People working together to solve problem

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies (PhD)

Today’s hardest social and technical problems have information at their core. We’re seeking PhD students who have hard, unanswered questions about information problems. UMD iSchool faculty and PhD students work side-by-side to conduct research into these pressing information issues. Our top-tier PhD program facilitates cutting-edge discoveries and trains new generations of information studies scholars to continue this research worldwide.

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 PhD Program

Recruiting Areas for Fall 2019 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

  • Web accessibility
  • Accessible information architecture
  • Universal design
  • Design for blind users and visual impairments
  • Design for users with down syndrome
  • Design for users with autism
  • Machine learning ethics and bias for people with disability
  • Intelligent assistive technologies

Human-Computer Interaction

  • HCI & AI
  • Personalization
  • Explainable AI
  • Creativity
  • Design cognition
  • Innovation
  • Creative cognition

Privacy and Cybersecurity

  • Usable privacy and security
  • Internet of Things
  • Privacy and trust
  • Surveillance

Information Policy

  • Information and human rights
  • Information policy and law

Social Studies of Technology

  • Computer-supported cooperative work
  • Sociotechnical systems
  • e-Science
  • 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

Collections and Memory

  • Archives and human rights
  • Collective memory of trauma
  • Social justice and immigrant communities
  • Computational archival science
  • Digital heritage


  • Youth learning and digital practices
  • Learning in libraries

Applied Machine Learning

  • Smart cities
  • Human mobility
  • Disaster analytics
  • Big data

Health Informatics

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

About the Program

The PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD 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 PhD 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.


Learn more about the PhD program admissions process.

Apply Now