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

Skip to Main Content
University of Pittsburgh    
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog 
  Jun 24, 2024
2017-2018 Graduate & Professional Studies Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Library and Information Science, MLIS

Return to Academic Programs Return to: Academic Programs

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.

Degree Requirements

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, which we are pleased to say is 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 professional practice for the benefits of users.  The MLIS degree program includes and incorporates the library, archival, information, and data sciences as well as data stewardship within the information professions.

Goals for Graduates of the MLIS program

  • Draw upon the ethics, values and history of the information professions and other related disciplines.
  • Apply principles of the management of information and organizations to various functions in data and information environments.
  • Advance the creative and ethical applications of information technologies.
  • Plan, implement, evaluate, and advocate services offered by information professionals to meet the needs of diverse users.
  • Promote intellectual freedom and equity of access to information and data.
  • Understand and apply research in library, archival, information, and data science and stewardship, as well as other disciplines.
  • Promote a commitment to the advancement of the information professions through advocacy, continuing education and lifelong learning.

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 with the advisor’s initials on a completed plan of study (available on the school’s Intranet).

General Requirements

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.

*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 plans of study. Plan of study worksheets are available of the school’s Intranet.

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 Intranet.

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

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  


Public Libraries  

Resources & Services: Children and Youth  

Resources & Services: Health  

Resources & Services: Reference  

School Library Certification Program  

Field Experience Opportunities

You may also have the opportunity to work on research projects and publications. 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 in an archives, library, arts or related organization.

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

Grade Policies for the MLIS Degree Program

Maintenance of a 3.0 GPA

Each student must maintain a 3.0 Quality Point Average (GPA) for all credits of graduate level coursework for either degree or the certificate. Failure to maintain a 3.0 GPA in any term will result in the student being placed on academic probation immediately. If the student does not raise the GPA to a 3.0 after the next six credits, the student may be dismissed from the program in which he or she is enrolled.

Grades for MLIS Core Courses

The four required core courses are:

A student must earn a grade of B or better in each core course and must maintain a GPA of 3.0 each term with no grade for an elective course below a C.  If a grade of B or better is not earned in a core course, the student must register for the course in the next term offered and earn a grade of B or better.  A core course may be repeated only once. ​

Grades for Elective Courses

All students must earn satisfactory grades in each elective course taken. Grades of C-, D+, D, D-, F and Unsatisfactory are unacceptable for credit toward graduation. A course for which such a grade is earned must be replaced with another course or retaken, with a higher grade earned. In either case, a higher grade must be earned and a 3.0 GPA be maintained. A course for which a grade of C- or lower was earned may be repeated only once.

Academic Provisional Admission

At the discretion of the faculty, a limited number of students who do not meet the 3.0 GPA minimum required for full admission into the MLIS program may be considered for admission. If such students are able to provide additional evidence of academic potential (e.g., outstanding scores on the Graduate Record Exam or the Miller Analogies Test) or professional potential (e.g., outstanding letters of recommendation and/or outstanding work experience), they may be admitted to the MLIS program with academic provisions. Such students must earn a B average (3.0 GPA) in the first four courses taken. Failure to achieve a cumulative 3.0 GPA at the conclusion of the first 12 credits, may result in dismissal from the MLIS program.

Incomplete Grades and Class Enrollment

A student who has two incomplete grades (either “G” or “I”) on their transcript will be barred from enrolling in further courses until the incomplete coursework and grades have been resolved.

Definition of incomplete grades (refer to policies in the Graduate Bulletin’s Academic Regulations):

“G grade signifies unfinished course work due to extenuating personal circumstances. Students assigned G grades are required to complete course requirements no later than one year after the term in which the course was taken. After the deadline has passed, the G grade will remain on the record, and the student will be required to re-register for the course if it is needed to fulfill requirements for graduation.”

“I grade signifies incomplete course work due to nature of the course, clinical work, or incomplete research work in individual guidance courses or seminars.”

Return to Academic Programs Return to: Academic Programs

Catalog Navigation