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University of Pittsburgh    
2018-2019 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jul 14, 2024
2018-2019 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Library and Information Science, MLIS

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MLIS Admissions Requirements

The Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship seeks students with diverse educational and career backgrounds. By nature LIS degrees are multi-disciplinary, and we welcome applicants with bachelor’s degree and/or advanced degree from diverse disciplinary backgrounds. Our multi-disciplinary nature is reflected in the wide range of standardized tests that are accepted by our admissions committee, which include the GRE, MAT, MCAT, GMAT, and LSAT

Beyond the criteria and materials previously outlined for application submission, these programs do not require specific coursework for admissions consideration.

MLIS Degree and the Profession

The role of information professionals has changed dramatically as the volume of available information has increased and technology for information search and retrieval has advanced. The ability to manage the growing array of information tools has led to new opportunities for those who want to work in the information field, a discipline which bridges the management of both traditional and emerging information sources. The MLIS program, accredited by the ALA through 2020, is responsive to the information marketplace and encourages the development of creativity, professionalism, and a proactive attitude to the needs of various clienteles in library and information service environments.

Upon completion of the Master of Library and Information Science degree, graduates will incorporate the theories, knowledge, skills, ethical foundations, and social responsibilities of the information professions into critical and reflective professional practice for the benefits of individuals and communities.  The MLIS degree program integrates library, archival, information, data sciences and data stewardship within the information professions.

Specifically, MLIS graduates will be able to:

Goals for Graduates of the MLIS program

  1. Identify and communicate the ethical and historical foundations and core values of the information professions, data professions, and related disciplines.
  2. Apply principles of the management of information and organizations to various functions in data and information environments.
  3. Select, plan, implement, and apply information technology using creative, contextualized, and ethical approaches.
  4. Design, plan, implement, evaluate, and advocate for information services that embody a commitment to inclusion and dedication to underrepresented and marginalized users and communities.
  5. Understand and apply research in library, archival, museum studies, information science, data science, and stewardship, as well as other disciplines.
  6. Develop and advance the contribution of the information professions to society through advocacy, continuing education, and lifelong learning for information professionals and the communities they serve. 

Revised and affirmed by the faculty of the Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship in April 2018

Degree Requirements

With the possible exception of six credits of advanced standing, all course work must be completed in residence in the MLIS degree program (i.e., registering while matriculated as an SCI student) at the University of Pittsburgh.

The faculty may approve certain exceptions to the degree requirements outlined in the following sections. Approval for exceptions must be obtained PRIOR to enrollment in the course in question and must be documented through the Records Office.  See the Advising section  of the SCI Catalog for more details.

The MLIS degree is a 36-credit program that can be completed in three consecutive terms of full-time study or up to four years (twelve terms) of part-time study.

There is a series of mandatory core courses — the remaining courses are tailored to your career goals or chosen area of interest. It is important to plan carefully, in consultation with your faculty advisor, to make the best use of the educational opportunities available.

Students will take the four required courses* for the MLIS degree. Students must earn a B or better in each core course.

*The pathways may have different core and required courses — students should work with their advisors to ensure that they are following the proper course of study.

Students should know that a thesis is not a requirement of the MLIS degree.


Students may elect a pathway on their application for admission. The student then follows a more stringent distribution of credits depending on their pathway. 

Our three pathways have been developed in response to needs expressed by the profession. In addition to the core knowledge of librarianship, you’ll gain specific skill sets pertinent to your career goals.

  • Archives and Information Science
  • Data Stewardship
  • Library and Information Services

The following sections describe the pathways; the specific distribution of credits for the individual pathways are outlined on the student’s Academic Advisement Report (AAR).  For more details regarding this dynamically generated advising tool, see the Advising section of the SCI Catalog.

Students select their pathway on the application for admission and may change at any time. A form and instructions for changing specializations is available on the School’s Current Students Web site.

Students who do not meet their chosen pathway’s requirements for graduation will automatically be changed to the general MLIS track and certified for graduation against the general degree requirements.

The Archives and Information Science pathway is noted on the student’s final transcripts as “Degree awarded in Master of Library and Information Science with a concentration in Archives and Information Science.”  No other pathways are detailed on official documents in this way.

Archives and Information Science

Recordkeeping, from governmental to organizational to personal, is one of the most ancient and essential human and institutional functions. Records are created and maintained for purposes of evidence; accountability; and personal, social and corporate memory. Archives serve a crucial cultural function, providing society with a sense of identity and memory. Records management programs help organizations to be compliant with regulatory agencies, responsible to constituent groups, and effective and efficient in the use of informational resources. Critical to the administration of records is the maintenance of records over long periods of time, traditionally called preservation and now being influenced by discussions concerning digital curation and stewardship.

