Ph.D. Programs in Library and Information Sciences

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Updated on February 14, 2023
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A Ph.D. in library science or information science provides scholars with the tools to produce individual research, collaborate with other researchers, and teach library and information science in higher education. The standards are not as concrete for Ph.D. programs as for Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) programs, but there are a few ways to rank a program’s quality. One way is to look at the school of information offering the Ph.D. and the other programs they offer, including if the school provides an MLIS degree and if the degree is accredited by the American Library Association. Another sign of a quality program is seeing the research and progress made by graduates and faculty and how much access a Ph.D. student will have to quality research opportunities.  

In this article, we highlight some of the most comprehensive Ph.D. programs in the U.S. based on these two significant factors. We also try to provide a few programs in each region of the U.S. in the hopes that one of the programs will be near you. Additionally, we will look at many other aspects of each program as well, including the format, what the coursework involves, and how to apply and become qualified for each Ph.D. program in library and information science. 

All of the following Ph.D. programs come from a school that is accredited by the American Library Association and offers students the ability to work with decorated and world-class scholars and professors. Additionally, the programs we chose are in areas that provide ample career opportunities following the program. If you want to know more about each program and what may be a good fit for you, keep exploring below. 

Ph.D. in Information from the University of Michigan

Doctoral students will work one on one with professors in information, many of which specialize in communication technologies, collective research capabilities, and how to change social relations. All professors know a wide range of research and topics and look at information and how individuals and communities interact with information and technology. Additionally, in your application, you will pick which professors you want to work with out of the 100 in the program. 

Many Ph.D. graduates receive careers as professors at prestigious schools including Brown University, Stanford University, and the National University of Singapore. Many receive fellowships at prestigious universities including Harvard University and Brown University. Other careers they received shortly after graduating include UX researcher for Google, Yahoo, and Facebook, design researcher for IBM, and data analysis for Microsoft. 

How to apply

First, apply online and pay the application fee. Send in a Statement of Purpose essay which will include the area of research you want to contribute to and past research done. Additionally, you will need to send in a personal history statement, a resume, three letters of recommendation, and transcripts. Your admission acceptance will be multifaceted in the factors the program will examine. Namely, they will look at past research, work experience, and your goals moving forward. 

Ph.D. in Information Studies at Long Island University

The Ph.D. program includes a dissertation and requires 60 credit hours. There are two areas of study for students which are Information Access and Systems, and Information Studies and Services. Additionally, this program can be taken part-time or full-time to accommodate students’ schedules. The on-campus classes can be taken between 6 PM and 9 PM. It is also the only program of its kind in the Metropolitan New York area, and it is within a school that is accredited by the American Library Association. 

How to Apply

You need a master’s degree to qualify, which can be in any area of study. Admissions will also evaluate you based on previous research, work experience, and the interest you have in research going forward. Then apply online, and pay the application fee. You will also need to send in transcripts, three letters of recommendation,  a statement of research and area of study, a resume, a personal statement, and a sample of scholarly writing. 

Ph.D. in Information Science and Technology at Syracuse University

Syracuse University offers its Ph.D. scholars opportunities to work and research one on one with professors and other doctoral students. The research opportunities are in areas of philosophy, psychology, sociology, computers and digital information, policy studies, librarianship, and information communication. This program is not offered online or part-time. It is a four to five-year program of full-time residential coursework. The Ph.D. student is funded by the school, and for this reason, the program is very selective. 

How to apply

Apply online, pay the application fee, and send in transcripts and any other research or work experience completed. Applicants will be evaluated by a committee based on their readiness for the program, their intellectual ability and academic record, research interests as they relate to faculty interests, communication skills, and research preparedness. 

Ph.D. Philosophy in Information and Library Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

Chapel Hill is the most respected information science department in North Carolina and its MLIS program is often ranked first or second by the U.S. News and World Reports. Their doctoral program is sure to hold to the same standards. Many of the faculty for the MLIS program are also professors in the doctoral program. The difference is that Ph.D. students work one on one with these world-class professors. The program is rigorous, but it provides some flexibility for those holding a job, or have families to care for. There is financial support for Ph.D. students and many receive full support for the first four to five years of the program; typically, students finish within that period. Students learn more about library and information science and they enhance their research and presentation of research capability. 

How to apply 

Accepted students in this program are often seeking to be information leaders, have a knowledge of diverse research methods, enjoy being an independent investigator, are committed to finding information to address critical questions, and enjoy intellectual challenges.  Applicants must have either an MLIS degree or an equivalent of study and research completed. To apply, go online and fill out the online application and pay the application fee. Also, send in all transcripts, an updated resume, three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose that includes your area of research interest. 

Ph.D. in Communication and Information at Kent State University

The Ph.D. program in communication and information from Kent State University in Ohio is part of the information science school, which has been around for over sixty years. The program is offered online and in person and is a 70-credit hour degree program including a dissertation. Doctoral students must also pass the doctoral comprehensive examination to graduate. 

The degree program is for those interested in research, information communication, teaching higher education and academic librarianship administration, and administration in other information fields. The school of information science provides and encourages outreach opportunities for those pursuing a degree in library and information science. The outreach programs give students more experience and knowledge in conducting scholarly research and analyzing the needs of communities and the diversity within those communities. 

How to Apply 

To qualify you must have a master’s degree and a minimum of a 3.30 GPA on a 4.0 scale. Then applicants must fill out an online application and pay the application fee. Applicants should also send in official transcripts, an updated resume, a goal statement, a sample of scholarly writing, and three letters of recommendation.

