Apply to our PhD in Information Sciences

The Information Sciences PhD is different than the Informatics PhD. Although both are administered by the School of Information Sciences, they are different programs. If you wish to apply for both programs, you will need to submit separate applications to address these differences. The application information below is for the Information Sciences PhD in the School of Information Sciences.

When are applications due?

Priority Deadline: October 20, 2023, 11:00 pm CST
All materials (CV, statements, letters of reference, and transcripts) must be submitted. Apply by the priority deadline for early consideration for a Graduate College fellowship. Details, including eligibility criteria:

Final Deadline: December 1, 2023, 11:00 p.m. CST
December 1, 2023, is the final deadline to apply. All applicants that submit materials on or before December 1 will be considered for fellowship nomination, but there is a competitive advantage for nominations submitted from applicants that meet the October 20th deadline. All admitted students will receive five academic years (excluding summers) of Tuition and Financial Support.

Applicants will be notified by the end of February 2024 if they will be invited to interview for the program.

What are the requirements for admission?

  1. Bachelor's from an accredited college or university
  2. GRE
    Applicants with GPAs of at least 3.0, or those with an earned JD, MD, or PhD, are exempt from the GRE requirement. Applicants with a grade-point average (GPA) below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale must submit GRE scores.
  3. English Language Proficiency (International Applicants Only)
    All international degree-seeking applicants are required to submit the results of the TOEFL or IELTS as evidence of English proficiency unless they qualify for an exemption, as defined by the Graduate College. International applicants are exempt from the TOEFL testing for admissions if, within five years of the proposed term of enrollment, they have completed at least two academic years of full-time study as defined by the home institution, or completed a graduate degree in a country where English is the primary language and in a school where English is the primary language of instruction.
    International applicants who are not exempt must meet the English Proficiency Requirements for admission for the University of Illinois.
    English Test Scores (TOEFL or IELTS) are valid if earned two years or less before admission.  School of Information Sciences Institution Code: 1836. 
    In exceptional circumstances, an applicant who does not meet the Graduate College minimum language requirements for "Full Status Admission" can be admitted on limited status and will be required to take the English as a Second Language Placement Test (EPT) prior to enrolling at Illinois.
  4. Doctoral Studies Committee (DSC) Interview
    Although an interview may not be required in all cases, if an interview is requested, the DSC will review for research interests and alignment, interests in the iSchool and Illinois, and language proficiency. If you are submitting your application by our early deadline October 20 of for Graduate College fellowship consideration, your letters of reference must also be submitted by October 20.

How do I apply?

From the Graduate College website, hover over Admissions, then select Apply Now.

Applicants must submit the following:

  1. CV
  2. Statement of Purpose (1,000 words max) 
    Please write a statement that answers the following questions:
    - How has your academic background, including any training, research, or other educational experiences, prepared you for graduate study?
    - What are your intellectual interests, and what scholarly questions are you interested in exploring in graduate study?
    - Are there any specific faculty members whose research interests align with your own with whom you would like to work?
    - How will our program help you achieve your academic and professional goals?
  3. Research Statement (2-3 pages)
    Please present a research problem or question of interest, propose how it might be investigated at the iSchool, and discuss your preparedness to do so (i.e. languages or technical skills, as appropriate). This statement addresses the "what and how" of your research. We pay great attention to the research statement in assessing an applicant’s ability to thrive in a research centric environment, and be successful in our program. We look for evidence of a creative, questioning approach of someone who wants to find out more than what is already in the scholarly literature. We are also looking to see if we have the people to help you in that exploration. A research statement is just your ideas at the time of application - we do not hold you to undertake exactly the project you propose. We know you may refine your ideas, interests and approaches to doing research as you work with us. We are looking for the kind of person who shows promise in doing research.
  4. Letters of Reference
    Letters must come from people who can speak to your potential for teaching, research, and productive scholarship. The minimum number of letters we require is 2, but we strongly recommend obtaining 3. We recommend at least one reference from a former professor or research mentor. Please ensure that your letter writers send their letters by our deadline of December 1, 2022. If you are submitting your application by our early deadline of October 20 for Graduate College fellowship consideration, your letters of reference must also be submitted by October 20.
  5. Transcripts
    See online application for instructions.
  6. Writing Sample (OPTIONAL)
    You have the option to upload a writing sample that illustrates your ability to explore pertinent questions within your chosen discipline. Examples of a writing sample include a senior or master's thesis, revised term paper, capstone assignment, technical report, journal or conference paper (whether published or under review).

Information about resources to assist certain domestic underrepresented applicants is available from the Graduate College here.

Information about application fees and application fee waivers is available from the Graduate College here. If you have further questions, contact

Additional information for international applicants is available from the Graduate College here.

Are application fee waivers available?

The iSchool is able to offer a very limited number of application fee waivers. To be considered, please complete the process explained here. Please note, we are not able to refund application fees that have already been paid.

How will my application be evaluated?

All applications are assessed by the Doctoral Studies Committee, and by faculty based on the relevance of the applicant's interests to each individual faculty member’s research. Please note that a doctoral degree is a personalized experience and an admission decision is based on the match of research interests with potential faculty advisors, not just your excellence.

The committee invites the most promising candidates for an online interview, which enables the applicant and faculty members to explore research connections in more depth. The interview is both evaluative (i.e., the committee assesses a candidate's ability to think analytically and communicate ideas effectively) and informational (i.e., candidates explore their fit with the faculty, the iSchool and campus environment, and the local community).

Applicants will be notified by the end of February if they will be invited to interview for the program.