The Specialist Certificate is only available to students who have been admitted to, and are registered for courses in, the iSchool Ph.D. program. It is an alternative degree for iSchool Ph.D. students who choose not to complete the full requirements for the Ph.D. program. Current Ph.D. students interested in the Specialist Certificate option should discuss it with their major advisor or the Ph.D. program advisor.

It is not possible to apply directly to the Specialist Certificate. The Specialist Certificate is only available to students who have been admitted to, and who are making progress toward, the iSchool Ph.D. program. 

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.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

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

Major Requirements


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

Mode of Instruction Definitions


Minimum Credit Requirement 42 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 24 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement Half of degree coursework must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide ( All coursework must be above 300 level and may not include iSchool undergraduate coursework.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements n/a
Assessments and Examinations The candidate is required to prepare and publicly defend a major project/paper in addition to completing credit hour requirements.
Language Requirements No language requirements unless assigned by program.

Required COURSES

  • For a Ph.D. student to move to the Specialist Certificate, they must have completed 42 credits toward their Ph.D. degree; 24 of those must be graduate credits completed after admission to the Information School Ph.D. program. All coursework must comply with Graduate School minimum requirements.  
  • Up to half of the credits should be from academic units related to the student’s specialization (including but not limited to the iSchool). 
  • The candidate is required to prepare and publicly defend a major project/paper in addition to completing credit hour requirements.
  • Students may count up to 10 credits of graduate coursework from an iSchool M.A. degree.

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 10 credits of approved graduate coursework from other institutions.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

No credits from a UW–Madison undergraduate degree may count toward the specialist certificate.

UW–Madison University Special

No courses taken as UW–Madison Special student may count toward the specialist certificate.


The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.


Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies. An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor.

To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.


8 to 12 credits in a regular semester is considered full time at the graduate level.

Time Constraints

Students who have been absent for five 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.



Graduate School Resources

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

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

For a complete faculty/staff directory see