Information Management and Systems: PhD

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program

The Doctoral Program

The doctoral program in Information Management and Systems is a research-oriented program in which the student chooses specific fields of specialization, prepares sufficiently in the literature and the research of those fields to pass a qualifying examination, and completes original research culminating in the written dissertation. The degree of Doctor of Philosophy is conferred in recognition of a candidate's grasp of a broad field of learning and distinguished accomplishment in that field through the contribution of an original piece of research revealing high critical ability and powers of imagination and synthesis.

The I School also offers a master's in Information Management and Systems (MIMS), a master's in Information and Data Science (MIDS), and a master's in Information and Cybersecurity (MICS).

Visit School Website


Admission to the PhD Program

We welcome students from a diverse set of backgrounds; some will be technically educated, some educated in the humanities and social sciences.

The I School accepts only 5-8 PhD students each year from more than 100 applications. Applications are reviewed by a committee of faculty.

Applicants are judged on a number of factors. Good scores and a high GPA are necessary, but not sufficient. The deciding factor is the ability to demonstrate a research record and agenda that fit well with specific I School faculty. In a small, interdisciplinary program, it is important that applicants clearly indicate in their statement of purpose which faculty member(s) they are interested in researching with, and why.

To be eligible to apply to the PhD in Information Management and Systems program, applicants must meet the following requirements:

  • A bachelor's degree or its recognized equivalent from an accredited institution.

  • Superior scholastic record, normally well above a 3.0 GPA.

  • Clear indication of appropriate research goals, described in the Statement of Purpose.

  • (Optional) Results of the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

  • For applicants whose academic work has been in a language other than English, the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) or International English Language Testing System (IELTS).

Minimum Requirements for Admission

The following minimum requirements apply to all graduate programs and will be verified by the Graduate Division:

  1. A bachelor’s degree or recognized equivalent from an accredited institution;
  2. A grade point average of B or better (3.0);
  3. If the applicant has completed a basic degree from a country or political entity (e.g., Quebec) where English is not the official language, adequate proficiency in English to do graduate work, as evidenced by a TOEFL score of at least 90 on the iBT test, 570 on the paper-and-pencil test, or an IELTS Band score of at least 7 on a 9-point scale (note that individual programs may set higher levels for any of these); and
  4. Sufficient undergraduate training to do graduate work in the given field.

Applicants Who Already Hold a Graduate Degree

The Graduate Council views academic degrees not as vocational training certificates, but as evidence of broad training in research methods, independent study, and articulation of learning. Therefore, applicants who already have academic graduate degrees should be able to pursue new subject matter at an advanced level without the need to enroll in a related or similar graduate program.

Programs may consider students for an additional academic master’s or professional master’s degree only if the additional degree is in a distinctly different field.

Applicants admitted to a doctoral program that requires a master’s degree to be earned at Berkeley as a prerequisite (even though the applicant already has a master’s degree from another institution in the same or a closely allied field of study) will be permitted to undertake the second master’s degree, despite the overlap in field.

The Graduate Division will admit students for a second doctoral degree only if they meet the following guidelines:

  1. Applicants with doctoral degrees may be admitted for an additional doctoral degree only if that degree program is in a general area of knowledge distinctly different from the field in which they earned their original degree. For example, a physics PhD could be admitted to a doctoral degree program in music or history; however, a student with a doctoral degree in mathematics would not be permitted to add a PhD in statistics.
  2. Applicants who hold the PhD degree may be admitted to a professional doctorate or professional master’s degree program if there is no duplication of training involved.

Applicants may apply only to one single degree program or one concurrent degree program per admission cycle.

Required Documents for Applications

  1. Transcripts: Applicants may upload unofficial transcripts with your application for the departmental initial review. If the applicant is admitted, then official transcripts of all college-level work will be required. Official transcripts must be in sealed envelopes as issued by the school(s) attended. If you have attended Berkeley, upload your unofficial transcript with your application for the departmental initial review. If you are admitted, an official transcript with evidence of degree conferral will not be required.
  2. Letters of recommendation: Applicants may request online letters of recommendation through the online application system. Hard copies of recommendation letters must be sent directly to the program, not the Graduate Division.
  3. Evidence of English language proficiency: All applicants who have completed a basic degree from a country or political entity in which the official language is not English are required to submit official evidence of English language proficiency. This applies to institutions from Bangladesh, Burma, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Latin America, the Middle East, the People’s Republic of China, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, most European countries, and Quebec (Canada). However, applicants who, at the time of application, have already completed at least one year of full-time academic course work with grades of B or better at a US university may submit an official transcript from the US university to fulfill this requirement. The following courses will not fulfill this requirement:

    • courses in English as a Second Language,

    • courses conducted in a language other than English,

    • courses that will be completed after the application is submitted, and

    • courses of a non-academic nature.

If applicants have previously been denied admission to Berkeley on the basis of their English language proficiency, they must submit new test scores that meet the current minimum from one of the standardized tests. Official TOEFL score reports must be sent directly from Educational Test Services (ETS). The institution code for Berkeley is 4833. Official IELTS score reports must be sent electronically from the testing center to University of California, Berkeley, Graduate Division, Sproul Hall, Rm 318 MC 5900, Berkeley, CA 94720. TOEFL and IELTS score reports are only valid for two years.


Where to Apply

Visit the Berkeley Graduate Division application page

Doctoral Degree Requirements

Program Design

The School of Information is an interdisciplinary school examining the design, organization, and management of information and information systems. The School of Information draws on the expertise not only of its own faculty but of the full Berkeley campus. We encourage students to take full advantage of being at this world-class University and not feel bound by disciplinary boundaries.

