Gateway PhD Program FAQs

Note: The Gateway program is currently closed to new applicants for the coming year. We are updating our application procedures for the following year and will post new information on the How to Apply page as soon as it is available.

Program Structure

  1. Q. What degree(s) do I need in order to apply?
    Gateway PhD program applicants must have a relevant master’s research degree, with first or second-class standing (GPA 3.5 minimum) from a recognized institution. Applicants must also be able to demonstrate past experience or engagement with research. This is normally achieved via the completion of the master’s research degree or a master’s degree with a research component equivalent to one-third of the course credits, as well as research experience that is demonstrated in peer reviewed publications and scholarly conference presentations.
  2. Q. Can any classes be transferred in?
    A. No. Officially all of the credits count toward the successful completion and defense of the dissertation. There are no specific courses although there are expectations for seminar presentations, webcasts, and collaborative research and publishing.
  3. Q. Can the student take classes at other universities concurrently with the Gateway PhD program and have them count as part of their PhD work?
    A. Students are able and occasionally encouraged to take courses elsewhere. However, course credit cannot be transferred into the program.
  4. Q. Is the entire program online? Is there a residency requirement?
    A. The program is mostly done online, with one week of required residency each year. There’s no need to move or quit your job, you can do this on a part-time basis.
  5. Q. How long will it take to earn my PhD degree?
    A. You can complete the degree on your own timeline; anywhere from 4 - 8 years maximum (minimum 48 months, expected 72 months, maximum 96 months). Part-time students usually can expect 6 years to complete their work.
  6. Q. How does your PhD program work? Is the program very self-directed?
    A. This PhD is research focused, with independent study under faculty supervision. Most of your work will be done in virtual learning environments, with lots of interaction with faculty supervisors and your peers, the other PhD students. You will have individual meetings with your supervising team – their frequency and contact mode depend on you and your supervisors. There are monthly 2-hour meetings, a short virtual residency in winter, and a week-long residency in the summer. In these meetings you share work, ask questions, do joint reading discussions, give feedback, and engage and learn together on a regular basis.  
  7. Q. What PhD research specializations do you have?
    A. See the PhD Faculty Specializations. Most students refine their research focus during the first two years of the program. See also the research topics of the current students in the Doctoral Student Profiles.
  8. Q. How long have you been running the Gateway PhD program?
    A. The School of Information started serving as a gateway for students who are enrolled in the PhD program at our partner institution, Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Brisbane, Australia in 2008.
  9. Q. Where can I go for more information about the PhD program?
    A. Submit an Information Request Form to contact Dr. Virginia Tucker, Associate Coordinator, Gateway PhD Program.


Earning a PhD

  1. Q. Is there ALA accreditation available for a PhD?
    A. The American Library Association does not accredit PhD programs. There are no equivalent accreditation processes for PhD programs.
  2. Q. What is a PhD good for?
    A. It prepares individuals for research, faculty, and leadership positions in Information Science. The importance of the PhD depends a lot on the environment you’re in. A PhD isn’t a professional degree; it’s a research degree. It’s a sign of your overall intellectual ability and accomplishments. Our current Gateway PhD students have a variety of goals for their use of a PhD:
    • Career advancement – to broaden opportunities for career advancement. It is a door opener, giving you credibility and an opportunity to do a wide range of activities.
    • Personal interest – as a passionate personal interest
    • Instructor/faculty member – to enter an academic or university system
  3. Q. Any advice for earning a doctorate?
    A. It might be the biggest commitment you’ll ever make except for getting married and having children. Timing is key. It will take a big chunk out of your life, so you have to think of what else is going on in your life (e.g., family responsibilities, work commitments, etc.) Is now the right time to do your PhD? Talk to your partner/spouse, make contact with iSchool faculty, and ask them about their timing for earning their own PhDs. Don’t do it for the end result – the PhD. Only do it if you can love the process. Working on a PhD pushes you out of your comfort zone, but it can be fun! You need to enjoy creative thinking and writing, and you need to be able to do both independently, without weekly deadlines to keep you on target. Designing a research plan is a creative activity; it’s not like looking things up in a library. Writing a dissertation is writing a book-length, scientific document. If you don’t have a passion for research and for writing, you’ll hate the biggest and most interesting part of your doctoral study.