25 Best Online PhD in Information Systems [Doctorate Guide]

By Dr. Carol Benton
Updated on December 26, 2023
Ready to start your journey?

Complete your educational journey by enrolling in a PhD information systems online program. With this degree, you may qualify for top-level leadership positions in the fields of information systems, cyber security, network administration, computer and information research, or postsecondary teaching and administration.

PhD in Information Systems

If you’re considering a PhD in Information Systems, you may already be working in this field. Perhaps you’ve completed your masters degree, and you’re ready to advance to higher-paying jobs and leadership positions.

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Achieving the educational accomplishment of a PhD may demonstrate to employers that you are highly motivated, dedicated, and capable.

PhD Information Systems Programs Online

Computer and Information Systems Managers meeting

With experience, a masters, and even a bachelors degree in information systems, information security, information technology, or a related field, you may be ready to take the next step in your career.

There are various types of doctoral degrees for the field of information systems. Online information security PhD programs, for instance, can help give you the credentials you need to rise to top-level, management, and leadership jobs.

Are you strong in math and critical thinking skills? Do you have the ability to innovate and attend to details? Would you like to develop the decision-making and communication skills necessary to assume leadership positions?

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With your doctorate in information systems, you may step into a job as a chief technology officer or information systems manager. You may coordinate and direct the computer-related activities for a corporation or business.

Alternatively, you might work as an information security manager, responsible for protecting the networks and systems of a large organization. A PhD may also qualify you for a career as a computer and information research scientist, designing innovative approaches for new technology.

While pursuing a doctorate in information systems, you might take courses that cover the management of computer operations, network technology, and IT infrastructure. Other courses may cover database design, data mining, and data warehousing. Still other courses focus on independent research and dissertation preparation.

Information Systems Careers & Salaries

Information Systems Careers & Salaries

A PhD in Management Information Systems is a good major for many students and may help qualify you for top-tier leadership positions in your field.

For example, as a manager of computer and information systems, you may plan, coordinate, and direct the activities of a team of professionals. You would also carry out the computer-related activities in a business, industrial, or governmental organization.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the following median annual salaries for professionals in the field of computer information systems. Although many of the jobs listed here require a bachelors or masters degree for entry-level positions, a PhD may qualify you for top-level positions with higher-paying salaries.

Careers Annual Median Salary
Computer and Information Systems Manager $151,150
Computer and Information Research Scientist $126,830
Computer Network Architect $116,780
Top Executive $107,680
Information Security Analyst $103,590
Database Administrator $98,860
University Administrator $97,500
Computer Systems Analyst $93,730
Information Systems Professor $85,540
Network and Computer Systems Administrator $84,810

If you enroll in a PhD cyber security online program, you may become a cybersecurity expert who can lead and conduct research in information assurance for information systems, networks, and the internet.

Alternatively, you may be interested in an academic career, where you would teach undergraduate and graduate students in the computer science department of a college or university.

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As a professor, you may be expected to conduct research and publish your findings along with your teaching responsibilities. With a PhD, you may also qualify for a job in postsecondary education administration, serving as a dean or department chairperson.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects an 11% growth rate in the next decade for computer and information technology occupations. This is well above the 4% growth projected for the broad array of career fields in the US.

Information Systems PhD Curriculum & Courses

Information Systems PhD students studying together

An online Ph.D. in Information Systems degree program may include approximately 50 to 60 post-graduate credit hours past the masters degree level. These credits include coursework, research, and dissertation preparation and defense.

The exact courses that you may take will depend on your area of concentration, such as cybersecurity, bioinformatics, software development, or information technology education. The following list is a sampling of courses you might take:

  • Philosophy of Science: This course is a survey of issues and questions that arise from the nature of scientific inquiry, including scientific objectivity and how knowledge is generated.
  • Computer Operations Management: You’ll explore the meaning and importance of computer operations management along with identifying the strategies and processes of operations management.
  • Information Systems Management: This course is an overview of business application software, including microcomputer operating systems, electronic spreadsheets, and database management.
  • Database Theory and Design: This course covers advanced methods and processes for database designs, from abstract modelling to implementation.
  • Data Warehousing: You’ll investigate issues in data warehouse design, implementation, and administration.
  • Business Intelligence: This course is a survey of topics in the use of information systems to solve problems in business, including systems designs, analytics, data warehousing, and data mining.
  • Data Mining: You’ll explore the computational paradigms and algorithms that allow computers to identify and analyze patterns in data.
  • Doctoral Seminar in Information Systems: You’ll interact with faculty, students, and field-specific experts to exchange information gleaned from research as well as develop dissertation content and organization.
  • Network Technology Management: This course covers the configuration and administration of a network environment, including data storage, file access, and management policies.
  • IT Infrastructure and Management: This course is an overview of local and wide area network design, internet, and intranet operations and management.

