Join Us

This lab recruits undergraduate students and Ph.D. students.

We are building a diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. We particularly want applications from people who are interested in addressing the perspectives or needs of groups that have been historically underserved by academic research, computing, and digital media.

Apply for a Ph.D.

We recruit new Ph.D. students to Michigan in two programs:

See the above links for rules and details, but here is some general informal advice:

  • The deadline is usually December 1 every year.
  • The GRE exam isn’t required.
  • If the application fee (US$70-90) is a barrier to your application, we will waive the fee. Write to the relevant graduate program’s email address (see links above) for help with this.
  • The Ph.D. is full-time. Part-time degrees are not possible.
  • The Ph.D. takes about 4 years to complete. Usually the first 2 years involve mostly coursework, the last 2 years involve mostly research.
  • You do not have to pay tuition to get a Ph.D. Successful applicants are paid for 4 years as apprentice teachers and researchers. During this time you will make about US$39,000 per year for about 12 months of work. It may be possible to take the summer off (e.g., to complete a paid internship relevant to your degree). You receive health, life, and dental insurance (some details are here).
  • You do not need to be a US Citizen to be admitted. International students are common. You do not need to be a US Citizen to have your tuition paid and receive the money described just above.
  • You don’t need a master’s degree to apply, but it may help you stand out from other applicants.
  • You DO need a bachelor’s degree to apply, but it does not have to be in these particular fields. You can apply with any bachelor’s degree if you make the case that you have some relevant background or experience.
  • Ph.D. students are adults. It is completely OK to return to school for the Ph.D. after working.
  • Michigan has additional funding and incentives for students whose admission will reduce disparities in graduate education. You do not need to apply separately for this funding, but you must mention the relevant circumstances in your application, for instance in your personal statement. As one example, additional resources may be available if you are a US citizen, green card holder, or DACA and you:
    • have an educational, cultural, or geographic background that is underrepresented
    • have demonstrated a commitment to diversity
    • have experienced financial hardship
    • are the first in your family to graduate from a four-year college
    • are the first in your family to be a US Citizen
  • It’s OK if you don’t e-mail your prospective advisor(s) in advance, or if you do e-mail them and they don’t respond. Your application will still be considered seriously. A lot of profs don’t answer these e-mails because they receive so many, or they only reach out only to admitted Ph.D. students not prospective ones.

Application advice specific to this lab group:

  • Either qualitative or quantitative skills/interests are relevant to us.
  • You do not need to be a computer programmer.
  • You do not need to have gone to a fancy school for your undergraduate degree.
  • You should list Prof. Christian Sandvig as a potential advisor, and one other professor who is appointed in the relevant department and has similar interests to yours.
  • Letters of recommendation should come from former professors if possible. If you are a re-entry applicant who spent time away from school this is absolutely fine, but it is still helpful to get at least one letter from a professor who taught you a long time ago. That’s because non-university letters are often written very differently and convey different information.
  • It is probably NOT to your advantage to list many Michigan professors as potential advisors on your application unless you are sure they are relevant — if you list a professor that is not actually relevant to your stated interests, they may read your application and review it negatively, hurting your chances for admission.
  • Although a writing sample is not required, to work in this lab group you should really submit a writing sample. In the Information Ph.D. program there is no obvious way to submit a writing sample but you can e-mail Prof. Christian Sandvig the sample at
  • These positions are competitive, but many successful candidates have exceptional strength in some of a wide variety of areas — not in all areas. For example, impressive work experience (or other achievements) can outweigh middling grades earlier in your life.
  • To help your application stand out, avoid using space in your essays to convey generic information that is likely true of most people who are applying. e.g., you are passionate about your own topic, you like school, there was a moment of realization when you decided this was the field for you, you care about your students.
  • Since the Ph.D. is a research degree, your description of what you want to achieve with the Ph.D. in your statement of purpose should focus on the research you wish to complete. For example, it can be helpful to think of the Ph.D. dissertation as writing a book. If you are admitted, what would your book be about? Why does this book need to be written? Why are you the right person to write it?
Join As an Undergraduate

Enrolled University of Michigan students may also join the lab group if we are recruiting.

We are not recruiting new undergraduate students at this time.