MS/K-12 Program

We equip candidates with the theories and practices of library and information science (LIS) through the study of the foundations, principles, and ideas of the discipline and the status and expectations of the profession. Our program objectives include teaching graduates to anticipate social and technological changes and promote change to advance the profession; fostering critical thinking about literature and research in LIS and related fields; encouraging commitment to high standards of practice, conduct, responsibility and service; and preparing for evaluation and development of services. In addition, the combined program stresses the importance of creating diverse learning environments, the value of developing inquiring and reflective minds, the effective application of technology in schools, and the library information specialist's role in fostering a commitment to service.

Graduates of the combined MS in LIS/K-12 Library Information Specialist Licensure program are qualified to receive an Illinois Professional Educator License (PEL) with a Special (K-12) Library Information Specialist Endorsement for library work in a school environment as well as to pursue careers as beginning librarians and information professionals in other work settings. This program is similar to the MS/LIS degree program but includes significantly more required coursework and field experiences to achieve teaching licensure in Illinois.

Answers to some common questions about the MS/K-12 Library Information Specialist can be found on our K-12 Library Information Specialist Licensure Program FAQs page.

MS Requirements | MS Courses | K-12 Licensure Requirements

MS Requirements


Candidates interested in the MS in LIS/K-12 Library Information Specialist Licensure (LIS) program must be accepted as an MS/LIS student before their application to the K-12 licensure program is reviewed. Students may apply to the licensure program after 8 hours of LIS coursework is completed. When applying to the K-12 LIS Licensure program, candidates must complete the K-12 LIS Licensure Program application, submit an official score report demonstrating a passing score on the Illinois Test of Academic Proficiency #400 (TAP), and write a "commitment to education" essay. The TAP, which has replaced the Illinois Basic Skills Test, is administered by the Illinois Licensure Testing System, The ILTS website has information about test dates, registration fees and includes an online study guide. As of February 2013, ISBE approved rules that allow prospective candidates to use one of the following assessments in lieu of the TAP. Tests of basic skills scores are valid indefinitely. The handout "TAP or ACT/SAT?" will help you decide which test to take.

  • Illinois Basic Skills Test 096 or 300
  • ACT Plus Writing (with a composite score of 22 and minimum ELA/Writing score of 19, if taken before September 1, 2015)
  • ACT Plus Writing (with a composite score of 22 and minimum Writing score of 16, if taken after September 1, 2015)
  • SAT (with a score of 1030 or higher in critical reading + math and minimum writing score of 450)

Applicants wishing to use their ACT or SAT scores in lieu of the TAP must create an ELIS account through ISBE before their scores will be acknowledged. See the CoTE for testing requirements. For more information please contact the K-12 Program Coordinator.

Prospective MS/LIS students who already hold an Illinois teaching license should NOT apply to the K-12 LIS Licensure program. Those students should follow the directions for applying to the MS/LIS only, and indicate an interest in the K-12 Library Information Specialist Licensure program. Since they are already licensed teachers, they need to meet the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) requirements for adding the Library Information Specialist endorsement to their current license. The requirements for this endorsement are explained on the MS/ISBE Endorsements page. The grade levels at which licensed teachers can work in a school library are dependent on their current license and whether the middle grades coursework has been completed. This information is summarized in the Requirements for Adding Library Information Specialist Endorsements chart. Master's students who hold teaching licenses take the 24 hours of LIS endorsement coursework as part of their 40-hour MS/LIS requirement. See the Suggested Courses section of the MS/ISBE Endorsements page for more information.

Students should see the Admissions section of our web site for specific application requirements, deadlines, and forms for both the MS/LIS degree and the K-12 LIS Licensure program. Contact the Admissions Office at (217) 333-7197 with questions.

Entry Dates

On-campus and Leep online learning students must apply to the MS/LIS program by October 15 for spring semester admission or February 15 for summer or fall semester admission. Application to the K-12 LIS Licensure program must be made no later than October 1 for acceptance in the following spring semester, or February 15 for acceptance in the following summer or fall semesters. These deadlines apply to both on-campus and Leep students.

It is possible to take LIS courses at the University of Illinois as a nondegree student. No application is necessary. Interested individuals holding a bachelor's degree must complete the Request to Enroll form each semester to request permission to enroll in courses. Space is available on a "seats available" basis after degree-seeking students are registered. Only 12 credit hours taken as a nondegree student can be later transferred to the MS/LIS degree if a student applies and is accepted into the MS/LIS program. These hours can be transferred subject to the conditions explained in the Graduate College Handbook, including the following: the student has achieved a grade of B or better; the credits were earned within the past five years.

