Frequently Asked Questions

The iSchool Consortium was founded in 2005 with a set of North American Schools of Information and Library Science. The iSchools Consortium vision is to strengthen all aspects of research in information and information science for members across the globe with a focus on the intersection of people, technology, and information. In North America, there are 54 iSchools and there are over 120 worldwide.

There are no other iSchools in Arizona and none in New Mexico. UArizona’s iSchool can be a beacon of distinction for the Southwest region. The closest other iSchools are at the University of Texas Austin, UC San Diego and UC Berkeley. iSchools seek to collaborate with and coordinate interdisciplinary efforts that work across computing technologies and society. The modern context of rapid technological innovation necessitates the need for more focus on the ways these developments intersect and impact societies. There is value in having a unit through which the University focuses on the interplay between technology, information, and society. With these motivations, Arizona’s iSchool was created as an academic department in 2015.

Hatched in 2015 out of a merger of two existing units (the School of Information Resources and Library Science, and the School of Information Science, Technology, and Arts), today’s iSchool manages an accredited master’s degree in library science that is more than 50 years old. In all, the iSchool manages 9 degree programs with an additional set of certificates and minor degrees. Initially, to grow the iSchool, the University of Arizona’s central administration recommended it be nested within a college and cared for by an established dean as it developed. The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences has managed the iSchool through its first eight years of development. The proposers intended that the iSchool would become an independent college when it achieved sufficient scale, and the faculty believe that this has been achieved in 2023.  As a stand-alone college, the iSchool would already be larger than 3 other existing colleges.

The full faculty of the iSchool have proposed that the time is right for the department to separate from SBS and become a separate, stand-alone, college-level unit.  However, in keeping with the disciplinary tradition, the name will remain unchanged – the School of Information, also known as the iSchool.  With this move, the iSchool will be better able to manage future planned growth unconstrained by competing needs of SBS.

From its inception, the plan for the iSchool was to seed it within a supportive existing college and eventually structure it as a stand-alone college, like the iSchools at our peer AAU institutions. The iSchool at the University of Illinois is a strong model – a ~20-year-old, stand-alone college, with an accredited library science program and a dean that reports to the provost. Intellectually, the UIUC iSchool crosscuts a variety of disciplinary areas to varying degrees (e.g., humanities, social science, natural science, computer science, engineering, art, etc.). This cross-disciplinary range is one of the reasons that iSchools typically stand alone and work collaboratively with various colleges on campus.

As a strongly research-intensive institution, data and big data are all over our campus – in every college. Data science is also found today in every college, in the form of both undergraduate and graduate courses, degree programs, and research. Data scientists are everywhere; they reside and do work in most colleges on campus and in other locations like the data science institute, the academy, and the University of Arizona libraries. At Uarizona, there are multiple data science-related degree programs. There will be no change to the ubiquitous nature of data science on campus with the proposed change to the iSchool’s organizational structure.

This new Institute has been developed by RII to provide a clearinghouse for information technology for research and education on campus. The new institute aims to bring people together, to coordinate conversations around research data management, and more. This institute, with its additional focus on things like career readiness (workforce), research infrastructure, community outreach, and economic development, functions very differently than the iSchool which is an academic unit housing faculty, degree programs, research projects, etc. Of course, faculty from the iSchool are eager to participate in the ICDI, independent of organizational structure.

The iSchool will remain just as it is in terms of its composition. That is, the iSchool already exists as an academic unit and no academic mergers are proposed or under consideration.  

The iSchool provides the following academic programs: Ph.D. in Information (Science), M.A.  Library and Information Science, M.S. Information Science, M.S. Data Science, B.S. Information Science, B.S. Game Design & Development, B.A. Information Science and eSociety, B.A. Games and Behavior, B.A. Information Science & Arts, and assorted existing graduate and undergraduate certificates.

There will be no change in shared courses, joint faculty, or curricular programs. New opportunities for collaboration may arise, however.

