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The objective of the program for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy at the School of Information is to prepare graduates to contribute to the discipline through research and creative leadership. Emphasizing research, the doctoral program offers students an opportunity to pursue advanced studies in information studies (broadly defined), to study appropriate methods and theories, and to engage in advanced research by carrying out a supervised dissertation project. The program allows students to take courses from a spectrum of University offerings to supplement those in the School of Information.

Current Activities

To get a glimpse of current PhD student activity, visit the PhD student news.

Degree Requirements

The core of the doctoral program consists of successful completion of a minimum 39 credit hours grouped as follows:

Requirements Credit hours
School of Information theory seminars (6 hours)
Methods courses (12 hrs. min.)
School of Information electives (12 hrs. min.)
Elective courses from outside the School (9 hrs. min.)

Students must also complete a qualifying procedure to move from coursework to candidacy. Finally, students must complete and defend a dissertation representing an original contribution to knowledge in the discipline.

Note: the full faculty must approve a student's planned program of work before the student can advance to candidacy. The faculty may direct students to take further methods courses depending on the student's planned research.

Advising and Reviews

When admitted, each student is assigned three members of the faculty, including an individual advisor, to help guide the student's program. Since advancement to candidacy is contingent on faculty approval of a course of work, the student should consult regularly with their committee on matters of course selection. The student is free to ask other members of the faculty to join the committee and/or to replace members of the committee, including the assigned advisor, at any time.

This committee is also responsible for the student's annual evaluation. The goal of the annual review of doctoral students is to ensure continuing progress and to help plan future efforts. Students who fail to demonstrate adequate progress cannot continue in the program.

Detailed Structure of the Ph.D. Program

Required School of Information seminars (6 hours)

Doctoral Research and Theory 1 (DRT 1): Foundations of inquiry in the humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences, and review of theories and methods of inquiry in Information Studies in particular.

Doctoral Research and Theory 2 (DRT 2): Epistemological concepts and processes of theory generation and testing in Information Studies, with special attention to explicit problems of interest to the student.

Note: DRT 1 and DRT 2 are offering in a Fall and Spring sequence only. An introductory research methods course (such as INF 397.1) or equivalent is a prerequisite for admission to the doctoral seminars.

Methods requirement (12 hours minimum)

  1. One graduate level course in qualitative methods(3 hrs.)
  2. One graduate level course in quantitative methods (3 hrs.)
Method Course Listings

These courses may be taken before, during or after taking the DRT 1 and 2 seminars.

Further courses covering at least two methods focused on the student's planned area of research.(6 hrs. min.)

Note: Introductory research methods courses which aim to give broad coverage of a range of research methods in a field (e.g., INF 397.1) do not count towards the 12 credits requirement for the doctoral program. Consult with your advisor for details.

Information School Electives (12 credits minimum)

All Ph.D. students must complete successfully at least 12 semester-hours of coursework from within the Information School relating to individual research objectives. These courses form the major area of concentration for the student.

Electives from outside the School (9 credits minimum)

All Ph.D. students must complete at least 9 credit hours outside the School. These courses must form a coherent program intended to broaden or supplement the student's majr area of study and be approved by the student's advisory committee.

Qualifying Procedure for Admission to Candidacy

The qualifying procedure consists of (1) a written exam, with subsequent oral defense, and (2) a research paper accepted by the student's committee. Exam questions are written and graded by the candidate's committee, ordinarily made up of three members of the School of Information faculty and one outside member. The student, in consultation with his or her committee, determines the research paper topic, and this paper normally serves as the foundation for the student's dissertation proposal. Students must demonstrate their competency in both exam and research paper components to the satisfaction of their committee. While there are no formal credits required for this phase of doctoral program, students usually sign up for independent study credits and/or readings and research with their committee chair to prepare for the exam and paper.

Dissertation proposal and defense

Candidates must defend a proposal to conduct original research and then complete and defend a dissertation under the direction of a supervising committee appointed by the Dean of Graduate Studies.

Additional Information

Depending upon educational background, a student should expect to spend at least three years of full-time study beyond the master's degree to complete a doctoral program. All completed coursework that is included in the student's degree program at the time of admission to candidacy for the doctorate must have been taken within the previous six years.

Exceptional students may be admitted to the doctoral program without having a master's degree. Those students must complete a minimum of 18 credits in the School of Information within 12 months. These 18 hours should ordinarily include the core courses in the Master's curriculum.

For further information about the details of the doctoral program, contact the Chair of the Doctoral Committee.

The Graduate School Catalog details the University's requirements for doctoral degrees, for quality of academic work, and for related topics.

Last Modified: December 10 2004 11:50:47.

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