Ph.D. Emphasis Program Requirements

To complete the Ph.D. Emphasis in Information Technology and Society (iT&S), students already enrolled in participating UCSB departments must complete the following actions:

See below for detailed information about each stage: Application, Coursework, ABD, and Graduation.


Application to the Information Technology & Society Optional Emphasis Program requires that you already be enrolled and in good standing in a Ph.D. program (or Masters-Ph.D. program) of one of the following participating departments at UCSB: Anthropology; Communication; Computer Science; English; Film and Media Studies; Geography; History; Linguistics; Media, Arts & Technology; Political Science; the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education; the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management; Psychological and Brain Sciences; or Sociology.

To apply to participate in the iT&S emphasis, students must submit an Intent to Enroll Form, which asks them to state proposed coursework choices for completing the emphasis. See below in the Coursework section for courses that have been approved to apply toward the emphasis. Please note that this listing (and the Graduate Catalog listing for the Emphasis) are the only valid sources of courses that can be counted toward the Emphasis without an approved petition (other prior versions of CITS or iT&S websites or pages are invalid). Students wishing to apply a course toward the Emphasis that does not appear on the approved list of courses can submit a Course Petition Form, and should provide as much information as possible about the course. Submit all forms to the CITS office, 1310 SS&MS.

Students are not obligated to take the exact courses they list on their original Intent to Enroll form. Students can resubmit the Intent to Enroll to change their course plans on file.

If students would like advising about their course selection, they should contact the Director of the iT&S Ph.D. Emphasis to schedule a meeting.


Coursework in the emphasis should develop a working familiarity with contrasting approaches to the study of technology and society. The curriculum requirement itself has two components: participation in a Information Technology and Society Colloquium (a.k.a. the “gateway seminar”) and completion of a set of graduate courses (see below).

Gateway Information Technology and Society Course (INT 200) Requirement

An important part of the iT&S Emphasis experience is interacting directly with the cohort of other students in the program and developing an intellectual community beyond the student's own discipline. Toward this goal, students must complete a 2-unit gateway course titled "Information Technology and Society Colloquium." This course will meet one to two hours per week, and will be taught by a member of the Information Technology & Society Emphasis faculty. This “gateway course” is usually taught once a year. The course focuses on interaction across disciplines and on exploring differences in conceptualization and approaches to knowledge-production across disciplines on topics that change each offering, based on the faculty member convening the seminar. Please note that the gateway seminar can be taken at any point in time during your program of study. Students are encouraged to take the Gateway course as many times as they like, since the subject and instructor changes each year.

Graduate Course Requirement

The course requirement has two goals: exposure to differing methodological and epistemological approaches to the study of information technology and society, and exposure to a range of substantive subject areas, independent of method and epistemology.

The main methodological and epistemological divide we aim to bridge is that between the humanities and social sciences. While clear boundaries cannot in all cases be identified, often the social sciences tend toward more positivistic approaches to theorizing and the organization of evidence, while the humanities tend away from such approaches. It is important that students seeking a multi-disciplinary understanding of technology and society be exposed to inquiry from both ends of this and other spectra that often separate the social sciences and humanities. Therefore, the first consideration in our curriculum requirement is that the students' menu of courses be constructed in such a way as to encourage study of both the humanities and the social sciences. The second consideration in the curriculum is that the students’ coursework be organized around substantive breadth in these areas. The main substantive concerns for the emphasis involve breadth with respect to several topics.

Much of the disparate literature on information technology and society falls into one or more of two large categories: 1) study of cultures, meanings, and other human constructs; 2) study of human behavior, organizations, and social structures. The first of these topics tends to be emphasized by scholars working in humanistic traditions, although this is not exclusively the case, while the second tends to appear chiefly but not exclusively in the social sciences. Therefore the curriculum is organized to accomplish both these methodological-epistemological goals and substantive goals.

Students must complete four 4-unit approved courses with a grade of B or better. "Culture and HIstory"  courses explore the humanistic study of cultures, histories, and meanings as they intersect with technology. "Society and Behavior" courses investigate the social scientific  study of technology in relationship to human behavior, organizations, and social structures. When instructors are listed parenthetically with a course, the course only counts toward the emphasis when that instructor is the instructor of record.

