Plan Your Program

Students complete 40 graduate credit hours to earn an MS in library and information science. All MSLIS students must complete the two required courses, IS 505 Information Organization and Access (4 credit hours) and IS 510 Libraries, Information, and Society (4 credit hours) during the first academic year of enrollment in their degree program. 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 the MSLIS to suit their individual career goals. Please contact your advisor if you're interested in exploring course options.

Customize your program

  • These pathways merely serve as guides for students as they plan their courses and experiential learning opportunities.
  • Students choose courses and experiences that uniquely fit their academic and professional goals.

Other course options

Practicum (IS 549)

The practicum is a professional field experience program designed to provide the student with the opportunity to work in a professional environment under the supervision of an experienced librarian or information professional with the guidance of a faculty member. This opportunity allows students to integrate the theory and knowledge of course content with the application of principles and practices in a work environment, including these specific objectives:

  • Gain practical experience based on the understanding and application of theoretical knowledge
  • Observe the analysis of and solutions to problems arising in professional work settings
  • Interact with colleagues in a professional work environment
  • Participate in a representative range of professional activities in the work setting
  • Develop a professional self-awareness

Identify practicum opportunities:

Independent Study (IS 589)

Independent Study enables the intermediate or advanced student opportunity to:

  • undertake the study of a topic not otherwise offered in the curriculum.
  • pursue a topic beyond or in greater depth than is possible within the context of a regular course.

Independent Study should be a rigorous investigation of a highly specific topic, calling for student initiative, and requiring the formal structure of:

  • a written proposal including scope and purpose;
  • a reasonable specific statement outlining the method to be used; and
  • a description of the form in which the final product will be presented (e.g., written report, mediated presentation).

Independent Study is not available as an alternative version of a course otherwise offered on a regular basis by the School. 

To register for Independent Study:

Review and complete all sections of the Independent Study form.

Forms take up to 10 business days to process.

Thesis (IS 599)

The student will, with the approval of their academic advisor, identify a problem in library or information science suitable for a master’s thesis. The student will conduct original research which

  • describes the problem 
  • reviews the related literature
  • collects and analyzes data
  • uses appropriate methods

A proposal is needed that describes the research problem and proposed methodology. 

The student must identify two readers for the thesis. The first reader must be a full-time faculty member in the iSchool, but the second reader may be a faculty member outside the School. The first reader and second reader will confer and must agree upon the acceptability of the thesis or whether any revisions must be made before final acceptance. Should the two readers be unable to reach agreement about the evaluation of the thesis, a third reader may be appointed. Ordinarily there is no oral defense of the master’s thesis. After the readers have approved the thesis, the departmental format check will be conducted. Go to the Thesis Office website for information on completing a thesis, including the formatting instructions, deadlines for deposit, etc.

To register for thesis
  1. Complete page one of the MS Thesis form, securing needed signatures.
  2. Include the completed proposal with this form. 
  3. Email the form and proposal to iSchool Admissions and Records and cc: iSchool Advising.
  4. Once this form has all required information and signatures, Admission and Records staff will email the student registration information to allow enrollment in the course.
  5. Once the examination of the thesis is complete, page three of the form will be submitted to the Admissions and Records staff.

Forms take up to 10 business days to process.

Non-iSchool courses

  • You may transfer up to 12 hours of graduate credit from several other departments at Illinois that can be applied to the 40 required graduate credit hours for the master's degree. Enrollment in other courses is subject to department approval.

Supplemental degree programs

Graduate minors

  • On-campus students may be interested in pursuing one of the graduate minors offered at Illinois.

Joint degrees

  • MSLIS and MA in History
  • MSLIS and MA in Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies
  • MSLIS and MA in African Studies
  • JD and MSLIS