Students who pursue the master's degree in library and information science gain an understanding of the foundations of the library and information profession, including the history of the field, ethical and philosophical concerns, the information cycle, principles and procedures for dealing with a variety of information carriers, and the theory and practice of strategic management. They examine future trends, with emphasis on cutting-edge technological concerns. Students study the discipline's research base, gaining heightened awareness of the synergism between library and information science and other disciplines, as well as the close relationship between research and practice. Finally, students become knowledgeable about the factors that underlie users' information needs and appropriate strategies to assist them.

The Master of Arts in library and information science requires 36 s.h. of graduate credit. Students must earn a grade of B or higher in all courses for the major. They may repeat a course to remedy a lower grade; see the SLIS Handbook for further details. A thesis option is available for students who seek additional research experience.

Students may apply a maximum of 12 s.h. of graduate transfer credit in library and information science or related areas toward the degree, subject to the approval of the transfer credit committee. Approval is determined by the course's content, currency, and applicability to a student's program.

The program is designed to be completed in two years with enrollment of 9 s.h. during the fall and spring semesters. The School of Library and Information Science strongly recommends that students not register for more than 12 s.h. during fall and spring semesters and 8 s.h. during summer sessions. The program also may be completed through part-time study.

The curriculum includes a proseminar and three tiers of course work. Tier I consists of four required courses that provide a solid grounding for all successive course work. For Tier II, students select four of the ten courses listed, based on their areas of interest. In Tier III, students may earn up to 12 s.h. in electives chosen with guidance from their advisors. This three-tier arrangement allows each student to concentrate in an area that most closely matches the student's professional goals.

The Master of Arts in library and information science has held continuous accreditation from the American Library Association since 1971.

The M.A. with a major in library and information science requires the following course work.

Tier I Courses12
Tier II Courses12
Tier III Courses12
Total Hours36


Students must enroll in the proseminar during their first semester, along with Tier I courses SLIS:5010 Cultural Foundations and SLIS:5020 Computing Foundations.

SLIS:5000Proseminar in Library and Information Science0

Tier I

All of these:
SLIS:5010Cultural Foundations (taken in student's first semester)3
SLIS:5020Computing Foundations (taken in student's first semester)3
SLIS:5030Conceptual Foundations3
One of these:
SLIS:5041Contextual Foundations - College and University Libraries3
SLIS:5042Contextual Foundations - Public Libraries3
SLIS:5043Contextual Foundations - Special Libraries3
SLIS:5044Contextual Foundations - School Library Media Administration3

Tier II

Four of these:
SLIS:6020Literacy and Learning3
SLIS:6100Database Management3
SLIS:6110Evidence-Based Practice in Library and Information Science3
SLIS:6130Community Engagement3
SLIS:6150Information Behavior3
SLIS:6170Organizational Management3
SLIS:6330Archives and Media3
SLIS:6335Metadata Theories and Applications3
SLIS:6345Stewardship of Information and Collections3
SLIS:6490Information Policy and Ethics3

Tier III

With their advisor's guidance, students choose 12 s.h. in Tier III electives. Courses from Tier I and Tier II also may be selected as electives.

SLIS:4150Introduction to Book Studies3
SLIS:4910The Book in the Middle Ages3
SLIS:4920The Transition from Manuscript to Print3
SLIS:5200User Education: Multimedia3
SLIS:5210Reference and Information Services3
SLIS:5220Resources for Children3
SLIS:5230Resources for Young Adults3
SLIS:5240Resources for Adults3
SLIS:5520Studies in Book History3
SLIS:5530Topics in Preservation3
SLIS:5535Book Conservation3
SLIS:5600History of Readers and Reading3
SLIS:5700Cultural Heritage3
SLIS:5900Health Informatics I3
SLIS:6120Natural Language Processing3
SLIS:6140Digital Environments3
SLIS:6145Digital Preservation and Stewardship3
SLIS:6160Search and Discovery3
SLIS:6250Beginning Cataloging and Classification3
SLIS:6320Topics: Conceptual Structures/Systems1-3
SLIS:6370Topics in Book Studies3
SLIS:6380Analysis of Scholarly Domains3
SLIS:6490Information Policy and Ethics3
SLIS:6520Practicum in Libraries and Information Centers2-3
SLIS:6530School Library Media Practicum3
SLIS:6570Independent Study1-3
SLIS:6585Design, Visualization, and Mapping 3-D Environments3
SLIS:6590Digital Humanities Capstone3
SLIS:7290Digital Humanities Theory and Practice3


Students' programs often are designed around particular career goals. Following are examples of possible specializations.