The PhD degree program at the School of Information is a research program. Each student is expected to work with his or her adviser to ensure that the program of study includes:

  • A thorough understanding of research methods and research design.
  • The ability to review current research critically.
  • The ability to understand emerging trends from an interdisciplinary perspective.

Expected PhD Timeline:

  • Semester 1: Identify a faculty adviser
  • Semesters 1–4: Complete breadth courses; complete major and minor requirements
  • Semester 4: Complete the preliminary research paper
  • Semester 5: Complete preliminary exam
  • Semester 6–8: Complete qualifying exam; advance to candidacy
  • Four semesters after qualifying exam: Complete dissertation and give presentation

Please refer to the School of Information website for more information.

Related Courses

Faculty and Instructors

+ Indicates this faculty member is the recipient of the Distinguished Teaching Award.


Morgan Ames, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Science and technology studies; computer-supported cooperative work and social computing; education; anthropology; youth technocultures; ideology and inequity; critical data science.
Research Profile

David Bamman, Assistant Professor. Natural language processing, computational social science, machine learning, digital humanities.
Research Profile

Joshua Blumenstock, Associate Professor. Machine learning, development economics.
Research Profile

Jenna Burrell, Associate Professor. Technology appropriation in non-Western societies, technology and socio-economic development, qualitative research methods.
Research Profile

Jennifer Chayes, Associate Provost, Division of Computing, Data Science, and Society; Dean, School of Information; Professor . Machine learning and its applications in cancer immunotherapy, ethical decision-making, and climate change.
Research Profile

Coye Cheshire, Professor. Sociology, trust, social media, social psychology, social networks, collective action, social exchange, information exchange, social incentives, reputation, internet research, online research, online dating, online behavior.
Research Profile

John Chuang, Professor. Computer networking, computer security, economic incentives, ICTD.
Research Profile

Paul Duguid, Adjunct Professor. Trademark, information, communities of practice.
Research Profile

Hany Farid, Professor. Digital Forensics, Image Analysis, and Human Perception.
Research Profile

Daniel Gillick, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Natural Language Processing, machine learning, artificial intelligence, statistics, speech recognition.
Research Profile

Morten Hansen, Professor. Creating great companies, collaboration, corporate transformation, leadership.
Research Profile

Marti A. Hearst, Professor. Information retrieval, human-computer interaction, user interfaces, information visualization, web search, search user interfaces, empirical computational linguistics, natural language processing, text mining, social media.
Research Profile

Chris Jay Hoofnagle, Adjunct Professor. Internet law, information privacy, consumer protection, cybersecurity, computer crime, regulation of technology, edtech.
Research Profile

Douglas Alex Hughes, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Experiments and Causal Identification, Social Networks, Political Behavior and Outcomes.

Paul Laskowski, Adjunct Assistant Professor. Information economics, telecommunications policy, network architecture, innovation.
Research Profile

Clifford Lynch, Adjunct Professor.
Research Profile

Jeffrey K. MacKie-Mason, University Librarian and Chief Digital Scholarship Officer, Professor. Incentive-centered design, competition and antitrust policy in information-technology related industry.
Research Profile

Deirdre Mulligan, Associate Professor. Privacy, fairness, human rights, cybersecurity, technology and governance, values in design.
Research Profile

Geoffrey D. Nunberg, Adjunct Professor. The theory, history and social role of information .

Aditya Parameswaran, Assistant Professor. Data management, interactive or human-in-the-loop data analytics, information visualization, crowdsourcing, data science.
Research Profile

Zach Pardos, Assistant Professor. Education Data Science, Learning Analytics, Big Data in Education, data mining, Data Privacy and Ethics, Computational Psychometrics, Digital Learning Environments, Cognitive Modeling, Bayesian Knowledge Tracing, Formative Assessment, Learning Maps, machine learning.
Research Profile

David Reiley, Adjunct Professor. Field experiments, advertising, auctions and other pricing mechanisms, charitable fundraising, and electronic commerce.
Research Profile

Michael Rivera, Assistant Adjunct Professor. Research design, political science, voting and political behavior, technology and politics, civic participation and social media.
Research Profile

Kimiko Ryokai, Associate Professor. Human-computer interaction, tangible user interfaces.
Research Profile

Niloufar Salehi, Assistant Professor. Computer-mediated communication, human-computer interaction.
Research Profile

Annalee Saxenian, Professor. Innovation, information management, entrepreneurship, Silicon Valley, regional economic development, high skilled immigration, Asian development.
Research Profile

Steven Weber, Professor. Political science, international security, international political economy, information science.
Research Profile


Luis Aguilar, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Olukayode Segun Ashaolu, Lecturer.

Sara Cambridge, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Steven Fadden, Lecturer.

Jez Humble, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Xavier Malina, Lecturer.

Nick Merrill, Lecturer.

Fred Nugen, Lecturer.
Research Profile

James Reffell, Lecturer.
Research Profile

Stephen Trush, Lecturer.

Peter Frank Weis, Lecturer.

Emeritus Faculty

Michael Buckland, Professor Emeritus. Information management, information retrieval, metadata, library services.
Research Profile

Michael D. Cooper, Professor Emeritus. Analysis, design, database management systems, implementation and evaluation of information systems, computer performance monitoring and evaluation, and library automation.
Research Profile

William S. Cooper, Professor Emeritus.

M. E. Maron, Professor Emeritus.

Nancy A. Van House, Professor Emeritus. Digital libraries, science, information management, technology studies, knowledge communities, user needs, information tools, artifacts, participation of users.
Research Profile

Contact Information

School of Information

102 South Hall

Phone: 510-642-1464

Visit School Website

Senior Director of Student Affairs

Siu Yung Wong

104 South Hall

Senior Director of Admissions

Julia Sprague

102 South Hall

Phone: 510-642-9242

Back to Top