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, That Recommender Systems Lab, and the Internet Rules Lab (IRL).

High Impact Publications

Within the first few 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
  • Chris Bopp, Lehn M. Benjamin, and Amy Voida. "The Coerciveness of the Primary Key: Infrastructure Problems in Human Services Work." Proc. ACM Human-Computer Interaction, CSCW, 2019. 
  • Ashlynn R. Daughton and Michael J. Paul. “Identifying Protective Health Behaviors on Twitter: Observational Study of Travel Advisories and Zika Virus.” Journal of Medical Internet Research. 2019. 
  • Mikhaila Friske, Shanel Wu, and Laura Devendorf. “‘AdaCAD: Crafting Software For Smart Textiles Design” ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI). 2019. 
  • Morgan Klaus Scheuerman, Jacob M. Paul, and Jed R. Brubaker. Proc. ACM Human-Computer Interaction, CSCW, 2019. How Computers See Gender: An Evaluation of Gender Classification in Commercial Facial Analysis and Image Labeling Services. 
  • Nasim Sonboli and Robin Burke. Localized Fairness in Recommender Systems. Workshop on Fairness in User Modeling, Adaptation and Personalization (FairUMAP), 2019. 
  • Matt Whitlock, Keke Wu, and Danielle Albers Szafir. Designing for Mobile and Immersive Visual Analytics in the Field. Transactions on Visualization & Computer Graphics, 2020 (to appear). Part of the Proceedings of IEEE VIS 2019. 
  • Jordan Wirfs-Brock and Katie Quehl. News From the Background to the Foreground: How People Use Technology To Manage Media Transitions. Proceedings of the ACM on Interactive, Mobile, Wearable and Ubiquitous Technologies
  • Junnan Yu and Ricarose Roque. “A Survey of Computational Toys and Kits for Young Children.” ACM Conference on Interaction Design and Children (IDC). 2018. 
Funded Research Projects 

Across our department, there are 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, fairness-aware recommender systems, and humanizing algorithms.

Targeted Recruitment

Members of our faculty sometimes seek PhD prospective students with an interest in specific funded projects. Though applicants with any research interest are encouraged, here are a few targeted recruitment calls:

Dr. Laura Devendorf is seeking PhD students who are interested in exploring the speculative technologies at the intersection of art, design and feminist technoscience. Much of the work in the Unstable Design Lab lab is exploring these themes through a focus on designing, crafting, and creating novel body worn smart textile applications. We have developing partnerships in support of these research efforts with the National Science Foundation, Center for Craft and faculty across colleges of Media Communication and Information and Engineering and Applied Science. We are particularly interested in recruiting students with strong creative practices and physical computing experience. For more information, please see our lab website at

Drs. Amy Voida and Robin Burke are recruiting a Ph.D. student to carry out research exploring the many different ways that algorithmic fairness is understood in the real-world, mission-driven context of nonprofit organizations. The student will carry out qualitative research to inform the design of new algorithms for recommendation systems. This unique position brings the methods and concerns of human-computer interaction, computer supported cooperative work, and philanthropic studies to the domain of machine learning. Candidates with diverse disciplinary backgrounds (including non-technical backgrounds) are encouraged to apply. Because of the wonderful interdisciplinary ethos at CU, the student will be able to enroll through any of three degree programs: Information Science, Computer Science, or the ATLAS Institute’s Technology, Media & Society program. For more information please reach out to Amy at

Dr. Jed Brubaker is looking to take on new PhD students who are interested in studying the intersections of technology, death, dying, and grief. The Identity Lab is spinning up a number of new initiatives that will benefit from the contributions of students interested in designing ways to make death kinder for those passing, as well as those they leave behind. Student looking to develop their skills in community- and family-based research, design, and/or ethnography are especially encouraged to reach out. For more information, see this post.

Dr. Robin Burke is recruiting a PhD student in the area of machine learning fairness and personalized recommender systems. The project aims to address issues that make it challenging to apply fairness-aware recommendation in practice. In particular, we are looking beyond the current practice of considering only a single dimension of fairness, as real applications require a more nuanced, intersectional, and multisided understanding. In addition, we are exploring the generation of effective explanations for fairness-aware recommendation as it is well-understood that user acceptance of recommendations often hinges on the ability of the system to explain its results. See more information about this project at

Dr. Ricarose Roque is recruiting PhD students to explore the joint engagement and learning of families and educators participating in making and tinkering spaces in informal learning organizations such as libraries and museums. Making and tinkering spaces have a mix of craft, traditional, and emerging computational tools and activities that engage people in project-based, interest- driven, and peer-supported learning experiences. These spaces have emerged and spread widely across informal learning organizations such as museums, libraries, and community centers. Researchers and educators have documented how making and tinkering spaces can support diverse learners to engage in STEM-rich learning opportunities. The Creative Communities research group is looking for PhD students to contribute to the design and implementation of projects like Family Creative Learning program, an internationally recognized program that engages families in creative computing, as well as qualitative studies of families' and educators' joint engagement in these learning environments. We welcome candidates who are interested in community-based research, youth and family learning, especially families from underrepresented groups, equity and inclusion in learning environments, and the possibilities of learning with creative technologies. Go to this post for more information.

Dr. Stephen Voida is seeking PhD students who interested in exploring the design of technologies for supporting individuals are managing stress, burnout, and serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder. The Too Much Information research lab is developing partnerships in support of these research efforts with the CU Boulder Institute of Cognitive Science, the CU Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the BRITE Center at the University of Washington. We are particularly interested in recruiting students with an interest in human-centered software engineering research in support of these initiatives. For more information, please see our lab website at


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 (Facebook)

"My research internship at Facebook really let me see what it’s like to do industry research and work on projects that can impact billions of people and has led to ongoing collaborations. My understanding of industry research from the internship will also help me with industry job interviews."