Required Clinical Fee

After candidates are formally admitted to the K-12 Program, they confirm their programmatic status by enrolling in EDPR 203 during their first semester as a K-12 candidate. EDPR 203 does not carry course credit or appear on transcripts but is a means by which candidates are assessed the required one-time clinical fee ($790 during 2014-2015) for K-12 Licensure program supervision.

Financial Aid and Enrollment Status

Candidates holding graduate assistantships awarded and/or administered by the iSchool must be registered for a minimum number of credit hours determined by the percentage time of the assistantship; candidates will be advised of the number of credit hours upon appointment. Candidates with graduate assistantships in the library or elsewhere on campus must follow the enrollment requirements for those departments. Information about applying for assistantships can be found in the Admissions section.

A limited number of tuition waivers may be available to K-12 LIS Licensure candidates during the semester of their student teaching. To be awarded a tuition waiver, candidates will be asked to submit a statement of need to the K-12 program coordinator. More information about waivers is available from the program coordinator.

Computer Skills

Please view the Computer Literacy Requirements for admission.

Technology Support

Our students have access to many technology resources, including the Help Desk. Please feel free to contact them with questions by e-mailing help [at] or by calling (800) 377-1892 (toll free) or (217) 244-4903. The Help Desk is located in room 228 in the iSchool building.

In addition, the Instructional Technology and Design Office and the Help Desk offers technology training workshops each semester for students, faculty, and staff. Most on-campus students take at least one online class, so it is important for both on-campus and online students to take advantage of the many workshops offered. Workshops are regularly scheduled both in-person and online on topics such as the participating in live online classes, introduction to Moodle (the open-source course management tool used in all classes), file storage options for students, and HTML.

Our tech support staff have also compiled tutorials and other resources to help students learn and improve skills such as file management, using Elluminate and Moodle, creating web pages, and navigating the course space. For more information about technology support, visit the Help Desk.

NOTE: Be sure to back up all your files periodically on a remote or external storage device.

MS in LIS/K-12 Courseload

The MS in LIS/K-12 LIS Licensure program requires a minimum of 40 semester hours in library and information science, plus an additional course in special education (SPED), field experience (practicum), and student teaching as required for licensure. For a brief overview of the required courses needed to complete the MS/K-12 LIS Licensure program, see the MS/K-12 Course Requirements.

Generally a full-time course load is 12 semester hours during the fall and spring semesters and 12 semester hours during the Summer Sessions (I and II). It is possible to complete the 40 hours required for the MS in two semesters and one summer by increasing the courseload (e.g. 16 hours in the fall, 16 hours in the spring, and 8 hours in the summer). Candidates seeking the K-12 licensure as well as the MS/LIS degree should expect to spend two to three additional semesters on coursework and field experiences. Since licensure candidates will finish the combined program with more than 40 semester hours, some candidates choose to graduate with the MS/LIS degree after 40 hours, and then apply to the Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) program to complete licensure requirements. There may be a financial advantage to this plan because most school districts in Illinois offer advancement on the pay scale for graduate hours beyond the MS/LIS degree. Interested candidates should read the information about the CAS/K-12 LIS Licensure and talk to their advisor or the K-12 program coordinator for more information.

Master's degree students must complete all requirements for the degree within five years after admission. Licensure candidates must complete all requirements within five years after the date of their CoTE coursework audit, which is explained below.

Scheduling Options

Students apply for admission to the MS/LIS program as an on-campus or Leep online learning student. Candidates in the K-12 LIS Licensure program are also required to take a course in Special Education that is equivalent to University of Illinois courses. On-campus candidates take these courses at Illinois. Leep candidates may take these courses at Illinois if offered online through the College of Education, or at another accredited school with prior approval (see the "Coursework Audit" section for more information). In addition, both on-campus and Leep candidates complete field experiences in school libraries, including one semester of student teaching. All candidates work with the program coordinator to arrange field experience placements. See the K-12 Practicum Guide and the Student Teaching Handbook for more information.

Course Sequencing

On-campus students enter the master's program in the fall or spring semester and take one of the required core courses: LIS 501: Information Organization and Access (fall) or LIS 502: Libraries, Information and Society (spring). Leep students start their program with an on-campus residency following their admission.

