PhD in Information

The PhD in Information prepares students for careers in which they conduct original research in academia, government, and industry. Download our informational document on recruiting here.

Major in PhD in Information

In line with the Vision and Mission of the School of Information, the PhD program encourages interdisciplinary and transdisciplinarity.

Applicants must meet Graduate College admission requirements and apply to the Graduate College.

A completed application to the Graduate College must include:

  • An online application for admission to the Graduate College with a mandatory application fee via a credit card.
    (Only unofficial transcripts need to be uploaded to the application in the education field. We will notifiy you if/when offical transcripts are needed.)

Admission to the doctoral program is competitive and based on both the applicant's abilities and faculty interest and expertise in the student's proposed area of study. School of Information may deny entry to an otherwise qualified applicant if there is insufficient faculty intellectual overlap for working with that applicant.

  • Admission to the doctoral program is possible with or without a master's degree.
  • All applicants must possess an undergraduate degree that is comparable to an undergraduate degree offered by the University of Arizona.

Admission to any graduate program at the University of Arizona is the responsibility of the Graduate College. The School of Information and other schools and departments with graduate programs make recommendations to the Graduate College. Please note that most schools and departments, including School of Information, prefer to set a standard for admission that is higher than the absolute minimum levels for admission to the Graduate College.

The following are guidelines. The faculty consider the overall package when making candidate evaluations:

  • An undergraduate or graduate academic record that is indicative of significant achievement. This is normally a GPA of a minimum of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.
  • GRE scores that are indicative of significant promise. This is normally a minimum of the 80th percentile or higher on the verbal, quantitative, and analytical portions of the test. There is no need to take or submit a specialized test other than noted above.
  • A minimum of three letters of recommendation that clearly speak to the applicant's promise as a graduate student and as a doctoral student.
  • A résumé indicating both employment and educational experience to date.
  • A statement of intent from the applicant clearly outlining why he or she is applying to this particular program and what he or she considers the outcome of doctoral study will be. Applicants need not, at this point, indicate potential dissertation topics, but an indication of the area(s) in which they propose to study would be very helpful to the faculty. 
  • An interview, on campus or by phone, with selected members of the faculty.

The University of Arizona’s Institution Code is 4832 and is chosen upon registration for tests such as the TOEFL or GRE.  Typically within two weeks of the test date, score results are sent electronically to the university, and will appear in your GradApp.

***Please note that all application materials are uploaded to GradApp, with the exception of official transcripts.***

Please email official e-Transcripts to directly from the institution or mail one (1) official transcript to the following address (do not send to the Graduate College).  Official transcripts from ALL higher education institutions attended are required.

School of Information
The University of Arizona
Harvill, Room 409
1103 E. 2nd St.
Tucson, AZ 85721

Admission - Process

  • Admission to the doctoral program typically occurs in the fall semester.
  • The deadline for Fall 2019 application submittal is January 15, 2019.
  • The Graduate Committee makes recommendations to the faculty. The Graduate Committee makes recommendations to the faculty, who then vote for admission or rejection with a simple majority prevailing. Faculty expertise and interest in the student's area of study are major factors in the admission decision.

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Funding and Assistantship

School of Information sees as a priority funding for PhD students in their first three years of study. Opportunities exist within School of Information and on campus for graduate assistantships, scholarships, and other forms of support.

Financial Aid Application Priority Deadline

  • January15 for Fall semester.

Financial aid applications received after the priority deadline will be considered on a funds available basis. Students and applicants may still apply for financial aid after the deadline is passed, but the chance of an award and award amount will be much reduced. For any questions or concerns, please contact Admissions ( or 520-621-3565.


Click to go to the Google Form Financial Aid application.  Google accounts are not required for completion.

Graduate Assistantship Application Priority Deadline

  • January 15 preceding the beginning of the academic year for all terms.

Example: Students applying for a 2019-2020 academic year GA position would apply by January 15, 2019.


Click to go to the Google Form Graduate Assistantship application.  Google accounts are not required for completion.

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Degree Requirements

The P.D in Information will consist in 36 credits of major coursework, 9 to 12 credits of minor coursework, and 18 dissertation credits.
All PhD students will begin by taking a two-course sequence during their first year in the program.  In addition to exposing students to current research topics and current research methods within Information Science, the hope is that this sequence will create a cohort among entering PhD students each year.
  •  505 - Foundations of Information Science (3 credits) 

This course will survey the active areas of research within information science (information theory, information retrieval, information visualization, information policy, etc.). 505 will utilize guest speakers from the School of Information faculty as much as possible.  The goal is to have topics introduced to entering PhD students by experts on those topics.  In addition, this will provide students with an immediate introduction to the faculty of the School of Information and their research. This course may be co-convened with Master of Science in Information students but the class requirements may differ.

