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Master of Library and Information Science

The role of information professionals has changed dramatically as the volume of available information has increased and technology for information creation, storage, search and retrieval has advanced. The ability to manage the growing array of information tools has led to new opportunities for those who want to work in the information field, a discipline which bridges the management of both traditional and emerging information sources. The MLIS program, which is accredited by the ALA through 2020, is designed to anticipate changes in the information environment and to educate the next generation of creative and entrepreneurial information professionals who can serve in a wide variety of capacities and in various settings.

Information professionals are the human element that connects people, information, and technology.  The MLIS degree program provides a strong grounding in the skills, knowledge, and ethical practices of the information professions to prepare graduates to serve as critically reflective and actively engaged experts in the broader role of information in culture and society.  We encourage the development of creativity, professionalism, and a proactive attitude to meet the needs of various clienteles. Our graduates have careers not only in the library, archive and museum settings, but in government, corporate, non-profit, and entrepreneurial environments as well.  The MLIS program will prepare a diverse population of graduate students to make a difference in their communities through a rewarding and forward-thinking career path.

Degree Requirements

The MLIS degree is a 36-credit program that can be completed in three consecutive terms of full-time study or up to four years (twelve terms) of part-time study.

There is a series of mandatory core courses — the remaining courses are tailored to your career goals or chosen area of interest. It is important to plan carefully, in consultation with your faculty advisor, to make the best use of the educational opportunities available at the School of Computing and Information.

You will take the six required courses* for the MLIS degree:

  • LIS 2020 Lifecycles of Data and Information (to be taken in the first term)
  • LIS 2030 Data and Information in Systems (to be taken in the second term)
  • LIS 2040 The Information Professional in the Community (to be taken in the third term)
  • The Design Methods Sequence to be taken in three consecutive terms (Fall, Spring, Summer):
    • LIS 2021 Identifying Information Needs of Knowledge Organizations
    • LIS 2022 Implementing Solutions for Knowledge Organizations
    • LIS 2023 Integrating Solutions for Knowledge Organizations

* you should work with your advisors to ensure that you are following the proper course of study.

Upon completion of the MLIS degree, you will incorporate the knowledge, skills, ethical foundations and social responsibilities of the information professions into professional practice. See our Goals for Graduates of the MLIS Program.

Design Methods Sequence

The Design Methods Sequence (DMS) is a required three‐course sequence of experiential learning for MLIS students, where they work in teams with a partner organization to solve real‐world problems. The DMS exposes students, both experientially and conceptually, to the mindset, values, and methods of Design Thinking as an approach to finding, understanding, and solving problems. Each term focuses on different stages of the design thinking process, beginning with Identifying, moving on to Implementing, and ending with Integrating. The sequence provides essential and valuable experience that future employers are looking for in our MLIS graduates.

Thematic Areas

Aside from the required core courses that you must take, there is flexibility to personalize a program of study that meets your particular area of interest. There are certain thematic areas for which faculty advisors may suggest appropriate courses. Samples of some of these potential thematic areas have been provided. It is not necessary to follow any one of these suggested clusters of courses.

Libraries in universities and colleges offer both challenging and rewarding opportunities to apply the core knowledge and skills of the profession in new ways to meet the demands of the dynamic, networked world of higher education. The academic library environment has changed radically in recent decades as a result of rapid advances in technology, the development of online education, and the emergence of digital scholarship.

The Academic Information Services thematic area is designed to provide you with the theoretical knowledge, contextual understanding, and practical skills to work effectively as a librarian or information professional in a higher education setting that is continually evolving.

Our teaching is informed and inspired by personal experience, current research, and leading best practices in the field. The courses in this thematic area will equip you for the challenges and demands of planning, managing, and delivering resources and services in academic libraries. The foundational course on Academic Libraries examines traditional and emerging practices in areas such as collection development, academic liaison, scholarly communication, information literacy, digital services, research data management, library design, and impact assessment. Additional courses will help you develop the competencies needed to fulfill the academic library’s core roles in supporting the education and research missions of its parent institution.

Suggested Electives (choose six courses):
  • LIS 2184 Intellectual Property and Open Movements
  • LIS 2186 Information Policy
  • LIS 2194 Information Ethics
  • LIS 2214 Library and Archival Preservation
  • LIS 2407 Metadata
  • LIS 2500 Reference Resources & Information Literacy in Libraries
  • LIS 2520 Collection Development
  • LIS 2537 Government Information Resources & Services
  • LIS 2671 Digital Humanities
  • LIS 2771 Academic Libraries
  • LIS 2830 Advocacy and Marketing for Libraries
  • LIS 2921 Field Experience

Recordkeeping, from governmental to organizational to personal, is one of the most ancient and essential human and institutional functions. Records are created and maintained for the purposes of evidence and accountability, as well as personal, social and corporate memory. Archives serve a crucial cultural function by providing society with a sense of identity. Records management programs help organizations to be compliant with regulatory agencies, responsible to constituent groups, and effective and efficient in the use of informational resources. Critical to the administration of records is the maintenance of records over long periods of time, traditionally called preservation, and now being influenced by discussions concerning digital curation and stewardship.