Gateway Ph.D. in Library and Information Science at San Jose State University

San Jose, California is a great place to earn a doctoral degree in librarianship and information science because of the various research options and a number of opportunities due to the variety of ethnic groups and cultures in the cities of California. The Gateway doctoral degree program in library and information science teaches students to become independent scholars as well as collaborate with other researchers and colleagues.  Ph.D. students complete the program mostly online, however, there is an annual meeting that is a week-long and focuses on collaborative research. San Jose’s Gateway program also holds a partnership with the Manchester Metropolitan University, which offers doctoral students the opportunity to work with their professors as well in their research and to learn from them in coursework. With this program, students from both schools have won prestigious awards for their individual and collaborative research. 

How to Apply

The application process is one of the more extensive doctoral programs, and the program is highly selective. There are three stages of the application process. The first is filling out an online application, paying an application fee, and sending in a statement of purpose, an updated resume of related work, unofficial transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a 1000-word research proposal. In the second stage, the applicant is interviewed by faculty members, and they may ask for more writing samples. If the applicant makes it past the first two stages, then Manchester Metropolitan University will go over the final applicants and approve or disapprove of them. 

Doctorate in Information Science at the University of Washington

The information science department at the University of Washington is known for the research their doctoral students and their faculty do. They also teach students to become professors in their field and to be administrators in librarianship. The doctoral program puts emphasis on collaboration between students and faculty, plus they care about diversity in ethnicity and culture with the idea it brings richer research due to a mix of different backgrounds. The Ph.D. students also learn about UX, or User experience, which is how to evaluate a culture or group and its relationship with information and technology. Doctoral students are also taught to use various research methods and various ways to present information and research results. 

How to apply

To qualify for the doctoral program, applicants must have a bachelor’s degree with an average 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and a master’s or other additional higher education degree is preferred. However, admissions also look at your experience, interest and goals, and scholarly research.  Applicants can apply online. You will need to pay the application fee, send in transcripts, a personal statement, a diversity statement, a research statement, three letters of recommendation, and your interest in areas of research and which faculty member(s) you prefer to work with.

Ph.D. in Library and Information Science at Simmons University

Simmons University is located in Boston Massacutes which provides an ideal environment for research and study. Boston is full of history, diversity, and cutting-edge technology. The area also has a multitude of career opportunities after graduation. This degree program provides a flexible format for those who do not live in the area because the courses can be taken online. Additionally, students can take a mix of courses online and in person. The main focus of the degree program is to further skills in research and teaching within the library and information science.  Doctoral students also gain skills in organizing, analyzing, retrieving, and managing information. Students also learn how to preserve materials and learn more about archiving physical documents and digitizing documents for online archives. Simmons University also partners with other universities in other countries for higher quality and diversity of research. 

How to apply

To qualify for the program, applicants need either an MLIS degree or an MS degree in Library and Information Science from a program accredited by the American Library Association. To apply, go online and fill out the application and pay the application fee. Also, submit all transcripts from any colleges or universities you attended, and send in a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample of previous research, and a comprehensive curriculum vitae. 

University of Texas at Austin Ph.D. in Information Studies

The University of Texas at Austin has a well-funded Ph.D. program in information studies that allow for new technology to be a part of the curriculum and research. The doctoral students also can learn and then teach other institutions about various new technologies and the best ways to implement them to meet their community’s needs. Additionally, Austin is an advancing and thriving city in the midst of technological growth, and the city offers opportunities for research and careers in information science. The program includes a dissertation and 39 hours of coursework. During this time, students will produce two peer-reviewed scholarly journals. 

How to Apply

You do not have to have a master’s degree to qualify for this program, but you do need a bachelor’s degree and an average 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 grading scale. 

Then, apply online and pay the application fee. Afterward, send in three letters of recommendation, and a statement of purpose. 

The University of North Texas’ Information Science Ph.D. Program

The Doctoral program at the University of North Texas is the nation’s largest Ph.D. program in the Information Science discipline. It is also interdisciplinary so that students can work with students and faculty in various other degree programs including geography, computer science, engineering, linguistics, and merchandising. The program also has concentration options and dual degrees in data science consumer behavior and experience management, journalism cybersecurity, geospatial information systems, health informatics, and linguistics.

How to Apply

To qualify for any doctoral program you must have at least a 3.50 in either your undergraduate degree or your master’s degree. Also, talk to the admissions department for the information science department. Then apply online, send in transcripts, pay the application fee, and send any other documents or scholarly writing the application requests. 

Florida State University PH.D. in Information

Florida is a great state to earn a Ph.D. in library and information because of the diversity in the state of Florida as well as the environmental and marine biology research that is done in Florida. This is good for research opportunities as well as career opportunities. The number of good colleges in FLordia provides many career opportunities as well. 

Florida State has a program called the iSchool and it is ALA-accredited. Additionally, their doctoral students are able to travel across the U.S. for presenting at conferences like the ALA conference, ACM CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems, and the Association for Information Science and Technology conference.

How to Apply 

To qualify you must have a master’s degree and at least a 3.0 GPA. To apply, fill out the online application and send in a resume, statement of purpose, writing sample, and three letters of recommendation. Right now the GRE requirement is waived. Be sure to speak to an admissions counselor for any additional application requirements or recommendations. 

Library and Information Science Ph.D. Programs Final Thoughts

Ph.D. programs in library and information science are worth pursuing if you have a passion for sharing information through various modes to communicate with other scholars, but more importantly, with the world and its many communities. Many of these programs are lengthy and require dedication, but if you believe you have the drive to become a Ph.D. in Information and Library Science, then I hope this article helps you find a good match for your professional research and career goals.