Information Systems and Communications Ph.D.
Acquire the interdisciplinary knowledge and research skills to become a scholar and leader in the critical nexus of information systems and communications.
Information Systems and Communications (ISC) is a 3-year, executive-style Ph.D. program designed to meet the needs of working executives and professionals who wish to excel in leadership roles in industry, as well as of educators and researchers in information systems, technology, or communications fields.
- Interdisciplinary Program: The program prepares students with a deep understanding of the connections between information technology and human communication. Students explore both technology-driven and communication-based problems, focusing on understanding the impacts of this interdisciplinary field on both the workplace and society.
- Faculty Scholars: The program is taught by a supportive and engaged faculty who are active in research and experts in their fields of study.
- Cohort Model: Students advance through the program as a cohort, taking courses together as a group and building professional and personal networks.
- High Success Rate: The cohort model and face-to-face residencies help to minimize isolation and enable success, with over 90% of students completing their degree within 3 years.
Blended Learning Format (Online + On-campus Residencies)
The blended learning format features online and immersive on-campus residencies that allow for flexibility and high levels of engagement with faculty and other students in the program. Each course includes an online component which adds flexibility, reducing the travel time required for the program, and giving the freedom to complete some of the course requirements from anywhere anytime.
Students will engage with faculty online, in a combination of synchronous online meetings (6 hours per course, scheduled over 3 Saturdays) and asynchronous online activities.
5-day residencies (one in late August and one in early January)
3-day weekend residencies (one in October and one in March)
- Program Overview
The ISC Ph.D. addresses the challenges and complexities of our increasingly technological, Internet-connected, and data-driven society by preparing leaders and educators to conduct research, make decisions, and solve problems through integrative perspectives drawn from the fields of information systems and communications.
This accelerated program includes 60 credits of coursework:
- 27 credits of interdisciplinary content courses in information systems and communications
- 21 credits of research methodology courses
- 12 credits of directed studies focused on dissertation writing
The program culminates in a dissertation representing original research in the field of information systems and/or communications. The proposal and defense of this dissertation are primary requirements for the degree.
Year 1 - Fall
- ISCM8110 Theories in Action in ISC
- ISCM8120 ISC in Cybersociety
- ISCM8130 Intro to Research Process for ISC
Year 1 - Spring
- ISCM8140 Information Technology and Online Social Behavior
- ISCM8160 Rhetorical, Semiotic, and Ethno-cultural Foundations for ISC
- ISCM8180 Literature Review
- ISCM9100 Dissertation I – Research Topic Development
Year 2 - Fall
- ISCM8220 Data Analytics: Managerial Perspectives
- ISCM8230 Quantitative Research Methods I
- ISCM8240 Qualitative Research Methods
Year 2 - Spring
- ISCM8150 Theory Development & Knowledge Management
- ISCM8210 Advanced Research Design for ISC
- ISCM8250 Quantitative Research Methods II
- ISCM9200 Dissertation II – Proposal Completion & Defense
Year 3 - Fall
- ISCM8380 Analyzing and Interpreting Data
- ISCM8320 Information Security and the Law
- ISCM9300 Dissertation III - Data Analysis & Research Findings
Year 3 - Spring
- ISCM8310 Economics of Information Systems and Technology in the Digital Age
- ISCM8330 Contemporary Issues in ISC
- ISCM9400 Dissertation IV – Dissertation Completion & Defense
The Ph.D. in Information Systems and Communications program includes several milestones:
- At the end of the first year: A qualifying exam of study on critical thinking and proficiency in research writing. Upon passing the exam, the student is admitted into doctoral candidacy.
- At the end of the second year: Dissertation proposal defense to the student’s doctoral committee.
- At the end of the third year: Doctoral dissertation defense to the student’s doctoral committee
- Admissions Requirements and Tuition
Each new cohort accepted into the Ph.D. in Information Systems and Communications (ISC) program enrolls in the Fall semester (starting in August each year).
