The Ph.D. program at the UW–Madison Information School (iSchool) cultivates a cooperative, supportive intellectual environment that allows a small group of highly qualified students to excel in their doctoral studies. By admitting a small cohort of doctoral students each year, we can ensure that each student develops close working relationships with faculty members, receives strong and consistent advising, and is fully funded.

The iSchool Ph.D. program is writing intensive, requiring students produce a substantial body of written work as they prepare to research and compose their dissertations. We provide a structure in which students conduct original research and prepare results for presentation and publication in scholarly conferences and journals. iSchool faculty members work closely with Ph.D. students to help them polish their research for publication, and most students graduate with several published articles.

Because it is part of an internationally top-ranked research university, the iSchool offers students the opportunity to engage in the rich variety of educational experiences both within the school and in the broader University of Wisconsin–Madison campus.

For more information including instructions on admissions, please see the iSchool PhD program webpage.

To see the research interests and expertise of iSchool faculty members, please refer to the iSchool Faculty Research Page

Residence And Community

The iSchool Ph.D. program is residential program. Students must be able to attend classes in person at UW–Madison for two to three years. Most students continue to live near Madison as they research and write their dissertations. Four to five years of full-time study is typical for students to complete the degree. The school strongly prefers full time Ph.D. students.

ABOUT THE INFORMATION SCHOOL

PROGRAMS

The Information School or “the iSchool at UW–Madison” is a professional school offering several degrees and non -credit education that prepare students for future careers in the information professions:

  • The iSchool M.A. degree is a professional masters that offers five concentration areas: Librarianship, Archives in a Digital Age, Data/Information Management and Analytics, User Experience Design and Information Technologies, Organization of Information. See the M.A. Guide page here.
  • The Capstone Certificate in User Experience Design is an educational credential aimed at working adults who seek further education to advance their careers or move into new fields without the commitment of a full masters degree. See the Capstone Certificate Guide page here.
  • The Ph.D. degree provides advanced academic preparation for those wishing to pursue careers in academia, industrial research or policy making.
  • Undergraduate Digital Studies certificate provides undergraduate coursework in information technologies and society and information management. See the Undergraduate Certificate Guide page here.
  • The iSchool offers noncredit continuing education short courses that help information professionals stay up to date.

COMMUNITY

The Information School at UW–Madison is well known for its public-good, community-engagement orientation. It is home to several student organizations that shepherd long-term, information-justice projects including the Jail Library Group, the Tribal Library Archives and Museums Group, and the Allied Drive Literacy Project. Student groups at the iSchool are very active and organize and sponsor events. 

The iSchool Library, whose windows overlook the shores of Lake Mendota and the oak trees of Muir Knoll, is a very popular campus space for study and relaxation.  The Information School Library is also home to:

  • RADD "Recovering Analog and Digital Data" a digital data recovery workshop that provides fee-for-service recovery of data from a wide variety of media types.  
  • The Text Technologies Press: typography and letterpress printing equipment for teaching book history, book arts, design, art, and making. 

RESEARCH and SCHOLARSHIP

The Information School faculty are known for scholarly work in the areas of:

  • data and information policy and ethics,
  • user behaviors and literacies, print culture,
  • library and information technology history,
  • electronic publishing,
  • ICT and development, and transnational diaspora use of ICT
  • the social aspects of information and communications systems.

Faculty have made valuable scholarly contributions in the areas of medical information retrieval systems, online search behavior and search effectiveness, publisher e-journal licensing practices, information technology history, print culture and library history, information ethics and policy, and youth and new media.  For more information see the iSchool Research Overview Page.

Faculty and staff are widely involved in different research areas on campus. For example, the iSchool is home to the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, a research center focused on authorship, reading, publication and distribution of print and digital materials. The Information School faculty members are involved with the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the Digital Humanities Research Network, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the Center for Financial Security.

Application requirements

Ph.D. admissions at the Information School require GRE scores, a GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better in the last 60 hours of academic credit earned; a master's degree in an appropriate field; a detailed written statement of the area of research interest, fit with current faculty and the purpose for pursuing doctoral study; and an interview (usually a phone interview) with the school's Ph.D. committee or other faculty members serving on the committee's behalf. International students must meet the Graduate School's language and degree requirements.

For more information, including detailed instructions for submitting an application, see this link.

Other Information

Applicants whose GPA falls below the required level must provide other evidence of academic ability. (Advice on the type of evidence appropriate to the applicant should be requested from the administrator of the doctoral program.) Applicant qualifications for admission will be reviewed by the school's Ph.D. committee, which will make an admissions recommendation to the director who, in turn, makes a recommendation to the Graduate School. The criteria used in this review include academic promise, the probability that the school's doctoral program will meet the goals and research interests of the applicant, and that the applicant will be able to complete the program successfully. Under certain circumstances, admission may be approved on a probationary basis or with deficiencies. Students will not normally be permitted to continue longer than the first year on probation. For more information see the Ph.D. program admissions page.

