Monday, December 17, 2012

Funding and Scholarship Resources and Information

UMSI Scholarships
Our UMSI Scholarships are merit-based, and typically cover half of tuition for full time students (regardless of your residency status).

We go through 3-4 rounds of SI Scholarship offers throughout the term. We *will complete* the first round in late February/early March. The second round will be in mid to late April, with the third round in mid to late May.

The first round of UMSI Scholarships are entirely merit-based. Subsequent rounds will always have merit as the primary factor for consideration, but we will also look at your motivation to attend UMSI. These factors can be demonstrated by professional, consistent communication with us. You are welcome to submit an additional letter/email for the admissions committee's consideration. I've seen previous admissions committees look at your excitement about UMSI, your efforts in applying for external fellowships, anything particular about the nature of your need, the connections you make at Visiting Days, the professionalism of your interactions, and other things for the subsequent rounds of UMSI Scholarship.

Merit is still the primary factor, and by merit we mean the strength of your statement of purpose and personal statement, your letters of recommendation, your internship/research/work experience, your academic record including your GRE, demonstration of leadership, service, comfort with ambiguity, etc. It is NOT just your GRE/GPA.

Links to Check Out

Scholarship Announcements

This spreadsheet of external scholarships will be continually updated throughout the winter and early spring.  Please check back for more opportunities, and we will continue to alert prospective students of these as we learn of them.  

Please note the University Library Associate scholarships for which you would need a separate application, due January 15, 2013.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Want to Learn More about UMSI and MHI?

Each month, UMSI sends SI Monthly to those who would like to receive a monthly email about the work happening at UMSI and our faculty and students.

To opt-in, simply fill out this form, and we'll add you to our mailing list!


Additionally, we get many questions about our Master of Health Informatics program, which is a joint program of the School of Information and the School of Public Health.

To provide our readers with a perspective from a current student, Connie Jeng has contributed to our blog today.  She writes:

Two years ago I co-founded a non-profit organization, which is devoted to improving the quality of life in Ghana through educational and health sanitation projects. Through my work, it became clear to me that better transmission of health information was essential to improving the quality of life for those in developing nations. I decided to pursue a Masters of Health Informatics from the University of Michigan because of its focus on leadership and innovation to solving health care issues. I strongly believe that the lessons I’m learning at the University of Michigan are better preparing me to address the health care challenges in the U.S. and abroad. Here are the top 5 lessons that I have learned thus far as a Master of Health Informatics student:

  • Being part of both the School of Information and School of Public Health means you have twice the amount of resources as most students. No matter what area of health informatics you want to study, there is always someone who can give you guidance and help you pursue your area of interest. This also means you have access to twice the amount of career services, advising staff, and study rooms! 
  • Informatics is not as scary as I thought it’d be. Coming into the program with a social sciences background, I was intimated by the School of Information classes; however, I found that informatics is a nice balance between studying information and the ways that people interact with information technologies. Many of the classes are real-world applicable.
  • Take advantage of the many campus events that are available to students. I’ve had the opportunity to meet influential people from big companies as well as listen to inspiring leaders about their work in the health informatics field. This has really broadened my perspective on how technology can be used to improve health care.
  • Being in a smaller program within a big school gives you the best of both worlds. I have access to a lot of knowledgeable faculty and resources but there’s a small-school feel in the MHI group. Everyone in the program knows each other really well and we’re able to make better connections with faculty and staff members.
  •  Studying a growing field means there are endless amounts of opportunity. Not only is health informatics going to be a high demand career but you get to be creative with your work. Think about the missing gaps in today’s health care and how you can solve them!
For general questions about Health Informatics contact

For questions about admissions, please contact

Monday, December 3, 2012

Writing your Personal Statement and Statement of Purpose

For me, the most stressful part of the MSI application process was writing my Personal Statement and Academic Statement of Purpose. I thought about it long and hard before ever typing a single word on the page. I didn't know what to write about or where to start--how could I possibly condense all of my experiences and goals into a few concise pages!? 

I soon realized that it would be impossible to include absolutely everything--and you shouldn't try to do so. Rather, use the essays to round out your application and provide a more comprehensive view of yourself as an applicant. This is a chance to showcase your writing skills, highlight your experiences, and explain your what led you to apply for graduate school and the MSI degree. To try and save you a few headaches, we have a few suggestions to keep in mind while writing your Personal Statement and Statement of Purpose. 

You can find the formal instructions for these essays, as well as the other application requirements, here

"Paper and Pen," Orin Zebest,, CC-BY 2.0
The Personal Statement: 

At just 500 words (starting in 2013-14 year, 1-2 pages), the Personal Statement is a concise explanation of what led you to graduate school and what you hope to gain from the experience. It might include an "AHA! moment" of sorts: a description of a past experience, job, or interaction which helped you to see your future in Information. It might be focused around a goal you have for the future, and how the MSI degree will help you get there. This could also be a good chance to explain any gaps in your transcript or resume. Whether you failed a class as an undergraduate, took a year off to care for an ailing family member, or spent a few years living abroad, chances are the experience taught you something. How has it shaped who you are and what your future goals are? Also include relevant cultural, geographical, financial, educational or other opportunities and challenges. 