Minimum admission requirements:
- Master’s degree from an accredited institution
- Minimum graduate GPA of 3.0
- Completed online application to the program (www.rmu.edu/apply) with required application materials
- Official transcripts of all undergraduate and graduate course work;
- Three (3) letters of reference from individuals in professional or academic communities who are familiar with the applicant’s work;
- A current resume that includes all education, professional work experience, certifications, and other relevant information;
- An academic writing sample (this can be an academic paper previously completed for a Master’s degree program, a publication, or in lieu of either of the first two options, a 4-5 page essay focusing on a problem related to information systems or communications experienced or observed in the workplace)
- Personal interview with the Doctoral Program Director and Doctoral Admissions Committee.
International students applying to the program must also provide results from a test of English language proficiency.
Please see RMU Tuition and Fees for current tuition rates.
- Research Areas
Our doctoral students take on a broad range of topics and problems related to information systems and communications. Some of our key research areas include:
- Faculty Bios
Stuart Allen is a Professor in the Department of Communication and Organizational Leadership. He started his career as an industrial/organizational psychologist working in South Africa, before becoming a full-time academic focused on leadership. He has worked with organizational leaders from various industries and has consulted to organizations in the information technology, corporate, education, healthcare, nonprofit, and government sectors. His consulting experience includes executive coaching, leadership development, change management, human resource management, organizational development, and team development. Dr. Allen is an active researcher with interests in leadership, teaching with technology, inclusive classrooms and organizations, sustainability, and research methods.
Natalya Bromall was born in Ivanovo, Russia, and received her BS and MS degrees in Mathematics from Ivanovo State University. She graduated from Utah State University with a Ph.D. in Business Information Systems and Education and held academic positions in multiple universities, prior to joining RMU in 2013. Dr. Bromall is currently an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Systems; her areas of interest include cloud services, quantitative methods, web programming, cyber security and database management. She has multiple publications in academic journals and conference proceedings, is a certified AWS Solutions Architect – Associate and a certified AWS Academy instructor.
A.J. Grant is a University Professor of Organizational Leadership at Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, PA. Grant’s research interests include historical and contemporary topics in rhetoric, ethics, popular culture, and leadership. Recent publications include “Ethos, Pathos and Logos: Rhetorical Fixes for an Old Problem: Fake News” and “Does G-d Lie: Dissembling in the Holy Books, both forthcoming from the Informing Science Institute. Grant has also published articles in Rhetoric Society Quarterly, Leadership and the Humanities, The Journal of American Culture, and the Journal of Leadership Studies. Grant received his Ph.D. in Rhetoric and English from Northern Illinois University, an MAT from Wheaton Graduate School and a BA in English Literature and Writing from the University of Pittsburgh.
Frank Hartle is the Associate Dean of the School of Informatics, Humanities, and Social Science. He is also an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Director for Criminal Justice programs at RMU. His areas of research are cybercrime, cyber intelligence, threat intelligence, and the use of artificial intelligence, and augmented reality in law enforcement. At Robert Morris University, he led the design and implementation of the Master of Science in Cyber Investigation and Intelligence. Dr. Hartle has 30 years of experience in law enforcement and criminal justice to include the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police as an officer and detective. He serves as the Assistant Federal Security Director for Law Enforcement for DHS/TSA and prior as the Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge. Dr. Hartle was the Federal Air Marshal Service representative on the Pittsburgh FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). Locally, he serves as the Emergency Management Coordinator for his township. Dr. Hartle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Computer Systems Technology from Duquesne University, a Master of Science degree in Criminal Justice Administration from Point Park University, and a Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) in Information Systems at Robert Morris University.
