Highlights of the Ph.D. Program in Information Studies

A Unique Approach

The Department of Information Studies at UCLA is setting the intellectual agenda for this field. We argue that the principal goal of research and practice in information studies is to support the making of culture and community in an increasingly pluralist, globalizing world.

Rather than focusing on particular context-specific technologies and institutions, we focus on people as actors and agents in their worlds (instead of as users, patrons, or consumers); on communities as networks of belonging, that foster agency and the construction of identity among their members; on culture as both the means for, and the result of, people's cultivation of their capabilities; and on artifacts as the objects through which culture is preserved, reproduced, and re-imagined.

This approach is necessarily pluralist and global in scope: pluralist in the sense that multiple ways of being, doing, and knowing are assumed to coexist; and global in the sense that these ways of life interact across cultural boundaries of all types. We share a strong, specific ethical commitment to the advancement of social equity, social justice, and individual and community empowerment, and to the promotion of diversity, accountability, and intellectual openness.


This unique approach is embodied in the diverse backgrounds and expertise of our faculty, who have advanced qualifications and experience in communication, computer science, critical theory, design studies, media studies, public administration, science and technology studies, and visual studies, as well as library, archival, and information studies.

It is also reflected in the range of interests and aspirations of our Ph.D. students, and in the doctoral program's curricular strengths, which include: collections management, community-based design, cultural informatics, data curation, digital curatorship, digital heritage, digital libraries, digital preservation, electronic recordkeeping, e-governance, e-scholarship, history and philosophy of information, history of information professions, information and media literacy, information ethics, information retrieval, international information policy, knowledge organization, library management and evaluation, medical informatics, metadata, moving image archive studies, multicultural information services, museum informatics, scholarly communication, social informatics, visual informatics, among others.

The doctoral curriculum is highly flexible, with an emphasis on mastery of research epistemology and methodology: each individual student is encouraged to pursue his or her own academic goals by following a personalized path through coursework toward the dissertation.

Internationally Renowned Faculty

Our faculty are well-connected and highly-cited scholars with global reputations for their research, teaching, mentorship, and service.

Our professors work with international and intercultural topics, colleagues, and audiences, conducting research at the forefront of their fields, lecturing around the world, and serving as referees for prestigious journals and conferences, as officers of professional associations, and on editorial boards and awards juries.

They have outstanding track records of securing research funding from organizations such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the Institute for Museum and Library Services (IMLS), and the US Departments of Education and Energy, and there are numerous opportunities for students to collaborate with faculty in research and publication. A third of the total course credit in every doctoral student's second year is applied to a Research Apprenticeship, which gives students the opportunity to work closely with faculty on a real-life research project of the student's choice.

Diverse Student Body

As well as making sure that issues relating to cultural diversity are covered throughout the curriculum, the Department actively recruits students from diverse cultural and ethnic backgrounds. In recent years, between 30 and 40 percent of entering students have been drawn from the African American, American Indian, Asian American, and Latino communities.

Fellowship Opportunities

Incoming students have the opportunity to apply for a Eugene V. Cota-Robles Fellowship, a four-year fellowship program funded by the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) and the UCLA Graduate Division, which provides full coverage of fees/tuition plus an annual stipend of $18,000. "Individuals from cultural, racial, linguistic, geographic and socioeconomic backgrounds that are currently underrepresented in graduate education are especially encouraged to participate in the program. The intent of this fellowship is to provide access to higher education for students who might find it difficult or impossible to successfully pursue graduate study."

Students additionally have the opportunity to apply for a Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship, which is funded by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) in partnership with the American Library Association (ALA), the University of Pittsburgh, and nine other participating Ph.D. programs. The Spectrum fellowship is "designed to increase racial and ethnic diversity among our profession's next generation of LIS leaders," and provides full coverage of fees/tuition plus an annual stipend of $20,000.

In the first two years of the Spectrum Doctoral Fellowship, twelve applicants to the ten participating Ph.D. programs have been selected as fellows; three of these twelve have been admitted to UCLA (more than to any other participating institution).

Other opportunities for both incoming and continuing students to apply for Special Readerships (on M.L.I.S. core courses), and for Graduate Student Researcher positions with faculty in Information Studies or beyond, are frequently advertised. One regular employer of GSRs is UCLA's Center for Embedded Networked Sensing (CENS), funded by the National Science Foundation.

Excellent Job Prospects

Our graduates are sought after worldwide for leadership, research, and teaching positions. Graduates of the last ten years are currently employed in tenure-track positions at many of the top information schools, including British Columbia, Florida State, Hawaii, Indiana, Kent State, Louisiana State, McGill, Rutgers, Simmons, Toronto, Washington, Western Ontario, and Wisconsin-Madison.

Departmental Life

The Department, housed next door to the research library and sculpture garden on the beautiful UCLA campus, is small (in size) and friendly, big (on ideas) and busy.

Dropping in on faculty for one-on-ones is easy. Taking advantage of the dedicated Media and Information Technology (MIT) Laboratory's state-of-the-art resources and library collections is easier still.

Participation in the flourishing student chapters and special interest groups is strongly encouraged: as well as chapters of major professional organizations such as ALA, AMIA, ASIS&T, SAA, SLA, and YALSA, there are specialist groups such as ARTiFACTS (devoted to art librarianship, museum informatics, and visual resources), the Horn Press (for hand-press fine printing and book arts), and Library & Archive OUTreach (for LGBT library and archival scholarship).

Lively contingents from UCLA descend on conferences such as 4S and JCDL every year.

Students serve as editors and editorial board members of InterActions, a peer-reviewed, open-access, electronic journal published by UCLA's Graduate School of Education and Information Studies (GSE&IS) and committed to the promotion of interdisciplinary and critical scholarship.

Distinguished guest speakers from around the world visit the Department on an almost weekly basis, and give talks in the regular research colloquium series (held on Thursdays and open to all), or at the Center for Information as Evidence.


UCLA is one of North America's greatest universities. Members of the UCLA community enjoy access to an extraordinary collection of academic resources that enable sophisticated, interdisciplinary, and innovative investigation of an incomparable range of research topics.

These resources include: the expertise of faculty in nationally-ranked departments of Asian American Studies, Chicana & Chicano Studies, Communication Studies, Computer Science, Design | Media Arts, Education, Geography, History, Sociology, and World Arts and Cultures (just to name a few with which Information Studies faculty have particularly close connections), and interdepartmental programs in African-American Studies, American Indian Studies, and Latin American Studies; the giant, state-wide University of California library and archives; and collections of unique cultural objects at the Fowler and Hammer museums, the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library, and the Charles E. Young Library Department of Special Collections.

Doctoral students in Information Studies are actively encouraged to pursue interdisciplinary connections by taking classes in cognate fields, and working as Teaching Assistants and Graduate Student Researchers in other departments across the University.

Los Angeles

Los Angeles is North America's most multicultural city, and one of the world's most dynamic communities. As the headquarters of the US entertainment industry, and home to many of the continent's leading cultural institutions, the city is alive with information and media activity and an exciting and vibrant place for learning and for living.

Updated: 5/9/14