Carlson School of Management

Information & Decision Sciences Program Requirements

The IDS program is designed to produce world-class scholars with capabilities in research, teaching and service. Students are expected to develop skills in recognizing and conceptualizing critical research questions and problems that need to be addressed in one or more areas that make up IDS. Students must also master one or more methodologies for conducting empirical or theoretical inquiry. These methodologies must be both grounded in basic academic disciplines (e.g., psychology, economics, computer science), and potentially fruitful for the study of how individuals and organizations use information and make decisions with the aid of technology.


Students must take a minimum of 46 semester credits of coursework including 14 credits of IDSc PhD seminars, 8 credits of research methodology coursework (this can overlap with the supporting field coursework), and 16 credits of supporting fields or minor area coursework. Students are required to take IDSc 8511, 8521, 8531, 8541 and 8711. Methodology courses can include regression, experimental design, multivariate statistics, and econometric modeling. Students who lack in technical and business knowledge of IDSc will need to take MBA courses to make up any deficiencies.

Course descriptions:

IDSc 8511: Conceptual Topics and Research Methods in IDSc

This course covers the relationships of IDSc to underlying disciplines; major research streams; seminal articles; survey literature; and major researchers. Provides the framework for organizing knowledge about information and decision sciences.

IDSc 8521: Seminar in Systems Development

Concepts and practice in information systems development; process and data analysis; system development life cycle research issues; research methods with an emphasis on modeling and simulation.

IDSc 8531: Organizational Theory and Research in Information Systems

Introduction, adoption, use/exploitation of information systems in organizations. Critically examine empirical work. Formulate research questions. Conduct research.

IDSc 8541: Introduction to Economics of Information Systems

Classical research questions. Methods/findings that form backbone of economics of IS. Online auctions, electronic markets, off shoring, human capital issues.

IDSc 8711: Cognitive Science

Covers empirically based concepts of knowledge and reason, mental representation and conceptual systems that guide problem solving and decision making. Focus on computational metaphor of mind drawn from psychology, computer science, linguistics, anthropology, and philosophy. Implications for understanding of knowledge work.

First Year Exam

The first-year exam consists of students reviewing a selected set of papers, with consideration given to students’ respective areas of interest. Students are asked to define their interest area (e.g., organizational, computer science, economics, or cognitive science). IDS faculty choose papers to be critiqued from published and unpublished papers of varying quality. Four articles are assigned to each student usually in late April with the reviews being due in late May. After faculty examine the reviews, an oral exam takes place to provide faculty with additional input to more fully evaluate areas of weakness that may have been identified in the written reviews. Immediately after the oral exam students are given oral feedback on their performance on the exam as well as on coursework and their TA/RA assignments. Students not performing up to standards will be encouraged to address their deficiencies or withdraw from the program.

Research Paper

By the end of the second year, students will produce a publication-quality paper, which may be co-authored with a faculty member and should be submitted to a journal or conference. Students are also encouraged to present this paper at a department workshop.


Written Prelim

There are two parts to this exam. One is an in-house exam based on core materials discussed in the required IDS seminars, while the second part is a research portfolio that evaluates each student’s individual strengths and research development. The research portfolio will be evaluated based on quality rather than quantity of work, so students should submit only their best work.

  • In-house exam is conducted in mid summer. Exam is based on 4 of the 5 required seminars
  • A research portfolio must be turned in that includes their second year research paper; other papers including required term papers written for various seminars, research proposals, or research tools developed (such as questionnaires or software); and a research statement that focuses on the other submitted materials (this statement should not exceed 5 single-spaced pages, 12-point font, inclusive of references, tables, figures, etc.)

Oral Prelim

Students must schedule an oral exam before the end of the semester following completion of the written prelim exam (usually the fall semester of their third year). Format varies based on committee makeup.

Proposal Defense

Students must develop a written dissertation proposal describing their research problem and method of addressing that problem. The proposal must be defended before the dissertation committee, generally during the fourth year. Proposals should be presented at a department workshop after being successfully defended.


All students are required to attend the weekly IDS workshops. Students should TA at least one MBA course to help in developing their teaching skills, and help prepare and deliver at least one class session under tutelage of the faculty instructor. Two course instructor experiences are expected, usually during the third and/or fourth year. Prior to interviewing for a faculty position, each student should have a defended proposal and present their thesis work at an IDS workshop where they can obtain constructive feedback.

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Information & Decision Sciences

Program Demographics 2013

  • Average Age = 30
  • Average GRE (before August 2011) = 1322
  • Average GRE (after August 2011) = 324
  • Average GMAT (Total) = 716

Program Statistics 2013

  • Number of Applicants = 32
  • Admissions = 4 (12%)
  • Matriculants = 2 (50%)
  • Total program size = 13

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