San Jose Gateway PhD Program FAQs

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  1. Q. Do I have to take the GRE before applying?
    A. No.
  2. Q. Do I have to submit the results of my TOEFL if English isn't my first language?
    A. Yes.
  3. Q. Is a Master's degree required to apply?
    A. Yes, with background in LIS or closely related field associated with your PhD topic. A research masters is preferred. If you do not have a research masters you must be able to demonstrate equivalent research capability through, for example peer reviewed publications or other research experience.
  4. Q. What is the first step?
    A. Review the research areas of potential faculty supervisors. Select an individual with whom you might wish to work. Contact Dr. Stenstrom to inquire about the possibility of working with the faculty member you have identified. Prepare a brief proposal (500 words) for his or her consideration. Once you have been endorsed by an SJSU faculty member, the San José Gateway PhD program coordinator will determine whether to recommend that you continue with your application to QUT and will notify you about this decision.
  5. Q. How do I apply to the PhD program?
    A. See How to Apply.
  6. Q. What are the PhD application due dates?
    A. See How to Apply.
    • For the 2018 cohort, the application due dates are as follows:
      • early January, 2018: Deadline for San José State University endorsement.
      • March 10, 2018: Deadline for application to Queensland University of Technology following San José State University endorsement
  7. Q. What are your PhD admission requirements?
    A. See Entry Requirements. These requirements are not strict. For example, your GPA can be just under 3.5, and GPA is different from country to country. If you can demonstrate potential you may still get in, so do apply. We look at the complete package, e.g., have you done research in the past, are you a dedicated student, etc.? Also, you do not have to have professional library experience prior to applying for the program; we have a variety of Master’s degree backgrounds that we have admitted.
  8. Q: I've received a letter of offer, now what do I do?
    A: When students receive the offer of acceptance, they are also advised about fees. There is an initial Acceptance Payment which can be paid on line through QUT Pay (see more: Students receive the invoice in their student email accounts for the balance within the following weeks. Information on how to get QUT Access and email is included in the letter of offer; more information can also be found in the ITS Services Guide ( If further help is needed, QUT IT Helpdesk can be contacted.
  9. Q: I'm Australian but live in the United States. Do I apply as an international student?
    A: No. The San José Gateway PhD program is only open to international students living outside Australia. Australian citizens living in any country should review the information for domestic students. Domestic applicants may qualify for other QUT-based programs.
  10. Q: I'm Canadian and living in Canada. Do I need a visa to attend an Australian program?
    A: No. Visas are only required if you travel to Australia. Students in the Gateway PhD program are not required to travel to Australia.
  11. Q: As a Canadian living in Canada, would I be able to claim tuition and education credits on my income tax return?
    A: Yes. For Canadian tax information for students studying at institutions outside Canada, see the Canada Revenue Agency's Student and Income Tax pamphlet. The allowable amounts vary from person to person depending on your province of residence, your full- or part-time status as student and any other individual circumstances falling under Canada Revenue Agency's guidelines. For more information, see the CRA's Students and Income Tax sheet. Canadian students in the Gateway PhD program may be able to qualify for full-time education credits. See the CRA's definitions for full- and part-time study as well as the interpretation bulletin for research students. Please note any official tax documentation must be signed by a QUT representative.
  12. Q: Now that I've been accepted to the program, I need an authorized representative to sign my US Loan Deferment Request form. Who can help me with this?
    A: The Student Business Services department at QUT is authorized to sign these forms. These requests should be directed to the 'Student Fees and Compliance' unit.



  1. Q. What is the tuition cost for the PhD program? What is and is not included in the stated fee?
    A. See Gateway PhD Fees (check for current exchange rates). Fees can be paid on a semester-by-semester basis. The annual fee includes instruction and infrastructure. It does not include books, materials or travel/accommodation for the short residency each year. There is a separate application fee of AUS $55.
  2. Q. Is PhD financial aid available?
    A. No. There is no USA federal financial aid because this is an international program. Students self-fund or are sponsored by their employer. Students are eligible to receive a small amount of Queensland University of Technology research support funds. These funds are managed by your QUT supervisor, the amounts are set up in your Years 1 & 2, and the funds are aimed at PhD presentation of research at high-profile conferences, to cover costs of producing a survey.


