Ph.D in Multidisciplinary Science

Ph.D. programs in Architecture, Engineering, Humanities and Social Sciences, Management, and Science offer a wealth of opportunities for doctoral study with focused IT research.

In addition, for highly interdisciplinary research, an IT Track is available in the Multidisciplinary Science Ph.D. program. The IT Track is designed to allow a student to work with faculty from multiple Rensselaer departments and schools.

Information Technology Track

The IT Track in the Multidisciplinary Science PhD program is designed to prepare students for a career in interdisciplinary IT research. The IT Track requires a technical core coupled with a concentration that provides the context for the student's research. This concentration may incorporate one or more disciplines in addition to its core IT components. The IT Track focuses on research – creative and original enough to be recognized by scholars in the student's areas of concentration, both in academia and industry.


To successfully complete the IT Track of the Multidisciplinary Science PhD program and earn a PhD in Multidisciplinary Science, the student must satisfy the following four requirements: Doctoral Qualifying Exam Doctoral Concentration Doctoral Candidacy Exam Thesis Defense Examination In addition, a student must satisfy all the Institute requirements for a PhD as defined in the Rensselaer Catalog. A student should satisfy these four requirements in the order that they appear above. As a general guideline, the Doctoral Qualifying Exam should be completed following the first year of study, the Doctoral Concentration after the second year of study, and the Doctoral Candidacy Exam after the third year of study.

Doctoral Qualifying Examination (DQE)

The Doctoral Qualifying Examination (DQE) is intended to determine if a student has sufficient knowledge and ability in the core principles of IT to be formally admitted into the doctoral program. It is designed to test the student's fundamental knowledge in computing and other core areas of IT. The exam consists of four parts, each of which is an oral examination. Part 1 - IT Theory Part 2 - Technologies Part 3 - Contributing Core IT Disciplines Part 4 – Research Area

Doctoral Concentration (DC)

The Doctoral Concentration (DC) assures that the student has a sufficient level of competency in his or her selected concentration area to pursue advanced research in that area. The DC requires that a student take a minimum of five courses pertaining to the selected research concentration. The specific courses are selected with advisement from the research advisor. Example research concentrations include (but are not limited to): Computer Communications and Networks Electronic Commerce Discrete Event Simulation Data Mining and Knowledge Discovery Computational Science and Engineering Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science Social, Economic and Policy Studies in IT and Emerging Legal Regimes Arts, Education and Cultural Studies Cross-National Studies of IT Use Electronic Arts Communication in Technologically Mediated Contexts Human-Computer Interaction and Interface Design Modeling, Visualization and Uncertainty

Doctoral Candidacy Examination (DCE)

The purpose of the DCE is to determine whether the student has made satisfactory progress in his/her doctoral program, including progress in the chosen research area, and whether he/she demonstrates the ability to pursue doctoral research with distinction.

Program Outcome

Students who successfully complete this program will be able to:

  • Demonstrate core knowledge in Database Systems, Data Analytics, Software Design and Engineering, Management of Technology and Human Computer Interaction.
  • Perform independent research in an advanced science informatics area.
  • Communicate effectively with colleagues and the general public.
  • Demonstrate proficiency in research methods and analysis and able to conduct original research, making substantive contributions.