Only in procedural ways.  For example, the American Library Association will be notified of the shift in structure once the new iSchool status as a college is approved by the Arizona Board of Regents.  As the accrediting body for the M.A. Library and Information Science, the ALA will continue to observe and monitor the management of these programs. As noted elsewhere, the proposed new structure is consistent with national practices, so we do not anticipate any concerns from the ALA.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure.

This question is outside of the scope of the discussion about internal organizational structure.

The iSchool plans to transition our existing staff of 12 people into the new unit. Additional staff will likely be added over time to cover some items, like development, communications, and marketing. The hiring of an Assistant Dean of Finance will be the first priority so that the college finances can be well managed.

Our core faculty have 1.0 FTE assignment in the iSchool. We also have some faculty with courtesy appointments around campus, and we have affiliated faculty as part of the iSchool, but those listings are not formalized faculty appointments with FTW.  Joint appointments work very nicely for an iSchool and we hope to do more of that in the future. The idea of additional courtesy appointments as well as joint hires across the iSchool and all other University Colleges is very attractive for the iSchool. We are also hiring several tenure track faculty at present, in response to our 2020 academic program review and given what we know about our own tenure density and to meet the needs of our students.

The term iSchool developed colloquially in the late ‘90s and early aughts as a shorthand for “information school” or “school of information.” In 2005, the iSchool Consortium was formed out of a commitment to collaboration and recognition of shared areas of inquiry ( We have circulated an attachment listing our key peer comparables in the United States, including the School of Information at UC-Berkeley, the School of Information Sciences at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, the College of Computing, and Information at Pitt, and many more. They are all standalone colleges with a dean, however iSchools tend to house a variety of faculty who work across fields and disciplines. For now, the UArizona’s iSchool houses only two faculty members with ‘joint’ appointments in other areas on campus. Over time, growing the number of joint hires across campus is likely to expand.

By virtue of having had more time to grow, peer iSchools tend have many more faculty and staff, as well as more research dollars, than we have here at UArizona. We have a bit late in launching the iSchool here - roughly 20 years behind the country’s first iSchools – but we plan to sustain our growth trajectory until we catch up.

The UArizona iSchool meets with the other North American iSchools monthly. It’s a space where ideas for new degree programs, challenges faced by iSchools, etc., are aired and discussed. Other iSchool deans are also a part of our regular cycling of an Academic Performance Review.. Our most recent APR in 2020, included suggestions for exploring how UArizona’s iSchool might become better situated here. Reviewers underscored the importance of situating the iSchool here as an independent unit on campus or “risk being significantly behind the rest of the country, very shortly.”

iSchool deans also meet annually at the iConference where they share information and vote on various resolutions such as a recent grant to generate statistics on curriculum and enrollment. That report is not yet complete. The iConference is also a place where scholarly papers and posters about curriculum, diversity, and other issues are presented. Links to iConference proceedings can be found on the iSchool website.

 Additional networking on iSchool administration, curriculum, diversity, and related issues occurs at the Association for Library and Information Science Education and the Association for Information Science and Technology conferences annually. Scholarly work on those issues also appears in part of the publications from those conferences.

The iSchool is scheduled to remain in Harvill for the near and medium term, at least.

The iSchool moniker was generated by the iSchool’s Consortium, and Schools of Information refer to themselves as “iSchools” and display this moniker on their websites, informational materials, brochures, etc. We currently refer to ourselves as UArizona’s iSchool and have used this moniker for 9 years since we became a member of the global iSchools Consortium.

The iSchool curriculum committee meets monthly and reviews all proposals for new courses, and those go through the same processes as other academic units. Currently there are no large gaps in the curriculum, and no courses in the drafting stage. At this time, the iSchool does not have any new programs planned.

Please see our Graduate course catalog online.  Note that some courses are from other departments, such as Computer Science, Linguistics, Systems and Industrial Engineering, Electrical and Computer Engineering, etc. Those appear here because they are approved electives for the M.S. Data Science and the M.S. Information Science degree programs.

