientific disciplines.
  • Conduct research and design innovative, effective solutions to information management and information resource problems.
  • Stimulate field-based information management initiatives that link information, communications, technology and systems within organizations.
  • Track new information technology and assist in incorporating it into an organization's strategy, planning and practice.

Program Structure

The D.Sc. program consists of an integrated sequence of seminars and a dissertation that comprise 63 credits beyond a master's degree. The required courses and the field project are structured over a three-year period, enabling you to complete the degree while continuing to work full time. The structure of the program is as follows:

  • Eight integrated inquiry seminars designed to develop applications of theory in a range of information and communication contexts.
  • Four field investigation seminars focused on strategies for conducting research and investigations into field-based problems.
  • Four research seminars stressing proposal development, methodology and quality assurance in academic research.
  • A major field project (dissertation) in which you must demonstrate expertise by analyzing and solving an information management problem. The research includes a model or theoretical frame, literature review and an appropriate methodology. The field project must make a significant contribution to the body of knowledge in your chosen problem area.


The D.Sc. program is a three year full-time program delivered in a cohort driven format. It meets on campus 16 days Fall term and 16 days Spring term for each of the three years. The format assures student success and minimizes isolation by scheduling 7 day residencies in late August and early January with additional weekend residencies scheduled for late September, late October, late November or Early December, mid February, mid-March and mid-April - totaling 96 days over the three year period. The campus is 2 miles from the Pittsburgh International Airport and is convenient to many cities.

Program Progression

  • Admission to the doctoral degree program allows students to enroll in the foundational seminars in year one.
  • At the conclusion of the first year of study, students take a qualifying essay examination. Successful completion of this exam admits students to candidacy and allows them to advance to year two of the program.
  • In year two, students continue the foundational and methodology seminars. They also enroll in the Field Project/Dissertation Proposal course, which marks the beginning of the research project.
  • Following the successful completion of the foundational seminars (years one and two), students defend Field Project/Dissertation proposals after completing the Field Project/Dissertation Proposal course. Successful defense of the Field Project/Dissertation proposal and Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval allows students to begin to collect data at the end of the second year and to advance to the third year of the program.
  • For the third year, students take their final Field Project/Dissertation courses, which focus on data analysis, writing, and quality assurance. To complete the Field Project/Dissertation, students work closely with their doctoral faculty committees. This committee consists of at least two RMU doctoral faculty members (three in the case of a four person committee) who serve as committee members, an external reader who is selected by the advisor and the student, and a peer reader.

Course of Study

Fall Semester (9 credits)

DISC 8110 - The Information Age Organization focuses on the dramatic changes within organizations in the early 21st century as affected by information technology and such elements as restructuring, entrepreneurship, and managing the complex organization.

DISC8120 - Technology, Human Communication and Information Transfer
Technology, Human Communication and Information Transfer focuses on the relationship between technology and human communication. The course explores four major questions: (1) What are the implications of living in a culture that values technology as a solution to many of its problems? (2) What are the primary effects of the rapid development of technology and information systems on individual and group communications, organizational problem-solving and decision-making, and on the transfer of knowledge from one sector of society to another? (3) How do communications and information theories clarify the technology-human communication interface and provide a foundation for decision-making? (4) What are the differences between academic discourse and workplace discourse?.

DISC 8720 - The Ethnography of Information Systems is concerned with learning the use of ethnographic method and techniques in order to describe and analyze systems of meanings contextualizing information systems or informational situations, and grounding informing actions and objects.

Spring Semester (9 credits)

DISC8180 Survey of MIS focuses on the relationship between technology and human communication and interaction.  Among topics studied is the process of creation, storage and transfer of knowledge and information within an organization. Technologies that support these actions will be emphasized.  Students will study the information needs of various organizations and develop strategies for the selection of the appropriate technology to meet those needs.  Students will be given many hands on examples of various technologies to support the business of many different organizations.  Emphasis will be placed on the managerial side of Computer Information Systems, along with the skill set needed to manage Information Systems subordinates.

DISC8730 - Systems Usability Studies, Testing and Design focuses on what professionals must know to manage the process of analyzing, designing, and testing user interfaces within organizational contexts. Taking a user-centered, problem-solving approach, this course incorporates principles from several disciplines, including cognitive psychology, human computer interaction, communication, information, research methodology, and organizational behavior.

DISC 8740 - Readings in Information Systems and Communications Research focuses on exposure to and comprehension of diverse preparation of peer reviewed research and focuses specifically on qualitative research methods through an extensive examination of peer-reviewed literature in the areas of communications and information systems.

Fall Semester (9 credits)

DISC 9110 - Special Topics Seminar - Data Warehousing Issues provides an introduction to data warehousing and the foundations of understanding the issues involved in building a successful data warehouse.

DISC 8710 - Applying Quantitative Methods provides students with practice using quantitative methods to evaluate, adapt, improve, or verify the effectiveness of systems in an organizational or other social setting.

DISC 9515 - Field Project Proposal Seminar prepares students to write and defend their dissertation/field project research study proposal, which is expected to be defended during the Spring term of this academic year. This course covers all elements of proposal writing from examining ways to identify and articulate research problems, supporting claims for the purpose and value of the study, to the appropriate design of a specific research study.

