Javascript is currently not supported, or is disabled by this browser. Please enable Javascript for full functionality.

Skip to Main Content
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog
University of Pittsburgh
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 30, 2022
2020-2021 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Library and Information Science, MLIS

Return to School of Computing and Information Return to: School of Computing and Information

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. In response, the MLIS degree was redesigned in 2019 to offer a new foundational core that features three new courses, numerous electives that allow students to tailor the degree to their career interests, and a newly created Design Methods Sequence that highlights immersive experiential learning.

The new foundational core, based on the culture and values of librarianship and information science, will prepare students to understand the roles both information and data play in society. These courses focus onthe lifecycles of data and information, data and information in systems, and the roles of information professionals in communities. The MLIS program, accredited by the American Library Association, 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.

Goals for Graduates of the MLIS program

Specifically, MLIS graduates will be able to:

  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 2019

Admissions Requirements

The Department of Information Culture and Data Stewardship (ICDS) 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

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

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

Design Methods Sequence Core (taken sequentially)


Other Core Classes


*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.

Thematic Areas

Students may elect a focused area of study which follows a more specific distribution of credits.

The areas of focus have been developed in response to needs expressed by the profession. In addition to the core knowledge of the information professions, you’ll gain specific skill sets pertinent to your career goals.

We offer several elective thematic areas:

  • Academic Information Services
  • Archives and Information Science
  • Children and Youth Services
  • Civic Engagement
  • Individualized
  • Information Technologies
  • Public Library Services
  • School Library Certification Program

The following sections describe the focused areas of study; the specific distribution of credits for the individual areas should be discussed with your academic advisor. The Academic Advisement Report (AAR) can be used to help completion of the overall MLIS degree requirements. For more details regarding this dynamically generated advising tool, see the Advising section of the SCI Catalog.  

Students indicate their area(s) of intereston the application for admission and may change at any time.

Academic Information Services

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 challengesand demands of planning, managing and delivering resources and services in academic libraries, through exploration of their historical contexts, current positions, and future directions.

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 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:

Children and Youth Services

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.

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.

Civic Engagement

Library and information professionals contribute to the advancement of social justice, intellectual freedom, and citizen participation in government by stewarding equity-oriented services and innovative tools, promoting inclusive access to information and technology, and designing ethics-embedded systems. In addition to our community-focused MLIS core, SCI offers a set of elective courses that encourages and equips graduates to leverage their knowledge, values, and skills as information professionals to contribute to the betterment of communities and the public interest. Through these courses, students will develop an enhanced understanding of the ethical and legal dimensions of their work as information professional and the ways that public policy impacts information and technology access and use. These courses will prepare students to be community-minded and participatory information professionals and to facilitate greater civic engagement by information and technology users.


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 Technologies

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. The new Data Science four course complement of classes allows for robust investigation and practice in this area.

Public Library Services

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. Through these courses, students will develop an understanding of the manner in which we enhance the daily lives of people from diverse backgrounds and age groups. Students will leave knowing how to best engage with this community of users.

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.

Return to School of Computing and Information Return to: School of Computing and Information

Catalog Navigation