Suggested Electives (Choose six courses):
  • LIS 2224 Archival Access, Systems and Tools for Archival Collections
  • LIS 2186 Information Policy
  • LIS 2194 Information Ethics
  • LIS 2214 Library and Archival Preservation
  • LIS 2407 Metadata
  • LIS 2220 Archives and Records Management
  • LIS 2222 Archival Appraisal
  • LIS 2537 Government Information Resources & Services
  • LIS 2671 Digital Humanities

For more than 100 years, library services to young people have been a cornerstone of education at Pitt. Founded in 1901 as a part of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, the school was first known as the Carnegie Training School for Children's Librarians. By 1919, it had moved to the Carnegie Institute and the name had changed to the "Carnegie Training School" to include educating other librarians. Nonetheless, the program strongly advocated for children's services and still continues to more than 100 years later. Young people live in a world that is rich in technology and media. We acknowledge the changing landscape of children’s and young adult librarianship. Without forgetting our important roots in children’s literature, our school prepares information professionals who can reach out to the child of the 21st century. Several library organizations have determined the core set of skills for information professionals who will work with children or young adults. Our curriculum is designed to provide you with those mandated skills as well as the theoretical knowledge necessary for leadership in the library profession.

Suggested Electives (Choose six courses):
  • LIS 2194 Information Ethics
  • LIS 2322 Resources & Services for Children
  • LIS 2323 Resources & Services for Young Adults
  • LIS 2324 History of Children’s Literature
  • LIS 2326 Storytelling & Programming for Children & Youth
  • LIS 2332 Public Libraries: Resources and Services for Adults
  • LIS 2633 Technology Resources & Services for Children & Young Adults
  • LIS 2830 Advocacy & Marketing for Libraries
  • LIS 2921 Field Experience

Librarians and archivists need to understand various information technologies in order to design, implement, and manage digital services. This thematic area will prepare information professionals to play creative roles by mastering an array of related concepts and technologies, including database design, information architecture, digital curation, and Web design.

Suggested Electives (Choose six courses):
  • LIS 2635 Information Architecture
  • LIS 2680 Database Design and Applications
  • LIS 2610 Library and Archival Computing
  • Digital Curation and Preservation (in development)
  • Scripting Languages (JavaScript; PHP) (in development)

According to the American Library Association, there are over 16,000 public libraries across the United States and 58% of adults in this country have public library cards. The public library provides free access to a wealth of digital resources in addition to its physical book collections. They host programs to enhance financial literacy, to increase reading proficiency, and to gain skills using new technologies. Perhaps most importantly, they provide a welcoming, safe place in which to find information and community. As part of the local fabric of a town, the public librarian goes beyond the physical walls of the library building to provide service connections with the community through outreach initiatives. Our teaching is informed and inspired by personal experience, current research, and leading best practices in the field. The courses in the Public Libraries thematic area will equip students for the challenges and demands of planning, managing and delivering resources and services through exploration of their historical contexts, current positions, and future directions.

Suggested Electives (Choose six courses):
  • LIS 2194 Information Ethics
  • LIS 2214 Library and Archival Preservation
  • LIS 2322 Resources and Services for Children
  • LIS 2323 Resources and Services for Young Adults
  • LIS 2332 Public Libraries: Resources and Services for Adults
  • LIS 2407 Metadata
  • LIS 2500 Reference Resources & Information Literacy in Libraries
  • LIS 2520 Collection Development
  • LIS 2537 Government Information Resources & Services
  • LIS 2830 Advocacy & Marketing for Libraries
  • LIS 2921 Field Experience

School librarians in pre-kindergarten through senior high schools (PK-12) collaborate with educators in the teaching‐learning process; they teach both students and teachers; and they are instructional specialists who evaluate and select resources and integrate instructional technology to help teachers and students learn. To be employed as a school librarian in a Pennsylvania public school, you must hold a valid Instructional I or Instructional II teaching certificate in Library Science PK‐12. If you want to become a school librarian in an elementary or secondary school, the School Library Certification Program (SLCP) offers two options, both of which are approved by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE). PDE has a signed interstate reciprocity agreement with 45 states. The Endorsement Option is for those who already have earned a teaching certificate in Pennsylvania or another state; Library Science PK-12 becomes an added teaching area on a valid PA Instructional I or Instructional II teaching certificate. The Intern Option is for those who have not earned a teaching certificate in Pennsylvania or another state.

