FAQs — Gateway PhD

Program Structure

  1. Q. What degree(s) and experience do I need in order to apply?
    A. Gateway PhD program applicants must have a relevant research master’s degree, with first or second-class standing (GPA 3.5 minimum) from a recognized institution. Applicants must also demonstrate past experience or engagement with research. This is typically achieved through the research master’s degree (such as with a thesis) or a master’s degree with a research component equivalent to one-third of the course credits, as well as research experience 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 thesis. There are certain required courses at the start of the program; in addition, the Gateway PhD program has requirements 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 for an annual research workshop each year. There is no need to move or quit your job; you can do the program on a part-time basis.
  5. Q. How long will it take to earn my PhD degree?
    A. The expected duration for completing the PhD through the Gateway program as a part-time student is six years. However, there is some flexibility in the timeline, and the degree can be completed in a minimum of 48 months and a maximum of 84 months. See the Program Overview for more timeline information. 
  6. Q. How does your online PhD program work? Is the program very self-directed?
    A. The Gateway PhD program is research focused, with independent study under faculty supervision. Most of your work will be done in virtual learning environments, with a lot of interaction with faculty supervisors and your peers, the other PhD students. You will have individual meetings with your supervising team – the frequency and contact mode depend on you and your supervisors. There are monthly 2-hour virtual meetings, a virtual residency (typically in March), and the one-week in-person research workshop in the summer held in San Jose, California. Students are required to participate in all meetings and are responsible for their own travel and lodging expenses.
  7. Q. How long have you been running this PhD program?
    A. The San José State University School of Information launched the Gateway PhD program in 2008 in partnership with Queensland University of Technology. Beginning in 2022, the partner university is Manchester Metropolitan University.
  8. Q. Where can I go for more information about the PhD program?
    A. Submit the Information Request Form to request further information about the Gateway PhD program. For more information about Manchester Met, see


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  degree good for?
    A. The PhD degree prepares individuals for research, faculty, and leadership positions in information science. The importance of the PhD depends a lot on the environment you plan to work in. A PhD is not a professional degree; it is a research degree. Our current Gateway PhD students have a variety of goals for their use of a PhD degree:
    • 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 will ever make. Timing is key. It will take an immense 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 members 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. Developing a research proposal is both creative and rigorous; it is not like looking things up in a library. To undertake a research degree you must have a passion for the topic and for furthering knowledge in that area.