Yes. Letters of support are not required as part of the approval process, however, we have requested and received letters from our major partner colleges, being the Colleges of Science, Optical Sciences, Engineering, and Applied Science of Technology.  In three different settings (Deans’Council, UCAAC, GCAAC), all colleges have reviewed the proposal and had opportunity for input. The dean of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences signed the proposal.

The UArizona iSchool was invited by Arizona International to consider a dual degree offeringwith UA’s existing partner, Kozybayev University (KU). Our undergraduate curriculum team is finalizing an dual-degree articulation agreement with a provision that allows the KU students to complete a semester or two at our Tucson campus. Our academic advisors and faculty undergraduate coordinators are doing this work, as for other articulation agreements, e.g., with institutions like Pima College or for any of the 13 Microcampus partners. We were asked to consider matriculation agreements for an eventual dual degree program. We did so with our motivation to diversify our learner population in the iSchool. Paving the way for international students to join us in their third or fourth year is something we have an interest in.

The iSchool maintains an advisory committee comprised of library and information professionals from across campus and from the community (e.g., Pima County Library). The advisory board members are very active in groups like the Arizona Libraries Association or work in places like the Arizona State Library, Archives & Public Records Office. The iSchool director is part of an iDeans advisory group that meets monthly and meets at least once a year with all iDeans from around the world. The iSchools Center for Digital Society and Data Studies is our outreach and engagement vehicle, a multi-day workshop is coming in April with librarians, faculty, off-campus experts, and others in attendance.

M.A. LIS: 170 online, 30 main campus

  • Steady enrollment over time, typically domestic.

M.S. Info Sci: 50 main campus 

  • Steady enrollment over time, mostly domestic.
  • We are also working with an online partner to launch this degree globally. This program functions a lot like Arizona Online, with UArizona faculty teaching the courses, and is now serving a small set of learners ~ 40, living in countries as diverse as Colombia, Kenya, Liberia, India, Singapore, South Africa, and Switzerland. Our own faculty (e.g., Bryan Heidorn, Cristian Roman-Palacios, etc.) are teaching the courses in a hybrid format involving both asynchronous and live online events. 

M.S. Data Science: 30 Arizona Online and 250 main campus projected for fall of 2023

  • A distinguishing feature of this degree program is the inclusion of a data ethics course in the core of the program, something often not always found in other data science programs. Projected to grow, this new degree spans Arizona Online domestic, and main campus students.
  • We currently have ~700 applications for this program.
  • Please note that we tried to run this degree program globally with an online partner but it was not successful, so we have sunsetted that effort. 

Ph.D.: 30 main campus 

  • Steady enrollment over time, mix of international and domestic.  

Game Development degrees BA/BS: 300 undergraduates on main campus

  • Projected to grow, new degrees, typically domestic.

Information Science BA/BS: 400 main campus

  • Steady enrollment over time, typically domestic.

Info. Sci/eSociety: 300 across main campus and Arizona Online

  • Steady enrollment over time, typically domestic.

eSport minor: 50 main campus

Projected to grow, new minor, typically domestic.

We also have an assortment of certificates, etc., but they have small enrollments (10 students or fewer in each). There are discussions to introduce stackable certificates into the Data Science degree as partner academic units wish to do so. Invitations to participate in the MS DS degree program (i.e., opening course seats, adding courses, designing new certificates) have been voiced/sent since the initial development stages of that degree program. For now, we encourage learners to specialize in domains around campus, with a set of pre-approved electives used in the degree found under the M.S. Degree in Data Science.

We are open to adding further elective courses units.

We have limited contact with industry partners in the region to date. However, all of our graduate students, as well as some undergraduate students, are required to complete an internship or capstone project as part of their experience, so we seek to increase our industry partnerships to support our students better. 

Another motivation for engaging with industry and government is to strengthen two-way communication on workforce needs. Industry partners can advise us on what is desired in our graduates, and we can inform industry of what our students can do. Some of the information society skills acquired by our students can help corporations become more globally competitive in new positions that did not exist a decade ago. We currently hold a student showcase each year for students to show off their capstone projects and meet potential employers. We hope to expand this type of engagement going forward to help demonstrate the critical role that the university plays in the community. This does not preclude us from encouraging our undergraduates to go on to graduate education.