Our Archives and Information Science program is one of the leading programs of its kind in the United States. You can earn your MLIS degree here, gaining an in-depth knowledge of records and recordkeeping systems; digital records management; archival appraisal and access; the history and evolution of recordkeeping systems; and digital preservation, curation, and stewardship.

Our program will give you the skills and knowledge to identify and analyze recordkeeping systems from legal, evidential, historical, and cultural perspectives. Students study in an engaging and intellectually stimulating environment, taking courses in diverse topics including:

  • appraisal and records scheduling;
  • organization and representation of unique materials;
  • reference and access;
  • advocacy and public programming;
  • legal and ethical issues;
  • preservation of library and archive collections;
  • digitization, digital preservation, and digital curation;
  • research methods for archival research; and
  • management of archives, preservation, and records programs.

Data Stewardship

The Data Stewardship Pathway will provide an introduction to data curation, digital preservation, and data science. It will frame these topics within the broader context of data informatics, digital scholarship, research integrity, disciplinary diversity, and cultural change. In addition to setting the stage from a policy perspective, this Pathway will provide the practical skills needed to carry out effective research data management and preservation as well as situate these practices in the wider landscape of open science and open scholarship. This Pathway draws on data initiatives from across the globe including the United States, the United Kingdom, Europe and Australia. In each course, relevant case studies and exemplars will be provided to illustrate concepts and principles with tangible practice. It will equip graduate students with the necessary knowledge, skills, and competencies to work in a range of data stewardship roles found in libraries, archives, data centers, governments, industries, and businesses.

The foundational course on Data Stewardship examines traditional and emerging practices in areas such as research data management, data preservation, data infrastructures, information ethics, and more.

Library and Information Services

Information professionals are the human interface that connect people, information, and technology. They play a leadership role in the identification, organization, preservation, and effective use of information and cultural artifacts. The work of information professionals is essential to the public good because it supports equitable access to information for all and helps to ensure and informed society and vibrant democracy. While information professionals traditionally have worked in cultural heritage institutions such as libraries, their skills are now needed in all sectors of society. Now more than ever, the world needs highly qualified specialists in libraries and information services.

This pathway covers several areas of interest, each with their own set of suggested elective courses:

Academic Libraries

This area of interest is designed to provide you with the theoretical knowledge, contextual understanding, and practical skills to work effectively as a librarian or information professional in a higher education sector that is continually evolving. Our teaching is informed and inspired by personal experience, current research and leading thinking in the field. The courses will equip you for the challenges and demands of planning, managing and delivering resources and services in academic libraries, through exploration of their historical contexts, current positions, and future directions.


Available to both the on-campus and online MLIS students, this area of interest will give you the practical skills and theoretical knowledge necessary to succeed as an information professional in a wide variety of positions.

Information Technology

This area of interest will enable graduates to assess, organize, and manage the various electronic systems that support library services. Faculty will explore the theoretical underpinnings of such systems as well as provide a thorough understanding of their functions. The program will emphasize database design and implementation, information architecture, and information visualization.

Public Libraries

Our teaching is informed and inspired by personal experience, current research and leading thinking in the field. The courses in the Public Libraries area of interest will equip you for the challenges and demands of planning, managing and delivering resources and services through exploration of their historical contexts, current positions, and future directions.

Resources & Services: Children and Youth

SCI acknowledges the changing landscape of children’s and young adult librarianship. Without forgetting our important roots in children’s literature, our school prepares information professionals who can reach out to the child of the 21st century.

Resources & Services: Reference

The Reference area of interest at SCI will provide students with working knowledge of a wide array of reference sources and services in areas such as government documents, social sciences, science and technology, law, health, and humanities. This course of study will enable you to analyze users’ needs to determine what information is appropriate; to make useful judgments about the relevance, trustworthiness, and quality of sources; and to assess methods for delivering the desired information.

School Library Certification Program

The School Library Certification Program (SLCP) will allow you to earn both your MLIS degree and your Instructional I teaching certificate in Library Science, K-12, from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. You will gain the critical skills needed through competency-based learning experiences in collaboration with practitioners. You will be prepared to embark upon one of the most challenging and rewarding careers in the Library and Information Sciences field.

Independent and Experiential Learning Opportunities

This program is designed to provide you with both the theoretical knowledge and practical skills for managing and making decisions related to your chosen academic pathway. As part of your course of study, you can gain critical experience through a for-credit Field Experience or you may also register for an Independent Study which affords the opportunity to work on research projects and publications.

Students must have completed a minimum of twelve credit hours in good academic standing in order to register for the Field Experience.

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