Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems

Admission Requirements | Program Requirements | Course Requirements | Our Doctoral Students | Frequently Asked Questions


The Graduate School at UMBC is located in the heart of the Baltimore-Washington metropolitan area, a premier location known for its flourishing tech industry.

Our Ph.D. is one of the few programs that approaches Information Systems in a holistic sense, including the social and political elements of building and maintaining complex, large-scale systems. We have a diverse, multicultural faculty and student body that practices an interdisciplinary and applied approach to Information Systems.

Our well-renowned full-time faculty is involved with a wide variety of externally funded projects and they are also proudly featured in top scholarly venues.




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Admission Requirements

  1.  The majority of successful applicants have an undergraduate GPA well above 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale).
  2. The IS Ph.D. program builds on an understanding of the design, development, analysis, and use of computer-based information systems. Successful applicants will have demonstrated aptitude and/or interest in one or more of these areas. In addition, applicants should have or be willing to acquire the necessary competence in some of the following areas depending on their research concentration: statistical analysis, experimental design, programming, databases and data mining, computational analysis, in order to conduct sophisticated research at the doctoral level
  3. NOTE: For Spring 2023 applicants, GRE and GMAT are optional and no waiver is required. All applicants must submit GRE Aptitude Test or GMAT scores unless they get an approved waiver from the department. Exceptional applicants with strong background and extensive work experience can apply for a waiver of GRE/GMAT if they satisfy all of the following requirements:
    • They hold a BS degree from an accredited US institution with a GPA of 3.5 or above or they hold both a BS degree and a MS degree from accredited US institutions;
    • Their BS or MS degree from US institution is in IS or closely related fields;
    • They are NOT applying for any form of financial support during the course of study;
    • They have at least five years of professional experience in US in information technology or closely related fields;
    • They have authored or co-authored some peer-reviewed publications in IS or closely related fields and have made significant contribution to those publications.

    Qualified applicants need to request a waiver from the Graduate Program Director at least two months before the official application deadline and include the following in their request of waiver:

      • The peer-reviewed publications they authored or co-authored along with a written explanation of their contribution to these publications
      • Transcripts from US institutions (undergraduate and graduate)
      •  At least two recommendation letters commenting on their research potential
      • A resume with explanation of their work experience and research potential, including but not limited to research experience, creative projects, and leadership roles.

    If any of these items have already been submitted as part of admission application, please indicate so. Qualifying for a waiver request does NOT guarantee approval of the request. The GPD will only approve a request if the applicant has demonstrated exceptionally strong research potential such that the admission decision can be made without looking at GRE scores.

  4. All applicants are expected to read, speak, write, and understand the English language fluently. Those whose native language is not English are required to take a language proficiency test. The only exception to this requirement is for students who have earned a post-secondary degree from an accredited university in the United States. Students who have received post-secondary degrees from a U.S. institution and whose native language is not English may be required to demonstrate proficiency in English.

    We currently accept Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), IELTS (International English Language Testing System), and PTE Academic (Pearson Test of English). The minimum acceptable combined TOEFL score is 550 (written), 213 (computer based) or 80 (iBT-Internet based). The TOEFL code for UMBC is 5835. For IELTS, the minimum acceptable total score is 6.5. A minimum score of 53 is required on the PTE Academic test. We will also accept Duolingo English test. The minimum required score is 115.

  5. Statement of Purpose (included in the online application). Please elaborate on the following:
    • What research area are you interested in? Why would you like to work in that particular area?  What aspects of your background will prepare you to work in that area? What are your career goals? What prior experience do you have in conducting/assisting in research?
    • Also, look on the web for information about the professors and their research. Indicate which research area(s) you are interested in working in, perhaps commenting on the interdisciplinary nature of your interests.
    • You are strongly encouraged to contact individual faculty members with whom you are interested in working and discuss with them about your background and interests.
  6. Three letters of recommendation
  7. Official transcripts of all post-secondary schools (Electronic Transcripts: If you are submitting transcripts electronically, please forward to Kathie Nee ( for domestic applications and to Scott Philips ( for international applications.
  8. The UMBC Graduate School will accept official WES ICAP Course-by-Course evaluations as fulfillment of the requirement for official transcripts in the admissions process.


The deadlines for the Ph.D. program are:

  • Fall semester: February 1
  • Spring semester: September 1

All application materials must be on file in the IS department for expeditious review – incomplete files will be kept open for the following semester admission decisions.


If you need any further information please contact Shannon Keegan, Graduate Programs Manager (