Doctorate of Professional Studies

One of the transformational influences on the contemporary world arises from the innovative use of information resources combined with the pervasive reach of digital technologies.  Leadership of information-based organizations is a key ingredient for organizational success—and leadership in the contemporary world increasingly demands a set of research and analysis skills as the basis for decision-making. 

The Doctorate of Professional Studies (DPS) in Information Management program is designed for elite information professionals whose career trajectory is directed to taking on visible leadership in professional practice. This highly selective, nontraditional doctoral program accepts students who can establish powerful working partnerships between the iSchool and their own organizations.

The iSchool faculty comprise thought leaders from a wide range of disciplines and professional backgrounds and the focus of this program is to identify and develop partners who see the Doctorate in Professional Studies as a means to leverage both the academic and professional leadership needed by contemporary organizations.

For this doctoral program we seek candidates who can join this milieu as partners and bridge builders. With the guidance of their faculty advisory committees, doctoral students use their own organizations as living laboratories for evaluation, innovation, and assessment. The result becomes new knowledge that the doctoral student shares with the profession for the wider benefit of society.

The program serves highly accomplished information professionals who are employed at organizations willing to partner in the learning and innovation process. Our flexible curriculum and practical research mentorship prepares graduates to become visible and effective leaders within the information professions. The program’s focus on developing research skills directed specifically at professional concerns is the mechanism to connect inquiry with decision-making.

Distinctive Features

  • Interactive Delivery Format: The program combines periodic, brief residential periods with distance learning experiences; students remain working full-time within their home organizations.
  • Centered on Apprenticeship: Students immediately enter collaboration with the iSchool through shared projects with their faculty guidance committees and the iSchool leadership.
  • Research in Action: Students sharpen their analytical, research, and critical thinking skills through a variety of instructional interactions with faculty.
  • Outcome Oriented:  The program focuses on showcasing these skills through professional writing of academic analyses.

Professional focus

  • Tailored Curriculum: We undertake broad-based development of the doctoral candidate through immersion in the activities and projects of faculty members and the school.
  • Personalized Mentoring and Professional Development: Doctoral students enter with an appreciation of the role of information in the knowledge economy and leave with the tools, skills, and network to influence that economy.
  • Problem-Solving Orientation: Gaining the necessary expertise and outlook prepares the student to address the issues and challenges faced by information-based organizations across the sectors of society.

Doctoral-level inquiry

Unique among doctoral programs oriented to professional practice, this program focuses on sophisticated, in situ inquiry that explores the operations, environment, and people in a living organization. We expect that the creation of a publication quality thesis will lead to enhanced visibility and recognition in the field through the production of a book, white papers, and other publications.

Customizable study

Concentrations and fields of research can focus on any of the school’s disciplines, including technology planning, data science, digital libraries, electronic commerce, telecommunications policy, global networking, cybersecurity, human-computer interaction, and information policy. The specific focus undertaken by the student depends upon the composition of the faculty advisory committee. The essential task of progressing through the program lies in working with the faculty advisory committee to develop educational experiences that will lead to new skills, capabilities, tools, and insights.

Career path

The Syracuse School of Information Studies includes highly ranked international programs, well-known faculty, and a highly interconnected alumni network. Each doctoral student in this program is seen as a current and future partner of the school, its faculty, and its alumni. We only accept students with extraordinary potential, and we invest heavily in realizing that potential across the student’s whole career.  This program gives students mentorship and the tools needed for inquiry-based leadership on the issues facing today’s information professionals.  Graduates of the DPS program remain highly involved in their professions, building their visibility by publishing and speaking on professional issues. Note that this program is not designed to provide the full gamut of experiences necessary to compete for traditional tenure track academic positions.

Admission Criteria

This highly selective program is designed for accomplished professionals in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who want to participate in high-quality, part-time, intensive doctoral education. The successful applicant:

  • Holds a position in an organization that has an openness to partnership with the iSchool and its faculty in an ongoing process of inquiry and innovation;
  • Demonstrates substantial intellectual ability and curiosity appropriate for doctoral level studies, as demonstrated by prior academic and professional activities, prior publications, the application statement, test scores, and interviews (telephone, video/web-conference, and/or face-to-face);
  • Makes clear their motivation to complete the program and commitment by explaining how they plan to devote the substantial and focused hours of reading, research, and writing demanded of doctoral preparation in addition to work and family commitments, as demonstrated by the personal statement, letters of recommendation, and the personal interview;
  • Makes clear the corresponding commitment by professional colleagues in the home organization to support the partnership and inquiry process necessary for successful completion of the program;
  • Embodies a fit between interests of a faculty advisory committee and the research questions of the student and their organization.  Students are admitted when there exists:
    • An unwavering commitment of a primary faculty advisor as well as deep interest by two or more committee members;
    • An articulated fit between capabilities of the school and the focus of the student’s home organization;
  • Holds a master's degree from an accredited university or college, with at least a 3.3 overall grade point average (on a 4.0 point scale) as demonstrated by original transcripts from that institution;
  • Has at least five years of experience in the information professions, broadly defined, as demonstrated by application information, letters of recommendation, and the personal interview;
  • Has the flexibility in their work schedule to attend periodic, on-campus residencies, as well as the support of their professional colleagues to do so;

In addition, the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) or Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) is strongly recommended. The need for test scores is generally waived only if the applicant has a notable, discernible record of sole-authored professional publications

International applicants are welcome. For students whose residence and home organization lie outside the United States, the feasibility of frequent business travel to and from Syracuse is a significant consideration. For non-native English speakers, we expect a minimum TOEFL score of 105 (Internet-based) or an IELTS score of 7.0.  Additionally, evidence of funding sufficient for the issuance of an I-20 is required.

Financial Information

Financial commitment from the applicant and the applicant’s home organization is an expected component of participation. Students may use personal funds and may seek externally funded fellowships and scholarships, but we strongly discourage the incurrence of significant student loan debt. The School does not expect to provide scholarships or other financial support. A conversation on financial strategy is a typical component of the admissions process.

Normal Syracuse University rates for graduate level tuition will be charged for all courses, independent studies, and residencies. Standard academic fees include a technology fee each term at the iSchool, as well as application fees, late registration fees, and graduation processing fees. To support year-round mentoring and personalized support in this program, the iSchool also charges a program administration fee each semester that the student is in the program (spring, summer, and fall).

Students are responsible for purchasing their own books as required in course syllabi throughout the program of study as well as any software or equipment not provided by the university. Students are responsible for their own room and board during brief residencies throughout their program of study. Students are responsible for travel and accommodations during each residential period in Syracuse.


The Professional Doctorate curriculum involves coursework, comprehensive examinations, and thesis research. The 51-credit program consists of:

  • Short-duration, intensive seminars (residencies)
  • One 3-credit summer doctoral gateway course
  • 12 credits of methods education
  • 9 credits of doctoral level study
  • 6 other credits (600 level or higher)
  • 15 thesis credits

View Curriculum in Course Catalog


Please note changes for admission to the Doctorate of Professional Studies (DPS) program:

The iSchool is committed to providing a high quality research-focused education for executives and senior professionals.  

The demands of this commitment have led iSchool to suspend admissions to the DPS program for the 2016-2017 admissions cycles in order to focus on modifications to the program so that we can provide our students with an even more dynamic and innovative professionally-oriented and research-focused education.

If you would like to be updated on the DPS program, please fill out the information request form and we will contact you with any future developments.

Information Request Form