Informatics and Computing, Doctor of Philosophy

School of Informatics, Computing and Cyber Systems

College of Engineering, Forestry, and Natural Sciences

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.

  • Available Emphasis Areas:
  • Bioengineering Informatics - Emphasis (ending Summer 2024)
  • Cyber and Software Systems - Emphasis
  • Ecological and Environmental Informatics - Emphasis
  • Health and Bioinformatics - Emphasis

  • To receive a Doctor of Philosophy Degree (PhD) 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.

In addition to University Requirements:

  • Complete individual plan requirements.

Minimum Units for Completion 60
Additional Admission Requirements Required
Dissertation Dissertation is required.
Comprehensive Exam Comprehensive Exam is required.
Oral Defense Oral Defense is required.
Research Individualized research is required.
Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of this training program will demonstrate the following advanced competencies and program learning outcomes (PLOs):

PLO1: 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.
PLO2: 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.
 PLO3: 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, focusing genetic and genomic analysis, population health, and disease transmission;
  • Ecological and Environmental Informatics, focusing on ecological and environmental analyses and remote sensing;
  • Cyber and Software Systems, focusing on the design and implementation of cyber-physical and large-scale software systems.
  • Bioengineering Informatics, focusing on data analysis and control in bioengineering applications.
PLO4: Identify, survey, analyze, organize, and critically distill information from the scientific literature within an informatics emphasis area and creatively identify open research questions.
PLO5: Independently apply appropriate expertise, methods, and tools to the creative design, execution, and assessment of an investigation that addresses original informatics research questions.
PLO6: 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.

Additional Admission Requirements
  • Individual program admission requirements over and above admission to NAU are required.

  • The NAU graduate online application is required for all programs. Admission to many graduate programs is on a competitive basis, and programs may have higher standards than those established by the Graduate College.

    Admission requirements include the following:

    • Transcripts.
    • Undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale ("A" = 4.0), or the equivalent.

    Visit the NAU Graduate Admissions website for additional information about graduate school application deadlines, eligibility for study, and admissions policies.

    Ready to apply? Begin your application now.

    International applicants have additional admission requirements. Please see the International Graduate Admissions Policy.

    • GRE® revised General Test
    • Three 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
Doctoral Requirements
  • Take a minimum of 60 which includes an emphasis:

  • Emphasis Requirements (select one emphasis; minimum of 18 units):
    • Health and Bioinformatics Emphasis
      • Select from: INF 610, INF 611, INF 612 (12 units; each seminar may be repeated if each repeat covers a different topic)
      • Select an additional 6 units from other INF-prefixed seminars or other graduate-level coursework at NAU, as guided by research needs and advisor input
    • Ecological and Environmental Informatics Emphasis
      • Select from: INF 620, INF 621, INF 622 (12 units; each seminar may be repeated if each repeat covers a different topic)
      • Select an additional 6 units from other INF-prefixed seminars or other graduate-level coursework at NAU, as guided by research needs and advisor input
    • Cyber and Software Systems Emphasis
      • Select from: INF 630, INF 631, INF 632, INF 633 (12 units; each seminar may be repeated if each repeat covers a different topic)
      • Select an additional 6 units from other INF-prefixed seminars or other graduate-level coursework at NAU, as guided by research needs and advisor input
    • Bioengineering Informatics Emphasis
      • Bioengineering Foundations: ME 563, ME 573, BIO 540, (BIO 698 or ME 698) (10 units)
      • Select an additional 8 units from other INF-prefixed seminars or other graduate-level coursework at NAU, as guided by research needs and advisor input
  • 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 successfully complete. For prerequisite information, click on the course or see your advisor.

Additional Information
  • 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.