Progr​am Structure

  1. Q. What is the actual class start date for the PhD program?
    A. The start date for the 2017 cohort will be July 31, 2017. The start date for the 2018 cohort will be July 30, 2018.
  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 San José State University has added expectations for seminars, webcasts, and collaborative research and publishing.
  3. Q. Can the student take classes at other universities concurrently with the San José State University 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 on-campus 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 online 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 peer PhD current students. You will have individual meetings with your SJSU/QUT Supervising team – their frequency and contact mode depend on you and your supervisors. There are monthly 2-hour meetings and a short virtual residency in winter with iSchool faculty, QUT faculty and all doctoral students. In these meetings you share work, ask questions, do joint reading discussions, give feedback, engage and learn together on a regular basis. You will also have ad hoc exchanges via Blackboard IM (online instant messaging), email, etc. See a Gateway PhD functional overview for more information about the program structure on a yearly basis.
  7. Q. What is the number of classes/credits for the PhD degree?
    A. No classes are required. QUT assigns credits for work completed toward each of the program milestones. No classes/class credits can be transferred in, although students can take classes elsewhere.
  8. Q. How many students do you have in your PhD program?
    A. Queensland University of Technology has about 110 PhD students including the various subdisciplines in the department, with about 15 of them San José Gateway PhD students in various stages of progress. The San José Gateway PhD program adds a small cohort of about four students every year.
  9. Q. What about potential PhD students whose 2nd language is English, any services offered to them?
    A. This program is primarily set up for English-proficient students. QUT has some international student facilities for those who want to participate in this program such as help with language, grammar, etc. It will be a challenge to do online, but possible.
  10. Q. What about evaluations and the final dissertation for the PhD?
    A. The PhD program has the following review structure:
    • At the end of six months (January) - formal review of student performance
    • Each year - an annual review
    • At the end of two years (in August) - a formal review. An independent panel will review a written report and observe a confirmation seminar in which the candidate will defend work to date and the plan for the dissertation. The proposal is typically 30–40 pages in length.
    • The final dissertation - will be a maximum of 400 pages (100,000 words). The final seminar panel consists of four people: the Principal Supervisor as Chair; a QUT Information Systems School Representative; a Discipline Expert; and an External Representative (external from the QUT IS School). Examination of the dissertation takes place after the final seminar once the student makes any changes requested by the panel. The external examination panel consists of two examiners, at least one must be international (not Australian).
  11. Q. What PhD specialties do you have?
    A. See PhD Faculty Specialties. Most students refine their focus for the first two years of the program. Some research areas of current students:
    • Information sharing with virtual teams
    • Information use and behaviors in social media
    • Information practices in education
    • Archival research and practice
  12. Q. Why are you partnering with an Australian university for this PhD? Is this PhD recognized in the United States?
    A. The California State University system does not offer PhD programs unless they partner with other programs that do. Therefore, we have partnered with Queensland University of Technology (QUT) in Australia to offer this PhD program. The PhD degree from Queensland University of Technology is internationally recognized and accepted. QUT was recently ranked as one of Australia's top 10 research institutions, and its program in Library and Information Studies received an impressive rating of 4 (out of 5) by the Australian Research Council, indicating that the program is "above world standard."
  13. Q. How long have you been running this PhD program?
    A. The School of Information launched this innovative program in 2008. Our first student completed the PhD program in 2012 (see Diana Wakimoto).
  14. Q. Where can I go for more information about the PhD program?
    A. There are several places:


Earnin​g 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 San José 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 partners / spouse, make contact with iSchool faculty, Dr. Virginia Tucker (the Associate Coordinator), and Queensland University of Technology supervisors, 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.
  4. Q. Is there a place I can learn more about PhD programs in general?
    A. The LISdocstudents list is an unmoderated email discussion list for doctoral students in Library and Information Studies, working at any institution. The purpose is to communicate with other doctoral students about shared issues, be they intellectual questions in the field, problems facing emerging academics on the path through graduate school and into academic careers, issues having to do with trends in higher ed and LIS as a discipline, or other topics that seem appropriate. Announcements are good too. Doctoral students in LIS are the main constituency of the list, but masters students, graduate students in other fields, and professors are invited to participate. To subscribe, go to