Master of Library and Information Studies

The MLIS degree program requires a minimum of 36 semester hours of credit. Students must complete all work with a grade average of “B” or better. There is a thesis and a non-thesis option for the degree.

All MLIS students who enroll in Fall 2019 or later must complete, as part of the minimum 36 hours, the following 9 hours of required courses in the first two semesters of enrollment.

  • LS 500 Information Science and Technology
  • LS 501 Information in Communities
  • LS 513 Professional Paths

All MLIS students who enroll in Fall 2019 or later are also required to complete a comprehensive portfolio of your experiences during the MLIS program. Please see portfolio instructions here. Dr. Miriam Sweeney offers portfolio office hours each semester (dates and registration advertised on the SLIS-S listserv) to answer questions about this capstone requirement.

All MLIS students enrolled prior to Fall 2019 must complete, as part of the minimum 36 hours, the following 18 hours of required courses:

  • LS 500 Organization of Information
  • LS 501 Introduction to Library and Information Studies
  • LS 502 Research Methods
  • LS 507 Information Sources and Services
  • LS 560 Information Technologies

All MLIS students enrolled prior to Fall 2019 also must take one of the following courses to fulfill the required management component. Those courses include:

  • LS 508 Administration and Management
  • LS 530 Public Libraries
  • LS 531 Academic Libraries
  • LS 532 School Media Centers
  • LS 533 Special Libraries and Information Centers

Areas of Emphasis

Click the links below for details on our suggested areas of emphasis:

Academic Libraries

>> Learn to serve the needs of institutions of higher learning

Digital Stewardship

>> Study the management of digital resources over time

Information Literacy

>> Prepare for a career in research and research support

Public Libraries

>> Work with public libraries and their constituents

Special Libraries

>> Study management of non-traditional library settings

Social Justice

>> Study social responsibility and diversity in practice

Youth Services

>> Serve children and young adults in a public library setting


>> Understand the theory, art, and practice that informs archival work

School Libraries

>> Learn to manage school library media centers

Note: Areas of emphasis are not the same as approved specializations or certifications. These are areas to assist prospective and current students constructing their programs of study in conjunction with their assigned academic advisors. Additional elective courses are offered by SLIS. Students should work with their advisors to decide if these courses are applicable to their programs of study.  Archival Studies and School Libraries are specializations with their own required coursework. The other emphasis areas include courses that can be taken by students interested in a particular focus or type of library/information setting.

Thesis Option

Candidates for the master’s degree under the thesis plan must earn a minimum of 36 hours of credit, including nine hours of required courses and six hours of thesis credit (LS 599). No more than six hours of thesis credit may be counted toward the degree.

Intent to elect the thesis option must be formally declared within the first nine hours of enrollment in graduate LIS courses. The declaration of intent must indicate the subject area of the research and the faculty member who has agreed to direct the thesis.

The student must identify a three-person thesis committee, to consist of at least two full-time SLIS faculty members, at least one of whom must be must be a full member of the graduate faculty; a third committee member may be a faculty member from another department of the University, a faculty member from another institution, or a well-qualified practitioner. All committee members must hold appropriate Graduate Faculty status.

The student must obtain committee approval for a prospectus for the thesis project prior to enrolling in thesis credit; a formal defense of the prospectus will constitute the final examination for the MLIS degree.

The student must complete and successfully defend a thesis that meets the requirements established by the Graduate School. The thesis defense shall be made orally before the student’s thesis committee and will be open to the public.

Intent to Declare Thesis

Transfer Credit

Graduate credit may be transferred from another university or may be elected from the offerings of other departments. No more than nine hours of credit can be applied toward the MLIS for graduate courses taken outside SLIS, directed research courses, and internships. These hours may be combined as follows:

  • Six hours of approved credit for graduate work taken outside SLIS and three hours of credit for a directed research course or internship;
  • Six hours of credit for any combination of directed research courses and internships and three hours of approved credit for graduate work taken outside SLIS.

Course Transfer Eligibility

A student may elect to transfer up to six hours of coursework from another institution to apply to the 36 hour MLIS degree requirement or the 60 hour MFA degree requirement if the following conditions are met:

  1. The course or courses proposed for transfer must be at the graduate level from an institution accredited by a regional accrediting agency such as SACS.  The grade in the course(s) must be a B or better. A student may transfer in no more than six (6) hours of course work.
  2. Courses considered for transfer must be limited to courses completed prior to admission to the SLIS program OR be pre-approved by the student’s advisor prior to enrolling in courses outside UA SLIS.
  3. At the time of the student’s admission to UA SLIS, the course(s) transferred must have been taken within the last six (6) years.  For example, if the student was admitted in August 2020, then the transferred course(s) must have been taken since December 2014.
  4. Any transferred courses will fall under the 9-hour rule, which states that no more than 9 semester hours of pass/fail courses can be applied to the SLIS degree.
  5. All transfer requests must be made no later than the beginning of the semester in which the student plans to graduate, otherwise, the student may not graduate when planned.

Students should consult the SLIS Core and Elective Transfer Guidelines.

Advising Resources and Information