University of Washington Information School

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Information School
Mary Gates Hall
Mary Gates Hall, home of the Information School
Former names Department of Library Economy (1911–1916)
Library School (1916–1932)
Department of Library Science (1932–1935)
School of Librarianship (1935–1984)
Graduate School of Library and Information Science (1984–2001)
Established 1911[1]
Type Public
Parent institution University of Washington
Location Seattle, Washington, U.S.
Coordinates: 47°39′17.39″N 122°18′27.68″W / 47.6548306°N 122.3076889°W / 47.6548306; -122.3076889
Dean Anind K. Dey

The Information School (or iSchool) at the University of Washington is an undergraduate and graduate school that offers BS, MLIS, MSIM, and Ph.D. degrees. Formerly the Graduate School of Library and Information Sciences (GSLIS), the Information School changed its focus and name in the late 1990s.[2]


Throughout its history, the Information School has remained committed to preparing students to thrive in the rapidly evolving information field, with a growing emphasis on cutting-edge research that reflects the Information School's passion, vision and mission.

In 1911 it was a library school founded by Harriet Howe, Josephine Meissner, William E. Henry and Charles W. Smith, established in response to a growing need in the Western United States for highly-trained, well-prepared librarians.[3] history] Prior to 1911, untrained librarians in the Pacific Northwest were trained through a six-week summer course offered at the University of Washington.

During the next 90 years, the library school continued to play an essential role in the field of librarianship in the Pacific Northwest and gained a reputation for producing extremely strong library professionals[citation needed]. The first Dean, William E. Henry, espoused a teaching philosophy that emphasized exposing students to experienced and open-minded instructors who embraced the challenges of the changing conditions in library service. While the school changed names several times between 1911 and 2001, this spirit continued to inform teaching in the field of librarianship at the University of Washington. Name changes include: (1911-1916) Department of Library Economy; (1916-1932) Library School; (1932-1935) Department of Library Science in the Graduate School; (1935-1984) School of Librarianship; and (1984-2001) Graduate School of Library and Information Science. Finally, in 2001, the school was renamed the Information School, becoming the newest independent school at the University of Washington.

The Information School introduced several new continuing education certificate programs and degree programs in 2000 in response to changes in how people create, store, find, manipulate and share information. Under the leadership of Professor and Dean Emeritus Michael Eisenberg, the Information School introduced the Bachelor of Science in Informatics, online Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information Management, and Ph.D. in Information Science.

Directors and Deans[4] ·

1914-1931 William E. Henry ·

1931-1945 Ruth Worden ·

1945-1950 Robert L. Gitler ·

1950-1955 Gladys Boughton (acting, 1950-1952) ·

1955-1956 Dorothy Bevis (acting) ·

1956-1972 Irving Lieberman ·

1972-1974 Mae Benne (acting) ·

1974-1981 Peter Hiatt ·

1981-1992 Margaret E. Chisholm (acting, 1981-1983) ·

1992-1993 Edmond Mignon (acting) ·

1993-1996 Phyllis Van Orden ·

1996-1997 Edward Bassett (acting) ·

1997-1998 Betty Bengtson (acting) ·

1998-2006 Michael Eisenberg ·

2006-2017 Harry Bruce ·

2017-2018 Carole Palmer (acting) ·

2018- Anind Dey


The Information School states that it holds diversity as a "core value and foundational concept." The school's website states, "Students’ educational, intellectual and social engagements are far richer and more meaningful when connecting with people with different points of view and life experiences. We have a strong focus on race and ethnicity, yet we define diversity broadly, to include class, sexual orientation, religion and many other dimensions of the diversity among us."


Bachelor's Program[edit]

The Information School offers one undergraduate degree: the Bachelor of Science in Informatics. The Informatics program is a competitive two-year program focused on the design of information systems and services, with particular emphasis on the following areas:

The program touches on privacy issues, ethics, and management, as well as design, search engines, web development, and database design. Students study a broad range of areas in the information field, including: information management and technology, information-related research, interactive system design, human-computer interaction, and information science. The program's curriculum culminates in a design or research capstone project.

Graduates of the program typically go on to jobs such as:[5]

Informatics Minor[edit]

In 2017, the Information School added an Informatics minor. The minor complements a variety of majors on campus by offering students an opportunity to learn about data, design, policy, ethics, and code in order to solve information problems. It may be especially helpful to students in the humanities and social sciences who wish to know more about data, code, design, and policy.

Master's Programs[edit]

The Information School offers two master's degrees: the Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) and the Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS).

Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM)[edit]

The MSIM program (see Master of Information Management) requires two years to earn the degree and takes a multidisciplinary approach to the management of information systems and policy. It draws on computer science, business, information science, philosophy, design, and law to inform its curriculum. The MSIM program is divided into two sub-programs: 1) a day program, a traditional, daytime program for students of all academic and work backgrounds; and 2) an executive program, an evening and weekend program tailored to working professionals.