Diane Igoche is an Associate Professor of Computer and Information Systems with an educational background in Business, Information Systems and Instructional Technology. Her current research interests include data analytics and machine learning applications in limited resource settings, broadening participation of underrepresented groups in STEM+C, and curriculum development in computing. Dr. Igoche has taught both in the USA and Saudi Arabia. She has supervised undergraduate and graduate student research efforts both at RMU and abroad. She is also involved in various community efforts including co-leading the Pittsburgh Women in Machine Learning and Data Science group
Ann Summerhall-Jabro transitioned from an award-winning career in media to academe. She holds a Ph.D. in Speech Communication from The Pennsylvania State University. An award-winning teacher, nationally recognized scholar and recipient of commendations for her approach to engaged learning and service, Dr. Jabro served as the first female president of the American Federation of Teachers Local #3412 where she implemented culture change strategies to promote the intellectual excellence of members and co-chairs for negotiations. Dr. Jabro's research interests include crisis response strategies using traditional and digital media during stages of crises, organizational sustainability and leadership across the spectrum, and stimulating mindfulness and self awareness during global educational excursions.
Edward Karshner is an Associate Professor of English. He holds a Ph.D. in Rhetoric and Philosophy from Bowling Green State University. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2005, Dr. Karshner researched T’ang Dynasty folklore and poetry. He has also researched and written on Ancient Egyptian magical practices. For ten years, he studies with Diné (Navajo) healers and story tellers and wrote about Diné Ceremony as a rhetorical system. Most recently, he researches and writes about Appalachian folklore, magic, and mysticism. Both his academic and creative writing explores the intersections of rhetoric, folk-metaphysics, and art as a means to communicate the foundational knowledge of cultural and individual agency. He lives in Oberlin, Ohio with his wife and their two children. But, his home will always be the Salt Creek Valley of the Appalachian Plateau in Southeastern Ohio.
Paul Kovacs is a University Professor of Computer Information Systems. Dr. Kovacs has taught computer and information systems courses at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Neumann University, and Duquesne University. Industry experience includes Computer Systems and Analysis work in Pittsburgh at PNC Bank, Bank of NY Mellon, and the Equitable Gas Company. Kovacs received his Ph.D. and master’s degrees in Educational Communications and Technology from the University of Pittsburgh and a BS in Education from California University of Pennsylvania. His research interests include pedagogy in higher education such as how students learn and interact with technology as well as topics concerning Big Data and Data Analytics. He has numerous publications in academic journals and conference proceedings and has received several awards for his publications.
Min Lu is a Professor of Economics. She earned a Ph.D. in Economics from the University of British Columbia. She received her Ph.D. in Economics from the University of British Columbia (Canada). Her current research interests are: international finance, monetary economics and e-commerce. She joined Robert Morris University in 2007. She was also a financial analyst for the International Division of the Bank of China. Her research papers have appeared in the International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Journal of Business and Economics Research, International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance, and among others. She is the recipient of many awards.
Sushma Mishra is a Professor in Computer and Information Systems. Dr. Mishra received her Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University. She has published multiple articles in information security governance, security effectiveness and health informatics. She was the director of the doctor of science (D.Sc.) program at RMU. Dr. Mishra’s research interests include organizational information security, security effectiveness, health informatics, gender issues in IT and cloud computing.
Sun-A Park is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication and Organizational Leadership. She received both M.A. and Ph.D. in Journalism (Emphasis in Strategic Communication) from the University of Missouri School of Journalism and a B.A. in Public Relations and Advertising from Sookmyung Women’s University in Seoul, South Korea. Her research interests include environmental risk, health, and crisis communication, such as consumer health crisis management, public health crisis communication, and corporate sustainability communication. Her research has appeared in Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, Prism, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Studies in Communication Sciences, Health Communication, Journal of Health Communication, Journal of Communication in Healthcare, and The Handbook of Crisis Communication.
Karen Paullet is a Professor of Computer and Information Systems. She holds a BS in Information System, an MS in Communications and Information Systems, and a D.Sc. in Information Systems and Communications from Robert Morris University. In addition Dr. Paullet has spent over 13 years working with law enforcement preparing cases using digital evidence for trial. She has spoken at over 200 engagements nationally and internationally to include agencies such as NASA, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, NIST, Department of Energy and the Federal Reserve on the Dangers of Social Network Sites, Mobile Security Threats, Privacy of Information, Information Sharing and the CSI Effect. She has applied her research interests to educate students, organizations, law enforcement and government agencies. Her work has been published through various journals to include Issues in Information Systems, Journal of Information Systems (JISE) and the Journal of Information Systems of Applied Research (JISAR). Dr. Paullet has received numerous awards to include Distinguished Achievement Award for Service, Excellence in Teaching Award, and Academic Excellence Award. She brings her professional experience in law enforcement and teaching to serve and educate others in the community.
