PhDs in the US take an average of 7.5 years to complete. There are 4 things that affect how long it takes to do a PhD in Information Systems. It starts with two: the school and you.
There are usually two reasons people want to know how long a PhD takes: (1) age and (2) time to income.
- Age: If you want to know how long it takes because you are older and would prefer to complete the program in a shorter timeframe. In that case, please read the post where I described the pros and cons of trying to complete your PhD earlier than the prescribed time. If you’re in your 40s or later, it shouldn’t matter. It’s better to do the PhD well than in a hurry and miss out on better jobs and higher earnings.
- Time to Income: If the question is because you want to know how long it’ll take you before you start making some serious money. In that case, the answer is more straightforward. Continue reading.
When How Long It Takes Depends on the Program
On the one hand, it depends on the school or program of study (e.g., Engineering, Business, Information Science). These schools or colleges offer PhDs in Information Systems or Information Technology.
The duration of a PhD from a College of Business is 4-5 years. This means that if the PhD in information systems or information technology resides in the school of business, that PhD would usually take 4 to 5 years to complete.
Here are a few PhD Programs in Information Systems that you can complete in 4 years.
- University of North Texas
- University of Texas at Arlington
- University of Oklahoma
- Oklahoma State University
- University of Denver, Colorado
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- Virginia Tech University
- Texas Tech University
- University of Alabama
Some PhD Programs in Information Systems will take 5 years to complete.
- University of Texas at Dallas
- University of Texas at Austin
- Temple University
For many of these schools, the length of time to complete the program is a suggested plan, not a mandatory requirement. The school will not stop you from graduating if you complete all the requirements of the program (e.g., coursework, dissertation, publication) earlier than anticipated. The 4-5 years duration is the common timeframe most students require to successfully complete their program.
The definition of “finishing successfully” could differ for different PhD programs. Success in a specific school could mean that you (students) should have published a study in a top Journal in your field by graduation. Publishing in a top journal takes a longer time; hence, the extra year. For another PhD school, success may mean being published in a reputable journal in your field by graduation. The latter definition of success is usually more attainable in 4 years, as it is typically easier to be published in a lesser quality journal.
When How Long It Takes Depends Depends on You
On the other hand, how long it takes can also depend on you (PhD candidate). For example, even though a school of business has a duration of 4 to 5 years, it could take you 6 years to complete the program, while it could take another person 3 years. There are several benefits and disadvantages of trying to do it in less time. For example, if you transferred some of your courses from a prior program, it saves some time. You could also be very good at your dissertation’s subject matter and data analysis. So much so, that it takes you less time than the average person to complete your tasks. The opposite could also be true, where it takes you twice the time to complete the requirements.
There are other reasons it could take longer for you. For example, funding, data collection, health, and incompatible advisors may all cause unexpected delays.
- Funding: If you are self-funding your PhD education, then when the money runs out or you have other life events that require the funds, you must defer your PhD education. This is perhaps why you should seek out traditional PhD tracks where you receive funding. Of course, if you have the money and can afford to self-fund, that’s great.
- Data collection: If your dissertation topic and objective require that you collect data from a specific segment of the population (e.g., physicians, CEOs, children), it may take longer to acquire that type of data than if you are gathering data from a student population.
- Health: If you experience health issues during your PhD study that requires taking time out, this could delay your completion.
- Incompatible Advisor: This situation is probably unlikely, but it does happen. You could end up with an advisor with different goals from yours. Trying to figure out a way out of the relationship or reluctantly working through it could delay your completion.
It takes 4-5 years to do a PhD in Information Systems and Information Technology. Don’t be in a hurry to complete your PhD. The disadvantages of doing it in a shorter timeframe far outweigh the advantages. Try to follow the prescribed duration in your school’s program.
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