The PhD in Information at the UW–Madison Information School (iSchool) cultivates a cooperative, supportive intellectual environment through which highly qualified students pursue doctoral studies. With a breath of faculty expertise, and a flexible curriculum, the iSchool supports computational, social science, and humanities-oriented PhD studies. 

PhD students develop close working relationships with faculty members, receive strong and consistent advising, and meet regularly together as a cohort throughout their coursework. The program and its faculty provide structure through which students conduct original research and prepare results for presentation and publication in scholarly conferences and journals. iSchool faculty members work closely with PhD students on joint projects as well as supporting students’ independent projects.

As 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. 

Admitted students receive financial support including tuition remission, a stipend, and funds for research support including travel. The program encourages students to explore both academic and industry career opportunities.

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 PhD program is a residential program. Students must be able to attend classes in person at UW–Madison for at least 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 PhD students.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

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

Fall Deadline December 1
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy:
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Application Requirements

PhD admissions at the Information School requires a GPA of 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale) or better in the last 60 hours of academic credit earned; 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 PhD committee or other faculty members serving on the committee's behalf. International degree-seeking applicants must prove English proficiency using the Graduate School's requirements.

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

Grade Point Average (GPA)

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.

Admissions Committee

Applicant qualifications for admission will be reviewed by the School's PhD 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 PhD program admissions page.


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 restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Admitted students receive financial support including tuition remission, a stipend, and funds for research support, including travel. 

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

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy:
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.50 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements To remain in good academic standing within the iSchool PhD 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 two different research practica. Students will demonstrate mastery of subject areas and research skills through two 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 PhD degree.
Language Requirements No language requirements. Coursework in a foreign language may be required if necessary for completing research activities.
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy:

Required Courses

Courses numbered 300-600 should be taken sparingly and must be approved by the student’s advisor. The minimum credits required include dissertator credits.

Core Required Courses
Students must complete the following courses.
L I S 910 Smr-Research Design & Methodology for Library & Information Studies3
L I S 925 Professional Writing and Reading (PWR) Seminar 16
Students must take a minimum of 6 credits from the list below:6
Seminar in Information Policy, Management and Institutions
Seminar in Information Use and Users in Context
Seminar in LIS Foundations: Histories, Philosophies and Debates
Seminar in Information Organization and Access
Breadth Requirements
Students must complete 12 credits of breadth requirements, with a minimum of 3 credits in each of 4 breadth areas.
Breadth Area 1: Introductory Research Design, Thinking, Methods3
Communication Research Methods
Communication Research Methods
Breadth Area 2: Statistics/Numerical Literacy3
Introductory Analytics for Decision Making
Introductory Applied Statistics for the Life Sciences
Statistics for Sociologists I
Statistics for Sociologists III
Statistical Methods Applied to Education I
Statistical Methods Applied to Education II
Breadth Area 3: Working with Digital Data3
Data Science Programming I for Research
Data Management for Social Science Research
Digital Humanities Analytics
Data Management for Education Policy Analysis
Quantitative Ethnography
R for Statistics I
R for Statistics II
R for Statistics III
Breadth Area 4: Pedagogy and Teaching3
Pedagogical Theory and Practice for Information Professionals
Teaching Controversial Issues
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy
Students must complete a minimum of 12 credits in their area of specialization. Courses must be relevant to the student's program of study but may be internal or external to the Information School. Courses should be chosen in consultation with their advisor or the PhD program chair and must meet all Graduate School requirements.
Graduate School Breadth12
The minor or certificate requires that students take a minimum of 12 credits outside of the Information School. Courses must meet Graduate School breadth requirements. The Option A minor requires a minimum of 9 credits; the Option B, 12 credits. Students interested in an Option A minor should initiate contact and seek approval from the minor department. Students electing the Option A minor must complete an additional 3 credits of course work outside of the department in order to satisfy the minor requirement.
Total Credits51

Students must take this 1 credit seminar six times before becoming a dissertator. The seminar provides foundational knowledge for becoming a researcher.

Students who have previously completed the Library and Information Studies MA or Information MS

Students should work with the PhD program advisor to determine which courses taken as a master's student fulfill requirements for the Information School PhD or would be appropriate electives for the PhD. Not all coursework will be approved. Information School master's degree graduates who are accepted into the Information School PhD program may apply to count up to 10 qualified credits from their Information School master's degree toward their PhD. Qualified courses include Information School PhD seminars (numbered 900), other courses that fulfill PhD program requirements, or approved electives.

Students who have previously completed another UW-Madison graduate program

Students should work with the PhD program advisor to determine which courses taken as a master's student fulfill requirements for the Information School PhD or would be appropriate electives for the PhD. Not all coursework will be approved.

Concurrent pursuit of an Information School PhD and an Information School master's degree

Students admitted to the PhD program who wish to obtain both an Information School master's degree and an Information School PhD should be assigned both a master's advisor as well as consulting with the PhD program chair. Depending on the student’s individual program of study and careful planning, it is expected that students will use some approved credits to fulfill both degree requirements. Students should expect to complete more than the minimum 51 credits in order to fulfill the requirements of both degrees.

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

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

Students may transfer 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.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

A student may request that the Information School PhD program consider up to seven credits numbered 300 or above of undergraduate work completed at UW–Madison towards fulfillment of minimum degree and minor credit requirements.  Credits earned at other institutions are not permitted.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

Students are allowed to count up to 9 approved credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to a doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.


Students who fail to meet any of the assessment criteria as described in the Doctoral Program Student Handbook will receive a letter of warning from the PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD program director.

Advisor / Committee

The Information School PhD Committee serves as the Progress Evaluation Committee for doctoral students. Upon admission, the PhD 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.  

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 Limits

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.

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.


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

Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

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

Learning Outcomes

  1. Add to existing bodies of theory, scholarship, or scientific knowledge through critique, testing or extension in scholarly output.
  2. Demonstrate mastery of statistical, computational, and digital data collection and analysis methodologies.
  3. Employ scholarly methodologies and tools appropriate to areas of study to inform research.
  4. Demonstrate scholarly communication skills both orally and in writing.
  5. Engage in service contributions as appropriate to profession and field of study.
  6. Demonstrate teaching skills and experience including cultural competency training.


For a complete faculty/staff directory, see this website.