In this paper, we propose a partial solution to the problem of the relevance of information systems research by adjusting doctoral programs to the specific needs and talents of doctoral students that have significant prior professional life experience. The purpose of this paper is first to recognize that the “professionally qualified doctoral student” (PQDS) has a different type of knowledge that may give her/him some advantages over other students, including greater symbolic capital. We examine the epistemic evidence for the claim that part of their practical experience constitutes a specific type of “applicative” knowledge that should be considered as different from but of equal value to theory, which has been the mainstay of academic education. Three independent lines of academic research contribute such evidence: the communities of practice literature, philosophical perspectives on applicative knowledge, and cognitive sciences. We argue that PQDSs may benefit from doctoral programs with specific features designed to leverage their practical knowledge. In turn, they may be able to “boundary span” and publish research results in forms that are appreciated by their professional communities. Finally we discuss some practical institutional issues that could be addressed if we are to sustain this profile of researchers.