Complex Systems

Complex Systems track of the Ph.D. in Informatics
Ph.D. Requirements

The complex systems track of the Ph.D. in Informatics includes a focused core of informatics course work, seminars in complex systems, and a strong faculty-supervised research component. When you arrive, you will be assigned a temporary supervisor to help develop your course of study and identify research opportunities before you commit to a dissertation topic and advisor. Independent studies and research rotations, supervised by a faculty member, are an excellent way to investigate new areas of inquiry or deepen your knowledge of a specific subject.

By the end of your second year or early in your third year, after you have passed your qualifying exams, you are expected to choose a research supervisor and form a dissertation committee. Research assistantships are often available, depending on the external funding of your advisor.

Download the current Ph.D. in Informatics handbook (PDF). We also recommend consulting the informatics section (PDF) of the University Graduate School Academic Bulletin for more detailed information about these requirements.


A total of 90 credit hours is required for this degree. No more than 30 of those hours can be counted from a master’s degree taken at Indiana University or a graduate program at another university. An additional 6 hours of master’s thesis or capstone project may be counted toward the Ph.D. at the discretion of the student’s program committee, assuming the thesis or capstone project is of sufficient research quality.

General Requirements (12 cr.)

  • INFO I501 Introduction to Informatics (3 cr.)
  • INFO I600 Professionalism/Pedagogy (3 cr.)
  • Two semester-long research rotations with complex systems faculty (6 cr. total)

Breadth Requirements (9 cr.)

You must take at least three core informatics courses outside the complex systems track. Currently, core courses are offered in bioinformatics, cheminformatics, human-computer interaction design, logic and mathematical foundations of informatics, music informatics, security informatics, and social informatics.

Minor Requirements (9-12 cr.)

All students are required to have an appropriate minor inside or outside the school. Minors will be selected with the advisor’s recommendation.  In addition to other informatics tracks, you may consider computer science, physics, mathematics, statistics, cognitive science, or programs within the School of Library and Information Science. Some of the courses included in the minor may also count towards the student’s methodology or other requirements.

Theory, Methodology, and Elective Courses or Independent Study (33–42 cr.)

Specific course work, including research-oriented independent study, will be determined by the student’s advisory committee. Appropriate courses taught by complex systems faculty include:

  • INFO I585 Biologically Inspired Computing (3 cr.)
  • INFO I590 Artificial Life as an Approach to Artificial Intelligence (3 cr.)
  • INFO I601 Introduction to Complex Systems (3 cr.)
  • INFO I609 Seminar I in Complex Systems (3 cr.)
  • INFO I690 Mathematical Methods for Complex Systems (3 cr.)
  • INFO I709 Seminar II in Complex Systems (3 cr.)
  • COGS Q700 Brain-Body-Environment Systems (3 cr.)
  • CSCI B656 Web Mining (3 cr.)
  • SLIS S604 The Semantic Web (3 cr.)

Several additional relevant courses are available from programs outside the school, including mathematics, physics, statistics, information science, and cognitive science.

Dissertation Work (27–32 cr.)

Academic Bulletins

PDF Version

Click here for the PDF version.