Currently Approved List of Emphasis Courses (3/2017)*

Culture and History

  • ENGL 238 (Course title varies, approved for technology titles with Liu, Raley, and Warner)
  • FAMST 231 Media Historiography
  • FAMST 241 Television and New Media Theory
  • FAMST 248 Digital Media Theory and Practices
  • FAMST 255 Gaming Culture
  • FAMST 264 Media Geographies
  • FAMST 265 Race and Gender in Digital Culture
  • FAMST 267 Media Industries
  • FAMST 593TS Technology and Society (if it is not the gateway seminar)
  • HIST 201HT Core Readings in History of Technology (McCray)
  • HIST 201S Readings in the History of Science and/or Technology (McCray)
  • MAT 200A Arts and Technology
  • MAT 200B Music and Technology
  • MAT 200C Digital Media Technology and Engineering
  • MAT 251 Mixed Realities Interactive Projects
  • MAT 257 Network Protocols in a Social Context
  • MAT 258 Art and Science of Aerospace Culture
  • MAT 259 Visualizing Information

Society and Behavior

  • COMM 213 Mass Media, The Individual, and Society (Metzger)
  • COMM 214 Social Media (Flanagin)
  • CMPSC 284 Mobile Computing (Belding)
  • ED 202F Literacy in the Information Age (Lundsford)
  • ED 210A Advances in the Learning Sciences (Duran)
  • ED 256 Technology and Learning Contexts (Harlow)
  • ED 257A Teaching and Learning with Digital Media
  • ESM 261 Management of Scientific Data (Frew)
  • ESM 263 Geographic Information System (Frew)
  • ESM 282 Industrial Ecology (Geyer)
  • ESM 288 Energy, Technology, and the Environment (Geyer)
  • GEOG 231 Cognitive Issues in Geographic Information Science
  • GEOG 258 Conceptual Modeling and Programming in GIScience (Janowicz)
  • LING 210 Computational Linguistics
  • POLS 267 Political Communication (Bimber)
  • PSY 234: Computer Programming For Experimental Psychologists (Giesbrecht)

* Note: This page, in its current form, is the only valid listing of pre-approved courses that count toward the Emphasis.
* Note: New courses may be added to this list by consent of the Information Technology and Society Faculty. Students may also submit a Course Petition for the acceptance of another graduate course in substitution for one on the approved list. Petitions must be reviewed and approved by the iT&S Faculty Executive Steering Committee. Submit petitions to the CITS office, 1310 SS&MS. 

Upcoming Classes

This is a tentative schedule of classes based on projected course offerings published by each department. This list may change and may not reflect all iT&S required courses that will be taught this year in every department, so please contact the relevant department to confirm if and when a specific required class that you are interested in taking is being offered.

Fall 2017 Winter 2018 Spring 2018

MAT 200B


ED 202F

ED 210A

ESM 263

ESM 282


ESM 288


INT 200


MAT 200A




The Information Technology & Society Ph.D. Emphasis requires a dissertation topic relating in some way to issues surrounding information technology and society. During the ABD phase, a student must form his or her dissertation committee containing at least one CITS affiliated faculty member (click here for a list of affiliated faculty). 

Upon defending the dissertation, students should submit a Completion Form (available here), notifying the iT&S Ph.D. Emphasis Director of completion of the emphasis requirements. Once the director has reviewed and approved the form, they will certify to Graduate Division that the student has completed the requirements for the Ph.D. Emphasis.

At that time, the student should also submit the Graduate Division Petition (available from the UCSB Graduate Division) to add the emphasis if s/he has not already done so. This petition will require signatures of the student’s departmental Graduate Advisor, the faculty director of the Information Technology & Society Ph.D. Emphasis, and the Graduate Division, and there will be a nominal fee upon submission. All forms are available here. Submit the Completion Form to the CITS office, 1310 SS&MS. Submit Graduate Division Petition to CITS for iT&S Director signature, then submit it to the Graduate Division.


If the student has not done so already, s/he should submit a Completion Form to the iT&S Emphasis Director and the Graduate Division Petition (see ABD Phase) to the UCSB Graduate Division. If all forms are submitted and approved, then the student should simply file the dissertation and graduate!