Information Systems research examines the design, development, implementation, use and value creation of information technology used in organizations. While technology is central to the phenomena studied, research in the information systems field emphasizes behavioural, social, organizational and societal issues as they interact with information technology. This is a focus which is distinct from purely technical research emphasizing the design and building of information technology. The field is multi-disciplinary in nature and draws on theory and methods unique to IS research and in other fields in business and in the social sciences including strategy, organizational theory, organizational behaviour, psychology, sociology, economics and statistics.

The doctoral program in Information Systems is designed to produce scholars with a managerial (as opposed to technical) orientation. Our graduates complete necessary course work, research and teaching training and actively engage in grant proposal writing and early publishing of their work so that they can begin their academic career with the tools and foundation necessary to succeed. Three of our PhD graduates have won the prestigious ICIS Dissertation Award – the highest award given to recent PhD graduates and the largest number awarded to any institution globally.

Information Systems PhD students take courses in Research Methods, Statistics, IS Special Fields emphasizing core topics including IS theories, adoption , implementation, decision making, organizational impacts along with many other diverse topics reflecting a cross section of the various sub-fields of IS studies. Additionally there will be elective choices (offered by other Area Groups in the school such as Strategy or Organizational Behaviour, and/or other graduate faculties in the university such as Sociology, Computer Science or Statistics). Other aspects of the program are tailored to fit the student's own research, teaching and professional interests.

In the Information Systems seminar classes students consider recent scholarly work in the field, develop an understanding of theories and models, design research approaches, and enhance their ability to understand and resolve complex managerial problems related to information systems.

Areas of Research Focus

  • Design, development, implementation, use and value creation of information technology used in organizations
  • Behavioural, social, organizational, and societal issues as they interact with information technology

Post-graduate Opportunities

The doctoral program in Information Systems is designed for those interested in pursuing academic careers in information systems at top business schools. Typical courses in the first two years are listed below.

Program Requirements

Students have program requirements, put into place by the PhD office, and discipline requirements, which are governed by the student’s respective area group. On a case by case basis, some students may be able to waive out of particular required courses or substitute others. Such a course of action must be approved by the PhD director

All PhD students must complete the following requirements.

  • Attend “stats boot camp” (end of August at start of Year 1).
  • Pass 9702 Multivariate Analysis in Year 1.
  • Pass 9712 Special Topics in Statistics before end of Year 2.
    *The content of this course varies by year. Students are encouraged to take the course twice.
  • Pass 9704 Research Methods in Year 1.
  • Earn 80% or more on 9723 Summer Research Paper before start of Year 2 - Direct Entry Admissions only (i.e. admitted with only an undergraduate degree)
  • Pass at least two PhD-level courses outside of Ivey before the end of Year 2 or before taking comprehensive exams, whichever is first. It is strongly recommended that at least one of these courses is an econometrics course.
  • Shadow an Ivey professor for an entire undergraduate or MBA course. The associated professor must agree to make this a learning experience for the student (e.g. have conversations about pedagogy, be available for questions about curriculum etc.) and to provide written confirmation to the PhD office of attendance; OR
  • Complete at least 20 hours of courses, workshops etc. at Western’s Teaching Centre.

*In consultation with the student, the respective PhD coordinator shall determine which option better suits the student's needs.

Discipline Requirements

To be completed before the comprehensive exam.

  • Bus 9832 Information Systems I
  • Bus 9842 Information Systems II
  • Bus 9852 Information Systems III


*If further development is identified in any area, students may be required to take additional courses as requested by the student’s supervisor or the PhD coordinator. PhD students do not formally name their supervisor until they have passed their comprehensive exams. A doctoral student becomes a doctoral candidate only upon passing comps.


This exam will be completed within 22 months of entering the program (normally written between June 1 and July 15 of Year 2). If the student fails this exam, he or she has up to one year to retake the exam. A second failure will result in being withdrawn from the program.

A student will chose a supervisor within one month of passing the comprehensive exam and will communicate the choice in writing to both the PhD coordinator and the PhD office, copying the supervisor.

Between passing comps and sitting the “Thesis Proposal Exam” (below), the student must form a Thesis Supervisory Committee (commonly referred to as the Proposal Committee). This committee consists of a supervisor and at least one (but usually two or three) additional faculty member. Each must be a member of SGPS and a majority of this committee must be composed of faculty who have doctoral-level membership with SGPS. At least one member of this committee must be confirmed by Dec. 31 of Year 3. The names of this committee are to be forwarded to the PhD office. This committee “assists in the development of the candidate's research plan and thesis proposal, provides advice and criticism on the planning and writing of the thesis…” (more)

This exam is sometimes referred to as the proposal defence. Students must pass this exam within 12 months of passing the comprehensive exam. There may be no less than three months between passing the Thesis Proposal Exam and sitting for the Thesis Exam (below).

This is effectively the last hurdle for PhD students that is commonly referred to as the thesis defence. Students have six years to finish their degree.

Discipline Coordinator

Yasser Rahrovani

Yasser's research interests focus on two streams: innovating with information technology (IT) and information systems (IS) management. With respect to the former, Yasser is interested in the notion of user innovation, as an emergent and distributed phenomenon. His research examines how individuals proactively use IT to go beyond job requirements and innovate in their work practices. He studies the relationships between several organizational antecedents of proactive/innovative behaviors (e.g., IS resources) and innovating with IT (more here). With respect to the latter, drawing upon his interest stemming from his professional experience, he has also conducted several studies in the IS management domain. In the context of organizational IT innovation adoption, he explores how distributed leadership and social capital facilitate successful IT innovation implementation. As part of the same stream of research on IS management, he has conducted additional research on the very closely related areas of IS planning and IS alignment.

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