The charts below are included to give prospective candidates a general idea of course sequencing and the length of the MS in LIS/K-12 LIS Licensure program. Please note that the charts represent a fairly rigorous plan and describe only one scenario for either on-campus or Leep candidates. Actual course sequencing and number of semesters required vary from candidate to candidate depending on many factors, including course scheduling, electives desired, full- or part-time work, family responsibilities, financial situation, special interests, and preferred learning style. New students are strongly encouraged to meet with the K-12 program coordinator during their first semester to map out a tentative course plan and timeline that is in line with their personal needs and goals.

EXAMPLE 1: Full-time On-campus Student Pursuing MS and K-12 Licensure

EXAMPLE 2: Full-time Leep Student Pursuing MS and K-12 Licensure


The Graduate College requires MS/LIS students to maintain a minimum GPA of 2.75; however, the K-12 LIS Licensure program requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA. The "credit/no credit" option can only be requested for courses taken outside the MS/K-12 LIS Licensure curriculum. Hours taken under this option are not computed into the GPA and may not be applied to the degree. Hours taken when a grade of "Satisfactory" or "Unsatisfactory" is assigned are not computed into the GPA, but are applied to the degree. ISBE rules state that on or after February 1, 2012 no grade lower than a 'C' in content or professional education coursework may be used for licensure, endorsements, or approvals.

Credit Hours Petitioned to Count or Transfer

It is possible for students to request course credit from other departments or other institutions be counted towards or transferred to the MS.

Up to 12 semester hours of coursework may be taken from a University of Illinois academic unit other than the iSchool (such as the College of Education) and petitioned to "count" towards the MS/LIS degree. Use the "Request to Enroll in a Non-LIS Illinois Graduate Course for Credit Towards the MS in LIS" form BEFORE registering for the course.

In addition, a maximum of 12 semester hours may be transferred to the degree, subject to review by the Curriculum Committee and the Graduate College. Transferred credits are subject to the conditions explained in the Graduate College Handbook, including the following: the credits have not been applied previously toward a degree; the credits are graded graduate-level coursework from an accredited institution; the student has achieved a grade of B or better; the credits were earned within the past five years. Transferred credits are allowed up to the following maximum limits:

  1. Up to 4 credit hours of non-LIS courses from any accredited institution
  2. Up to 8 credit hours of LIS courses from an ALA-accredited institution (no more than 8 total from 1 and 2).
  3. Up to 12 credit hours taken as a nondegree student at University of Illinois (no more than 12 total from 1, 2, and 3). Courses taken as a nondegree student are not automatically transferred to the degree.

The Admissions Office can assist in this petition process. Use the Graduate School Petition online system to request a transfer of credit.

K-12 LIS Licensure Requirements

The MS/K-12 LIS Licensure Program Checklist is designed to provide candidates with a summary of the requirements and steps leading to licensure. Each component is described in more detail below. 

Coursework Audit

After admission to the licensure program, a candidate's transcripts are evaluated by the CoTE licensure officer when an audit request is initiated by the School. The licensure officer will examine the candidate's undergraduate transcripts to make sure that the University of Illinois' general education requirements are met. The officer will also determine if the candidate can be licensed to teach other academic areas in addition to licensure as a library information specialist. The audit will list both education and LIS courses that remain to be taken to fulfill licensure requirements. Candidates and the program coordinator will receive a copy of their audit by email approximately 4-6 weeks after the audit is requested.

Licensure Requirements - Education Coursework

As of October 1, 2013, candidates are required to take only education course, SPED 517 at the College of Education, University of Illinois. Candidates also have the option of taking a pre-approved special education course at another university. See the list of Pre-Approved Courses for SPED 517 for course options. After completing a course on the pre-approved list, e-mail the licensure officer that the course has been taken, and submit an official course transcript to the officer.

If a candidate wants to take a course that is not on the pre-approved list, the following steps must be taken the semester BEFORE registering for the course:

  1. Indicate which required course "seems" equivalent to the course being submitted for approval.
  2. Send a complete course syllabus and request for approval to the K-12 program coordinator.
  3. The program coordinator will forward the request and the syllabus to the CoTE licensure office, who will forward it to the appropriate College of Education department.
  4. The student will be notified by e-mail whether the course is accepted as an equivalent, and the course will be added to the list of pre-approved courses.

