Cornell University
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Requirements for Pre-2011 Admits

Below are the old requirements for completing a PhD in Information Science at Cornell for those students admitted prior to 2011. If you have any further questions please contact our Graduate Field Assistant, Barbara Warner, via email or phone at 607-254-5347. 


Some concepts and techniques are so fundamental to Information Science that all students are required to demonstrate mastery of them. During their first two years, students will normally take a specified group of 600-level courses. There is no qualifying examination, but students must pass the required courses with a grade of B+ or better. The required courses are selected by the graduate field based on the following criteria:

  • While the field of Information Science is too broad for the students to study all topics in depth, the group of courses covers the major aspects of the field.
  • The prerequisites for each course are kept to a minimum and there is a clear prerequisite path for students who have gaps in their background.
  • Each course is also taken by students in the home department that teaches it. This means that Information Science students work alongside graduate students in other fields.
  • The department that teaches each course is committed to continuing the course and pleased to have it be a requirement for the Information Science Ph.D. students. Students must pass the required courses with a grade of B+ or better. Required classes may be waived with the approval of the student's advisor and the instructor of the course.

For a comprehensive list of Information Science courses at all levels, see our list of all INFO Courses.

Color Code Key:

Fall Course

Spring Course

Fall & Spring Course

[ ] = not offered 16-17

Required Courses

Statistics(one course required)

Research Methods (one course required)

Computer Programming (one course required, depending on skills)

Information Systems(two courses required)

Human Computer Interaction

Social Aspects of Information 

Concentrations and Minor

Each Ph.D. student will select a concentration within Information Science and a minor from a second concentration within the field. In addition, the student is required to have a minor in another graduate field. This will often be a closely related field, such as Cognitive Studies, Communication, Computer Science, Science & Technology Studies, Economics, Linguistics, Mathematics, Operations Research, Psychology, or Sociology.

Teaching requirement

Each Ph.D student is required to serve as a teaching assistant for two semesters.

Forming a Committee

Each student's committee must consist of three members representing each of the following: primary IS concentration (this is the committee chair), secondary IS concentration, and external minor. The committee must be formed no later than the end of the third semester. (See:

The student's committee may require the student to take courses in addition to the core requirements.

A Exam

The A exam tests the student's breadth in Information Science and depth in their proposed thesis area. The committee has to be selected before the A exam can take place. Students generally take the A exam after completing their coursework and at a point where they've outlined their research and have some preliminary results. They write responses to questions posed by their committee members, and then discuss their answers at an oral examination with their full committee present.


Students are expected to make a thesis proposal by the end of their third year. As part of the thesis proposal, the student will be required to demonstrate depth in at least one concentration, sufficient to carry out fundamental research. The student's Ph.D. committee will decide how this expertise will be evaluated.