We have ongoing relationships with many libraries, museums, and archives in the region for both research and education.  

The NSF MRI Holodeck is one of several virtual reality, mixed reality, and augmented reality platforms being used in convergence research in the iSchool and across campus. It is critical that universities participate in the evaluation and development of these platforms / engines within diverse social contexts to help ensure their ethical and effective use. These technologies are being researched in the iSchool to do things such as aid people with disabilities, provide artistic experiences, and enhance education. 

Managing terabytes of data is both a research and educational focus of the iSchool. While the data revolution is having a large impact on all of science and society it is not the only thing that we study. We do not typically manage the many terabyte stores we use within the school – this effort is outsourced to vendors. As researchers, we use data, and certainly, all our activities produce data, and we also house scholars who study data management and use. All of our approaches are UArizona policy compliant and will evolve as new technologies emerge and are incorporated into our research and education models.

Dr. Bryan Heidorn has served on the University research computing and data committees for years. The new UITS proposal will impact research that happens across the University of Arizona. Many researchers within the iSchool are conversing with the UITS as the improved-security model unfolds, to make sure that our research and teaching needs are being met.

These accomplishments were made within the greater plan of eventually becoming a stand-alone college. SBS was an incredible steward of UArizona’s new iSchool. SBS leadership supported the iSchool very well, with the understanding that this management was temporary. The School, by virtue of its size, nature, and growth trajectory, creates a set of inequities within the College of SBS. For example, iSchool workloads for faculty, start-up packages, and salaries typically are markedly different than in other SBS departments. Hiring is challenging without matching what iSchool-ready faculty expect and receive from other universities, and also leads to a sense of unfairness when comparisons are made within SBS. SBS, too, has had to maintain extra staff to support some of the complexities the iSchool presents. Faculty reviews are tough given that many iSchool faculty have multiple degrees in disciplines that are NOT social sciences. SeveraliSchool faculty do not identify as social scientists in any capacity. These suitability issues did not impede our accomplishments because it has always been clear they were temporary measures until we outgrew SBS stewardship, as we now have. 

The placement of the iSchool within SBS also sends an incomplete picture to potential students, potential faculty hires, and employers. Some of the iSchool faculty are social scientists but many are not. Some of our courses are heavy on social science and others are not. Some of our research is published in social science journals but much is published in other journals. Marketing and messaging is more difficult for us than for our peer iSchools. This is disadvantageous to our faculty and our students.

As noted in the proposal, there will be a dean of the iSchool, serving as the senior academic administrator, who reports to the provost. There will be an interim dean initially, with a national iDean search forthcoming. The iDeans meet monthly to ensure iSchool offerings are coherent across the nation.

The AIB funding model will apply to the iSchool as it does to all other units on campus, thus SCH revenues will flow to the iSchool. SBS will not be a part of the iSchool’s revenue flows, but will also no longer need to shoulder expensive salaries, faculty start-up packages, additional staff, etc. tied to the management of the iSchool. Other SBS-related questions were reviewed during or soon after this proposal was presented in an all-SBS heads meeting on Sept. 21, 2022.

Naturally, the deepest discussions have been with those most affected, i.e., the iSchoolcommunity of faculty, staff and students, and our SBS colleagues. Then, we have followed the standard process for new unit proposals, with multiple levels of review across committeescomprised of representatives from each college on campus.

We hold regular strategic planning events and those always include our advisory group, local librarians, and other information professionals, as well as our campus partners. iSchool faculty and graduate students regularly participate in the community activities such as Tucson Festival of Books, SXSW, and activities sponsored by the Arizona State Library, Archives, and Public Records.

The iSchool is already integrating and working with partners from a variety of colleges and across STEM-focused topics. The proposal is about changing the structure of an academic unit.

