PhD in Information Studies Program Details

PhD Program Details

Major Professor as Advisor

Unless a student specifically requests a particular faculty member, all doctoral students initially are assigned an "interim" advisor. After the completion of 12 credits, a student is required to designate a faculty member from an approved list of major professors with specialized interests compatible with those of the student to act as the major professor. The major professor is expected to assist the student in planning the remainder of the program of studies, chair the student's preliminary examination committee, supervise the completion of the PhD dissertation, and conduct the dissertation defense meeting. All students should consult the program handbook for additional details on school policies and procedures.


The student must meet minimum Graduate School residence requirements of one continuous academic year of full-time graduate studies at UWM. This can be satisfied by completing at least 8 graduate credits in each of two consecutive semesters, or 6 or more graduate credits in each of three consecutive semesters, exclusive of summer sessions. Residence credit cannot be earned at the master's level.

Course of Study

To fulfill the credit requirements for the PhD in Information Studies, a student must complete minimum of 30 credits of graduate-level coursework.  Students who do not possess a Master of Library and Information Science or the equivalent will be required to complete the four required courses for the MLIS program in addition to the regular program requirements.

The program credits will be distributed as follows:

  • 6 credits of foundation coursework in Information Studies
    • INFOST 901 - Current Issues in Information Studies
    • INFOST 902 - Theoretical Foundations in Information Studies
  • 9 credits of Research Methods and Design
    • NFOST 903 - Qualitative Research Methods in Information Studies (3 credits)
    • INFOST 904 - Quantitative Research Methods in Information Studies (3 credits)
    • A minimum of 3 additional credits in approved research methods coursework
  • A minimum of 12 credits related to the specialized area of their dissertation topics

  • 3 credits of electives upon approval of the major professor

For Students Admitted prior to Fall 2012 - The program credits (33) will be distributed as follows:

  • A minimum of 12 credits in research methodologies and analysis
  • A minimum of 12 credits in the major area (information policy, information retrieval, organization of information), which includes a doctoral seminar in the major area
  • A minimum of 9 credits in a minor area, that may be in information studies or another allied discipline relevant to the student’s research interests

Preliminary Examinations / Preparatory Essays

Students will be required to complete the doctoral preparatory essays towards the end of their coursework. The purpose of the essays will be to demonstrate the student’s mastery of coursework and relevant subject matter and the student’s qualifications to proceed with dissertation research. The essays will consist of three areas: research methods, the major area, and the minor area. The essays will represent non-credit research papers based on topics assigned by the student’s doctoral committee, which will consist of at least three members, including one representing the student’s minor. The timeline for completion of the essays will be at the committee’s discretion.

Based on the committee’s assessment of the essays, students will be recommended for advancement toward the PhD or academic dismissal from the program. If the essay results are found to be unsatisfactory, the student will have one opportunity to repeat the essay in a future semester after conferral with the major professor on how to prepare for the next attempt.

The preparatory essays must be successfully completed within four years of initial enrollment.

Dissertation Proposal

A doctoral committee of five faculty members will be in place by the time the student undertakes her/his dissertation proposal. The committee will consist of three members from the School of Information Studies, a faculty member in an allied area from outside the School, and a fifth member who may come from SOIS or another discipline. All doctoral committees shall be chaired by a major professor from the SOIS graduate faculty. Approval of the dissertation proposal, which ordinarily should occur within two semesters after successfully passing the preparatory essays, allows a student to proceed towards completion of the dissertation.


The candidate must write a dissertation which demonstrates her/his ability to formulate a research topic and pursue independent and original investigation that contributes to the knowledge base of the field. 

Dissertation Defense

After submission of a reading copy of the dissertation to the student’s doctoral committee, the candidate and the major professor will schedule a committee meeting for the purpose of undertaking an oral defense of the dissertation work by the candidate. At the conclusion of the candidate's oral remarks, the dissertation committee will vote on passing the candidate's dissertation work. A majority of the committee must vote to approve the dissertation and recommend granting of the Doctor of Philosophy degree.

Approval of the dissertation by the student's doctoral committee satisfies a final requirement for the PhD degree in Information Studies from the UWM-SOIS.

Time Limit

All components of the PhD program must be completed within seven years of matriculation.

Additional Information for Doctoral Students

For additional information on policies and procedures for doctoral students, please see the Graduate School Doctoral Requirements page.