Information Science, PhD

Are you interested in exploring research questions in information science? Are you considering moving into a faculty position in the field? Do you want to enhance your leadership experience in libraries? If you answer yes to any of these questions, our doctoral program in information science is your ticket to the next phase of your career. A PhD in information science will give you the opportunity to develop sophisticated quantitative and qualitative research skills to equip you to delve into the complex information problems facing humanity and contemporary organizations. As human interaction and cultural expression continue to be facilitated digitally, the workings of digital technologies, their impact and their uses need to be understood. Our doctoral degree in information science will provide the opportunity to study these issues in depth. The information field is changing rapidly, and offering myriad opportunities for future scholars of information science.

On this page:

Why Information Science at UB?

The features of our program include:

  • a curriculum that addresses the rapid and ongoing changes in the information science field
  • a residency period of one week each year for students to interact directly with their peers, as well as with the faculty
  • it is one of only two online information science doctoral programs in North America

Program Overview

Academic credential granted Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Credits required for completion 72
Time to completion 4 to 5+ years
Course delivery Online (except for a required one-week residency each year)
  • Faculty/scholar of information science at a university
  • Researcher at a profit or nonprofit organization
  • Senior manager of a large public library
  • Senior manager of a university campus library
Application deadlines Fall admission only
Feb. 1, then rolling

Program Goals

  • Graduates will have a broad understanding of the theories of information science, as well as theories from cognate disciplines which have been applied in information science.
  • Graduates will have a broad understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods, which are commonly applied in information science research.
  • Graduates will demonstrate deep and broad knowledge of one or more domain topics within information science.
  • Graduates will demonstrate the ability to execute research in their domain area using appropriate methods and theory.

Program Coursework

Master's Degree (30-36 credits)

Upon accceptance into the doctoral program, you are allowed to transfer credits from your master's degree program.

Core Courses (15 credits)

LIS 601 Qualitative Methods in Information Science
LIS 602 Quantitative Methods in Informtion Science
LIS 603 Theoretical Foundations of Information Science
LIS 604 Statistics I
LIS 605 Statistics II

Electives in Discipline (9 credits)

Specialization will occur through elective courses and, where appropriate, independent study elective courses.

Qualifying Requirements (3 credits)

You will select an advisor and assemble a dissertation committee conforming to UB graduate guidelines. The committe composition must reflect the intellectual diversity of the Department of Information Science, and must be approved by the director of the PhD program. The committee may include one external member.

You will decide on a research topic and produce a short research proposal (dissertation prospectus) that includes the research questions to be pursued; a short literature review; a description of one or more possible theoretical frameworks that will inform the research; and a summary of the methods expected to be applied. Your research proposal is expected to be approximately 20 pages in length.

You will pass an oral examination on the background knowledge required to conduct the research in your proposal. The committee will provide a written list of topics to be covered in the examination. This requirement must be met no later than the end of the fourth semester in the program (for full-time students). Upon successful completion of the oral examination, you may file for candidacy.

Dissertation (12-18 credits)

The final dissertation will be a refinement and expansion of the your dissertation prospectus. Your final dissertation must be completed by the end of the sixth semester in the program (for full-time students). You will defend your fully publication-ready dissertation at a public defense that will include an oral examination by your PhD committee.

Program Handbook

Graduate Assistantships

Assistantships are available in a variety of areas that change from year to year. Compensation for positions ranges from hourly pay only to a stipend to tuition remission plus a stipend. Generally, assistantships require 20 hours of work per week.

The application process for assistantships is separate from the program admission process. Assistantship opportunities are posted for the following academic year in mid-January, from offices on campus such as Campus Living, Career Services, Student Engagement, Intercultural and Diversity Center, among others.

While assistantships are limited, new opportunities become available throughout summer and into the fall semester.

Application Requirements

Standardized Testing No Longer Required

In an effort to make the application process more equitable, the GRE/MAT is no longer required for admissions consideration for those applying to this program through the fall 2022 semester. If you still plan to take the GRE/MAT exam, you can send your scores through the testing agency, and they will automatically be added to your application; however, they are not required for admission consideration to this program.

You must have a bachelor's and master's degree. 

Submit your completed online application, which includes:

  • Application fee: A $50 non-refundable application fee, submitted electronically through UB's ePayment system.
  • Contact information for at least three individuals who will each be asked to provide an electronic recommendation letter.
  • Unofficial transcripts from all colleges attended. (UB transcripts are automatically submitted for current UB students and alumni.)
  • Sample of academic writing (e.g., article, essay, thesis)
  • Statement of research interest: The statement of research interest should be a concise statement about your academic and research background and future interests. Please be specific in explaining how the course offerings and faculty expertise of this program fit your educational and career objectives. Be sure to include the specific faculty you would like to work with and why. We consider a 1000-word statement as an appropriate length.

    Finding the right doctoral program requires that doctoral candidates specify and describe their research interests so they can evaluate whether there is a good fit between what they want to study and faculty research expertise. Start by reviewing our faculty directory and faculty web pages and once you are familiar with faculty research areas, read some of the faculty publications that you find most interesting. That will help you determine if there is a good fit between your scholarly interests and what our faculty members are currently researching. Everyone knows that grade point average, GRE scores and letters of reference are important in the decision-making process; however, alignment with faculty research interests and the academic program can often be a determining factor in admission decisions.
  • Statement of educational and career goals: The statement of educational and career goals should outline your reasons for applying to this program. Please include a candid analysis of your long- and short-term professional objectives, and indicate how this program will help you achieve your objectives. Your statement should be at least one to two pages in length.
  • Resume or CV

Faculty Interview: After applications are submitted and reviewed, qualified candidates will be contacted for an admisssion interview with the faculty.

Former/Maiden Name: Please provide us with your former/maiden name if you have one. When requesting transcripts, please ask the sending institution to indicate your current name and former/maiden name.

Admission Decision: The admission decision will be communicated to you as soon as review is complete. The decision is based on a number of factors and is the result of a thorough and deliberate process. All decisions are final and cannot be appealed.

International Applicant Additional Requirements
  • Official original proof of your degree
  • A copy of your passport biographical page
  • Official test scores for either the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language), the IELTS (International English Language Testing System) or PTE (Pearson Test of English) Academic. Test scores must be dated within two years of submitting your application.
    • TOEFL minimum score is a 250 for a computer based test, 600 for a paper based test and 79 for the Internet based test
    • IELTS minimum score is 6.5 overall
    • PTE minimum score is 55 overall
  • Financial documentation — International graduate applicants must document their ability to pay for all costs incurred while studying in the U.S.
  • An official bank statement

All financial forms and supporting documentation with required signatures must be uploaded with your application, and must be dated within one year of your intended enrollment date.

Are you an international student and unable to take the IELTS, PTE or TOEFL?

If you are currently unable to take the IELTS, PTE or TOEFL tests because they are canceled due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19), the University at Buffalo will accept the Duolingo English Test (DET) for proof of English proficiency. This test can be taken online, in your own home. More information can be found on the Graduate School’s website.

The TOEFL iBT® Special Home Edition is a safe and convenient option for students who are unable to take the TOEFL iBT test at a test center due to public health concerns.

Learn More

University Computing Standards

You are required to have daily access to a reliable broadband connection and a computer that meets university computing standards. You are also expected to have basic computer competency before beginning your coursework.