Informatics and Computing, Doctor of Philosophy
- Available Emphasis Areas:
- Bioengineering Informatics - Emphasis
- Cyber and Software Systems - Emphasis
- Ecological and Environmental Informatics - Emphasis
- Health and Bioinformatics - Emphasis
The doctoral degree in Informatics and Computing enables students to engage in a research-intensive course of study within a broad range of informatics and computing areas, including population health, bioinformatics, remote sensing, ecological modeling wireless sensor and communication systems, cyber-physical systems, software architecture and visualization, computer graphics, model-driven design, machine learning, wearable computing, and cybersecurity.
Our five-year degree program is strengthened by committed mentorship and professional development training, with students benefiting from a broad range of collaborations and partnerships, including but not limited to: Center for Bioengineering Innovation, Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics, Center for Ecosystem Science and Society, Merriam-Powell Center for Environmental Research, Department of Biological Sciences, Department of Physics and Astronomy, School of Earth Sciences and Environmental Sustainability, and School of Forestry.
Regional research collaborators include but are not limited to: Translational Genomics Research Institute, Northern Arizona Healthcare and Flagstaff Medical Center, North Country HealthCare, U.S. Geological Survey, and Northern Arizona Planetary Science Alliance.
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What Can I Do with a Doctor of Philosophy in Informatics and Computing?
The Ph.D. program in Informatics and Computing prepares graduates for meaningful and fulfilling careers in the application of informatics and computing to critical areas of national need. We aim to prepare students to be leaders in industry and government research labs, faculty and research scientists in academia, or entrepreneurs in cutting-edge informatics application areas.
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To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) at Northern Arizona University, you must complete a planned group of courses, from one or more disciplines, ranging from at least 60-109 units of graduate-level courses. Most plans require research, a dissertation, and comprehensive exams. All plans have residency requirements regarding time spent on the Flagstaff campus engaged in full-time study.
The full policy can be viewed here.
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In addition to University Requirements:
- Complete individual plan requirements.
|Minimum Units for Completion||60|
|Additional Admission Requirements||Required|
|Emphasis, Minor, Certificate||Required|
|Dissertation||Dissertation is required.|
|Comprehensive Exam||Comprehensive Exam is required.|
|Oral Defense||Oral Defense is required.|
|Research||Individualized research is required.|
The PhD program in Informatics and Computing will prepare you to work in the transformative "fourth paradigm" of science and engineering, an interdisciplinary field relying on big data and advanced software, hardware, and statistics skills.
A streamlined five-year plan of study provides learning opportunities in the foundations of informatics, programming and computer science, structuring large-scale data sets, machine learning, and statistical data analysis. Elective coursework allows students to customize their program of study in one of the following emphasis areas:
- health and bioinformatics, focusing on genetic and genomic analysis, population health, and disease transmission;
- ecological and environmental informatics, addressing ecological and environmental analyses and remote sensing
- cyber and software systems, engaging in the design and implementation of cyber-physical and large-scale software systems
- bioengineering informatics to enhance data analysis and control in bioengineering applications.
Students will engage in significant research and development work under the mentorship of a faculty member in computer science, electrical engineering, or informatics to develop and assess original and creative solutions to open informatics and computing research questions, work which culminates in the preparation and defense of a dissertation.
This program is designed for students with strong preparation in an area of science, including biology, computer science, ecology, and electrical engineering, and experience in computer programming and data analysis gained through successful completion of a relevant undergraduate or graduate program.
As a graduate you will be prepared to be a leader in industry and government research labs, a faculty member or research scientist in academia, or entrepreneur in cutting-edge informatics application areas such as bioinformatics, population health and health informatics, environmental sustainability, ecology and ecoinformatics, software engineering, wearable computing, cyber-physical systems, and cybersecurity. Students’ research and education will be strengthened through broad collaborations with a variety of academic, government, and private entities. Informatics and Computing PhD program partnerships span the university, multiple centers and institutes, and various organizations.
Student Learning Outcomes
Graduates of this training program will demonstrate the following advanced competencies and program learning outcomes (PLOs):
- Identify, explain, and assess the major theories, research methods, and technical approaches driving informatics- driven science and engineering and the impact of these elements on society.
- Identify, explain, synthesize, and apply the fundamental concepts of informatics, including large-scale data representation and organization, various types of programming languages, software development methods, data processing, information extraction and machine learning, and statistical analysis.
- Identify, explain, synthesize, and apply the interdisciplinary combination of core informatics and in-depth disciplinary expertise defining one of the following emphasis areas:
- Health and Bioinformatics:
- Examine statistical methods, computer programming techniques, and current research areas within healthcare and bioinformatics.