Jamie Pinchot is a Professor of Computer and Information Systems and the Director of the Ph.D. program in Information Systems and Communications. Her teaching and research interests include information security and privacy, mobile technologies, information design, social media, and the impacts of technology on human communication and culture. Dr. Pinchot spent ten years working in IT in various capacities including web development, web interface design, web integration with legacy systems and most recently as a Senior IT Consultant specializing in enterprise online collaboration tools, social media, and mobile technologies. She earned a D.Sc. in Information Systems and Communications and an MS in Communications and Information Systems from Robert Morris University. She earned a BA in Computer Science and an AA in Management Information Systems from Thiel College. Dr. Pinchot has published papers in journals such as the Journal of Information Systems Education (JISE), the Journal of Information Systems Applied Research (JISAR), Information Systems Education Journal (ISEDJ), and Issues in Information Systems (IIS).
Ping Wang is a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems and the Point of Contact (POC) of RMU's national Center of Academic Excellence in Cyber Defense Education (CAE-CDE) designation by NSA/DHS. He has taught and published research on various topics of IS/IT, Cybersecurity, and Communication, including computer networks, network security, Internet of Things (IoT), cybersecurity education and workforce development, business data breach communication, and cross-cultural communication. He has a Ph.D. in Information Systems from Nova Southeastern University, a Master of Computer Information Science (MCIS) from Cleveland State University as well as an MA and BA in Linguistics. Dr. Wang is a Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP) and a senior consultant and leader of a private cybersecurity firm. He has received many awards for excellence in teaching, research, innovation, and mentoring. He has been an active member of the U.S. National Initiative for Cybersecurity Education (NICE) Working Group since 2016 and Associate Editor of the International Journal of Hyperconnectivity and the Internet of Things (IJHIoT) since 2017. Dr. Wang is a certified diversity trainer and an active accreditation evaluator for Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) and ABET Computing Accreditation Commission.
Wenli Wang is a University Professor of Computer and Information Systems. She obtained her Ph.D. in Management Science and Information Systems from the University of Texas at Austin in 2000, and subsequently held academic posts at Emory University, University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and Trident University. Her current research focuses on cybersecurity, health informatics, artificial intelligence, and rich media. She has 20+ journal and 40+ conference publications. She has published in Journal of Economic Theory, Decision Support Systems, IEEE Computer, International Journal of Electronic Commerce, Communications of the AIS, Journal of Information Technology Management, Technology in Society, etc. She has served on the editorial boards of Journal of Database Management and International Journal of E-business Research. Her other research interests are game theory, organizational behavior, leadership, ethics, mindfulness, control and assurance. She received her B.S. in Computer Engineering & Telecommunications from Beijing University of Posts & Telecommunications in 1994.
Chen Yang is an Assistant Professor of Communication. Dr. Yang has a Ph.D. in Media and Communication from Bowling Green State University. Prior to completing his doctorate study, Dr. Yang has worked in multinational corporations in China and also earned two master’s degrees: one in Linguistics and one in Applied Statistics. Dr. Yang’s scholarship covers a variety of areas such as social media usage, intercultural communication, media effects, digital news, and more. His recent research topics include international students’ life in America and US media’s representation of China’s image. Dr. Yang has presented his research in multiple academic conferences including National Communication Association (NCA), Broadcast Education Association (BEA), Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication (AEJMC), and International Academy for Intercultural Research (IAIR). His research is published in book chapters and peer-reviewed journals such as Journalism, Electronic News, and Journal of Asian Communication. Dr. Yang has taught courses related to digital media, intercultural communication, advertising, and research methods.