  • 507 - Research Methods in Information Science (3 credits)

This course will survey the various methodologies utilized by information science researchers.  Also, in line with the Vision and Mission of the School of Information, it will look at how interdisciplinary research is carried out. This course may be co-convened with Master of Science in Information students but the class requirements may differ.

All PhD students are required to take an additional research methods course that focuses on the methodology that they are likely to use in their own research.  This requirement may be waived if a student has acquired sufficient methodological grounding prior to entering the PhD program.  (In that case, the student will be required to take one additional elective to complete the 36 credits of major coursework.)
All PhD students are required to take two research seminars in the School of Information in addition of the Foundations of Information Science and Information Science Research.  The research seminars will focus on various specific topics in Information Science.  Normally, students will be required to read and discuss research articles on that topic.  Also, students will be required to write a research paper or carry out a research project on the topic of the seminar. (Usually, one or two seminar courses will be offered a year, and their nature and course numbers will be publicized to the students via the PhD students' listserv and similar.)
All PhD students are required to take a total of 9 credits of directed research (LIS/INFO 692).  Students will apprentice on a School of Information faculty member's research project.  Under normal circumstances, this requirement would be satisfied by working on three separate projects under the supervision of three separate faculty members in order to provide a breadth of knowledge of research methods.  But the number of credits awarded for working on a particular project may vary depending on the size of the student's contribution to that project.  Directed research credits will be selected in consultation with the student's major advisor ideally, in a way that prepares the student for his or her comprehensive exams and anticipated dissertation research. Students may take Directed Research under a non-SI faculty member only when it is a different area than the onces the student had taken and the ones iSchool could offer. Across the 9 credits of Directed Research, both qualitative and quantative methods should be covered. Petitions to take Directed Research under non-SI faculty are reviewed by the Director of Graduate Studies and student major advisor.   
Finally, all PhD students are required to take four elective courses.  These electives will be selected in consultation with a student's major advisor. The electives for the major coursework will in principle be courses in the School of Information, but exceptions may be approved by the student's major advisor and the DGS.
After comprehensive exams, students will take a total of 18 units Dissertation Research (LIS/INFO 920). Starting Fall 2017, Dissertation Research will be graded. Students taking Dissertation Research are required to submit a 1-page proposal approved by the advisor before registering in Dissertation Research. The proposal will form a base for the advisor to evaluate student performance in the course.  
Students can transfer in up to 12 credits of previous graduate-level coursework from Information Science or a related field.  Such coursework should provide important foundational insight into information studies. Courses with a grade of A or B may be transferred and such courses cannot have been used toward another degree. Transfer credits are approved by the Graduate College. Students who wish to transfer credit must submit a Transfer Credit form in GradPath before the end of their first year of study to have the courses evaluated for transfer eligibility.
Overall, per the Graduate College requirements, a minimum of 30 credits of graduate credit in residence at The University of Arizona. "In residence" is defined as credits offered by The University of Arizona, whether or not they are offered on campus. And at least 36 credits of coursework, exclusive of the dissertation, must be in the major area. 
In sum, major coursework requirements for the PhD (36 credits total)
  • Foundations of Information Science -- 3 credits
  • Information Science Research -- 3 credits
  • A methodology-specific research methods course -- 3 credits
  • Research seminars -- 6 credits
  • Directed research -- 9 credits
  • Electives -- 12 credits

All doctoral students need to meet the following research seminar and presentation requirements: 

  • to attend and participate live in 6 or more research presentations per year,
  • to give a public research-related presentation yearly after the comprehensive exam
  • to make two primary-authored submissions while in the PhD program. These may be in the form of posters, papers, demonstrations, or research proposals. 

Steps to Degree on Graduate College site:

SI suggested timeline toward Degree:

Year 1: Complete 505 and 507

End of Year 1: Submit Plan of Study

Comp exams: Start preparation at 2.5 year and complete at beginning of the 3rd year

Committee Appointment form: after passing the comps

Dissertation proposal: by the end of the 3rd year

Dissertation defense: by the end of the 4th/5th year
This is a suggested timeline. Students should strive to follow the timeline, but communicate with your advisor and committee if delayed. 

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Annual Review

Each year, toward the end of the spring semester in April, the Graduate Committee will seek an annual review of each individual PhD student from the student and his or her respective major advisors. This will be conducted in accordance with the School's Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines. An annual review form is connected to the bottom this web page (ph.d-checklist). Unsatisfactory progress as identified by a major advisor and concurred by the Graduate Committee will put the student on internal academic probation. A 1-year action plan to bring the student back to the expected performance level will be created by the major advisor and the student, approved by the Graduate Committee.  Students on internal academic probation must be found by the Graduate Committee to have successfully and completely executed the action plan at the next annual review to remain in the program.   