These are only a few of the courses offered in information systems PhD programs. For specific requirements, you can consult the course catalogs of prospective universities.

Admissions Requirements

PhD in Information Systems student studying in a cafe

Once you decide on your preferred university and degree program, your next step is to apply to the program. Here’s a brief list of potential admission requirements:

  • Masters degree in a related field
  • Minimum GPA in your masters degree program
  • Background in information technology
  • Technology-related work experience
  • Letters of recommendation

Some universities may require minimum scores on graduate school entrance exams. These might include the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT). These entrance exams are not required by all institutions.


PhD in Information Systems Accreditation

As you research universities, it’s important to check the regional accreditation status of each school. Regional accreditation verifies that a university has met established standards of academic excellence.

An institution can be accredited by one of the following regional accrediting organizations:

In addition to regional accreditation, you may want to check to see if a school’s information systems degree programs are accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).

Financial Aid and Scholarships

PhD in Information Systems Financial Aid

To begin exploring financial aid possibilities, you can visit the Federal Student Aid website. There, you can fill out and submit your FAFSA form to see if you’re eligible for federal aid.

Financial aid is available in many forms. These include grants, loans, work-study programs, merit-based and need-based scholarships, and aid to veterans and military families.

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In addition to federal student aid, you might also investigate financial aid opportunities available from your university of choice, alumni associations, your employer, or community organizations.

How Long Does It Take to Get a PhD in Information Systems Online?

Computer Systems Analysts working

Your individual circumstances will dictate how long it takes to complete a PhD in Information Systems online.

If you’re able to enroll in online classes full-time on a 16 week semester basis, you may complete the program in approximately 3 to 5 years. If you enroll as a part-time student, it may take longer.

If you attend a university that offers 8 week semesters on a year-round basis, you may be able to complete your course requirements more quickly than you would in a program based on 16 week semesters.

What Can You Do with a PhD in Information Systems?

Database Administrator checking the data center

The field of computer information systems is rapidly expanding, and above-average job growth is expected to continue at least in the next ten years.

There is no shortage of jobs for professionals holding a PhD in Computer Information Systems, a PhD in Management Information Systems, or a doctorate in information security. With a doctoral degree in information systems, you may work as a chief technology officer in business and industrial organizations.

You may also pursue a career as a network and computer systems administrator, computer network architect, or security analyst and manager. You may even choose to work in research and academia, serving as a college professor or postsecondary education administrator.

What Is the Difference Between a PhD vs. DBA in Information Systems?

PhD in Information Systems student studying online

A PhD is a Doctor of Philosophy degree, and it focuses on research that makes a contribution to the scholarly body of knowledge in a given field.

A PhD candidate in information systems is expected to conduct research and report findings to the academic community in the field of information systems. A DBA is a Doctor of Business Administration degree.

A candidate for the DBA in Information Systems is expected to conduct research that will contribute to the practice of information systems management in business and industry.

Is a PhD in Information Systems Worth It?

Top Executives in a meeting

Yes, a PhD in Information Systems is worth it for many students. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer and information technology jobs are set to grow at 11% over the next 10 years, much faster than the average for all occupations.

Common information systems careers in this field include computer and information systems manager, computer and information research scientist, computer network architect, chief technology officer, and information security analyst.

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Jobs in computer information systems abound in all sectors of the economy, including industrial and business organizations, government agencies, and educational institutions. With a PhD, you could also enter the world of research, postsecondary teaching, or leadership and management.

Universities Offering Online Doctorate in Information Systems Degree Programs

Methodology: The following school list is in alphabetical order. To be included, a college or university must be regionally accredited and offer degree programs online or in a hybrid format.

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University campus

Bowling Green State University’s PhD in Technology Management program is offered via a six-school consortium program in conjunction with five other nationally accredited universities.

There are five concentration areas that prepare students to work in tech and information systems areas within construction, manufacturing, quality systems, human resources, or digital communications.

Bowling Green State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capella University

Capella University campus

The Doctor of Information Technology program from Capella University includes courses in technology policy, consulting, cybersecurity, information assurance, and applied research methods.

There are eight core courses and four concentration-specific courses, three residencies lasting 6 weeks each, and a dissertation required for program completion. Application fees are currently being waived.

Capella also offers a masters in information systems online.

Capella University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Capitol Technology University

Capitol Technology University campus

The cybersecurity doctoral program at Capitol Technology University was the first program of its kind in the nation. Program graduates should be able to assess the impact of cybersecurity both domestically and globally, contribute to the existing research and literature in the cybersecurity field, and apply and improve cybersecurity systems.

Capitol Technology University is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middles States Association of Colleges and Schools.

Colorado State University

Colorado State University campus

Students enrolled in Colorado State University’s PhD in Systems Engineering program will take a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and solving complex problems.

They’ll work with professional faculty with experience in a wide range of engineering and information systems fields. Students will study risk analysis, simulation modeling, and IT project management.

Colorado State is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Colorado Technical University

Colorado Technical University campus

Colorado Technical University’s computer science doctoral program features a cybersecurity and information assurance concentration that can potentially be completed in 3 years.

Heavy focus is placed on managing enterprise systems and utilizing tools like UML, XML, and COBRA. The school also allows students to earn credit by testing on objectives.

Colorado Technical University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Dakota State University

Dakota State University campus

Dakota State University’s PhD in Information Systems program can be taken by part-time or full-time students. Students can choose from three concentrations in health care, security, or analytics.

Students in the security concentration especially benefit from the school’s close relationship with government agencies and often quickly find jobs after graduation.

Dakota State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

George Washington University

George Washington University campus

The PhD in Systems Engineering program from George Washington University educates students on the entire process of designing and managing comprehensive systems.

It’s a broad-based program that covers many different topics, including trends and directions, systems architecture, systems engineering, methods and standards, computer tools and languages, and research methodology.

George Washington University is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

Grand Canyon University

Grand Canyon University campus

Students in Grand Canyon University’s Doctor of Business Administration program can focus their studies on quantitative data analytics.

They’ll gain the analytic foundations needed for the business world and learn about emerging financial management issues, prescriptive modeling for business decisions, and using business analytics to gain advantages over their competitors.

Grand Canyon University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Indiana State University

Indiana State University campus

Students enrolled in the technology management PhD program at Indiana State University will choose from one of five concentration areas: manufacturing systems, quality systems, human resources development, digital communications, or construction management.

Students will take a minimum of 66 credits and participate in immersive residencies as part of the program requirements.

Indiana State University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

Liberty University

Liberty University campus

The Doctor of Business Administration in Information Systems program at Liberty University is accredited by the ACBSP and features a challenging curriculum that includes courses in enterprise models, strategic supply chain management, human-computer interaction, and emerging technologies and systems analysis, modeling, and design.

Discounts are offered to current and former military.

Liberty University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

National University

National University campus

National University’s Information Systems PhD program is a comprehensive program that teaches students about computers and how they work together to accomplish a variety of tasks. The program is specifically designed for students who are already professionals in the field but want to take on leadership roles within their organizations.

National University is accredited by the WASC Senior College and University Commission.

Nova Southeastern University

Nova Southeastern University campus

Nova Southeastern University’s PhD in Information Systems program is a 67 credit program that requires seven core courses, two doctoral research courses, and a final dissertation to complete.

Key components of the curriculum include information science, software engineering, information system administration, project management, information security, and information system planning.

Nova Southeastern University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University campus

Students interested in pursuing information systems doctoral degrees can enroll in the 60 credit PhD in Education program from Old Dominion University and select the instructional design and technology concentration. The coursework can be completed online, but there are courses that require students to log in at specific times.

Old Dominion University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Purdue University

Purdue University campus

Purdue University’s Doctor of Technology program is comprehensive and provides students with a broad overview of all technological areas.

Students can learn about cyber forensics, cybersecurity, technology law, and several other fields. Students’ first semesters are generalized, but afterwards they create individualized plans of study that relate specifically to their interests.

