• "Preparing the next generation of information professionals and changemakers."

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies (Ph.D.)

Today’s hardest social and technical problems have information at their core. We’re seeking Ph.D. students who have hard, unanswered questions about information problems. UMD iSchool faculty and Ph.D. students work side-by-side to conduct research into these pressing information issues. Our top-tier Ph.D. program facilitates cutting-edge discoveries and trains new generations of information studies scholars to continue this research worldwide. For our international students, we are pleased to share that our Ph.D. program is STEM Certified as of January 2019, enabling our current and future students as of this date to potentially work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation via the U.S. Homeland Security's STEM OPT program.

As the director of iSchool's doctoral program and a researcher focused on values and ethics in technology, I'm particularly proud of the ways that the UMD iSchool entwines social and technical innovation. We draw on core values of information studies, including justice, inclusion, and access, and use these principles to facilitate the discovery of new knowledge.

I hope you’ll consider joining us.

-Katie Shilton, Director of the Ph.D. Program

Recruiting Areas for Fall 2020 Applications

We guarantee funding for all admitted full-time students. We also encourage part-time students working in areas that complement their doctoral research.

Accessible Design

  • Design of learning environments
  • Web accessibility
  • Accessible information architecture
  • Universal design
  • Accessibility
  • Sign language

Human-Computer Interaction

  • HCI & AI
  • Virtual/Augmented/Mixed reality
  • Visualization and Visual Analytics
  • Human AI teams
  • AI and teamwork
  • Human-centered machine learning

Privacy and Cybersecurity

  • Usable privacy and security
  • Internet of Things
  • Privacy and trust
  • Social media sensing
  • Hacker studies
  • Sociotechnical approaches to cybersecurity
  • Cyber risk and effects

Computational Research

  • Computational journalism
  • Data mining
  • Critical data/algorithm studies

Social Studies of Technology 

  • Sociotechnical systems


  • Infrastructure
  • Social computing
  • Technology ethics, values in design
  • Data ethics and critical data studies
  • Future of work
  • Technology, inequality, and marginalization (especially race, class, and gender)
  • Social justice
  • Social influence and disinformation
  • Critical studies of the corporation
  • History of technology
  • Technology policy
  • Public-private partnerships

Collections and Memory

  • Archival studies
  • Digital archives
  • Computational archival science
  • Digital heritage
  • Digital/data curation
  • Digital humanities


  • Youth eXperience (YX)
  • Youth learning and digital literacy
  • Learning in informal settings (i.e., libraries, home, virtual spaces, etc.)
  • Education

Applied Machine Learning

  • Smart cities

Health Informatics

  • Consumer health information behavior
  • Health-related information seeking
  • Health justice
  • Health disparities
  • Health literacy
  • Personal informatics

About the Program

The Ph.D. program at Maryland's iSchool offers an interdisciplinary approach to research and teaching provided by faculty at this leading public research university. Small classes and wide-ranging research projects enable students to work closely with faculty mentors to gain experience in identifying knowledge gaps, investigating both theoretical and practical solutions, evaluating results, and creating and disseminating new knowledge. A range of required research courses, two foundational doctoral seminars, and electives chosen by the students and their faculty mentors provide both the structure necessary for individuals to become successful researchers and the flexibility that allows them to pursue the research areas about which they are most passionate.

Download the current Ph.D. Program Handbook (PDF) to learn more.

Unique Aspects of the Program

Maryland’s iSchool is at the center of groundbreaking research in the fast-moving field of information studies. With a multidisciplinary faculty studying such diverse topics as online communities, information systems, information policy, human-computer interaction, and digital cultural heritage, the iSchool cultivates doctoral students from a wide range of backgrounds. The Ph.D. program offered at the iSchool provides students with training in interdisciplinary theory, research, and pedagogy as preparation for original research that connects communities, technologies, and information.

The iSchool’s location near Washington, DC, the information capital of the world, offers unparalleled opportunities for students to pursue research and employment opportunities. Our Ph.D. students hold internships at and conduct research in government agencies, top technology and design firms, and the nonprofit sector; and graduate to jobs in academia, industry, and government.

Goals of the Program

Upon successful completion of the doctoral program, graduates have:

  • Knowledge of the foundations of the field of information studies.
  • Mastery of research methods and design.
  • Understanding of the research in a specialized content area.
  • Proficiency in synthesizing and applying knowledge from a variety of areas.
  • Expertise in conducting research and disseminating new knowledge.

Career Paths in Information Studies

Students in the doctoral program have unique opportunities to focus on innovative research.

Current areas of research at the iSchool include: information technology innovations; online communities; the social, political, and economic aspects of information access; the creation and preservation of electronic literature; and human-computer interaction.

Students have opportunities to work on research projects that lead to published papers, as well as benefit from one-on-one mentoring relationships with faculty members. Graduates of the program have accepted positions at leading universities and research institutions around the world.

How people access, use and communicate information has become critical to professional success, life-long learning, and even government policies. Information retrieval now is heavily dependent on computer systems, the Internet and mobile devices. Given this diverse and complex landscape, students with wide-ranging interests or interdisciplinary experience are well served by the iSchool's Ph.D. program.

For our international students, our Ph.D. program is STEM Certified as of January 2019, enabling current and future students as of this date to potentially work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation via the U.S. Homeland Security's STEM OPT program.


Learn more about the Ph.D. program admissions process.

Apply Now