A series of recent reports from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Research Council and Institute of Medicine have highlighted two fundamental directions for future scientific progress – complexity and transdisciplinarity. Working across traditional boundaries, researchers have begun to accelerate the integration of theoretical ideas and research technologies under the set of ideas and approaches that have recently been referred to as Network Science. Research on network connections among multiple types and levels of “actors” offers a potentially powerful mechanism to understand the workings of complex systems across broad areas of science, including information and technology, biological systems, health and health care, local and global political and economic processes, socio-technical infra-structures and sustainability. This perspective requires novel evaluations of, reconfigurations in, and innovations for standard methods of theorizing, data collection and analysis. In order to provide training for the next generation of network scientists that couples deep disciplinary knowledge with interdisciplinary Network Science, the PhD program in Network Science at Northeastern is built on the following core principles:
• In-depth training in disciplines and programs essential to interdisciplinary research. Students are admitted in a track-based program. Current tracks are focused on the physical sciences (physics); social sciences (political science); health science (epidemiology); and computer and information sciences. Additional tracks may be added in the future.
• Common, foundational training in all aspects of Network Science (e.g., approaches, languages, problems) beginning in the first year of graduate training to build an inherently interdisciplinary science and the next generation of researchers.
• Learning to combine theoretical/substantive questions with the appropriate tools and techniques for data collection and analyses. While no student can become expert in all of these tools, a key element will be combining ideas, techniques, and collaborations into the novel interdisciplinary approaches that are paramount to Network Science.
The interdisciplinary nature of the proposed program draws students who are interested in applying network science in different areas and disciplines. Students should be both technically proficient and interested in major scientific challenges and the solution of real world problems using this novel research paradigm. The program provides a path for students to acquire experience and skills in networks while at the same time being knowledgeable in their own track/concentration of investigation. See Courses and Requirements for more details.