A limited number of partial scholarships are available for students in the Ph.D. in Information Systems and Communications program. For more information, please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at 800-762-0097 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
To apply for a scholarship, please fill out the following scholarship application:
- Our Alumni
As a graduate of our doctoral program, you will join more than 300 distinguished alumni. Of our alumni, approximately 40% work in the private sector, 35% in academic institutions, and 15% in think tanks, consulting firms, and government.
The following list is a sampling of organizations where our graduates work, research, and lead:
- CONSOL Energy, Inc.
- Kaiser Permanente
- Capital One
- Thermo Fisher Scientific
- BNY Mellon
- Highmark Health Solutions
- Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals LLC
- Westinghouse Electric Co.
- Bayer Crop Science LLC
- DICK’s Sporting Goods
- WESCO International, Inc.
- General Electric Company
- Johnson & Johnson
- Duquesne Light Company
- Carnegie Mellon University
- University of Pittsburgh
- Penn State University
- University of Maryland
- National Defense University
- Edinboro University
- Frostburg State University
- Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy
- Virginia Military Institute
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania
- Clarion University
- Florida Atlantic University
- Slippery Rock University
- Carlow University
- Grove City College
- California University of Pennsylvania
- Geneva College
- Middle Georgia State University
- Point Park University
Think Tanks, Consulting Firms, and Government:
- The MITRE Corporation
- Booz-Allen Hamilton, Inc.
- Department of Homeland Security
- Department of Defense
- Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- Air Force Office of Special Investigations
- U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence
- Department of the Army
- Department of the Navy
- Internal Revenue Service (IRS)
- Department of Veteran Affairs
- National Telecommunication and Information Administration
- Alumni Testimonials
Michael Love, D.Sc. (Cohort 19, Class of 2020)
Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Army
Deputy Chief, Cybersecurity Operations Center
National Geospatial Intelligence Agency
“The doctoral program at Robert Morris was a challenging and rewarding journey that supported my goals as a life-long learner. The program helped me step into the world of academic research and opened doors to new opportunities that I would have never realized before this journey. Thank you!”
Stuart Williams, D.Sc. (Cohort 19, Class of 2020)
The MITRE Corporation
“The RMU information systems and communication doctoral program has been instrumental in adding the skills, credentials, and gravitas necessary to establish me as a capable thought leader among my peers and career engagements. The program allowed me to expand on my unique, existing area of expertise by applying core research and thought leadership principles, enabling me to contribute to knowledge in my field. The experience also allowed me to interact with other thought leaders from other domains, expanding my personal connections and network.
Immediately after graduation, I was able to put my new credentials to use by using my research and thought leadership skills gained through the doctoral program to support several efforts related to COVID-19 pandemic research and response efforts in the United States. Having the credentials provided immediate, recognizable credibility backed up with the capabilities and tools the RMU program provided me. I urge doctoral candidates and prospects to consider the unique programming offered by RMU's focused doctoral program as a key benefit to a targeted approach to a high-quality credential for your future.”
Bill Carney, D.Sc. (Cohort 18, Class of 2019)
Principle Systems Engineer
The MITRE Corporation
“Family. That’s what immediately comes to mind when I think about my time at RMU. The Cohort, the Professors, the Staff, all coming together for an extraordinary educational purpose. I certainly do miss those times, but the Family gained is everlasting. Cohort 18 ‘One Team, One Fight!’”
Fred Hoffman, D.Sc. (Cohort 18, Class of 2019)
Interim Chairman, Intelligence Studies Department, Mercyhurst University
Assistant Professor of Intelligence Studies, Mercyhurst University
“I am a big fan of the doctoral program at RMU! I successfully completed the program in May of 2019, and several months later was offered a teaching position at Mercyhurst University in Erie, PA, where I soon became the chairman of the Intelligence Studies department. One of my responsibilities is helping our Applied Intelligence graduate students develop, research, submit, and defend their master’s thesis – a task for which the RMU doctoral program prepared me well. One of the most noteworthy things about the RMU doctoral program is its extremely high success rate: Whereas virtually all other doctoral programs have a less than 50% success rate, the RMU program has maintained a roughly 90% graduation rate for two decades. As my co-authors and I explained in a published article on the subject, one of the factors contributing to this success rate is RMU’s cohort model. Our doctoral cohort was a very closely-knit group; we still keep in close contact with one another.”
