MLIS Thesis Option

All MLIS applicants are admitted to the course-based 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.

Students are required to study on-campus for the thesis-based MLIS. Therefore a thesis option is not available for students in the online MLIS.

Program Requirements

The minimum requirement for the thesis-based MLIS degree is ★30 in graduate courses and a thesis. This requires 10 courses of ★3 each (including ★15 in core courses and ★6 in IT). Students may, with approval, include up to ★9 offered by a department other than the School of Library and Information Studies.

See the Resources + Forms for the MLIS Program Sheet.

Required Courses

Both the course-based MLIS and the thesis option have the same required courses.

General Procedure for Thesis-Based MLIS

Students should explore these matters with their Program Supervisor during the first year of their MLIS program. They should also read carefully all current University Calendar regulations governing thesis-based programs. The following is a general procedure. Further details are contained in the University Calendar and the Faculty of Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies' (GPS) Graduate Program Manual. Information regarding Supervision and Examinations can be found in Section 8 of the manual.

  1. The decision to pursue the thesis-based MLIS program should be made in consultation with the Graduate Coordinator and the student's prospective Thesis Supervisor. This decision shall normally be made when the student completes half of the program or somewhat earlier (i.e. 2nd semester of 1st year). Selection of the thesis-based program is possible only when faculty with relevant expertise are available for supervision.
  2. The student will draft a thesis proposal of approximately 14 pages, which will normally include a statement of the research problem, a literature review (typically accomplished through a Spring/Summer LIS 599 directed study), and a description of the methodology. The proposal will be developed with guidance from the prospective Thesis Supervisor and other appropriate faculty members, preferably including someone from another department who is likely to be the external member of the supervisory committee (see No.6 below).
  3. The proposal will be discussed at a meeting of the student, the Thesis Supervisor, and at least two other members of the School's full-time faculty. The thesis proposal must be signed by all three faculty members before the student is allowed to proceed in the thesis-based program.
  4. If an ethics review is required it shall be undertaken immediately after approval of the proposal. Please consult the Research Ethics Office's website for the current Research Ethics Documents.
  5. Students must be registered in the thesis-based option by the start of the semester in which they do their thesis research at the latest. The Thesis Supervisor, who will also become the student's Program Supervisor, will initiate a change of status/supervisor through the Graduate Student Services Administrator (if required).
  6. The supervisory and examining committee(s) consists of at least three full-time faculty including the Thesis Supervisor, another faculty member from the School, and one faculty member from outside of the School. Co-supervision is an option. The student and Thesis Supervisor will normally select the other committee members together. The Director shall ensure that the proposed faculty meet GPS requirements for committee membership.
  7. The supervisory committee shall hold a minimum of one meeting with the student annually.
  8. The Thesis Supervisor shall ensure that the student has been advised of the regulations governing their program. However, the student is also expected to be familiar with this procedure and relevant sections of the University Calendar.
  9. The thesis-based MLIS includes a residence requirement of two terms of full-time study. Full-time study is defined as at least three courses per semester for both residence and scholarship purposes. Students need not be registered in the thesis-based program in order to fulfill this requirement.
  10. The time limit for the thesis-based MLIS is four years. Those students interested in doing a thesis should be aware that the amount of time a student can devote to the thesis and the research design may lengthen the time to completion beyond the normal two years (see Sample Timeline below).
  11. The final examining committee will normally be the same as the supervisory committee.
  12. The final examination will be oral and will follow procedures outlined in the GPS Graduate Program Manual. For information about formatting and submitting one's thesis, information can be found on the GPS website.
  13. The revised thesis will be deposited within six months of the successful oral examination. SLIS requires one print copy of the thesis, which is paid for by the School.

Sample Timeline

Following is one possible, optimal timeline for a student planning to pursue the thesis-based MLIS full-time. Variations are likely to occur for a variety of reasons and will typically lengthen the timeline. A shorter timeline is unlikely to be realistic.

(Year 1)
  • LIS 501, 502, and 503.
  • Discuss interests with Program Supervisor and plan Winter electives.
( Year 1)
  • LIS 505: Research Methods in Library and Information Studies, LIS 504, and one (1) elective.
  • Discuss thesis topic with Program Supervisor, Graduate Coordinator and potential Thesis Supervisor. Ideally, a Thesis Supervisor will be determined at the end of the Winter Term (as well as potential committee members) to ensure sufficient support for the topic.
(Year 1)
  • LIS 599: Directed Study to develop literature review.
  • Develop proposal for LIS 597.
(Year 2)
  • LIS 597 and two (2) Electives.
(Year 2)
  • Submit thesis proposal for approval.
(Year 2)
  • THES 909: Thesis Research
(Year 2 or 3*)
  • Defend and deposit thesis. Deadline for Fall Convocation is usually the beginning of October; see University Calendar.
(Year 3)
  • Convocation
*Fall Term Year 3 immediately follows Summer Term Year 2.