Public Libraries

Public libraries provide informational, educational, and recreational materials and a wide range of services for a diverse clientele. Although public libraries receive the bulk of their funding from local taxes, they also may be organized on a regional or statewide cooperative basis. The variety of uses, services, materials, and organizational structures of public libraries makes this a challenging area of librarianship. Public librarians need to develop skills in analyzing the communities they serve, designing comprehensive marketing plans to meet their needs, implementing the plans in a cost-effective way, and evaluating the success of their efforts.

Academic Libraries

The academic library, whether in a community college, a four-year college, or a university, provides information services in support of the parent institution's teaching, research, and public service missions. These services include instruction in the use of the library and its resources. Management skills and subject or language competence often are required. Since librarians in this setting usually are considered academic faculty members, a second master's or other advanced degree is desirable.

Special Libraries and Information Centers

Special libraries serve corporations, private companies, government agencies, technical and academic institutions, museums, medical facilities, and information management consulting firms. They are organized to anticipate and quickly respond to the specific information needs of their users. Special librarians are information resource experts who collect, analyze, evaluate, package, and disseminate information to facilitate accurate decision making. Knowledge of information technology and the ability to design services suitable to the parent organization are professional necessities. In addition, substantial subject expertise may be required.

School Teacher Librarian

School teacher librarians provide instruction to students in accessing, evaluating, and using information; collaborate with teachers on the use of resources in instruction; provide leadership in the use of instructional and information technologies; offer reading guidance; provide reference service; and manage the library media center.

The University of Iowa offers a state-approved program leading to endorsement as school teacher librarian K-12. In order to fulfill state requirements for this endorsement, students must hold or be eligible for a teaching license and must complete a designated sequence of courses that leads both to certification and to the M.A. degree.

Licensed teachers employed in Iowa schools may enroll in a distance education program that leads to an M.A. in library and information science and endorsement for school librarianship. Contact the School of Library and Information Science for details.

Students who are interested in school libraries but lack a valid Iowa teaching license may earn licensure as a school teacher librarian by completing 30 s.h. in the College of Education. The Master of Arts in library and information science with teacher licensure requires 66 s.h. of credit. Students must apply and be admitted to both programs.

Certificate Opportunities

Book Studies/Book Arts and Technologies

For more information regarding this combined program, see Combined Programs in this section of the Catalog.


M.A. students in library and information science also have the opportunity to earn the Certificate in Informatics. Specialty areas include bioinformatics and computational biology, geoinformatics, health informatics, and information science. For more information, see the Certificate in Informatics in the Catalog.

Public Digital Humanities

Students also may apply to earn the Certificate in Public Digital Humanities. The program requires 15 s.h. of graduate credit and offers credentials to students who plan to incorporate digital technology into their future research, training, or careers. For more information, see the Certificate in Public Digital Humanities in the Catalog

Certificate Program Application

Separate application to each certificate program is required. For more information, see Degrees and Certificates on the School of Library and Information Science website.


The School of Library and Information Science and the College of Law offer a combined Master of Arts/Juris Doctor program. Students in the combined program may apply a limited amount of credit toward both degrees. Up to 9 s.h. in law course work may be applied toward the M.A. in library and information science; up to 6 s.h. in library and information science course work may be applied to the J.D. degree. Students take law courses their first year and begin taking School of Library and Information Science courses in their second year.

Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. For more information about the J.D., see Juris Doctor (College of Law) in the Catalog.

Elective courses also are available for students who wish to specialize in law librarianship but who do not wish to pursue the J.D. degree.

M.A./M.F.A. in Book Arts

The School of Library and Information Science and the Center for the Book offers a combined Master of Arts/Master of Fine Arts in book arts. The combined program allows students with strong interests in the physical book to acquire training in the book arts, book history, and material book studies. The earned expertise in the production and legacy of the book as a physical artifact combined with expertise in library and information science can be an asset for those focused on careers in special collections libraries and archives.