M.A. graduates who are accepted into the Information School Ph.D. program may count up to 10 qualified credits from their iSchool M.A. degree toward their Ph.D. Qualified courses include iSchool Ph.D. seminars (900 level) and research methods courses (e.g. L I S 603 Research and Assessment for Information Professionals).

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Program Resources

Prospective students should see the Information School PhD program website for funding information.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements

MODE OF INSTRUCTION

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits including dissertator credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement The majority of a Ph.D. student’s coursework must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle). Courses at the 300–600 level should be taken sparingly and must be approved by the student’s advisor.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.50 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements To remain in good academic standing within the iSchool Ph.D. program, a student must maintain a 3.5 overall GPA, not carry any incomplete grades in courses (other than 999s) for more than 1 semester, and pass all mastery demonstration paper deadlines by appointed deadlines.
Assessments and Examinations Each student is required to fulfill at least one teaching practicum and at least two different research practica. Students will demonstrate mastery of the required subject areas and research skills through three mastery demonstration papers and a program portfolio. Presentation and successful defense of a program portfolio and statement of intent constitutes the preliminary examination. Successful defense of the program portfolio and statement of intent constitutes formal acceptance into candidacy for the Ph.D. degree.
Language Requirements No; however, coursework in a foreign language may be required if necessary for completing research activities.
Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Required COURSES

A general research methods course is required of all students. This must be a graduate-level course, and if not taken at the iSchool (L I S 603 Research and Assessment for Information Professionals) the student must present a transcript and, if possible, a syllabus to the course. In addition, students must take Ph.D. research seminar L I S 910 Smr-Research Design & Methodology for Library & Information Studies and are required to take a minimum of two semesters of statistics and one semester of qualitative research. Each student must take at least one course in each of three (out of four) designated areas to develop a breadth of knowledge about the field.  For more information see the Information School PhD program website.

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

A Graduate Program Handbook containing all of the program's policies and requirements is forthcoming from the program.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students may count up to 9 credits of approved graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits counted toward a UW–Madison undergraduate degree are allowed to count toward the Ph.D. degree.

UW–Madison University Special

Students are allowed to count up to 9 approved credits of coursework numbered 450 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special student. coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Probation

Students who fail to meet any of the above criteria will receive a letter of warning from the Ph.D. program director placing them on probationary status. They will have one additional semester (not including summer) to change their status. If they do not successfully change their status, they will be asked to leave the program. If students do not expect to successfully change their status within the probationary semester, they can request that the Ph.D. committee grant a probation extension; however, an extension will be granted only if the student can prove likelihood of success in the upcoming semester. The student should send a letter asking for an extension and providing evidence of likelihood of success to the Ph.D. program director.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

The Information School Ph.D. Committee serves as the Progress Evaluation Committee for doctoral students. Upon admission, the Ph.D. committee chair serves as the default advisor for all students. At any point, the student may switch to a major professor/advisor based on similarities in research interests. The student’s doctoral committee shall be five members of the graduate faculty; no fewer than three are to be from the iSchool faculty and at least one shall be from outside the school.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

8 to 12 credits in a regular semester is considered full time at the graduate level. Course load maximums are 12 credits in a regular semester, 8 credits in the summer term and 3 credits in the intersession.

Time Constraints

Completion of the degree should be within a three- to four-year period beyond earning the master’s degree.

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing their program portfolio and statement of intent may be required to take additional coursework, redefend their program portfolio and statement of intent, and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Other

A complete set of Information School Ph.D. program policies can be found in the PhD program planning guide on the iSchool PhD program website.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

1. Employ specific methodologies appropriate to areas of study.

2. Demonstrate basic capacities to employ new digital data collection and analysis methodologies.

3. Demonstrate knowledge of a range of theories in research areas as well as core LIS theories.

4. Able to add to existing bodies of theory, scholarship or scientific knowledge through critique, testing or extension in scholarly output.

5. Demonstrate scholarly excellence.

6. Demonstrate skills and experience in teaching.

7. Demonstrate mastery of scholarly writing genre.

8. Demonstrate strong oral communication skills.

9. Demonstrate involvement in the LIS academic community.

Faculty: Professors Eschenfelder (Director), Downey, Kim, Whitmire; Associate Professors Rubel, Arnott-Smith, Willett; Assistant Professors Royston, Senchyne

For a complete faculty/staff directory see https://ischool.wisc.edu/