Researchers in information studies seek to understand the ways in which information and cultural content in all its forms is produced, recorded, organized, preserved, retrieved, communicated, managed, and used, and the ways in which people’s information-related activity shapes—and is shaped by— socio-economic and political conditions embedded in information technologies, policies, structures, and institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums.

With a particular focus on social justice, pluralism, and cultural and global awareness, the answers to the research questions doctoral students investigate help to improve information systems and services, to guide information policy, to redress inequities, and to enrich life in today’s information society. Areas of research and development include book history, community archives, critical library and information studies, data cultures, digital preservation, digital recordkeeping, indigenous preservation methods, knowledge organization, media archiving, media literacies, and philosophy of information.

The research and professional programs offered by UCLA’s Department of Information Studies are considered among the finest of their kind in the world. The Ph.D. program is rigorous and rewarding, with a strong research focus, It is structured so that students can gain maximum benefit from a cohort experience; a purpose-designed program of coursework coupled with research apprenticeships, and strong faculty mentoring. Our students are strongly encouraged to present and publish their research in academic, professional and community venues.

Students are admitted and will move as a cohort through the first year and a half of the program, although they will each be assigned upon admission a faculty advisor who will guide them through the first stage of their studies. Students are not expected to have a research topic upon entry to the program, although the interests that they express in their application will be used to help to identify an appropriate initial advisor.

Upon completing the required coursework, usually in April of their second year, students will sit a written qualifying examination. After passing the examination they will propose, write, and defend a dissertation and will be advised by the faculty member who serves as the chair of their dissertation committee.

This carefully designed doctoral curriculum has the flexibility to allow students to pursue individual academic and career goals, including as course instructors; and to take advantage of the vast academic resources of UCLA itself. It prepares students to:

  • demonstrate a thorough understanding of the field of information studies;
  • develop expertise in using the various research methods necessary for investigation in the field;
  • conduct effective, sustained research; and
  • contribute to the knowledge of the field by identifying and solving a significant problem.

Graduates of the program may engage in creative research, ordinarily as part of a career in university teaching or in policymaking or consulting for corporate, non-profit, or governmental institutions, and in professional leadership for information institutions. The Department has an outstanding record of placement for graduates in positions of academic and professional leadership.

Doctoral study requires intellectual creativity, discipline, and dedication. UCLA’s Department of Information Studies seeks students capable of undertaking a sophisticated, interdisciplinary, and innovative program of scholarly investigation. It offers students who undertake this demanding program an extraordinary educational experience.

Funding for suitably qualified students is available through scholarships, fellowships, and research assistantships.

Begin your application today!


See Dates, Documents, and Forms page for quarterly schedules and departmental forms for PhD students.


2018-2019 Student Handbook (PDF)

2017-2018 Student Handbook (PDF)

IS Travel Expense Reimbursement Form (PDF)