Students who pursue the master's degree in library and information science (LIS) gain an understanding of the foundations of the library and information professions, including the history of the fields, ethical and philosophical concerns, and principles of stewardship for a variety of forms of documentation and records. Students are taught the theory and practice of strategic management within information organizations, preparing them for careers and leadership in LIS. They gain the knowledge needed to anticipate future trends in information access and organization. Students study 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 M.A. in library and information science has held continuous accreditation from the American Library Association since 1971. The degree prepares students to work in public libraries, K-12 school libraries, academic libraries, archives, and special collections.

The University of Iowa offers students the option of completing their degree either on campus or synchronously online through the use of hybrid classrooms. The School of Library and Information Science combines online education with on-campus instruction and collaboration that allows distance students to participate real time with their campus classmates. Both full- and part-time enrollment options are available for on-campus or virtual coursework. For more information about the online program, see Online M.A. in LIS on the School of Library and Information Science website.

Learning Outcomes

Foundations of the Profession

  • The ethics, values, and foundational principles of the library and information professions.
  • The role of library and information professionals in the promotion of democratic principles and intellectual freedom (including freedom of expression, thought, and conscience).
  • The history of libraries and librarianship.
  • The history of human communication and its impact on libraries.
  • Current types of library (school, public, academic, special, etc.) and closely related information agencies.
  • National and international social, public, information, economic, and cultural policies and trends of significance to the library and information profession.
  • The legal framework within which libraries and information agencies operate. That framework includes laws relating to copyright, privacy, freedom of expression, equal rights (e.g., the Americans with Disabilities Act), and intellectual property.
  • The importance of effective advocacy for libraries, librarians, other library workers, and library services.
  • The techniques used to analyze complex problems and create appropriate solutions.
  • Effective communication techniques (verbal and written).
  • Certification and/or licensure requirements of specialized areas of the profession.

Information Resources

  • Concepts and issues related to the lifecycle of recorded knowledge and information, from creation through various stages of use to disposition.
  • Concepts, issues, and methods related to the acquisition and disposition of resources, including evaluation, selection, purchasing, processing, storing, and deselection; management of various collections; and the maintenance of collections, including preservation and conservation.

Organization of Recorded Knowledge and Information

  • The principles involved in the organization and representation of recorded knowledge and information.
  • The developmental, descriptive, and evaluative skills needed to organize recorded knowledge and information resources.
  • The systems of cataloging, metadata, indexing, and classification standards and methods used to organize recorded knowledge and information.

Technological Knowledge and Skills

  • Information, communication, assistive, and related technologies as they affect the resources, service delivery, and uses of libraries and other information agencies.
  • The application of information, communication, assistive, and related technology and tools consistent with professional ethics and prevailing service norms and applications.
  • The methods of assessing and evaluating the specifications, efficacy, and cost efficiency of technology-based products and services.
  • The principles and techniques necessary to identify and analyze emerging technologies and innovations in order to recognize and implement relevant technological improvements.

Reference and User Services

  • The concepts, principles, and techniques of reference and user services that provide access to relevant and accurate recorded knowledge and information to individuals of all ages and groups.
  • Techniques used to retrieve, evaluate, and synthesize information from diverse sources for use by individuals of all ages and groups.
  • The methods used to interact successfully with individuals of all ages and groups to provide consultation, mediation, and guidance in their use of recorded knowledge and information.
  • Information literacy/information competence techniques and methods, numerical literacy, and statistical literacy.
  • The principles and methods of advocacy used to reach specific audiences to promote and explain concepts and services.
  • The principles of assessment and response to diversity in user needs, user communities, and user preferences.
  • The principles and methods used to assess the impact of current and emerging situations or circumstances on the design and implementation of appropriate services or resource development.

Research

  • The fundamentals of quantitative and qualitative research methods.
  • The central research findings and research literature of the field.
  • The principles and methods used to assess the actual and potential value of new research.

