Skip to main content

University of Michigan School of Information


Doctoral student research and scholarship

We are one of the first modern information schools, embedded in one of the world’s premier research universities. Our mission is social engagement information and computing: the study and design of information and its technologies in service of people engaged in social interactions.

UMSI doctoral students begin working on research, both learning the methods and beginning their work on actual projects, from the first day they arrive. We believe our doctoral students are colleagues from the start. Our program is selective, so those students who join us are those we believe have the potential to do meaningful, in-depth scholarly study the moment they begin the program.

Our interdisciplinary approach: More opportunities to learn

Thanks to its interdisciplinary nature, UMSI offers a unique opportunity to conduct research using a wide variety of methods and with the framing of an impressive breadth of subject areas. A large number of our faculty are cross-appointed in other schools and colleges at University of Michigan, meaning that not only are those schools’ research methods incorporated into the preparation you’ll receive, but that you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside or with other doctoral students from a variety of scholarly disciplines.

Work alongside leading faculty members

Our faculty are fellows in the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and other leading organizations. They are leaders in scholarly citations (the most-cited paper on Facebook, for example, was written by two of our faculty); within organizations such as SIG-IR and SIG-CHI; in online learning; and in a wide variety of academic disciplines.

You will enjoy the benefits of at least one dedicated faculty advisor (and sometimes more) from the time you start the program, who will nurture your academic and scholarly progress.

To learn more about our faculty members, visit our faculty directory and filter by the research areas of your choice.

PhD student Tamy Guberek presents her paper, Technology, Risk and Privacy among Undocumented Immigrants, at CHI 2018 in Montreal. Tamy and collaborators were awarded Best Paper.

A wide variety of research means more opportunities for you to customize your work

Our faculty and doctoral students loosely group themselves into 16 research areas, but within those areas, their subject areas and approaches to research vary widely. This diversity means our doctoral students enjoy the opportunity to work with their faculty advisor(s) to create a unique research path during their time at UMSI. It’s one of the reasons why we ask you to select potential advisors during the application process and to describe what types of research you might like to pursue with them.

Our doctoral students also work with our faculty via centers, including our own Center for Social Media Responsibility and the Center for Ethics, Society and Computing, and a wide variety of research groups (including the multi-school Michigan Interactive and Social Computing group), which expose PhD students to research and scholars from outside their own group.

Meet your future colleagues: UMSI PhD students

Our students conduct impressive research and enjoy high-profile opportunities for presentation and publication. To learn more about the accomplishments, research and philosophy of our existing PhD students —  your future colleagues — read our PhD profiles.