Doctoral Program

UBC School of Information’s Ph.D. program is a four-year funded program that combines coursework with focused independent study and research. Students have ready access to faculty members and advisors and benefit from unique opportunities at a research-intensive university. The Ph.D. program is designed to provide advanced research education for outstanding students who have already obtained a Master of Archival Studies (MAS) degree or a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) or an equivalent related degree.


Application deadlines

December 15 (applications); January 15 (supporting documents)

Start date


Program length

4-6 years

Areas of study

  • Human information interaction and design
  • Knowledge organization
  • Digital archives/ media
  • Indigenous information initiatives
  • Data management and natural language processing
  • Digital Cultural Heritage
  • History of the Book

Program highlights

  • Advanced education in information and archival studies
  • Focus on scholarship and research, with strong support for interdisciplinary approaches
  • State-of-the-art research and learning facilities at a world-class university



Admissions requirements

  • Strong academic references
  • Strong research interest statement
  • Faculty sponsorship of applications is not required; however applicants are encouraged to identify potential supervisors based on faculty research areas

Learn more


Find a Potential Supervisor

  • Familiarize yourself with program requirements. You want to learn as much as possible from the information available to you before you reach out to a faculty member.

  • Identify specific faculty members who are conducting research in your specific area of interest.
  • Establish that your research interests align with the faculty member’s research interests.
    • Read up on the faculty members in the program and the research being conducted in the department.
    • Familiarize yourself with their work, read their recent publications and past theses/dissertations that they supervised. Be certain that their research is indeed what you are hoping to study.

  • Compose an error-free and grammatically correct email addressed to your specifically targeted faculty member, and remember to use their correct titles.
    • Do not send non-specific, mass emails to everyone in the department hoping for a match.
    • Address the faculty members by name. Your contact should be genuine rather than generic.
  • Include a brief outline of your academic background, why you are interested in working with the faculty member, and what experience you could bring to the department.
  • Highlight your achievements and why you are a top student. Faculty members receive dozens of requests from prospective students and you may have less than 30 seconds to peek someone’s interest.
  • Demonstrate that you are familiar with their research:
    • Convey the specific ways you are a good fit for the program.
    • Convey the specific ways the program/lab/faculty member is a good fit for the research you are interested in/already conducting.
  • Be enthusiastic, but don’t overdo it.


Funding opportunities

All full-time students who begin the iSchool Ph.D. program in September 2018 or later will be provided with a funding package of at least $26,000 for each of the first four years of their Ph.D. The funding package may consist of any combination of internal or external awards, teaching-related work, research assistantships, and graduate academic assistantships.

International students are eligible for the international tuition award of $3,200 per year for four years.

The school strives to support doctoral students in applying for external funding opportunities, which helps fund further years of study.

Doctoral students can also apply for paid positions as teaching assistants in master’s classes, and/or as paid research assistants for professors who have funded research projects.


Students entering the doctoral program with an approved master's degree will be required to take four six-credit (2-term) courses. Generally, students would take LAIS 605 (Research Methods), LAIS 607 (Doctoral Pro-Seminar), a second course on data analysis, and LAIS 608 (Academic and Research Practices in LAIS). Students who take LAIS 609B (Archival Theory, offered occasionally), may opt-out of LAIS 608.

Additional courses may be recommended. In consultation with the student’s advisor, the student may be required to take courses in the iSchool Master of Library Studies program or the Master of Archival Studies program to provide sufficient background for the doctoral courses. Doctoral students will be strongly encouraged to take graduate level courses from other UBC departments in their chosen area of research. These courses are selected in consultation with the student's advisor and are in addition to those required for ARST 621 or LIBR 621.

Year 1
  • LAIS 605 (3) Advanced Seminar in Research Methods;
  • At least one additional 3 credit course on data analysis (at the 500 level or higher). The course must be pre-approved by the student's supervisor;
  • LAIS 607 (3) Doctoral Proseminar;


  • LAIS 608 (3) Academic and Research Practices in Library Archival and Information Studies;
  • LAIS 609B (3) Archival Theory

For the above, alternative courses can be approved based on consultation between the student and their supervisor

Year 2
  • LAIS 620 (6) Advanced Study in Major Area;
  • LAIS 621 (6) Advanced Study in Minor Area.

Additional coursework as recommended by the research supervisor and/or doctoral committee

Qualifying examinations (written and oral components) at an appropriate time as judged by the student's doctoral committee, not before the end of the first year, but before the end of the third year

LAIS 699: Dissertation

Upon entering the doctoral program, a student will be assigned an adviser who will work with the student to develop an appropriate set of courses relevant to the student's research plan. All incoming students will take the advanced research methods course, thus facilitating the development of collegiality within the doctoral group and promoting the sharing of research interests. Advance study in the major area will normally be taken with the faculty member most interested in the student's research topic. In many cases this faculty member will become the thesis supervisor at a later stage. The Courses in the minor area may be directed studies courses, courses from other departments at the university, or master's level courses at the iSchool, depending on the research interests of individual students. Additional courses may be required as appropriate.

Upon successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, the student will enter the thesis stage of the program. A thesis supervisor will be appointed by the Doctoral Studies Committee at the request of the student and with the agreement of the faculty member. The thesis supervisor, after discussion with the student and other faculty members, will suggest other members of the thesis committee to be approved by the doctoral studies committee. The student, working with the thesis supervisor and other members of the thesis committee, will prepare a thesis proposal to be presented to the Doctoral Studies Committee for approval. When the thesis proposal has been approved, the student will undertake the research and writing and prepare the thesis in accordance with  the Guidelines of the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. When the thesis is completed and successfully defended, the student will be recommended for the Ph.D. degree.

iSchool Doctoral Studies Handbook of Policies and Procedures (Last updated March 2020)

UBC's Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies prepared an in-depth report tracking outcomes for more than 3,800 PhD students who graduated between 2005-13. Using a combination of survey and internet searches, information was obtained for 91% of these graduates. This approach, and the ability to link the outcomes to student data, allowed a more comprehensive and richer analysis of student outcomes than most studies of this kind. The data is publicly available on their website, and features outcome comparisons by faculty and subject area.