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Ph.D. in Information Studies

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Ph.D. in Information Studies

This new Ph.D. program was approved in April 2017 and welcomed its first cohort of students in Fall 2018. Students can only begin the program in a fall semester. You can access the application form at the Graduate Admissions Site.

Students may pursue the Ph.D. full-time or part-time. All requirements for the degree, including the dissertation, must be completed within 10 years of beginning the program. 

The program will not be available online, although some classes may be available online. Also, it is designated as a Norman-based program and students in the Tulsa area must apply to it as a Norman program. Interested students in the Tulsa area should contact the SLIS office to discuss possible distance education accommodations for LIS classes. 

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies

The Ph.D. in information studies expands SLIS' mission and vision by educating students to thoroughly understand the discipline of information studies; develop expertise in using the various research methods necessary for investigation in the field; conduct effective, sustained research; and understand the ways in which information in all its forms is produced, recorded, organized, preserved, retrieved, communicated, managed, and used. Additionally SLIS seeks to educate researchers that are able to understand the ways in which people's information-related  activity shapes - and is shaped by - information technologies,  information structures, and information institutions such as libraries, archives, and museums. The answers to the research questions posed in information studies help to improve information systems and services, to guide information policy, and to enrich life in today's information society.

The Ph.D. program  offers students ongoing opportunities for close interaction  with outstanding faculty who have international reputations in their areas of research; a carefully designed doctoral curriculum with the flexibility to allow students to pursue individual academic and career goals; and the vast academic resources of OU itself, capable of supporting sophisticated, interdisciplinary, and innovative scholarly investigation.

Graduates of the program will be prepared to 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 goals of the Ph.D. program in information studies are below:

  1. To cultivate a community of students capable of conducting original, sustained, and effective research in the field of information studies and solving significant problems;
  2. To foster students to become catalysts for change and leading advocates for information products and services that effectively address the information needs of a diverse, pluralistic society in culturally responsible and sensitive ways; and
  3. To prepare students to educate the next generation of information professionals in a highly technological and information-based society

Degree Requirements

A total of 90 hours is required for the degree, consisting of 35 hours in the degree program core, 12 hours of guided electives, 27 hours of general electives, and 2-16 hours of dissertation hours. To graduate, all students must complete a general examination, present a dissertation prospectus, submit and defend a dissertation representing an original contribution to the field, and submit a final copy of the dissertation, all according to the guidelines set forth by the Graduate College.

Official Graduate College Degree Sheet (pdf)

1. Theory and Methodology 

Required Classes (9 credit hours)

  • LIS 6033 Intellectual Traditions in Information Studies
  • LIS 6713 Research Methods and Design in Information Studies
  • LIS 6970 Special Topics in the Theory of Information Studies

Outside Methodology Classes (6 credit hours)

Two additional methodology courses must be taken outside of SLIS prior to taking the written portion of the General Exam. Courses for which SLIS has gained departmental support include:

  • ANTH 5213 Ethnographic Methods
  • COMM 5053 Introduction to Qualitative Research Methods
  • COMM 5313 Qualitative Research Methods
  • COMM 5323 Advanced Qualitative Research
  • P SC 3123 Social Statistics
  • PSY 5003 Psychological Statistics I
  • PSY 5013 Psychological Statistics II
  • PSY 5043 Quantitative Methods in Evaluation Research
  • PSY 6013 Factor Analysis and Structural Equation Models
  • PSY 6023 Statistical Models of Tests
  • PSY 6063 Seminar in Quantitative Psychology
  • PSY 6073 Experimental Design for Psychology
  • SOC 5283 Fundamentals of Sociological Statistics
  • SOC 5293 Advanced Methods of Social Research

2. Research apprenticeship (12 credit hours)

Doctoral students are required to participate in research apprenticeship activities by enrolling in LIS 6920 Directed Research (3 credit hours per semester) for 4 semesters of their program.  For this course, students will either work on an advisor's research project or be involved in research support activity as a Graduate Assistant. (GAs must enroll for LIS 6920 to receive proper apprenticeship course credit).

3. Doctoral Seminar (8 credit hours – 4 courses of 2 credit hours each)

Doctoral students are required to enroll in four semesters of LIS 6962 Doctoral Seminar. This course will rotate among a variety of core LIS topics. Activities may include attending presentations on research-in-progress that are given by local and visiting faculty and students; working with an advisor to plan research workshops, mini-conferences, and presentations; and other possibilities. Additional activities may include participating in dialogue within the academic community on a wide range of scholarly communication issues that impact teaching and research (e.g. the changing nature of scholarship in a digital environment; economics of scholarly publishing; preservation of digital assets; open access; grant writing; etc.).

