Planning Your Program

Students complete 40 graduate credit hours to earn a Master of Science in Library and Information Science. All MS/LIS students must complete the two required courses, IS 501: Information and Organization (4 credit hours) and IS 502: Information and Society (2 or 4 credit hours). These courses are foundational for all areas of the field and provide a context for future coursework in areas of specialization. The remaining credit hours provide students with a great deal of flexibility and allow them to customize their degree to suit their individual career goals. In addition to courses, students participate in a variety of opportunities that complement the work in the classroom and contribute to overall student achievement.   

The following information is intended to guide students in taking the lead in planning their graduate degree program:

Course Scheduling and Components (when courses are offered, duration, format)
Customize Your Degree (professional curriculum tracks, specializations, combination)
Other Course Options (Illinois courses outside the degree, transfer courses, WISE consortium)
Time Management and Expectations
Advising Toolbox (resources for course planning and course scheduling)

Course Scheduling and Components

On-Campus Courses

  • Offered during Fall (Aug-Dec), Spring (Jan-May), and Summers I and II (May-Aug)
  • Courses meet for 3 hours once a week
  • On-campus students should expect to take 2-3 online courses

Note: During the summer sessions, on-campus course duration and frequency may vary depending on the term and course

Online Courses

  • Offered during Fall (Aug-Dec), Spring (Jan-May), Summer (May-Aug) and Summer II (June-Aug)
  • Courses meet for 2-2.5 hours, primarily in the late afternoon and evening

Customize Your Degree

Students have a number of ways to customize their MS/LIS degree to accomplish individual goals:

1)   Follow a Professional Pathway

2)   Select individual courses and/or combine a professional pathway

Both options require students to complete the two required courses. Completing a thesis is optional and should be discussed with the student’s advisor. A practicum, and other preprofessional work, is highly encouraged for all students and should be discussed both with the student’s advisor and/or the practicum coordinator, rhodson1 [at] (Rebecca Hodson).

Other Course Options

In addition to the large selection of courses, students may also pursue, an independent study, practicum, or other graduate level courses in other University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign departments and other ALA-accredited programs. To view other course options please consult our full listing and contact our ischool-advising [at] (advising team) for further information. 

Time Management and Expectations

Students should be aware of what is generally expected of them in terms of the required work and commitment that should be put into each course. Graduate level coursework expects students to attend all course sessions. In addition to completing required assignments, students are expected to participate in class and online discussions, and complete all course readings. For full-time students 10-16 credit hours is a normal range. Anything over 16 credit hours in the Fall and Spring term is considered excessive and should be discussed with an advisor. To meet these expectations, students should budget their time as follows:

  • 4 credit hour class: 10-15 hrs/week, including class time
  • 2 credit hour class: 7-12 hrs/week, including class time

Note: 2 credit hour classes generally exclude only a large research paper or project from the 4 credit hour requirements