Council on Teacher Education Student Portal

The CoTE Student Portal allows students in CoTE-approved programs to monitor their licensure progress. The CoTE portal allows students to view their status on requirements such as ILTS test scores, Bloodborne Pathogens Training, Teacher Education Safety Training, and criminal background checks. The portal also includes information regarding deadlines, announcements, contact information, CoTE policies, online evaluation forms and other links of interest.

K-12 Practicum/Early Field Experience

The K-12 practicum is a supervised field experience of professional-level duties at an approved school library site. It is designed to provide K-12 LIS Licensure candidates with the opportunity to work in a school environment under the supervision of an experienced library information specialist with the guidance of the program coordinator. It is also an opportunity to integrate the educational theory and course content knowledge with the application of best principles and practices for working with youth and young adults. Candidates will be able to experience real issues, obstacles and solutions within the K-12 school setting by interacting with professional colleagues and engaging in professional activities while gradually assuming some teaching responsibilities.

Candidates will complete a minimum of 100 hours (up to 25 of which can be devoted to the required, pre-approved project) and receive a maximum of 2 semester hours of graduate credit. Prerequisites include completion of 14 hours of LIS coursework, and acceptance into the K-12 Library Information Specialist Licensure program. Candidates must also clear a fingerprint-based criminal background check, pass online Bloodborne Pathogens Training, Teacher Education Safety Training, sign the Student Teaching Agreement, and submit the required practicum forms before a school practicum may begin. Candidates complete the practicum requirement the semester prior to student teaching. See the K-12 Practicum Guide for more information. See a map of schools where librarians have supervised candidates in field experiences. New placement sites are added each semester, according to students' needs.

Criminal Background Check

Requirements of the K-12 LIS Licensure program include three field placements in school districts: the 100-hour practicum described above followed by 8 weeks of student teaching at the elementary level and 8 weeks of student teaching at the secondary level. A criminal background check is required by CoTE before starting practicum. This requirement can be met by forwarding results of a CBC completed for an Illinois school districts to CoTE or by having a CBC done at Accurate Biometrics. Since school districts also require that applicants for student teaching clear a criminal background check prior to placement in their district, candidates are likely to complete another CBC at that time.

Student Teaching

Field experiences are critical components of a candidate's preparation for work as a school library media specialist. They provide the opportunity to acquire an understanding of the teaching process through guided, personal, "hands-on" experience. After successful completion of a K-12 practicum and all required LIS and education coursework, candidates will register for two student teaching placements: one in an elementary library setting and one in a secondary library setting (middle or high school). Each placement will last eight weeks under the direction of an on-site cooperating teacher-librarian and a university supervisor, who work together to support and guide candidates as they apply the skills and knowledge learned in their university coursework to the real world. During each placement, teacher candidates perform the full spectrum of professional activities associated with the work of a professional library media specialist. The program coordinator works closely with candidates to arrange student teaching placements throughout Illinois only. Most candidates complete both placements within one semester; however, under special circumstances, it is possible to take two semesters to complete both placements. See a map of schools where librarians have supervised candidates in field experiences. New placement sites are added each semester, according to students' needs.

The Student Teaching Handbook is designed to assist teacher candidates, cooperating teacher-librarians, the program coordinator, and the university supervisor in planning for student teaching. It includes information regarding the procedures for student teaching and the roles and responsibilities of all parties involved.

Licensure Program Support

K-12 LIS Licensure Program students receive support and information about the program in three ways:

  1. An informational meeting is scheduled each semester for newly admitted students. Dates for the meeting will be announced via e-mail and the GSLIS online bulletin boards.
  2. Licensure and MS/Endorsement students will be automatically enrolled in the K-12 News Group listserv. The program coordinator uses this e-mail group to send program information and important announcements to all students interested in school librarianship.
  3. It is highly recommended that students schedule a phone or office appointment with the K-12 LIS Licensure Program Coordinator soon after admission to discuss their individual program. Throughout their tenure, students are encouraged to contact the program coordinator with questions.

For More Information

Contact the Admissions Office with questions about the admissions process: (800) 982-0914 or (217) 333-7197, or see the Admissions section of our website. For questions regarding the combined MS/K-12 LIS Licensure Program, see the K-12 School Librarianship FAQs, then e-mail ischool-advising [at]

Return to top