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SI guideline, in general, follows the Graduate College Guidelines at :, but has more specific requirements to maintain the high quality of the exams.  Exams will involve the minor department to the degree required by that department. The minor cannot be the same as the major. The announcement of comps and their results are handled through the GradPath. The Graduate College link to GradPath and forms to progressing through the program can be found at
Two comp exam formats are admitted by the school. Students who entered the program in Fall 2018 and after, will take the "essay" format, while students who entered the program before that term may choose between the "question-based exam" and the "essay" formats. The two formats and processes of comprehensive exams are documented in the file attached at the end of this webpage. The cover sheet (attached at the bottom of this page) that outlines the areas to be covered by either format is recommended to be used/incorporated with the cover sheet used by a specific exam.  
Upon successful completion of the Comprehensive Exam, the student will prepare and pass dissertation research proposal:
When the student has an approved doctoral Plan of Study on file, has satisfied all coursework, language, and residence requirements, and passed the written and oral portions of the Comprehensive Examination, he or she must file a Committee Appointment form. Formation of a dissertation committee is described on the Graduate College website:
Prospectus defense and dissertation defense administered by at least four faculty members, up to two of these may come from outside of the School of Information and all of whom should be tenured, tenure-track, other approved equivalent. Follow Graduate college guidelines for special provision members. Announcement of dissertation defense and its result are handled through the GradPath. The Graduate College link to GradPath and forms to progressing through the program can be found at

PhD Student Travel Grant

To qualify, it is preferred that students have had an active role in a grant proposal development or have applied for support money from other UA/external sources (e.g., SBSRI, Confluence, NSF Dissertation Improvement, see Anthropology for examples: applying for this SI travel fund. Only doctoral students with annual reports filed on time each year and in good standing qualify. 

Funding amount varies each year. See the SI travel policy each year for details. 
Your application for these funds will be reviewed by the DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director. To apply, please send the  the DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director your CV, a short abstract on the research you are doing, and predicted costs for what you need. The DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director will share acceptance news with the School Business Office.


PhD Student Dissertation Grant

To qualify, the student must have filed annual reports in year two and beyond and be in good standing. In addition, the student must have completed comprehensive exams or have them scheduled for the very near future. The activities and expenditures for this support must be after comprehensive examinations are successfully completed. The work must have been approved by your committee as being related to your dissertation or preparation of the dissertation proposal. This small fund for research support can be used for such purchase as equipment needed for gathering data, subject/participant remuneration, fees associated with processing data gathered for the dissertation-related project. All IRB and other requirements for ethical research must be met. Funds may not be used to report findings but could be used to travel to conferences or meetings if that travel is to gather dissertation-related data. In principle, one SI dissertation improvement grant is made per dissertation each year. Students must have applied for but not necessarily received a grant in the past year including, for example, university dissertation improvement grants. Students may resubmit dissertation improvement proposals for this SI funding if it is for the same activity for which you are requesting funding. You may only legally receive funding for the same expense once.  There should be an acknowledgement of the SI Dissertation Grant funds in the dissertation and in any publication resulting from the dissertation funding. 

Some purchases may be made by the business office to avoid the need for reimbursement. All other expenses may need to be reimbursements based on receipts and on University regulations. All equipment and software remain the property of the School of Information and the University.

Funding amount varies each year.

Your application for these funds will be reviewed by the DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director. To apply, please send the  the DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director your CV, a short abstract on the research you are doing, and predicted costs for what you need. The DGS, the Associate Director, or School Director will share acceptance news with the School Business Office.


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PhD Student Handbook

A downloadable PhD Student Handbook is linked at the bottom of this page. 

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Other Useful Information

All students are assigned an advisor at the time of admission. Students may choose a different advisor progressing into the program. Students are expected to maintain regular contact with the advisor throughout the program. Students should be prepared for each advising meeting. Students should communicate with the advisor about any circumstances that may affect their progress in the program. Students should make sure their annual review forms are completed, assigned by their advisors, and submitted to the Graduate Committee.

Send all graduate academic appeals to the Director of Graduate Studies (DGS).  See the contact page for the current contact information of the DGS.

It is School of Information policy that the student holds final responsibility for being aware of and responding to all School of Information and Graduate College policies, requirements, formats, and deadlines as they pertain to progression towards and completion of their degree. 

Academic Policies of the School relevant to the MA program can be found on this page and on the Policies page. Additional policies can be found at the Graduate College website. 


File attachments: 

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences