PhD Program Areas of Focus or Strength

SLIS encourages PhD applications from individuals with interests in the following areas of research strength:

1. Library, Print Culture, Information and Information Technology History

History of print cultures both analog and digital; history of librarianship; history of information technologies and the information industries.

Faculty: DowneyEschenfelder, Senchyne, Whitmire,

2. User Behavior and Social Aspects of Information Seeking

Users online information seeking behaviors; libraries in the life of everyday people; underrepresented populations; health information seeking behaviors; financial literacy; technological literacy; user vocabularies and information behaviors

Faculty:  Arnott-Smith, Kim, Whitmire, Willett

3. Social Informatics, or the social aspects of information and information & communications technologies

Information technology change in the information industries; privacy in the digital era; information technology and changes in genres and values in the arts; new technologies, information sharing and community building in patient communities;

Faculty:   Arnott-Smith, Downey, Eschenfelder, Rubel, Willett

4. Organization of Digital  Information

This includes cross-cultural organizational scheme analysis, and organization of digital information by humanists (especially in the arts), and the socio-cultural history of organizational tools

Faculty: Kim

5. Information Policy & Ethics

This includes intellectual and cultural property; privacy concerns in the digital era; digital library, repository & e-publishing policy issues; information disparities -- especially health and financial information.

Faculty:  Arnott-SmithEschenfelder, Rubel


PhD Student Community


The Doctoral Students Association represents PhD students in the School and provides a forum for networking and social support.

Current SLIS PhD students conduct research in the areas of: information horizons of undergraduate students, history of cataloging and classification, print culture history of southern agricultural journals and their relationship to slave labor management, health information intermediaries for high school athletes, curricular information seeking of information systems faculty in Thai LIS programs; history of digital legal information; material rhetoric of web standards; the role of archives in human rights trials in Cambodia, the history of the children's novel Ferdinand the Bull, the role of community in online learning, electronic journal preservation policy, personal information management.

Campus research groups of interest to SLIS PhD students include:

Program Overview

The SLIS PhD degree requires a a minimum of 51 credits. 32 credits must be completed on the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus as an enrolled PhD student.

At least 18 credits are completed within SLIS; however, the remainder of a PhD student's coursework is actually completed outside of SLIS  -- students are encouraged to take advantage of the rich array of graduate coursework in theoretical approaches, research methods and subject area seminars provided in other University of Wisconsin departments. Students must develop a minor in an area of interest outside the school  -- Example minors might include educational psychology, science and technology studies, history, south Asian studies, communications or political science.

Residence Requirements:

The school prefers full time PhD students and will only rarely permit part time status. No PhD distance education program is available.

The program requires a minimum of three years, and normally four years, of full-time study.

Before students are permitted to undertake a dissertation, they must complete all required coursework, pass three mastery demonstration papers that provide evidence of the ability to conduct independent research and prepare scholarly manuscripts, and prepare and defend a program portfolio which demonstrates their mastery of four required subject areas and research methodologies.

More detailed information about requirements is available in the SLIS PhD Program Planning Guide and the University of Wisconsin Graduate School Academic Guidelines.


Please Note:  SLIS has a new earlier deadline of December 31 for admissions materials.

All materials must be in place by December 31 for full consideration. Late applications may be considered only if the incoming class is not full.

Current GRE scores are required for full consideration.  There is no minimum acceptable GRE score.

TOEFL scores are required for most international students.

All applicants must complete two sets of applications materials by the above due dates: one from the School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS) and one from the University of Wisconsin Graduate School. Links to both sets are provided below.

  1. SLIS PhD Application Forms
  2. UW Graduate School Applications Forms

 Please upload admissions materials to the UW Graduate School website, or mail admissions materials to:

PhD Admissions, School of Library and Information Studies
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Room 4217 Helen C. White Hall
600 N. Park Street, Madison, WI 53706
Phone: (608) 263-2900
Fax: (608) 263-4849



  • Questions about the PhD program and admissions to the PhD program should be directed to the Interim PhD Program Director Assistant Professor Alan Rubel. (

 Recent graduates of the SLIS PHD Program:

  • Tien-I Tsai (2013) “Socialization and Information Horizons: Source Use Behavior of First-Generation and Continuing-Generation College Students”
  • Jom Polparsi (2012) "Global and Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Changes in Library and Information Studies (LIS): Information Seeking Behaviors of LIS Faculty Members in Thailand"
  • Michelle Caswell (2012) "Archiving the Unspeakable: Silence and Voice in Khmer Rouge Mug Shots."
  • Sharon McQueen (2012) "The Story of the Story of Ferdinand."
  • Melissa Adler (2012) “For SEXUAL PERVERSION See PARAPHILIAS: Disciplining Sexual Deviance at The Library of Congress.”
  • Brenton Stewart (2012) “Informing the South: On the Print Culture of Antebellum Augusta, Georgia, 1828-1860.”
  • Nathan Johnson (2011) "How to Build Infrastructure: Rhetorics of Web Standardization"
  • Xiaohua "Awa" Zhu (2011) "The Access Rights for Digital Legal Information: A Historical Case Study"
  • Sei-Ching Joanna Sin (2009) "Structural and Individual Influences on Information Behavior: A National Study of Adolescents' Use of Public Libraries."
  • Ming-Hsin "Phoebe" Chiu (2007) "Making Sense of Organizational Socialization: Exploring Information Seeking Behavior of Newcomer Digital Librarians in Academic Libraries." 
  • Lynne C. Chase (2007) "Getting in on the Front End of Information Systems Development: Records Management/Systems Analyst Interactions in State Government Agencies."
  • Chi-Shiou Lin (2007) "The Conceptualization of Government Publications on the World Wide Web: A Genre Theory Inspired Investigation."
  • Shen Yi (2006) "Digital Information and Communications Networks and Scientific Research Substance: An Investigation of Meteorology."
  • Terrance S. Newell (2006) "Rethinking Information Literacy Learning Environments: A Study to Examine the Effectiveness of Two Learning Approaches."
  • Patricia A. Lawton (2006) "Make New Mistakes: An Analysis of ARL Member Digital Libraries".
  • Sook Lim (2004) "Power of Systems Offices in Academic Library Organizations."
  • Athena Salaba (2004) "Semantic Relationships and Subject Access: Which Subject Relationships are Useful to the User?"
  • Eun-Young Yoo (2004) "Middle-Aged Women's Health Information Seeking on the Web."
  • Susan Davis (2003) "Leadership in the Archival Profession: A Case Study."
  • Yunkeum Kim (2003) "Measuring and Assessing Internet Service Quality in Public Libraries."
  • Andrew B. Wertheimer (2003) entitled "Public Libraries Behind Barbed Wire: Japanese American Readers During World War II."
  • Nahyun Kwon (2002) "Community Networks: Needs Assessment and Community Co-orientation."
  • Chang Suk Kim (2002) "Predicting Information Searching Performance with Measures of Cognitive Diversity."