Master of Library and Information Studies

The Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) program is a professional, graduate degree program that is accredited by the American Library Association. Students can pursue a course-based or thesis-based degree on a full-time or part-time basis. The MLIS program is ideal for those wanting to work in libraries or the information studies field. 

Online MLIS Program

The Online Option is a part-time, course-based, asynchronous program that is completed entirely online. Online students do not have to be physically present in Edmonton throughout the entire duration of their program. 

On-Campus MLIS Programs

The on-campus MLIS can be course-based or thesis-based, and taken full-time or part-time. On-campus students can transfer into the Thesis Option during their first year of study. We have also partnered with the UAlberta Faculty of Arts and Alberta School of Business to offer the MA/MLIS and MBA/MLIS combined degree programs for on-campus students. Please note that thesis option and combined degree programs are only available to on-campus students. 


All applicants must meet the minimum admissions requirements to be considered for admission. These include:

  • A completed four-year undergraduate degree with a minimum GPA of 3.0
  • English Language Proficiency 
  • Technology Proficiency 
  • Supporting Documentation. 

See the Admissions page for more information. 

MLIS Program Requirements

All MLIS applicants are admitted to the course-based route. All online and on-campus course-based MLIS students have the same program requirements. However, only students in an on-campus program are able to study full-time. 

Students studying on-campus may apply to change their program to the Thesis Option route during their first year of study in the course-based MLIS program. 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.

Course-Based MLIS Requirements (Online or On-Campus)

The course-based program requires 13 courses (★39) and a Capping Exercise. 

  • 5 Core Courses (★15)
  • 2 IT-Designated Courses (★6)
  • 6 Elective Courses (★18)
  • Capping Exercise (★0)
Thesis-Based MLIS Requirements (On-Campus)

The thesis-based program requires 10 courses (★30) and a Thesis Paper. 

  • 5 Core Courses (★15)
  • LIS 597 – Advanced Scholarship and Research in LIS (★3)
  • 2 IT-Designated Courses (★6)
  • 2 Elective Courses (★6)
  • Thesis

Required and Elective Courses

All students will take required courses and elective courses. Students should check course prerequisites and corequisites via the University Calendar before selecting elective courses.

Please note that students in an on-campus program cannot take courses designated for students in the online MLIS, and online MLIS students cannot take on-campus courses. 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.

For more information on courses offered at SLIS see MLIS Program Courses.

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
  • 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.

All students must take LIS 501 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 prerequisite or corequisite for the other required 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.

  • LIS 530 – Technology, Information, and Society
  • LIS 533 – Database Design for Information Management 
  • LIS 534 – Information Architecture: Web Design for Usability
  • LIS 538 – Digital Libraries
  • LIS 539 – Emerging and Evolving Technologies
  • LIS 598 – Special Topics: Bibliometrics of Knowledge Networks
  • LIS 598 – Special Topics: Information Retrieval

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. The following SLIS courses are designed as IT courses:

External Courses 

Students may, with approval, include up to ★9 (three courses) in external courses offered by a department other than the School of Library and Information Studies.

Recommendations for Full-Time Students

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. As an alternative to taking an approved term with four courses, students can avail themselves of our spring and summer offerings.

Other Information

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.

Ethics + Academic Citizenship Requirement

The Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement, which replaces the Academic Integrity and Ethics Training requirement, provides foundational ethics education for all graduate students. The requirement for masters students consists of one zero-credit, self-paced online course: INT D 710: Ethics and Academic Citizenship.

There is no additional tuition or fees for the course, and it does not impact full-time or part-time status. 

Timelines for Completion

The timeline for completion of the Ethics and Academic Citizenship Requirement will depend on several factors, including when the student began their program and when they expect to complete their program. See the requirement flowchart for more information. 

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 + Fees
For information on tuition and fees, sample fee assessments, and scholarships & awards, see Tuition + Finance.