We welcome graduates with good academic potential and strong interest in research to be a part of the premier research-based programme leading to a doctoral degree.

Students in this programme spend the first two semesters on advanced courses before embarking on a research project that culminates in a research dissertation.

Detailed information on the research interests of our faculty members can also be found here.


Structure of Programme

All graduate research students are admitted directly into a full-time graduate programme that leads to either:

Doctor in Philosophy (PhD), if the candidate passes the Qualifying Examination (QE); or
Master of Science (MSc), if the candidate fails the Qualifying Examination but is allowed to complete as an MSc candidate

PhD students admitted to the Department of Information Systems (IS) will follow the structure for the IS PhD programme:


Structure of PhD Programme (Information Systems)
Year 1 Semester 1 3 Core Modules
Semester 2 3 Core Modules + Research + Teaching
Year 2 Semester 1 PhD QE Module (PhD QE I) + 2 Modules + Research + Teaching
Semester 2 2 Modules + Research + Graduate Research Paper (PhD QE II) + Teaching
Year 3 Semester 1 Research + Teaching
Semester 2 Research + Thesis Proposal + Teaching
Year 4 Semester 1 Research
Semester 2 Pre-submission Presentation (before thesis submission)
PhD Defense (Seminar Presentation + Oral Defense)


Coursework Requirements

All IS PhD candidates must complete the number of courses as indicated in the above structure.

All IS PhD candidates are required to complete six common core modules, spanning the different streams of IS research. This is compulsory for all students so as to increase their breadth of knowledge. These modules will cover the research methods, theories, and seminar on recent topics in all three IS research tracks: behavioral, technical, and economics.

Upon completion of the common core modules, students would be directed to a more structured set of modules in one of the three different tracks that they can choose from. Based on their choice of track, they will select four elective modules that ensure breadth and depth of knowledge in their area.


PhD Qualifying Examination (QE)

The QE is to be taken by all postgraduate students, and the PhD candidate must pass his/her QE 18 months after admission. A maximum of two attempts will be allowed. Candidates are allowed to take the QE earlier than the specified period. There is no exemption of the QE. The PhD QE will be offered twice a year, in January/August for IS candidates. The research scholarship will be terminated the moment a student fails the QE. He/She will complete the rest of the degree requirements as an MSc candidate.

The PhD Qualifying Examination for IS PhD students consists of the PhD QE I (PhD QE module) and PhD QE II (Graduate Research Paper (GRP)).

(i) QE Module (IS6000 Qualifying Examination in IS)

IS students are required to take the QE module (IS6000) which tests the integration of concepts from the common core modules that all students would have taken.

This module evaluates students on essential knowledge of IS research methodologies and application domains of management information systems. Students will be tested on their ability to integrate method (e.g., survey, experiment, qualitative, technical, or econometrics) and domain (e.g., knowledge management, electronic commerce) knowledge towards designing studies to investigate current phenomena in IS.

(ii) Graduate Research Paper (GRP)

Students are expected to work on the Graduate Research Paper (GRP) after selecting a faculty member as the PhD supervisor, and to participate in lab activities with the view of producing a quality research/survey paper by the third semester. The GRP can be a shorter, simpler academic paper, or a thorough literature review paper about a broad area that can be developed into the literature review section of the dissertation.

Students are expected to show competence in embarking on the PhD research. The GRP presentation will be evaluated by a panel not later than the end of the second year of study.


PhD Thesis Proposal / Doctoral Seminar

The Thesis Proposal is an important component of the PhD programme. It should highlight the significance of the research topic, its goal, the approach adopted, and work to be done. It should be precise and convincing to the examiners that the candidate is proposing a novel area of research and the goal is achievable.

PhD candidates are encouraged to attempt the Thesis Proposal earlier than the specified period, eg by their 5th semester. A PhD candidate must pass his/her thesis proposal at the end of Year 3. The proposal will be examined by two faculty members of SoC familiar with the area of research in the proposal. A maximum of two attempts are allowed.

The PhD candidature of a student will be terminated if s/he fails to pass the Thesis Proposal. Such student, subject to the approval of the School, may proceed to obtain an MSc degree by completing a dissertation and meeting all the requirements of an MSc degree.

The Thesis Proposal comprises of an open seminar presentation (doctoral seminar), followed by a close-door oral examination.

The presentation is a public talk open to both staff and students, and should take about 30 to 40 minutes. The seminar, which should include any research findings or work from published papers, will be graded on a satisfactory/ unsatisfactory (S/U) basis.

A close-door oral examination will follow after the seminar presentation. The student is expected to answer satisfactorily any questions raised by the evaluators.


PhD Defense

The PhD Defense will be pre-scheduled when the candidate submits his/her thesis. It will comprise of an open seminar presentation, followed by a close-door oral examination.

Seminar presentation should take about 30 to 40 minutes. This will be a public talk open to both staff and students. After the presentation, a 10-minute Q&A session will be available for the public.

A close-door oral examination will follow after the seminar presentation. The student is expected to answer satisfactorily any questions raised on the subject matter pertaining to her/his research thesis and related subjects.

This oral examination will be conducted by a 3-member panel that is chaired by the Head or nominee.


Duration of Programme

The maximum candidature period inclusive of periods of approved study leave for PhD programme is 5 years.


Language of Instruction

The language of instruction for the graduate courses is English.