Alvi Lim, D.Sc. (Cohort 18, Class of 2019)
Lead Information Systems Engineer
The MITRE Corporation
“The RMU Information Systems and Communications Doctoral Program has widened my field of studies, taught me how research is conducted, and challenged me to view the world with multiple lenses. The program at RMU is compact but achievable, with an extraordinary group of professors who is always available to guide you to success.”
Jay Wang, D.Sc. (Cohort 18, Class of 2019)
Principal Systems Engineer
The MITRE Corporation
“I very much enjoyed and greatly benefited from the program's balanced coverage of both technical and cultural factors applied with both quantitative and qualitative methods. It was a blessing to learn from the diverse and rich professional and life experiences of peer students throughout the entire three years - brainstorming and bonding without peer pressure but plenty of peer support. I am a better practitioner and researcher thanks to the caring and capable faculty and staff.”
Majed Afandi, D.Sc. (Cohort 17, Class of 2018)
Cybersecurity Risk Manager
“The atmosphere, analytical and scientific knowledge, and research tactics I experienced through this program are forever remarkable. What I learned and achieved throughout the program helped me grow in my professional life. In fact, a number of fortune organizations were interested in my dissertation findings which resulted in me accepting a suitable career opportunity in one of them. It is without a doubt, one of the best decisions I've ever made.”
Anne Shepherd, D.Sc. (Cohort 17, Class of 2018)
Associate Chief Information Officer
Internal Revenue Service
“The RMU doctoral program was a game changer for me, fueling my research interest in innovation strategy and culture. The experience expanded my critical thinking and world view. Few programs at this level have such an engaging and supportive faculty which makes the RMU journey quite special.”
Dave Verret, D.Sc. (Cohort 15, Class of 2016)
Director, U.S. Army Signal School, Regional Signal Training Sites Division
U.S. Army Cyber Center of Excellence
“I truly appreciated the doctoral program offered by RMU in Information Systems and Communications. What stood out to me were the quality instruction, scheduling, cost, and the awesome classmates in my cohort. RMU is a wonderful school with a staff that encourages the executive-level students with unparalleled support and enthusiasm. I truly enjoyed the residencies and the camaraderie, too, even though I had to travel from Georgia to participate – it was worth it!”
Gary King, D.Sc. (Cohort 14, Class of 2015)
Deputy Director, Cybersecurity
Office of Special Projects
Air Force Office of Special Investigations
“I stopped considering other doctorate programs after attending an RMU informational session in the Washington, DC region. I was looking for an in-residence program that would allow me to continue working, and use my Post-9/11 GI Bill benefits. My interaction with the faculty, students in the area, and alumni provided me with a sense that RMU was the best academic institution for me to achieve the goal of earning a doctorate degree.
Robert Morris University provided others and me with an intellectual academic environment where students were encouraged to express and examine differing opinions, and allowed the application of out of box constructs to solve problems. That nurturement bred meaningful contributions to the bodies of evidence in our respective areas of study.
For me, from day one to post graduation, my continued interactions with faculty members, other students, and my cohort classmates has validated and reinforced that I made the correct decision in selecting RMU to pursue a Doctorate in Science in Information Systems and Communications. Without the benefit of hindsight…I still, without hesitation, would choose RMU as my first choice to pursue a doctorate degree.”
Quinn Lanzendorfer, D.Sc. (Cohort 14, Class of 2015)
Technical & Acquisition Program Manager
U.S. Department of Defense
“The Information Systems & Communications doctoral program at Robert Morris University offers students the ability to take their knowledge to the next level. The program opens doors for publishing research and to be recognized as a subject matter expert.”
- Contact Information
Dr. Jamie Pinchot
Director, Ph.D. Information Systems and Communications Program
Professor of Computer and Information Systems
Wheatley Center 327
These are some of the classes for students in this academic program:
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