Spring Semester (12 credits)

DISC 8150 - Economics of Information Systems focuses on examining and managing the increased complications of defining costs and benefits under an increased sense of urgency in making decisions about information technology and its competitive implications and impacts on the organization.

DISC 8160 - Knowledge Management provides opportunities to study the defining and fundamental concepts, and vocabulary, of knowledge management. Knowledge management is the logical and historical extension of expert systems in business and knowledge based systems. The course covers concepts of knowledge creation and acquisition, knowledge generation, and concepts of knowledge representation or codification, as well as the use of knowledge in organizations.

DISC 9510   Field Project I (Proposal)
This involves individual research resulting in the design and development of the Field Project Proposal.

DISC 9517 - Research Design is designed to enable students to understand and apply social science and communication/rhetorical analysis research methods for collecting data to answer research questions in support of their field projects.  The course includes instruction and practice in sampling, instrumentation, and procedures for both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods in order to construct feasible and purposeful research designs.

Fall Semester (12 credits)

DISC 8140 - Information Technology in Legal Contexts examines the legal framework for the protection as well as the regulation of the communication of information through an understanding of court decisions, legislation, and administrative regulations.

DISC 9520 - Field Project II (Research)
focuses on the data gathering and analysis process associated with the Field Project/Dissertation (6 credits)

DISC 9525 - Data Analysis Seminar is designed to help students focus on issues of data gathering and data analysis as they apply to their individual doctoral field projects. 

Spring Semester (12 credits)

DISC 9310 - Special Topics Seminar prepares students to develop a baseline of technological competency. This course will provide a substantive and comprehensive array of historical technology issues and investigate the myriad of new developments on the horizon.

DISC 9530 - Field Project III (Final Document) comprises the individual's writing and defense of the Field Project/Dissertation. (6 cr.)

DISC 9535 - Quality Assurance Seminar is designed primarily to provide assistance to doctoral candidates as they move through the process of drafting and completing their field projects/dissertations.

Doctoral Program Faculty Brief Overview

All are invited into the program on the basis of teaching performance, publications, service record, professional experience, and honors received. Most have numerous co-authorships with their doctoral students past and present including two best paper awards. The faculty include:

Program Director: David F. Wood, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh
Stuart A. Allen, Ph.D. Regent University
Jeanne M. Baugh, Ed.D., West Virginia University
Donna L. Cellante, Ed.D., University of Pittsburgh
Peter J. Draus, Ed.D.  University of Pittsburgh
Ann Jabro, Ph.D. The Pennsylvania State University
Frederick G. Kohun, Ph.D. Carnegie Mellon University
Paul J. Kovacs, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh
John Lawson, Ph.D. Northern Illinois University
Barbara J. Levine, Ph.D. University of Wisconsin-Madison
Karen L. Paullet, D.Sc., Robert Morris University
Jamie L. Pinchot, D.Sc. Robert Morris University
Daniel R. Rota, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh
Robert J. Skovira, Ph.D. University of Pittsburgh
Wenli Wang, Ph.D. University of Texas at Austin

Representative Alumni Positions

  • 40 have chosen to move into higher education are currently teaching in numerous of tier 1 and 2 universities in a variety of academic departments throughout the nation
  • Have published several books and hundreds of academic papers individually or in conjunction with the faculty (One book has sold over 400,000 copies!)
  • Both an international sitting diplomat and a sitting United States diplomat
  • Numerous CEO's and Fortune 500 vice presidents
  • Big four consulting firm senior managers
  • Veterans

Residency Requirements

You must participate in campus residencies with your cohort group during all three years of the program. The campus residencies contribute to the collaborative environment that is a hallmark of this program. Housing is provided at a local hotel during each residency. The housing cost is an optional fee which is not included in the program tuition. Students may opt out of the hotel if they wish.  Campus residencies are scheduled according to the following plan:

  • Fall semester: August (7 days); September- December (3 weekends, Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.)
  • Spring semester: January (7 days); February-May (3 weekends, Friday afternoon through Sunday afternoon.)

Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's and master's degrees from accredited college or university, recognized international program or equivalent
  • Demonstrated competency in the fundamentals of information systems and communications
  • Information systems/communications experience or equivalence
  • Minimum of five years of managerial and/or technological experience in a specified field
  • Demonstrated writing proficiency
  • Successful completion of an interview with the doctoral admissions committee
  • At least three references from persons in business, professional and/or educational communities

Application Procedures

Interested applicants must submit the following to the Graduate Admissions Office:

  • A completed application.  There is no application fee for applications submitted on-line. (International students also are required to complete a statement of financial support.
  • The Deadline for international student applications is May 1st for the following August.  (Refer to the application form for other required admission materials.)
  • Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work from an accredited college or university, a recognized international program or the equivalent.
  • Current resume documenting a minimum of five years of managerial and/or technical experience in a specific field.
  • Writing sample.
  • A four-to-five page essay focusing on a major problem in information management and/or communications, which the applicant has experienced or observed in the workplace.
  • Three references from persons in business, professional and or educational communities.


Tuition information can be found at Tuition Fees & Schedules.

Program Location

Offered at the Moon Township campus only.