The iSchool will operate and manage its financial reporting just as every other academic unit on campus does. All of the University’s finances are reported to the public annually, and audited by the state of Arizona.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure, although we must emphasize that all Human Subjects research pursued by the iSchool undergoes review by the Institutional Review Board.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure, although we note that iSchool faculty undertake research on the safe management of large data sets and may be able to assist the University in developing guidelines. Privacy protection in small and big data is also a topic in many of our courses.

This question, while interesting, is outside of the scope of the current discussion about organizational structure, although we note that oversight for AI research comes from standard procedures including institutional review boards.

No new significant collaborations are imminent. However, the faculty of the iSchool will continue to seek partnerships with faculty across campus to produce high-impact research and support graduate students in their efforts, as usual.  There is no roadmap for such engagements, which remain the purview of individual faculty.

Under RCM, SBS both benefited from the revenues generated by the iSchool and made investments in it, as part of the original SBS plan to launch it as a department. It is not part of this current process to review prior-year accounting. However, SBS will remain financially stable following this proposed change in organizational structure.

iSchool revenues will not be shared with SBS. Specific current investments in the iSchool will be returned to SBS as part of the separation. The dean of SBS will continue to oversee financial matters within the College and in relation to the iSchool over time. Other issues within SBS are outside of the scope of this proposal.

The budget for the iSchool is projected to be around $15 million in fiscal year 2024. This most recent estimate is marginally larger/stronger than prior estimates, based on strong performance through fiscal year 2023.  Start-up funds will generally be provided by operating revenues and have historically come out of its F & A revenue most specifically.

Under AIB, all revenues are pooled for distribution to the colleges and support units based onactivity and strategic budget allocations (please reference the online AIB Guide). There is no change to any share to the central units that follows from this proposed change in organizational structure.

The iSchool houses some faculty that are not social scientists, and who don’t necessarily feel that they “fit” within SBS. Our faculty are actively recruited year after year by computer science departments and college-level iSchools around the country. Those on the library science side of the house are attracted to stronger iSchools that house the country's best Library Science programs, putting our American Library Association-accredited degree program at risk. That degree program is over 50 years old and is important to our campus and region. Recruiting faculty has been a challenge because our department-level iSchool doesn’t look like our peer college-level iSchools. To cite just one concern, faculty hiring is difficult because the workload assignments typical in SBS are misaligned with our peer iSchools which generally have workload expectations that mirror Engineering. 

The University will benefit from having an iSchool that has a higher profile nationally and internationally, facilitating the ability to hire great faculty, recruit great students, and attract increased federally competitive research funding, leading to higher-impact outcomes and advancing our rank and reputation measures. Growth of the iSchool to match our AAU public peers’ units will also benefit the entire campus, through the revenue-sharing models in place.

Generally, students are inattentive to matters of organizational structure. But if the iSchool is not able to recruit or retain faculty, the students will be negatively impacted the most.

Data science is a more specialized version of Information science that focuses more on just the data. That means the study of how to manage large amounts of data, how to protect it, how to move it, how to preserve it, and how to make it available for others to use as needed. Take astronomy as an example, astronomers collect large amounts of data. Pulling together a data management plan is a very big deal for the NSF and for large projects, data are managed over time by someone who, ideally, has training in information science. We thus have information scientists who work with astronomers, plant scientists, and others who collect and need help from people who know how to take care of the data collected.

Yes. Librarians manage all the information, and librarians with skills in areas like Human-Computer Interaction and Data Science are in increasing demand. These programs do not happen in silos and courses work across degree programs. Information Science is the broader umbrella that encompasses all the programs including the M.A. Library and Information Science. iSchools are generally set up as ‘faculty of one’ without silos or departments, and all faculty work across degree programs.

The iSchool is exploring opportunities to run programs in other languages. The iSchool has engaged in conversations, with others on campus, to explore the process for certifying course translations and certifying them under a program by UArizona’s National Center for Translation. The iSchool, however, has not set plans for these offerings by any certain date.

We are in year 1 of a dual degree with Kozybayev University for the B.S. Information Science. We do not have external partners for tuition sponsorships or recruiting other than our students’ need for a site supervisor as part of their internship experience. We have one OPM international partnership, with Great Learning, helping manage our MS Information Science.

