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-oriented program responds to new social and technological opportunities for producing, disseminating, and accessing information. Our doctoral students come from a variety of academic backgrounds and professional experiences, creating a collaborative, innovative, and vibrant community of scholars.

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 Interim PhD Program Director

Our program opens doors

As a graduate of our program, you'll be prepared for a vibrant career in a wide range of academic, business, and government settings. Recent graduates have become:

  • Research Scientists
  • Data Scientists
  • Digital Asset Managers
  • Machine Learning Researchers
  • Assistant Professors
  • Digital Scholarship Librarians
  • Research Consultants
  • Academic Librarians
Jessica Yi-Yun 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

Create your career opportunities

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 LIS (IS 509) and Research Design in LIS (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. Opportunities to build your research expertise include:

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

I came to the iSchool specifically because of the faculty, who were global leaders in my areas of research interest. The opportunities provided by the program were only limited by my own motivation and initiative. I am very grateful for the research and teaching experiences, travel support, and encouragement that allowed me to develop expertise in support of several career paths.

Melissa Cragin (PhD '09), Chief Strategist, Data Initiatives, San Diego Supercomputer Center

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
Lian Ruan

The iSchool has changed my life by teaching me how to become a librarian and a leader. It continues to offer support throughout my career development. I'm very grateful and thankful to be part of the iSchool. The journey is so amazing.

Lian Ruan (MS '90, PhD '11), Head of the Illinois Fire Service Institute Library and 2017 ILA Illinois Academic Librarian of the Year

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
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 Student

Conference support

Conferences are an essential way for our PhD students to engage with their scholarly or professional communities, to present their work in appropriate circles and obtain feedback from their audiences, to learn about cutting-edge research in their field, to network, and to advance their professional development. Student travel awards are available from the iSchool, Graduate College, and University of Illinois System.

Questions? I can help.

Professor Michael Twidale
Michael Twidale, Professor and Interim PhD Program Director