Continuing Education and Lifelong Learning

  • The necessity of continuing professional development of practitioners in libraries and other information agencies.
  • The role of the library in the lifelong learning of patrons, including an understanding of lifelong learning in the provision of quality service and the use of lifelong learning in the promotion of library services.
  • Learning theories, instructional methods, and achievement measures; and their application in libraries and other information agencies.
  • The principles related to the teaching and learning of concepts, processes, and skills used in seeking, evaluating, and using recorded knowledge and information.

Administration and Management

  • The principles of planning and budgeting in libraries and other information agencies.
  • The principles of effective personnel practices and human resource development.
  • The concepts behind, and methods for, assessment and evaluation of library services and their outcomes.
  • The concepts behind, and methods for, developing partnerships, collaborations, networks, and other structures with all stakeholders and within communities served.
  • The concepts behind, issues relating to, and methods for, principled, transformational leadership.

The Master of Arts in library and information science requires 36 s.h. of graduate credit. Students are expected to earn at least a B in each of the five required core courses but may earn a B-minus in two of the five core courses. Failure to achieve at least a B-minus in a core course results in the student retaking the course to continue in the program. See the School of Library and Information Science Handbook on the School of Library and Information Science website for further details.

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 applicable rules and approval of the transfer credit committee. Approval is determined by the course's content, currency, and applicability to a student's program.

The program may be completed on campus or in a synchronous distance mode, and 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 two levels of coursework. Core courses consist of five required courses that provide a solid grounding for all successive coursework. Students select elective coursework consisting of seven courses for 21 s.h. or a combined electives course total of 21 s.h. based on their areas of interest. This two-level arrangement allows students to concentrate in an area that most closely matches their professional goals.

A thesis option is available for students who seek additional research experience.

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

Core Courses15
Electives21
Total Hours36

Core Courses

All of these:
SLIS:5010Libraries, Culture, and Society (taken in student's first semester)3
SLIS:5030Information Organization3
SLIS:6115Information and Inquiry3
SLIS:6170Management, Teams, and Leadership3
One of these:
SLIS:5020Foundations of Computing3
SLIS:6140Digital Environments3
SLIS:6335Metadata Theories and Applications3

Electives

With their advisor's guidance, students select seven courses for 21 s.h. or a combined course total of 21 s.h. from these:
SLIS:4150Introduction to Book Studies3
SLIS:4910The Book in the Middle Ages3
SLIS:4920The Transition from Manuscript to Print3
SLIS:5041College and University Libraries3
SLIS:5042Public Libraries3
SLIS:5044School Library Media Administration3
SLIS:5200Innovation and Technology Methodology3
SLIS:5220Resources for Children3
SLIS:5230Resources for Young Adults3
SLIS:5520Studies in Book History and Technologies0-3
SLIS:5530Preservation Management3
SLIS:5535Book Conservation3
SLIS:5600Reading Culture: History and Research in Print and Digital Media3
SLIS:5630Introduction to Special Collections Librarianship3
SLIS:5700Cultural Heritage3
SLIS:6020Literacy and Learning3
SLIS:6130Community Engagement3
SLIS:6140Digital Environments3
SLIS:6145Digital Preservation and Stewardship3
SLIS:6150Information Behavior3
SLIS:6250Cataloging and Classification3
SLIS:6255Rare Books Cataloging3
SLIS:6330Collection Development3
SLIS:6335Metadata Theories and Applications3
SLIS:6345Stewardship of Information and Collections3
SLIS:6350Archives: Theory and Practice3
SLIS:6355Public Services for Special Collections and Archives3
SLIS:6370Topics in Book Studies3
SLIS:6411Topics in Library and Information Science1-3
SLIS:6490Information Policy and Ethics3
SLIS:6520Practicum in Libraries and Information Centers3
SLIS:6530School Library Media Practicum3
SLIS:6570Independent Study1-3
SLIS:6580Thesis0-6
SLIS:6590Digital Humanities Capstone3
SLIS:7290Digital Humanities Theory and Practice3

Specializations

To earn the degree, students do not need to select an area of specialization. However, programs often are designed around particular career goals, and the school offers courses in the following specialized focus areas that students may choose to take to prepare them for working in a specific area of library and information science.