Graduates work in a variety of professional areas and positions, including, but not limited to:

  • Information Architect
  • User Experience Designer
  • Data Visualization Specialist
  • Systems Analyst
  • Data Scientist
  • Software Design Engineer
  • Risk Consultant
  • Web Computing Specialist
  • Network Administrator
  • Database Developer
  • Cybersecurity Professional
  • Project Manager[6]

Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)[edit]

The MLIS is the iSchool's oldest degree. It is a two-year professional degree that prepares students for careers in library and information professions. Like its sister, the MSIM program, the MLIS program is divided into two sub-programs: 1) a day program for traditional students, and 2) a distance program for geographically disparate students. The MLIS program has the largest enrollment of any program at the iSchool. In 2017 the iSchool's MLIS program was ranked #2 in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[7]

Additionally, the iSchool offers a third MLIS degree—the Law MLIS program, a one-year degree designed to prepare lawyers to serve as law librarians. The Law Librarianship program was the highest-ranked program in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in 2017.[8]

Ph.D. Program[edit]

The Ph.D. program is a theoretical, research-based doctorate that focuses on creating new knowledge in the field of Information Science. Graduates of the Ph.D. program have gone on to successful research careers in both academia and industry.

Ph.D. students benefit from a combination of mentoring, involvement in research projects with faculty as principal investigators, and a culture of close collaboration with their peers. The breadth of expertise of doctoral students and faculty supports the iSchool’s goal to produce rising academics that make original and meaningful contributions to the discipline of information science.


Research at the Information School focuses on helping people more effectively use information to discover, innovate, solve problems, and create a better world. The school conducts research that examines the relationships among people, information, and technology.

Information School researchers disseminate their work through a variety of peer-reviewed journals, scholarly and popular venues, and conferences. Their work can be found in publications including the Journal of the American Society of Information Science & Technology, ACM Interactions, and Knowledge Organization to the International Journal of Medical Informatics, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Government Quarterly. The school's researchers regularly present at conferences such as CHI, ASIS&T, HICSS, iConference, and Computers in Libraries.


The school has a Founding Board that fosters closer ties between the Information School and industry. Founding Board members are a select group of business and community leaders committed to promoting the academic and research enterprise of the Information School. The Board offers strategic advice to the dean with a focus on building awareness of and attracting resources to the Information School. The Founding Board also leads fundraising initiatives for the Information School.


As of October 2017, the Information School's [3] faculty numbered 54 core members, along with numerous adjunct and affiliated faculty members. The school makes recruitment and retention of traditionally underrepresented groups among the priorities of its Faculty Affairs division. Working with the iSchool's Diversity Programs Coordinator, the UW Vice Provost for Faculty Advancement, and others, Faculty Affairs works to address systemic barriers and roadblocks through changes in policy and practice and in dialogue with the faculty and the community.

Student organizations[edit]

The Information School offers opportunities for students to participate in professional and student communities.[9] The most prominent iSchool student groups are:


Mary Gates Hall interior

The school is located in Mary Gates Hall, one of several university buildings bordering Drumheller Fountain. Formerly known as the Physics Building, it was renamed in 1995 after receipt of a $10 million gift from the family of Mary Maxwell Gates.[10] In 1999 a $35 million[11] expansion added updated classrooms and computer labs, office spaces, and commons, transforming the 1928 historic building and 1949 addition into a 175,000-square-foot quadrangle with a skylit commons at its center and a new main entry facing Suzzallo Library.[12] The architects of the original building were John Graham & Company and the architects of record for the 1999 expansion were Bassetti Architects.[13]


  1. ^ Wills, Antoinette; Bolcer, John D. (August 4, 2014). University of Washington. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. p. 7. ISBN 978-1-467-13182-7. Retrieved December 24, 2017. 
  2. ^ Roseth, B. (1998). New director leads Library school into Information Age. University Week. Archived Copy
  3. ^ "iSchool History". Information School, University of Washington. 2017. Retrieved 26 October 2017. 
  4. ^ iNews, Centennial Issue, Fall 2011, p. 4-5
  5. ^ UW iSchool Overview - Informatics (BS). 
  6. ^ UW ISchool. Overview - Info Mgmt (MSIM). University of Washington Information School. Retrieved October 26, 2017.
  7. ^ US News & World Report 2017 Library and Information Studies School Rankings [1]
  8. ^ US News & World Report 2017 Library and Information Studies School Rankings [2]
  9. ^ Information School Student Organizations
  10. ^ Mary Gates Hall webpage. Retrieved 2011-10-21
  11. ^ Daily Journal of Commerce, January 16, 2001. Retrieved 2011-10-21
  12. ^ The Daily of the University of Washington, November 8, 1999. Retrieved 2011-10-21
  13. ^ UW Buildings History. Retrieved 2011-10-21

External links[edit]