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 normally achieved through the research master’s degree 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 dissertation. There are no specific courses although the Gateway program has added 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 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. You can complete the degree on your own timeline; anywhere from 4 to 8 years maximum (minimum 48 months, expected 72 months, maximum 96 months). Part-time students 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 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 the one-week in-person residency in the summer, held in San Jose. 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 topics and specializations do you have?
    A. See PhD Faculty Specializations. Most students refine their research topic focus during the first two years of the program. See the research topics of the current students and alumni in the Doctoral Student Profiles.
  8. Q. How long have you been running this PhD program?
    A. The School of Information launched this innovative program in 2008.
  9. Q. Where can I go for more information about the PhD program?
    A. Submit an Information Request Form to request further information about the 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  degree 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 plan to work in. A PhD is not a professional degree; it is a research degree. It is a sign of your intellectual ability and accomplishments. Our program alumni and current students have a variety of goals their 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 research interest – to pursue a personal research interest 
    • Instructor/faculty member – to enter an academic or university system
  3. Q. Any advice for earning a doctorate?
    A. It is one of the biggest commitments 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, 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 intense research, creative thinking, and writing, and you need to be able to do all of these activities independently.