The Academic Statement of Purpose for the MSI application: 

The Statement of Purpose is a longer essay (4-6 pages double-spaced) which allows you the opportunity to reflect on your own abilities, experiences, and qualities in context of the following questions: 
  • What are the critical issues in the field of information?
  • What are your aspirations in the field of information?
  • What is your understanding of the School of Information (UMSI)?
  • How will an UMSI education help you reach your aspirations?
  • What would you contribute to the UMSI community and to the field as a whole?
This essay could take a number of different forms, so let your own personality and experiences shine through. However, academic integrity is essential at UMSI, so make sure to use proper attribution for any content that is not original to you. 

You can see the PhD application essays here.

Keep in Mind:
The Personal Statement and Statement of Purpose are two separate essays but a part of a single application. As such, you should not feel like you need to repeat yourself and cover the exact same information in both. Rather let them build on each other, expanding and explaining your application. If you have skills or experiences which do not appear on your transcript or formal resume, this is your chance. 

Formatting and Style: 
There is not one right way to write the essays just as there is not one ideal profile of the MSI student. However, your writing should adhere to the conventions of English grammar and usage. Make sure to read through and edit your essay prior to submission. 
Please follow the instructions in the online application when formatting your Personal Statement and Statement of Purpose. The instructions for Academic Statement of Purpose instruct you to include a header containing the words "Academic Statement of Purpose" or "Personal Statement," your name, the name of the graduate program, and your 8-digit University of Michigan ID (if known). Both documents should utilize a standard font, be double-spaced, and have one inch margins. The place to show your originality and personality is through your writing and experiences, not your font choice and color. 

Final Touches: 
It might be a good idea to have someone you respect and trust look over your essays before you submit your application. They could offer feedback on style and tone, content and flow, or grammar and usage. You might ask a friend or classmate, parent, spouse, or adviser to read it and offer suggestions. Sometimes all it takes is another set of eyes to notice that missing word, typo, or confusing sentence that you've been overlooking for the past six read-throughs. 
Finally, when it comes time to submit, try not to stress. After you hit that final "submit" button, it's out of your hands and all you can do is hope for the best. By putting the time and energy in now to prepare the most accurate and well-rounded application you can, hopefully you can cut down on some of the stress and anxiety later. 

As you're working through your application and essays, please feel free to contact us at if questions arise.
Happy writing, and best wishes!


written by: 
Ellen Gustafson
Information Mentor

Monday, November 26, 2012

Asking for Letters of Recommendation

"Letter Writing." Web log post. N.p., n.d. Web. 
There is a lot to consider when thinking about the Letters of Recommendation and your application.  Finding out who to ask, what the contents of the letter should be, making sure the letter gets in on time, and then, doing this three times over.  This process is like managing a small project, where the content-creation and the control are out of your hands but you have to ensure the completion of each task and provide the vision.  Keep reading to find out how to make this process more manageable, and ultimately, to make your application ready for the admissions committee. 

Who do I ask?
In my opinion, this is the most important part of the process.  Start by thinking about what you want to showcase in your application.  Are you presenting in your application that you are an involved student / employee, a strong leader, someone who has been successful after overcoming difficulties, or maybe one of each?  Take a cue from your personal statement and find the professional people in your life who can highlight your stated qualities.  Though, keep in mind that these letters should come from an academic or professional member: faculty from class, faculty from research,or someone who has supervised your recent work.  Remember, you choose your recommenders so find the people who can voice your exceptional qualities, academic and professional potential, and who can recommend you to UMSI.  

How do I ask?
It takes some tact in asking for a letter of recommendation, but it all starts with a request.  Your recommenders are people that should know you, so it should feel relatively comfortable asking for a letter.  

I feel the best way to request the letter is in conversation: office hours, a work meeting, meeting for coffee to catch up; or for those long distance, a phone call or email request work well.  Part of the conversation should include why you are interested in graduate school and UMSI in particular. You should also provide your recommenders with information on the field of information, and what qualities you possess that make sense as a graduate student.  The more prompting you do, the easier it may be for the recommender to accept your request to write the letter.  

Once they agree, provide your recommender with the information that allows them to tailor the letter of recommendation to you:

  • Provide them with why you choose them: previous experiences, class projects / papers, interactions and the qualities you know they can highlight best
  • A copy of your résumé 
  • A copy of your personal statement and statement of purpose
  • Information and links to UMSI
  • The directions for submission

When do I ask?
Requesting the letter is an on-going conversation so start early and remain thoughtful of the academic calendar.  Your recommender needs as much time as s/he can get to write on your behalf, though, I suggest at least a 6 week notice.  From requesting to confirming the request, from writing to submitting the letter, the multiple steps involved can span weeks and months.  You judge how busy your recommenders are and how often you interact with them.  The more busy and the less interaction, the more time you want to give your recommender.  One thing you can ask is for a timeline on the completion of the letter and check-in at a later date. 

