Frequently Asked Questions

Does CIS have spring admission?

No, admission is fall only. The deadline each year is now February 1 for all applicants (domestic and international) for admission the following fall.

What sort of computing background is needed for admission?

Evidence of familiarity with current technologies and some prior experience with research is sufficient. The CIS application asks for "Knowledge of computing." The total application is evaluated as a package, primarily to evaluate applicant's match to interdisciplinary study and evidence of ability to carry out independent work.

What undergraduate academic background or Master's degree is required?

There is no strict list of degrees that do or do not qualify. Applicants should have an overall background that includes familiarity with technology and its applications. The degrees listed on the Requirements page definitely provide appropriate background; in other cases the applicant's formal education and work experience are considered.

Is the GRE required? Is there a minimum test score for admission? What is the average score of admitted students?

Applicants must have taken the GRE or GMAT recently, even if they have previously completed graduate-level work. There is no minimum score but the admissions committee considers performance on the exam, along with grades and the rest of the admissions materials, as indicators of success in graduate studies. We look for evidence that the applicant has sufficient aptitude to conduct the research they're proposing. For example, a low quantitative score would call into question that person's ability to conduct quantitative research. We do not compile averages of GRE scores for admitted students, as the entire application is considered together. A high score alone is not sufficient to guarantee admission.

Based on my grades and test scores, what are my chances of being admitted?

We don't make predictions about acceptance, for various reasons. That would undermine the work of the admissions committee. The admission decision is made based on the "whole package". In particular, we don't use cutoffs for GPAs, GRE/GMATs, etc. We also look at letters and at evidence of ability to think independently and conduct self-directed projects.

What should be in my personal statement?

The personal statement is an opportunity to communicate with the admissions committee directly. An ideal personal statement is one to two pages and contains information on your relevant experience (including research), types of courses and projects that you'd like to pursue as a graduate student, and ultimate career plans. An important element is your description of why the Interdisciplinary PhD in Communication and Information Sciences is a good fit for you and your interests. It is often helpful to identify the work of individual faculty members or research areas that interest you.

Do I need to have a faculty sponsor to be admitted?

It is not necessary to have a formal partnership with a specific faculty member arranged. It is important for your future academic success to determine whether faculty resources exist to support the area of research that interests you. To that end, it is helpful for the admissions committee to know that you have identified potential faculty members with research interests similar to yours. Because the specific dissertation project is expected to be shaped by both coursework and research undertaken after admission, it is not necessary to include a detailed proposal in your application.

How do I choose an area of concentration and make contact with faculty in my area of interest?

Since we're an interdisciplinary program, successful applicants tend to blend multiple areas rather than think in terms of concentrations. Students connect with faculty through coursework, weekly seminars and through other students' experiences with faculty members.  Once you're able to articulate the type of research you'd like to do, it's easier to identify faculty who might be interested in working with you.

What financial opportunities are available for PhD studies?

We have very little funding at the program level, but most students have been able to find teaching or research assistantships elsewhere on campus.

Do I need to complete the Statement of Objectives Form from Graduate Division?

No. That form is replaced by the Supplemental Application materials that you send directly to CIS.

May I send the CIS application forms via email?

You may send the CIS Primary Express Application and CIS Supplementary Application either through email or paper mail to the CIS chair. (The Graduate Division portion of the application is normally electronic.) See our application page.

Can I obtain the CIS PhD through distance learning?

Not all required courses are available online, although some include distance-learning elements. This makes it problematic to meet the requirements to take CIS 701, 702 and 703 within the first three years, and the additional 5-6 courses that may be needed to prepare for area exams. Further, being at a distance has disadvantages for the social aspects of the PhD. The PhD is primarily a process of becoming a member of a research community via apprenticeship with faculty active in that community. Interaction among students is also of great value. During the early years in the program, presence on campus enables students to establish the relationships underlying this process. During the dissertation portion, regular interaction with the advisor and committee is important. Therefore, undertaking the CIS PhD without being in residence is discouraged.

As an international student, I have questions about the visa process for myself and/or family members, who can help?

There is much helpful information on the website for International Student Services at UH Manoa:

How do I arrange a tour of campus?

Tours may be arranged through the Campus Center. They are generally available Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tour information, a campus map and driving directions to campus are at:

Do I qualify for in-state/resident tuition?

Information is available from the campus residency office at:

What should I know about moving to Hawaii?

The Shidler College of Business has put together detailed information for new students, including a Moving to Hawaii section on their website that includes a downloadable PDF. Moving to Hawaii Guide