Curriculum & Specializations - Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program requires 36 credit hours of academic work to be completed with a minimum 3.0 GPA within five calendar years from the first semester of registration. At least 24 of the 36 required credits must be designated LBSC, INST, or INFM courses taken in the iSchool. Online and in-person students receiving their MLIS must complete the MLIS Core (12 credits) and either a field study (3 credits) or a thesis (9 credits). Students are able to customize their MLIS degree by choosing electives that align with their career goals. Our average time to degree completion is 2.22 years with a 96.3% retention rate after two years.

The MLIS program can be completed fully online. The admission requirements and curriculum are the same for both online and in-person students. Online students are welcome to take classes on campus as well as long as immunization records are submitted to the University Health Center.

Enrolled Students: be sure to consult the MLIS handbooks, policies, and forms.

Program Requirements

MLIS Core Courses - 12 credits

Take within the first 18 credits of the program:

  • LBSC 602 - Serving Information Needs
  • LBSC 631 - Achieving Organizational Excellence
  • LBSC 671 - Creating Information Infrastructures

Take after completing 18 credits:

  • LBSC 791 - Designing Principled Inquiry 

Elective Course Requirements - 21 credits

MLIS students may apply their electives towards a specialization or individualized program plan:

Archives and Digital Curation - This specialization focuses on the creation, management, use, long-term preservation, and access to records and information, both analog and digital, in a variety of disciplines and sectors of the economy. Information is at the very heart of a modern society’s ability to learn, conduct business, recreate, and manage complex scientific, technological, industrial, and information infrastructures. It is a societal imperative that there be qualified professionals with the technical, intellectual, and social awareness required to manage complex collections in a variety of organizational settings.

Diversity and Inclusion - The importance of equal access to information by all members of society means that the study of information must be framed in the most inclusive terms possible. This specialization focuses on instruction about and research into the design, development, provision, and integration of information services, resources, technologies, and outreach that serve diverse and often underserved populations.

School Library Certification - This specialization provides candidates with a firm educational foundation in information studies while pursuing the requirements for School Library certification in the state of Maryland. Ideal for students interested in providing services in a K-12 school environment, the specialization has adopted an AASL-endorsed mission to provide students with a theoretical and research-based foundation in the issues and practices impacting the field. Course listings and requirements can be found on the School Library checklist.

Individualized Program Plan (IPP) - The IPP allows students to design their own course of study based on interests, career goals, and the knowledge areas in which they want to build their skills. Students who select IPP may select from one or more of the knowledge areas explained below or work with an advisor to create a completely unique program of study.

Youth Experience (YX) - The YX specialization prepares leaders, educators, and change agents to deeply understand the dynamic contexts of youth. Today’s children and adolescents need cultural institutions that can rapidly evolve their services, spaces, leadership, and programs. The YX specialization in the MLIS program enables candidates to design and implement policies, programs, and technology to support a young person’s learning, development, and everyday lives.

Intelligence & Analytics - This specialization builds on the foundational skills gained during the MLIS Program, such as finding, organizing, synthesizing, and evaluating information, with additional emphasis on intelligence, research, data analysis, and information privacy and security. While the specialization has a focus on information security as it relates to the government and government contractors, graduates will be prepared for positions in a range of settings.

Legal Informatics - This specialization is intended for students who are interested in pursuing careers in public and academic law libraries but also for those who wish to work with legal information in a variety of settings, including government agencies, special libraries, public libraries, and archives. Students in the specialization will develop research and analytical skills, as well as an understanding of the broader social and political contexts that surround legal information and resources.

MLIS students are required to complete a field study unless they choose the thesis option (described below) or obtain a field study waiver.

The Field Study can be taken after completing 18 credits:

  • LBSC 707 Field Study in Library Science [online]

Students will explore their targeted professional field through an internship and share experiences in the classroom. Complete information about the MLIS field study can be found in the MLIS Student HandbookA Guide to a Successful Field Study, or on the iSchool Field Study Database.

Students interested in research and academic writing may elect to complete a thesis as part of their MLIS. The thesis option requires 9 credit hours comprised of INST 701 Introduction to Research Methods (3 credits) and LBSC 799 Master’s Thesis Research (6 credits). Students interested in the thesis option should consult the MLIS Student Handbook for additional information. 


Course Descriptions & Sample Syllabi

Dual Programs

The History and Library Science (HiLS) dual-degree program is the result of a cooperative agreement between the iSchool and the Department of History that allows students to graduate with both an MLIS and an MA in History. Students applying for the HiLS program must be formally admitted by both the iSchool and the Department of History. If someone is accepted into MLIS but not History, they are offered a place in the MLIS Program and can reapply to the History Department at a later date. Students admitted to HiLS typically complete the program in three years, though they have five years to complete the fifty-four credit hours. The Department of History and MLIS each require a minimum of twenty-four credit hours, though opting for an MLIS specialization other than IPP will require more than the 24-credit minimum for the MLIS.

The HiLS contact for the iSchool is Nicole Pietrucha and the contact for the Department of History is Jodi Hall.

Course listings and requirements can be found on the History and Library Science checklist.

The Certificate in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture is a collaborative effort between Library Science, American Studies, Anthropology, and History. This 12-credit program prepares students for a career within academia pursuing research and scholarship concerning material culture and the museum field. Students must apply to the program and be accepted in order to receive the certificate alongside their degree when they graduate.

The contact for the Certificate in Museum Scholarship and Material Culture is Dr. Mary Sies.

For more information about course listings and requirements, please visit the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture website.

Please note, the courses required of the Museum Scholarship and Material Culture certificate are offered in-person.

Tools for Planning Your Course Schedule

The MLIS program has created a Course Plan for the Academic Year 2020-2021, which can be viewed here. This course plan is the primary tool the program uses when working with the Director of Academic Programs to set the course schedule each semester. It is not a "static" document; the program will make adjustments in response to enrollment statistics, changes in the specializations, and current student feedback.

The MLIS Program cannot guarantee that the course plan will not change during your time in the MLIS program, but please know we are committed to providing you with current and accurate information about our course offerings.

Please refer to the Specialization Guide when choosing courses. This guide does not include the School Library specialization. School Library requirements can be found in the School Library checklist. Click on each specialization title below for more information. Previous checklists can be viewed here

Current students with course planning questions should contact Nicole Pietrucha, MLIS Program Advisor ( Prospective students should contact iSchool Admissions (

Visit our Forms page for information about taking courses at other UMD Colleges or Universities.


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