Graduates who complete requirements for both the MLIS degree and the School Library Certification Program will earn the MLIS degree and an Instructional 1 teaching certificate in Library Science PK‐12 from the PDE. You will gain the skillsets needed to function as an effective school librarian through competency‐based and experiential learning opportunities in collaboration with practitioners. A career as a school librarian is one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the information professions. The SLCP is one of only two academic programs in Pennsylvania that is approved by the PA Department of Education to offer certification in Library Science PK-12, and it is the only academic program in Pennsylvania accredited by the American Library Association and approved by the PA Department of Education, which reapproved the SLCP in February 2019.

SLCP Endorsement Option
(For those who already hold a valid PDE teaching certificate):
  • LIS 2322 Resources & Services for Children
  • LIS 2323 Resources & Services for Young Adults
  • LIS 2325 Curriculum Resources & Information Literacy in School Libraries
  • LIS 2774 School Library Management
  • LIS 2922 Practicum in School Libraries
  • LIS Elective Choice
SLCP Intern Option:
(For those wanting to earn both a PDE teaching certificate and an MLIS degree)
Required LIS Courses
  • LIS 2322 Resources & Services for Children
  • LIS 2323 Resources & Services for Young Adults
  • LIS 2325 Curriculum Resources & Information Literacy in School Libraries
  • LIS 2774 School Library Management
  • LIS 2922 Practicum in School Libraries
Required Education Courses
  • EDUC 2000 Psychology of Learning & Development for Educators
  • EDUC 2100 Education & Society
  • IL 2257 Instructing English Language Learners
  • IL 2500 Foundations of Special Education
  • IL 2501 Including Students with Disabilities in Elementary Classrooms OR IL 2502 Including Students with Disabilities in Secondary Classrooms
  • IL 2520 Literacy Assessment & Instruction for Children with Disabilities in Inclusive Secondary Settings OR IL 2523 6 Literacy Assessment & Instruction for Children with Disabilities in Inclusive

MLIS Online Program

Beginning in 2019, all online students will pay the in-state tuition rate.

We recognize that successful information professionals come from all walks of life and that prospective students are not always able to move to Pittsburgh to pursue their degree. Our online MLIS program permits you to earn a degree while remaining at home and/or in your current job. This 36-credit program, which is also ALA-accredited through 2020, can be completed online within two years. Your program of study will provide you with the same foundational knowledge and practical skills as our on-campus MLIS degree program.

Online Course Participation Policy

The asynchronous design of the courses allows for students to participate at any time or any location. Just as on-campus students are required to attend each class session and to participate in class activities, online students are required to participate actively in each learning activity as required by the individual instructor and to complete each course assignment on time. It is the responsibility of students to make arrangements for participating in the course consistently throughout the term. An instructor has the option to lower a student’s grade for lack of timely participation.

On-Campus Experience

MLIS students wishing to participate in an on-campus experience but whose schedules do not allow them to participate during scheduled events may contact the Director of Community Resource Development.

Statute of Limitations

The Master’s Degree program must be completed within four years of the first term in which courses were taken after admission. The normal part-time course load is 6 credits per term, which permits part-time students to complete the program in six terms. The faculty, in response to a student petition, must approve exceptions to the four-year limit if extenuating circumstances exist.


Admissions Information

We are seeking students with diverse educational and career backgrounds. Applicants for graduate study must have earned a baccalaureate degree from an accredited college or university with a scholastic average of B (3.0 on a 4.0 scale) or better.

Letters of Recommendation

Identify and seek the recommendations of two individuals (e.g., professors, employers, information professionals) who are in a position to evaluate your academic performance or your potential as an information professional. One reference should be able to address your academic abilities, while the remaining references may discuss your professional experience and accomplishments.

Transcripts

Only scanned copies of official transcripts will be accepted and processed at the application stage.

Standardized Test Scores

Standardized Test Scores are not required. 

Other Required Documents

Please include the following in your online application:

  • Resume
  • A statement of no more than 500 words that includes the following elements:
    • Outlines your career goals
    • Reflects on your relevant work experience in libraries, information centers, or other relevant environments
    • Highlights your relevant experience using information technology

For International Applicants

Graduate students must possess sufficient knowledge of English to participate successfully in graduate study. International applicants must submit either the TOEFL or the IELTS (taken within two years of the date of application). A minimum score of 80 (Internet-based)/550 (paper-based) on the TOEFL or a minimum result of Band 6.5 on the IELTS is required.


Tuition and Fees

Tuition rates and fees for the upcoming academic year can be found on the University’s Institutional Research Web site.