PhD students on patio

PhD in Library and Information Science

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 revolution. 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.

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner

Together with our faculty and research staff, our PhD students advance the knowledge, methods, and tools at the nexus of people, information, and technology. As program director, my primary goal is to enable our students to become active and responsible researchers and colleagues from the day they join our program.

Jana Diesner, Associate Professor and 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:

  • Faculty members at institutions such as the University of Michigan, Florida State University, University of Washington, University of Texas-Austin, and UCLA
  • Research and development professionals at Microsoft and Google
  • Academic library professionals at Princeton University, the University of Chicago, and the University of Missouri at Columbia
  • Digital Asset Managers and Strategists
  • Digital Scholarship Librarians
  • Data Scientists
  • Research Scientists
  • Research Consultants
Simone Sacchi

My education at the iSchool not only provided me with thorough preparation as a researcher but also the hands-on experience of working on funded, collaborative research projects. Combined with my previous experience in research libraries in Italy, my graduate studies formed the basis for my success, first as the head of scholarly communication services at Columbia University and then at LIBER, the most prominent association of European research libraries.

Simone Sacchi (PhD '15), Head of International Projects, LIBER

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 587) and Research Design in LIS (IS 588)—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), Executive Director, Midwest Big Data Hub, NCSA

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

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.

Assistant Professor Jana Diesner
Jana Diesner, Associate Professor and PhD Program Director