So you want to get a Ph.D. in Information Science?

The Ph.D. in Information Science at CU Boulder is for students who want to not only imagine what today’s technology makes possible, but to invent new things society can do with technology. Whether conducting empirical investigations of existing technologies and cultures or designing and building new systems and approaches, students will work in an interdisciplinary, collaborative environment to address real problems and create an impact on our society.  

Our research program is exceptionally strong in human-computer interaction, data science, and social and collaborative computing, and our faculty expertise covers a broad range of areas including information visualization, machine learning, technology ethics, health informatics, education and learning, and more!



You belong here.

At CU, students are as important as the problems they solve.

Diverse Students

Information Science is a broad discipline, and our students come from a range of backgrounds. Some have computer science degrees, and come prepared to take on information science with a toolkit of computational and data science methods. Some have little to no experience in computing, but have backgrounds in social science or qualitative research. Some come to us with a rich knowledge of domains (e.g., public health, education, or journalism) to which information science research and techniques can be applied. Some come straight out of undergraduate programs, others have already completed graduate degrees, and others have years of professional experience.

Our program is designed to help Ph.D. students tailor their education towards their own research interests and skill sets while developing a shared body of knowledge around methods, computational techniques, theoretical frameworks, and design practices.

Student Voices: Why CU?

Brianna Dym

"My experience at CU Boulder's information science department has been one of a kind. Not only are the faculty knowledgeable and supportive, they work hard to help the graduate students have a strong professional network. My experience at CU is truly incredible."

Junnan Yu

"As an international student, my first year was really challenging because of language and culture barriers. My professors encouraged me a lot, which gave me confidence in my research. And other Info students were always happy to answer questions about research and life in Boulder."

Stephen Smart

"I joined the Visualab to work with Dr. Szafir because I get to exercise my technical muscles (building fun and interactive visualization systems) while at the same time thinking creatively about visualization design and how we can make a positive impact for people in the real world."



Research a mile above ordinary.

You can find out more about the research interests of both our faculty and current PhD students on their profile pages. Examples of research groups led by our faculty include the VisuaLab, the Too Much Information (TMI) Lab, the Philanthropic Informatics Lab, the Creative Communities Group, the Recommender Systems Lab, and the Internet Rules Lab (IRL).

Funded Research Projects

There are also many research projects happening at any given point, covering a wide range of domains and methods. Examples of funded projects in our department include research involving building computational tools to help scale qualitative data analysis, computer-mediated communication during crisis, organizational behavior in e-sports teams, research ethics for social computing, real-world machine learning, and humanizing algorithms.

High Impact Publications

Within the first two years of our PhD program, our students have published and presented work in venues such as CHI (human-computer interaction), VIS (information visualization), AAAI (artificial intelligence), CSCW (collaboration & social computing), NAACL (computational linguistics), Ubicomp (ubiquitous computing), AOIR (internet research), and SIGCSE (computer science education).

Recent Student Publications
  • Hayeong Song and Danielle Albers Szafir. "Where's My Data? Evaluating Visualizations with Missing Data." IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. 2018. 
  • Xiaolei Huang and Michael J. Paul. “Examining Temporality in Document Classification.” Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). 2018. 
  • Aaron Jiang, Casey Fiesler, and Jed R. Brubaker. “‘The Perfect One’: Understanding Communication Practices and Challenges with Animated GIFs.” Proc. ACM Human-Computer Interaction 2, CSCW. 2018. 
  • Brianna Dym, Jed Brubaker, and Casey Fiesler. “‘theyre all trans sharon’: Authoring Gender in Videogame Fanfiction.” Game Studies. Forthcoming, 2018.
  • Junnan Yu and Ricarose Roque. “A Survey of Computational Toys and Kits for Young Children.” ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC). 2018. 
  • Chris Bopp, Ellie Harmon, and Amy Voida. "Disempowered by Data: Nonprofits, Social Enterprises, and the Consequences of Data-Driven Work." ACM Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). 2017. 

Core Research Areas


Information Visualization

Data Science & Analytics

Ethics & Policy

Design and Human-Computer Interaction


Social Computing

CU Research in the News

Disaster recovery

CU Boulder Scientists Using Social Media To Help Disaster Rescue Efforts

Palen interviewed by CBS4 about her team's research on emergency response. Read more
Brian Keegan

Cyber-espionage is a whole new ballgame for spies and governments alike

Keegan speaks on ABC Denver7 about the role of ads and bots on election interference. Read more

Your Tweets Are Somehow Worthy Of Scientific Study

Paul and Fiesler's work featured by FiveThirtyEight. Read more

Student Voices: Industry Research Internships

Jordan Wirfs-Brock (Yahoo!)

"During my internship with Yahoo, I got intense hands-on experience with many research methods that I wouldn't have necessarily had the chance to use during the academic year. Experiencing research at the pace of industry expanded my understanding of how to scope my own projects."

Matt Whitlock (Autodesk)

"I think it is important to intern as a PhD student for the opportunity to see research through a different lens--one where emerging technology isn't just a frontier to be explored, but also something that fits into forward-facing business plans."

Aaron Jiang (Yahoo!)

"My research internship at Yahoo really let me see what it’s like to do industry research and work on projects that can impact millions of people _and_ lead to publishable papers. My understanding of industry research from the internship will also help me with industry job interviews."