Yes. The iSchool is in the first year of a dual degree program with KU.

All students in a degree program are subject to the same assessments, whether they are direct-enrolled or transfer students or dual-degree students.  Our directors of undergraduate / graduate studies oversees assessments.

All institutional MOUs for dual degrees are signed by the Office of the Provost not the colleges or departments. 

The discussions with Kozybayev University started more than two years about and the first 41 students are enrolled in UArizona dual degrees across campus this academic year.

The connection was initiated by the Office of the Provost, Arizona International team. As with all articulation agreements, just like those we have with Pima College, the articulation work resides with the Director of Undergraduate Studies (a faculty member) and our undergraduate advising staff. UArizona is developing undergraduate dual degrees with KU in Plant Science: Health (CALS), Information Science (now SBS), Special Education (COE), and Applied Biotechnology (CALS). The assessments for all dual degree programs are the same as for all students. The minimum cohort of students for which UA will contemplate a dual degree arrangement with another university is 25 students. We currently have 41 students enrolled through KU, in the first year.

UArizona has been working for more than two years with KU to develop dual degree programs with the express support of the state legislature in Arizona, the US State Department, and the Ministry of Education in Kazakhstan. The KU students’ tuition is to be funded by government-issued scholarships.

The choice of specific dual degree offerings depends on the mutual interests of the partner institution and our colleges/departments. Most of our colleges are involved in dual degree delivery through our 13 international microcampus partners, where we now engage with some 2,800 students – a vital component of our Global Pillar. All agreements are always signed at the institutional level, and only with the agreement of the involved departments and colleges. Tuition generated is around $5,000 per student per year.

As a campus, we aim for 25 or more students per year, as for all UAs dual degree programs.

Tuition generated is $5,000 per student per year.


The Department of State is explicitly supportive, but does not approve individual arrangements between third parties.

The BYJU group is the broader company that Great Learning is a part of. GL Excelerates is their career fair to help students connect with employers. Great Learning is an OPM, online program manager. That means, when engaging in global programming, they help with things like recruiting, enrollment management, and academic support/tutoring/advising. Our faculty teach the courses and conduct assessments just as we would with UArizona Online. The main difference is that UArizona Online requires much more support from their staff and our staff, the UArizona Online marketing team, and more. With global programming, more of the load is supported by the partner. In the iSchool, the faculty teaching in the global program gets credit for teaching a class in their workload plan, they do live sessions, recorded sessions, etc., much like Arizona Online.

Our partnership with UpGrad, an OPM, was canceled and no new students are being recruited for that program. The iSchool did not have a good experience with UpGrad and did not feel that the students enrolled in the program were being well served. That is, we thought (and still believe) that learners needed more timely communications and academic support from the UpGrad group. In October, we sunsetted the relationship. No new partners are being sought for that program currently.

Most computing is done through University resources. A couple of labs run their own research servers which do not have public access.

SBS does not maintain any special data or servers for the iSchool.

This is all grant funded and does not come out of general operating costs and won’t change because of the iSchool being housed in a particular location organizationally.

This question is outside of the scope of the discussion about internal organizational structure. However, when scientists do their work, the management of data is controlled by IRB when human subjects or data are involved. Wherever possible we do provide open access of anonymized data as is a best practice today. Several iSchool researchers create reference data sets for international testing of algorithms. Examples include a high school science question-and-answer database for developing ML. There is also a clinical database to support time for improving patient care. This has passed all HIPAA requirements and was reviewed by NIH. It is open access and multiple copies exist around the world.

This question is outside of the scope of the discussion about internal organizational structure. However, today, no data is currently stored on AWS and we will need to work with UITS to see if AWS will be used for any research data in the future.


This question is outside of the scope of the discussion about internal organizational structure. The testing and development of Holodeck currently does not include large data sets.

This question is outside of the scope of the discussion about internal organizational structure. However, Holodeck currently does not include any personal or sensitive data and does not present a known security risk.