Doctoral students are required to take four elective courses. Two of these must be chosen from graduate courses (Ph.D. level) offered in the School of Library and Information Studies; two more must be chosen from graduate courses offered outside of SLIS.

Ph.D. Level Guided Elective Courses (Examples)

  • LIS 6503 Information Behavior
  • LIS 6543 Social and Community Informatics
  • LIS 6553 Critical Information Studies

Students will work with their committees to identify appropriate general electives.

Prerequisite: Successful completion of the general examination. Directed research culminating in the completion of the Doctoral dissertation. 2 to 16 hours.


A student orientation at the Norman campus is held within the first two weeks of the fall semester. A faculty adviser is assigned when the student is recommended for admission to the School. Upon acceptance to the program and prior to the completion of the first year of the Ph.D. program, any student in the program must form an advisory conference committee.

Students must maintain a 3.0 GPA throughout the program. If a student's GPA falls below 3.0, the student will be placed on academic probation according to the Graduate College's policies and procedures.


The admission policy of the Ph.D. in Information Studies degree program has as its goal the selection of persons who are academically well qualified and who exhibit a potential for contributions in the area of improving information systems and services, guiding information policy, and enriching life in  today's information society. The School of Library and Information Studies encourages applications from students with diverse educational, geographical, cultural, and intellectual backgrounds.

In addition to meeting the general requirements for admission to the Graduate College, applicants must also meet the admissions requirements for the Ph.D. in Information Studies degree program.

Applications will be evaluated holistically based on student undergraduate and graduate work. Applicants must meet the minimum 3.0 GPA requirement (based on a 4.0 scale). Conditional admission will not be permitted and no student with a GPA below 3.0 will be admitted to the Ph.D. program. Compliance with those requirements is demonstrated by submission of the following documents:

  • Application to the Ph.D. program (Fall admittance only)
  • Personal statement (details below)
  • Research/writing sample (Include a writing sample that demonstrates your ability to produce academic or professional writing. This can be a published article, a major term paper from previous coursework, a chapter from a thesis, or a research paper. The sample should be in English and preferably be recent)
  • Professional resume or CV
  • Three letters of recommendation from persons familiar with the applicant's scholastic or employment record (letters from personal friends or family are not appropriate)
  • Scores on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE). Scores more than 5 years old are generally considered unreliable and are not acceptable. If you have a completed graduate degree with a 3.0 or higher GPA, you do not need to include GRE scores in your application

The Admissions Committee will very carefully review applicants' personal statements to make decisions about whether the applicants are a "good fit" with the specific expertise of the faculty in OU SLIS. Therefore, applicants MUST address these specific items:

  • Doctoral area of interest (problem, question, or issue) such as proposed area(s) of specialization
  • Topics for your own future research, be as specific as possible
  • OU SLIS faculty whose areas of research align with your interest (you can read about our faculty members' work on the faculty-staff area of this website)
  • Your career goals - For example, do you plan to use your Ph.D. to become a research/teaching faculty in an iSchool? Do you plan to use it to further your current career such as in Administration in a library or other information setting? Or you may have other goals. Please explain

In more general terms, your personal statement essay should address your academic background, work experience, and long-range career objectives. Detail your doctoral area of interest (problem, question, or issue) such as proposed area(s) of specialization, topics for your own future research, and if applicable identify OU SLIS faculty whose areas of research align with your interests. List accomplishments such as publications, presentations, or awards, and describe skills such as multi-lingual proficiency, technology, etc.

For admission into the Ph.D. program, applicants must meet the requirements for full graduate admission standing in the School. To do so, the candidate must have supplied all of the items listed above and must be eligible for admission to degree status in the Graduate College.

The grade point average is based on the following:

  • If a bachelor's degree has been earned at a regionally accredited college or university, the cumulative grade point average from the conferred degree is used. All letter-graded courses are subject to evaluation.
  • If graduate work has been completed at a regionally accredited college or university, but no master's degree has been earned, the cumulative grade point average from the conferred bachelor's degree is used. All letter-graded courses are subject to evaluation.
  • If a master's degree has been earned at a regionally accredited college or university, the cumulative grade point average from the conferred degree is used. All letter-graded courses are subject to evaluation.

Applicants that do not meet the criteria for full admission to SLIS will not be admitted into the Ph.D. program. All admission materials, not just the GPA and GRE scores, will be used in determining the admissibility of applicants. For full consideration, applications are due by January 15. Late applications may be considered on a case-by-case basis. A personal interview may be required of any applicant.