Master of Library and Information Studies

The Master of Library & Information Studies (MLIS) program is accredited by the American Library Association and allows students to pursue a course-based or thesis-based graduate degree on a full-time or part-time basis.

The online option is a part-time asynchronous program completed entirely online. The on-campus MLIS can be course-based or thesis-based, and taken full-time or part-time. The MA/MLIS and MBA/MLIS combined degree programs are only available on-campus. 

Online Option

The School of Library and Information Studies MLIS is available as a fully online, part-time course-based program. Physical attendance at the University of Alberta is not required. While there is no difference in program requirements between the on-campus and online MLIS, students in the online option cannot take on-campus courses, and on-campus students cannot take online courses. 

Thesis Option

All MLIS applicants are admitted to the course-based program. MLIS students studying on-campus have the option to change into the thesis option after their first year of study in the course-based program. Please Note: The thesis option is not available for online students at this time.


See our Admission page for information on the admissions process, required documents, and other information. 

Entrance Requirements

This page contains information on entrance requirements, including degree and GPA minimums, English Language Proficiency, and Technology Proficiency.

On-Campus MLIS

Full-time MLIS students are advised to take three courses totalling ★9 each Fall and Winter term for two years with the option to take a fourth course in a single term once during their program of study subject to advisor approval (for a total of ★39).

Full-time students are advised to register in three required core courses (LIS 501, LIS 502, LIS 503) in their first term of study, and LIS 504 and LIS 505 in their second term of study, particularly if they intend to enrol in LIS 590 Practicum in their first spring semester. As an alternative to taking an approved term with four courses, students can avail themselves of our spring and summer offerings.

Please Note: Students in an on-campus MLIS program cannot take courses designated for students in the online MLIS. Course listings in Bear Tracks (the UAlberta online student service centre) will indicate if a course is restricted to online or on-campus MLIS students.

MLIS Program Requirements

All MLIS applicants are admitted to the course-based route. On-campus students have the option to change your selection once you are in the program. Students interested in completing the thesis-based MLIS may change their program route to the thesis route after their first year of study in the course-based MLIS program. On-campus students can apply to the MBA/MLIS Combined Degree Program during the first year of their study. 

  • Course-based: 13 courses (★39) and a capping exercise (★0)
  • Thesis-based: 10 courses (★30) and a thesis paper. The decision to pursue a thesis depends on the nature of the student's research interests and career goals. Students interested in pursuing the thesis route should review the School's Thesis-based MLIS Procedure.

See Resources + Forms for MLIS Program Sheets.

Required Courses

The following courses are required for both the thesis and course-based routes of the MLIS program:

  • LIS 501 Foundations of Library and Information Studies: All students must take LIS 501 (Foundations of Library and Information Studies) in the first semester of their program. LIS 501 is intended to provide the broad context for all of the other courses in the program, and is a pre-requisite or co-requisite for the other required courses. Check pre or co-requisites on the University Calendar before selecting elective courses.
  • LIS 502 Organization of Information
  • LIS 503 Reference and Information Services
  • LIS 504 Leaderships and Management Principles for Libraries and Information Services
  • LIS 505 Introduction to Research in Library and Information Studies
  • Two (2) designated Information Technology (IT) courses.
IT Courses

The MLIS program is a technology intensive program, which prepares students for positions of responsibility across the information professions. MLIS students must complete two IT-designated courses during their program. The following SLIS courses are designed as IT courses:

  • LIS 533 Database Design for Information Management (IT),
  • LIS 534 Information Architecture: Web Design for Usability (IT),
  • LIS 538 Digital Libraries (IT),
  • LIS 539 Emerging and Evolving Technologies (IT),
  • LIS 598 Special Topics - Bibliometrics of Knowledge Networks (IT),
  • LIS 598 Special Topics - Technology, Information and Society (IT).

Students also have the option of taking one of their two IT courses outside of SLIS, such from those offered by the Digital Humanities program (e.g. DH 520: Topics in Technical Concepts and Approaches). Make sure to consult with your advisor about any external IT courses that you may want to take.

Advisors / Supervisors

Each student is assigned a Program Advisor who will provide advice and counselling in adapting the program to match career goals and objectives. Those students wishing to pursue the thesis option are also required to obtain a Supervisor to oversee their work. Students should also consult the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Graduate Program Manual and the University Calendar for additional information.

Academic Integrity & Ethics Training

The University of Alberta Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research requires that all graduate students complete a minimum of eight hours of ethics training as part of their degree programs. Students in the MLIS program receive ethics training in the MLIS required courses -- approximately 17 hours in total. Coverage of specific topics varies between courses, but currently includes: academic integrity; intellectual property; ethics review for research with human subjects; professional values - including protection of privacy; and other ethics-related issues. Additional topics are also covered in our elective courses and as preparation for thesis-related work.

Time Limits for Completion

Online and on-campus students in the course-based MLIS must have completed all the requirements within six years of the time they are first registered as a probationary graduate student or candidate in the Master's program. Thesis-based students must complete all requirements within four years.

A student who is registered full-time (i.e. carries at least 9 units of course weight during one term) in the MLIS program will normally be able to complete the degree requirements in two years.

Transfer Credits

Some graduate courses taken before admission may be granted as transfer credit by the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research, on the recommendation of the School of Library and Information Studies, provided that the courses have not been counted towards a previous degree or diploma or to qualify for admission to the MLIS program. No more than three courses may be given transfer credit. Applicants with graduate courses from a program accredited by the American Library Association should consult the School for information regarding transfer credits and course requirements. Transfer credits requests from applicants will be reviewed after they are admitted in the MLIS program and they have accepted the admission offer. Please contact SLIS for more details, including document requirements, after you have accepted the admission offer.

Tuition and Fees

See Tuition + Finance for information, including sample fee assessments, for students in our degree programs.