Students in the combined program earn both degrees by completing fewer semester hours than if each degree was completed separately. Separate application to each degree program is required. Applicants must be admitted to both programs before they may be admitted to the combined degree program. For more information, see the M.F.A. in book arts in the Catalog.

Students interested in a librarianship career with a more general interest in the physical book should consider the book studies, book arts and technologies/library and information science (BLIS) certificate program; see "Certificate Opportunities" under Requirements in this section of the Catalog.

M.A./Certificate in Book Studies/Book Arts and Technologies

The Center for the Book and the School of Library and Information Science collaborate to offer the book studies/book arts and technologies/library and information science (BLIS) program. The combined program enables students to earn an M.A. in library and information science and a certificate in book studies. It requires admission to the School of Library and Information Science M.A. program and the Center for the Book certificate program.

The M.A./Certificate in Book Studies/Book Arts and Technologies offers multiple pathways into professional engagement with artifacts available in archives and libraries, such as rare and artist books. Students select courses that enable them to gain skills and knowledge in areas of service such as conservation, cataloging, instruction, and outreach. The combined program requires 51 s.h. of course work. Students take 27 s.h. of SLIS courses; 15 s.h. of book arts, studies, and technologies courses; and the remaining 9 s.h. may be taken in either SLIS or Center for the Book course work, or from another unit with approval from the SLIS advisor.

Admission deadline is February 1 for fall entry. For more information, see the Certificate in Book Studies/Book Arts and Technologies in the Catalog.

Applicants begin the admission process by submitting an online graduate application through the Office of Admissions. Applicants then receive a HawkID and can upload the remaining application documents through MyUI. Transcripts of all academic work, a written statement of purpose and goals, a résumé or curricula vitae, and three letters of recommendation are required. Applicants to the teacher librarian program are asked to include a copy of their current teaching certificate. The admission committee considers each applicant's letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, résumé or curricula vitae, and other appropriate criteria, as well as an applicant's grade-point average. Applicants for admission to the M.A. program should have a g.p.a. of at least 3.00 on a 4.00 scale. Graduate Record Examination (GRE) General Test scores are not required. Admission is competitive.

Applicants whose first language is not English must score at least 81 (internet-based) on the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). Applicants with TOEFL scores below 100 on the internet-based test are required by the University to take an English Proficiency Test if admitted to the program. In place of TOEFL, the school also accepts International English Testing System (IELTS) scores of 7.0 or higher, with no subscore below 6.0. Applicants who submit IELTS scores are required to take an on-campus English proficiency evaluation.

Completed applications should be received by February 1 for consideration for fall admission. Decisions of the admissions committee are announced approximately six weeks after the application deadline. Late applications are considered if places are still available. Financial aid often is not available for late applicants. Admitted students are assigned a faculty advisor for program planning during their first semester.

Applicants must meet the admission requirements of the Graduate College; see the Manual of Rules and Regulations of the Graduate College.

The School of Library and Information Science typically offers partial-tuition scholarships and one-quarter-time graduate assistantships. To be considered for scholarships or assistantships, applicants must meet the M.A. program's grade-point average requirement for admission (see Admission in this section of the Catalog). Prospective students must submit letters of application for scholarships before February 1. At the discretion of the admissions committee, limited graduate assistantships may be offered to incoming students based on academic merit and prior experience. In addition, available assistantships are advertised as they become available; students should apply for specific assistantships.

For information on departmental scholarships, contact the School of Library and Information Science or visit its website to learn about available opportunities. Part-time employment usually is available in the University of Iowa Libraries or other campus units.

Applications for student loans, work-study eligibility, or other financial assistance should be submitted directly to the University's Office of Student Financial Aid.

Library and information science graduates have many options for employment. Alumni hold positions in public, school, special, and academic libraries as well as other information settings. They serve in varied roles, such as information consultant, database manager, library administrator, webmaster, network coordinator, cataloger, children's librarian, school library media specialist, and archivist.

The school shares announcements of national and international job opportunities through an electronic mailing list. In addition, the Library and Information Science Student Organization (LISSO) sponsors talks by speakers versed in areas of librarianship as well as workshops on résumé writing, social media networking, and interviewing. Internships and the school's practicum courses provide students with hands-on experience that may enhance their job prospects.

For recent information on library and information science placement, see the Library Research Service (LRS) website and the annual Placement and Salaries 2017 report on the Library Journal website.