Purdue University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools.

Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University campus

Sam Houston State University offers an online Doctorate in Instructional Systems Design and Technology program that prepares students to integrate technology into a wide variety of learning environments.

Graduates may create instructional technologies for schools, the military, medical organizations, colleges and universities, nonprofit organizations, or private companies.

Sam Houston State University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.

St Thomas University

St Thomas University campus

The Doctor of Business Administration in Cyber Security Management program from St Thomas University is specifically designed for students hoping to pursue careers as chief information security officers, but it also prepares students for a myriad of tech-related careers.

Employee behavior, digital communications, and organizational design are key components of the curriculum.

St. Thomas University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Texas Tech University

Texas Tech University campus

Texas Tech University’s PhD in Systems and Engineering Management program is a 72 credit program that requires applicants to already have a masters degree in a closely related field. In addition to research and graduate dissertation classes, other required courses include principles of optimization, total quality systems, and systems theory.

Texas Tech University is accredited with the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Central Missouri

University of Central Missouri campus

The PhD in Technology Management program from the University of Central Missouri is offered as part of a six-school consortium with concentrations in five different areas.

The program consists of general technology core courses, research courses, concentration-specific courses, professional studies requirements, a residency requirement, and a final dissertation.

The University of Central Missouri is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs

University of Colorado - Colorado Springs campus

University of Colorado – Colorado Springs has a PhD in Computer Science program with a comprehensive, research-based concentration in security.

The school has been awarded the CAE and IAE designation by the NSA and the DHS. This specific program is a multidisciplinary program that combines homeland security, physical security, and cybersecurity.

UCCS is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.

University of Georgia

University of Georgia campus

University of Georgia’s PhD in Business Administration program features a concentration in management information systems that is a 5 year, full-time program. It has been consistently ranked as one of the best management information systems programs in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, and it features courses in big data research, regression, and econometrics.

The University of Georgia is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of North Texas

University of North Texas campus

Depending on which specific concentration they take, students enrolled in the PhD in Information Systems program from the University of North Texas will take a minimum of 60 credits and must complete final dissertation projects to complete the program. Data science and cybersecurity are two of the available concentration options.

The University of North Texas is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of Tennessee – Knoxville

University of Tennessee - Knoxville campus

University of Tennessee – Knoxville’s PhD in Industrial and Systems Engineering program includes an optional engineering management concentration.

It’s a 72 credit program (including the 36 credits potentially earned in a masters program) and includes a dissertation. GRE scores are not required for admission, and all courses can be completed online.

The University of Tennessee – Knoxville is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

University of the Cumberlands

University of the Cumberlands campus

Students enrolled in the PhD in Information Technology program at University of the Cumberlands will learn about the strategies, tactics, and theories necessary to become leaders in the global technology management field.

The curriculum includes courses on cyber crime, information systems management, cybersecurity, analytics, smart technology, and big data.

The University of the Cumberlands is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

Walden University

Walden University campus

There are two areas of concentration offered in conjunction with Walden University’s Doctor of Information Technology degree. They are information technology leadership and applied information technology.

There are multiple opportunities for financial aid and tuition assistance, and students will benefit from individual mentoring and the use of IT leadership simulations.

Walden is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Worcester Polytechnic Institute campus

Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s PhD in Systems Engineering program is a 100% online program that doesn’t require any on-campus residencies.

There are required research seminars, but they’re offered in virtual classrooms that allow all students to meet, challenge, and interact with one another. Graduate certificates and masters programs are also offered.

Worcester Polytechnic Institute is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education.

Getting Your PhD in Information Systems Online

Getting Your PhD in Information Systems Online

If you’ve decided to continue your educational journey in the field of information systems, you might consider completing your doctoral degree online.

With high-quality learning platforms, online learners receive the same quality instruction and access the same resources that are available to on-campus students. Thanks to the flexibility of online learning, you may be able to better balance your school schedule with your current work or family responsibilities.

Now may be the time to search for a regionally accredited online doctorate in information systems program that best fits your career aspirations.

Ready to start your journey?
Carol is a retired college professor in the field of music education. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts from Shenandoah University, a Master of Music in piano performance and a Bachelor of Music Education from Virginia Commonwealth University. Carol has many years of experience as a teacher and academic advisor for undergraduates.