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.

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.

Undergraduate Degree/M.A.

Students working on an undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa who are interested in earning an M.A. in library and information science (LIS) may apply to a combined undergraduate degree and M.A. degree program. The Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) program enables students to begin work on the M.A. degree as they complete their baccalaureate degree and complete both degrees in five years. Students admitted to the program may count 12 s.h. toward both their undergraduate degree and the M.A. degree.

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, visit Undergraduate to Graduate (U2G) on the Graduate College website.

M.A./J.D.

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 thereby completing the combined program with fewer semester hours than if each degree was completed separately. Students enroll in 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. For more information about the J.D., see Juris Doctor, J.D. (College of Law) in the Catalog. Elective courses also are available through the College of Law for students who wish to specialize in law librarianship but who do not want 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 offer a combined Master of Arts/Master of Fine Arts in book arts. The combined program allows students with strong interest 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 (SLIS) 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/Book Arts and Technologies. 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 coursework. 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 coursework, 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 priority 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 on the Graduate College website.

The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) typically offers limited partial-tuition scholarships and 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. 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 in SLIS and in other programs and departments throughout the University are advertised as they become available; students should apply for specific assistantships.

To learn more about available opportunities, view the SLIS website for information on departmental scholarships. 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 other opportunities 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 2020 report on the Library Journal website.

Sample Plan of Study

Sample plans represent one way to complete a program of study. Actual course selection and sequence will vary and should be discussed with an academic advisor. For additional sample plans, see MyUI.

Library and Information Science, M.A.

For a general sample plan, visit Curriculum–On Campus M.A. on the School of Library and Information Science website.

Plan of Study Grid (Manual)
Academic Career
Any SemesterHours
36 s.h. of graduate level coursework must be completed; up to 12 s.h. of graduate transfer credits allowed upon approval. More information is included in the General Catalog and on department website. a
Students must earn a grade of B- or higher in each of the five required core courses and a C or higher in their elective courses.
Students may design their program around particular career goals such as Public Librarianship, Information Processes, Medical Librarianship, Youth Services, Archives and Media, and Academic Librarianship by working with their advisor to determine coursework and sequence.
Students may pursue select degrees, certificates or a certification simultaneously in less time than would be required to complete the programs of study independently. b
 Hours0
First Year
Fall
SLIS:5010 Libraries, Culture, and Society c, d 3
SLIS:6335
Metadata Theories and Applications d, e, f
or Foundations of Computing
3
SLIS elective f 3
 Hours9
Spring
SLIS:5030 Information Organization d, g 3
SLIS:6140 Digital Environments d, e, f 3
SLIS:6170 Management, Teams, and Leadership d, h 3
 Hours9
Second Year
Fall
SLIS:6115 Information and Inquiry d, h 3
SLIS elective f 3
SLIS elective f 3
 Hours9
Spring
SLIS elective f 3
SLIS elective f 3
SLIS elective f 3
Exam: Career Development Portfolio
 Hours9
 Total Hours36
a
Students must complete specific requirements in the University of Iowa Graduate College after program admission. Refer to the Graduate College website and the Manual of Rules and Regulations for more information.
b
Students can complete a combined degree with the SLIS MA and either a Juris Doctor or the Book Arts MFA, or may consider the SLIS MA with the Book Studies/Book Arts and Technologies certificate, Informatics certificate, or Public Digital Humanities certificate. The SLIS MA may also be combined with the School Library Media certification.
c
Course should be taken during the first semester of the program.
d
SLIS core course.
e
Students must take one course from SLIS:5020, SLIS:6140, SLIS:6335.
f
Students must complete seven courses (21 s.h.) of SLIS elective graduate coursework in an area of professional specialization. Work with an academic advisor to determine coursework and sequence. Additional information can be found in the General Catalog and the department website.
g
Course should be taken during the second semester of the program.
h
Course can be taken in either year one or two based on individual schedule.