What's next? Follow-up!
Your application depends on being complete with three (3) letters of recommendation.  Assume your recommenders are busy and will need time to write your letter.  The best you can do is continue the conversation and have check-ins with your recommender until you see in your application that the letter of recommendation has been submitted.

Extra Considerations:
*Use Recent Letters:  The Letters of Recommendation should come from someone who has recently overseen your work / studies.

*"Name Dropping" vs. Using Your Direct Supervisor / Faculty:  You want a recommender who knows you!  We know that our students come from many backgrounds and experiences, and not everyone has had an opportunity to work with someone who understands or works in the information field.  Your letter and recommender should showcase how your qualities demonstrate leadership potential, a team-approach to problem solving, capable of dealing with ambiguity and change, and have a strong commitment to service.  These are all qualities that can take place anywhere and you don't need to "name drop" for the admissions committee to see this side of you.

*Waiving your right to review the letter? This is an option where you allow your recommender to know that you will not be reviewing the letter.  Waiving your reviewing right may allow the recommender to by more honest with the admissions committee.  This has no bearing on the admissions committee, but it may affect what your recommender decides to write.  Discuss this with your recommender for his/her preference.


Asking for your Letter of Recommendation can be a daunting process in itself, but it is well-worth investing the time to find the right recommender.  These letters grant you three additional voices and the added opportunity for the admissions committee to understand you!  The application is your platform to demonstrate how you are the right fit for graduate studies at UMSI and the letters of recommendation support this.  In this light, the recommendations provide the perfect compliment to your application and your essays.

Remember to visit the UMSI application website "MSI Application Requirements" for more information or contact with questions.
written by:
Edgar Nuñez
Information Mentor

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Navigating UMSI Admissions


"268/365 - Default State," Helga Weber,, CC-BY ND 2.0

As you likely have already discovered, the graduate school admissions process can be a little overwhelming. First, there's the big decision to even think about grad school. Then comes the process of deciding what programs to look at, evaluating their offerings, and determining which places would be a good fit for you. The application process itself has its own set of challenges, not to mention the agony of waiting for the schools' decisions following application. Things are tough enough without having to spend hours reading through web pages looking for information you didn't know you needed. So, let us help you navigate. 

If you just want to stay in the know...  

Consider registering with us to receive updates and notifications about important news and upcoming events. This way, if there is information to be had, you will have it! You can also check a box in the form to be contacted by a current student. This is a good option if you have specific questions  or are just looking for another student perspective. We are more than willing to answer questions about the school, classes, Ann Arbor, the admissions process, and whatever else you're wondering about. 

While you're still investigating... 

When I was in the process of researching schools, I discovered that the websites for iSchools contain, you guessed it, a huge mass of information. This was usually a good thing because I could answer my own questions, but I did sometimes find it difficult to find the things I was really looking for. So, here are some links to streamline your process if you're asking: 

Once you're ready to apply... 

After you've decided that you want to apply to UMSI, you will find that this page has all you need.   Here you can locate links to the online application, the place where you can make an account, and also return to the app once you've begun. Also, I cannot stress enough the incredible resource which is the application requirements page. You will save yourself a lot of hassle and confusion if you stick to this map and let it guide your preparation and application process. 

If you have more questions... 

Feel free to send us an email at You can also contact me directly at

Thanks, and good luck!


Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Connect with UMSI event for Prospective Students!

We are hosting Connect with UMSI, an informative session for prospective Master's and Ph.D. students. This fall's event will be held on October 27th, from 1:00-5:00 p.m. in the Rackham Graduate School which is right next to North Quad where the majority of UMSI classes are held.  Click here for more information and to RSVP.

UMSI's goal is to change the world through information, and our graduates are studying information in a variety of ways.

Our Master of Science in Information program includes students who are studying human-computer interaction, archives and preservation, information management, library and information science, information analysis and retrieval, and social computing.  

We also offer a new Master's program in Health Informatics, where students learn how information can improve health care.

Our Ph.D. students are working to better the field of information by working with top scholars to explore information through research.

To learn more, come to our Connect with UMSI session for prospective students: 

Saturday, October 27th


All sessions at Rackham Graduate School

Find more information and RSVP at

We look forward to seeing you there and please contact Alissa ( with any questions!

Monday, September 10, 2012

From the Archives...

Check out our previous blog for information from staff and previous students!  New posts coming soon to our new site (this one...)!

Please note, some contact information may be incorrect.  Please email or for current information.

MSI Admissions Blog
Master's or PhD
Deciding on a School
MSI Scholarships

Abby's SI Admissions Blog
The weather in Ann Arbor is not that bad
SI and your technical background
Take advantage of advising!
Having fun in Ann Arbor
Saving money in grad school
Taking the GRE

  • SI Admissions Blog: Katy and Veronica
    What to Expect for MSI Visiting Days
    SI Scholarships
    What to Expect for Visiting Days @ SI -- March 26-28, 2011 -- Ann Arbor, MI
    What is the timeline for making admissions decisions?
    And more!