Due to university financial constraints, SILS is instituting a one-year hiatus on doctoral admissions.  Therefore, we will not be accepting applications during the Fall 2021/Spring 2022 application period for doctoral students to start their studies in the fall of 2022. We hope to resume accepting applications in August 2022 for doctoral students who wish to start their studies in the fall of 2023.

The Doctoral Program at the UNC School of Information and Library Science (SILS) provides an environment that enables creative and energetic students to become innovative thinkers and leaders. Through coordination of student and faculty interests and activities, the program offers opportunities for research, teaching, and leadership in a variety of settings.

Information and library science research leaders must be able to identify problems that are significant for our future as an information society, carry out rigorous studies and draw valid conclusions from them, and communicate those findings to stakeholders who can act on them. The SILS doctoral program provides intensive, but highly flexible and customizable, preparation for careers in academia and research.

Meet Our Current PhD Students

After successfully defending their dissertations, SILS’ graduates have accepted positions as tenure-track faculty in information schools, research scientists in corporate and government labs, and chief information officers in a myriad of organizations and businesses. With a degree from our doctoral program, our graduates are making a difference.

Career paths of some recent SILS PhD graduates:

  • Emily Vardell (PhD ’17), Assistant Professor, Emporia State University
  • Ashlee Edwards Brinegar (PhD ’16), Senior Product Researcher at Netflix
  • Annie T. Chen (PhD ’16), Assistant Professor, University of Washington
  • Kaitlin Costello (PhD ’16), Assistant Professor, Rutgers University
  • Alex Poole (PhD ’16), Assistant Professor in Information Science, Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics
  • Wan-Ching Wu (PhD ’16), User Researcher at Facebook
  • Ayoung Yoon (PhD '15), Assistant Professor, Library and Information Science, Data Science, IUPUI Univeristy
  • Heather Ryan (PhD ’14), Assistant Professor, Director of Special Collections and Archives, University of Colorado Boulder
  • Felix Portnoy (PhD ’12), UX Researcher and Designer, IBM
  • Derek Rodriguez (PhD ’12), Manager, Functional & Industry Analytics, Content Analytics; Accenture Analytics

For extended features on select graduates, visit our Alumni Profiles page.

Financial Support

SILS typically provides support for full-time doctoral students during their first 4-5 years of study. Prospective doctoral students must apply by December 10th to receive full consideration for financial aid.

Learn more from our Financial Information page.

SILS seeks PhD students who:
  • Aim to be information leaders in the 21st century.
  • Are attracted to information and library science as a field that incorporates diverse theoretical perspectives and a wide range of research methods.
  • Possess the discipline and will to be independent investigators, and the vision and communication skills to be influential leaders in the field.
  • Are committed to a life of research and scholarly inquiry addressing critical questions.
  • Enjoy intellectual challenges and demonstrate analytical and critical thinking.

Admission to the doctoral program is competitive and based upon the strength of the applicant’s educational background and standardized test scores, work experience, statement of research, and personal interview. In reviewing applicants for admission, the school will consider past academic record and scholarly potential of an applicant, as well as the match of the candidate’s research interests with those of the school’s faculty.  One or more faculty must be willing to assume the advisory role for the student.