- Apply statistical methods and computer programming techniques to analyze such bioinformatics data as genetic sequencing, gene and protein expression, and cellular organization.
- Develop statistical methods and computer programming techniques to analyze health outcomes, patterns of health determinants, including social factors of health, and predict the effects of policies and interventions on issues of public health.
- Apply statistical methods and computer programming techniques to develop innovations in healthcare services delivery, management, and planning leading to lower healthcare costs and greater availability.
- Bioengineering Informatics
- Apply fundamental principles in biomedical engineering, material science, and chemistry to biomaterial, orthopedic, and medical device development.
- Using principles of mechanics, conduct mathematical analyses of the musculoskeletal system.
- Apply statistical methods and computer programming techniques to develop innovations in the modeling and analysis of musculoskeletal systems, medical devices, and neuromuscular diseases.
- Cyber and Software Systems
- Use mathematical abstractions to model complex software and cyber systems, including secure systems, wearable computing, and cyber-physical systems.
- Design, develop, and apply software to control complex software and cyber systems.
- Explore innovations in informatics by combining mathematical abstractions traditionally used to predict physical processes (differential equations, stochastic processes, etc.) with algorithms and other mathematical abstractions traditionally used in computer science.
- Ecological and Environmental Informatics
- Integrate mathematical abstractions and modeling with data from the field to determine and analyze ecological relationships
- Construct and execute multi-step remote sensing workflows using geospatial software to solve problems in a variety of application areas and critically assess the strengths and weaknesses of remote sensing instruments and platforms for a variety of application scenarios.
- Elucidate the breadth of statistical methods available in environmental analysis and select the appropriate method for the issue or problem under analysis.
- Health and Bioinformatics:
- Identify, survey, analyze, organize, and critically distill information from the scientific literature within an informatics emphasis area and creatively identify open research questions.
- Independently apply appropriate expertise, methods, and tools to the creative design, execution, and assessment of an investigation that addresses original informatics research questions.
- Compose and engage in highly effective written and oral communication in informatics areas; demonstrate clear argumentation and logical cohesion in a variety of written and oral communications, including scholarly dissemination, funding requests, industry, and lay-communication.
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Additional Admission Requirements
- Admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.
- NAU Graduate Online application is required for all programs. Details on admission requirements are included in the online application.
- Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution
- Grade Point Average (GPA) of 3.00 (scale is 4.00 = "A"), or the equivalent.
- Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.
- For details on graduate admission policies, please visit the Graduate Admissions Policy
- International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy
Individual program admission requirements include:
- GRE® revised General Test
- 3 letters of recommendation
- Personal statement or essay
- Resume or curriculum vitae
- Expertise in key foundational areas in informatics, including core topics such as programming, data structures, software development methods, and statistics, as well as areas that support specific emphases, such as biology, ecology, and cyber systems.60
Take a minimum of 60 which includes core requirements and an emphasis:
Core Requirements (minimum of 42 units):
- Informatics Foundations: INF 501, INF 502, INF 503, and INF 504 (12 units)
- Professional and Communication: INF 601, INF 602, and INF 603 (3 units)
- Statistical Methods: INF 511, INF 512, and (INF 626 INF 626L or STA 572) (9-10 units)
- Research Rotation: INF 684 (3 units)
- Dissertation: INF 799 (minimum of 15 units)
- Emphasis Requirements (select one emphasis; minimum of 18 units):
- Health and Bioinformatics Emphasis
- Ecological and Environmental Informatics Emphasis
- Cyber and Software Systems Emphasis
- Bioengineering Informatics Emphasis
In addition, students must successfully complete the following requirements:
- Comprehensive qualifying examination by the end of the fourth term;
- Advancement to candidacy examination by the end of the seventh term; and
- Dissertation defense.
Be aware that some courses may have prerequisites that you must also take. For prerequisite information click on the course or see your advisor.
This degree program consists of a minimum of 60 units of study and can be completed in 5 years. Students may take more than 15 units of dissertation credit, as it is a requirement that students enroll in INF 799 each term they are preparing their dissertation. Students may also take more than 18 units of emphasis coursework, as guided by research needs and advisor input.
Students admitted to the program may be required to correct deficiencies in their preparation by taking additional undergraduate or graduate coursework, as guided by research needs and advisor direction and counsel.
Some required courses in this degree program may have prerequisites that students must also complete. For specific prerequisite information, students should investigate detailed course information or discuss the issue with their advisor.