PhD students on patio

PhD in Information Sciences

Join a renowned community of scholars

The work of our faculty defines the field and puts scholars like you at the forefront of the information society. When you join the iSchool, you'll benefit from the excellence and reputation of the nation's leading school in library and information studies. Our interdisciplinary research program responds to new social and technological opportunities for producing, analyzing, disseminating, and accessing information.

PhD students are guaranteed financial support for five academic years (excluding summers) through research assistantships, teaching assistantships, and fellowships. Our students come from a variety of academic backgrounds and professional experiences, creating a collaborative, innovative, and vibrant community of scholars.

The Information Sciences PhD program is a residency program. Students are required to complete all coursework while located in Champaign-Urbana. Students may choose to complete their research outside of Champaign-Urbana at the discretion of the faculty advisor. Please note that if an international student leaves Champaign-Urbana at any point during their study, this may impact funding opportunities through the iSchool.

Professor Michael Twidale

By looking carefully at the interaction of people, information, and technology, we aim to improve our understanding of the world in order to make it better for all. We do this together—PhD students, research staff, and faculty helping each other to learn how to be better researchers. As program director, my role is to help engineer the magic of creativity as we all work to nurture a community devoted to finding things out.

Michael Twidale, Professor and PhD Program Director

PhD student job placements

Our program opens doors, preparing students for successful careers. Recent graduates have obtained faculty positions with numerous universities including Denver, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland-College Park, Michigan, Simmons, South Florida, UNC-Greensboro, Washington & Wayne State. Additionally, recent graduates have secured their first jobs in in a range of settings, including:

  • Privacy Researcher, Facebook
  • Research Scientist, PatientsLikeMe
  • Consultant, Deloitte
  • Data Scientist, U.S. Government
  • Digital Scholarship Librarian, DePaul University
  • Instructional Data Specialist, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
  • Cataloger, Princeton University
  • Core Investigator, Veterans Health Administration

Program overview

Work closely with your faculty advisor to create educational experiences both within and outside the classroom to support your professional goals. With only two required courses—History and Foundations in IS (IS 509) and Research Design in IS (IS 519)—you can customize your degree through a broad range of electives. Your program will consist of 48 hours of coursework and 32 hours of dissertation work. Required milestones that will help to build your research expertise include:

  • Field exam in a significant sub-area of IS
  • Research presentation to demonstrate research competency
  • Dissertation culminating in a public presentation, defense, and submission

For a more detailed program overview, please visit Program Overview.

Jessica Cheng

The doctoral program at the iSchool is a diverse, inclusive, and dynamic research community. Sometimes, even a water cooler encounter can lead to great research collaborations. We are encouraged to present our own perspectives, develop critical and conceptual thinking skills, and put theories into hands-on practices. I enjoy being part of this exciting program.

Jessica Cheng, PhD Student

Explore your research focus

You want to do important work that makes an impact and to collaborate with leaders in the field. We have the resources and the expertise to help you accomplish just that.

iSchool researchers address key challenges at the intersection of people, information, and technology in highly multidisciplinary ways. Our strategic research vision drives the scope of our research projects and presents a distinct imprint for the substance and impact of our work in areas such as:

  • Scientific data and knowledge practices
  • Organization of knowledge and information
  • Data curation
  • Digital humanities
  • Digital libraries
  • Community informatics
  • Youth services and digital youth
  • Informetrics
  • Human-computer interaction
  • Human-centered data science and social computing
  • Information privacy, security, and ethics
  • Health and bioinformatics
  • History of information
Smit Desai

The School of Information Sciences is a close-knit community that fosters originality and motivates you to vigorously pursue your research interests, through faculty who are eager to collaborate and assist in your endeavors. After completing my master's degree here, I was convinced that there was no other place better suited for my professional and personal development.

Smit Desai (MS '18), PhD Candidate

Support for leading-edge research

Flourish at a research university

The University of Illinois is a preeminent public research university, which means you will have access to exceptional resources beyond those in the iSchool:

  • Blue Waters Petascale Supercomputer
  • University Library
  • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology
  • National Center for Supercomputing Applications

Get the support you need

Research Services supports and promotes the research activities of the iSchool, large or small, funded or unfunded. At the iSchool, you'll find supportive staff ready to help you with:

  • Project planning and consulting
  • Grant proposal development
  • Research administration
  • Research policies & IRB
  • Student grants
  • Research infrastructure

Questions? I can help.

Professor Michael Twidale
Michael Twidale, Professor and PhD Program Director