Prospective Student Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to our most frequently asked questions. 

Application Process

When will I find out if I have been offered admission?

Applicants will be notified of their admissions decision beginning in April.

Applications are assessed by the admissions committee only after the application and document deadline has passed, and after all applications have been reviewed for eligibility. Please note that, because of the high volume of applications that are reviewed, we cannot give an exact date as to when you will be notified.

Can I defer my admission?
No, students who are offered admission to the MLIS program cannot defer their admission to the next year. Due to the high volume of applications received each year applicants will need to reapply and re-compete for a spot in the program.
How do you calculate my admission GPA?

We use the most recent ★60 (20 three-credit courses, equivalent to two years of full-time study) that are from an accredited post-secondary institution. If you took additional university-level courses after your degree then we will calculate those courses in the GPA as well.

I only have a 3-year bachelor's degree. Am I eligible to apply?

No, all applicants must have a four-year undergraduate degree. If you have a three-year degree and have taken additional post-secondary courses equivalent to one year of study, then you are eligible to apply. We will accept one-year diploma or certificate programs to make up 4 years of studies. However, if those additional courses are not at the university-level then we will not use them as part of the admission GPA calculation. In this case, only the last ★60 (20 three-credit courses) from your undergraduate degree will be calculated.

After my degree I completed a Library Technician Certificate/Diploma program. Will you use those courses as part of my GPA?
In most cases certificate or diploma programs are not equivalent to university level courses, therefore they cannot be used to calculate your admission GPA.
Do I have to take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE)?

No, the GRE test is not required for admission.

However, applicants to the MBA/MLIS combined program must also meet the MBA program admissions criteria, which does require a GMAT or GRE score. 

Please note that we cannot use GRE scores when calculating your admission GPA. 

How many applicants do you admit each year? 
The number of admitted applicants will change from year to year, and many factors will determine how many students we can admit each year. SLIS does not admit more students than we are able to support.
Why was my application rejected?
We are unable to provide you with a detailed reason for the admission decision. All applications are evaluated as a whole, based on all the information provided by each applicant. Meeting all the admissions requirements does not guarantee admission. Competition for entry into our graduate program is extremely high and we often have more qualified applicants than we are able to admit.

Program Questions

How long will I have to complete the program?
Students must have completed all MLIS program requirements within six (6) years from when they are first registered in the program. Full-time MLIS students complete their program in two years. Part-time MLIS students, including all students in the online MLIS, can complete the program in three or more years. The total time to completion will depend on each student's chosen courseload.
What are the term dates and when are courses scheduled?

At the University of Alberta courses are scheduled across four terms: 

  • Fall (September-December)
  • Winter (January-April)
  • Spring (May-June)
  • Summer (July-August)

Most courses are scheduled in the Fall and Winter terms. Some courses are also scheduled in Spring term, or in a Spring/Summer combined term. Course schedules for upcoming terms will be available to admitted students on Bear Tracks, the online portal for all U of A students. All SLIS students will begin their program in Fall term. 

A complete Academic Schedule of dates and deadlines is available in the University Calendar

What are the courses I am required to take?

All SLIS students are required to take the five core courses listed below, plus two IT-designated elective courses. For more information please see our MLIS Program Courses page. 

  • LIS 501 Foundations of Library and Information Studies
  • LIS 502 Organization of Information
  • LIS 503 Reference and Information Services
  • LIS 504 Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services 
  • LIS 505 Introduction to Research in Library and Information Studies
Am I allowed to transfer coursework done at another post-secondary institution to your program if I am admitted?
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. Transfer credit will not be granted if the courses are over 6 years old. Once you receive final admission into the MLIS program you can request transfer credit by submitting your request to the Graduate Administrator. No more than ★9 (3 courses) may be given transfer credit.
What is the difference between the course-based MLIS and a thesis-based MLIS?

All MLIS applicants are admitted to the course-based route. You 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 1st year of study in the course-based MLIS program.

  • Course-based MLIS: 13 courses (★39) and a capping exercise (★0)
  • Thesis-based MLIS: 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 procedure. The School encourages MLIS students with strong relevant background to pursue their research interests through the thesis-based program route. Students are advised, however, that the School's support of a particular thesis topic will depend directly on the availability of existing faculty who are active in the general area of the student's research so that adequate supervision can be provided.

Can I specialize my degree at all? Public? Corporate? Academic?
While our MLIS is a generalist program and does not offer specific streams for specialization, students are encouraged to take those electives that align with their career aims. For example, students interested in academic librarianship might wish to take Metadata, while students interested in the corporate information environment might wish to take Records Management. Students are encouraged to talk with their supervisor to create their optimal study path.
What electives can I take?

Courses are offered on a wide range of topics; previous offerings have included such topics as comic books and graphic novels, government information, instructional practices, collection management, digital libraries, and metadata. The electives offered may change from year to year. Each year the courses available for registration will be listed in Bear Tracks (the online student service centre). For a complete list of electives, please visit the course listings page

Can on-campus students take any of the online courses?
Currently students in an on-campus MLIS program cannot take any courses reserved for students in the online MLIS. Course listings in Bear Tracks (the online student service centre) will indicate if a course is restricted to online or on-campus MLIS students.

Referees and References

How are the referees' reference letters received?

When you complete the online application form you will be asked to enter the email addresses of your referees. After the application fee is paid, your referees will be automatically emailed with instructions on how to submit the letter via the online application system. 

Please note: we do not accept hard copies of referee letters either in person or by mail. All referee letters must be submitted electronically.  

I have been out of school for a long time, and my references are very difficult if not impossible to get in touch with. Can my referees be non-academic instead?

Possibly. We allow one out of your three references to be non-academic. As our programs are academic we are interested in hearing feedback from those have seen you work in an academic setting. If you have been out of touch with your professors for a long time, it can be useful to show them old coursework to refresh their memory of you. 

Alternatively, many applicants will take one or two courses at a post-secondary institution before applying in order to boost their GPA and get a reference at the same time.

Supporting Documents for Admissions Applications

How do I know if my documents have arrived?
The online application system allows you to upload all documents (CV, statement of purpose, transcripts) therefore you will see when documents have been uploaded.
Are all of my transcripts required, even if you will not need some of them to calculate my GPA for admission?
Yes, official transcripts for all post-secondary coursework are required. See Application Requirements for Academic Documents.
Can I drop off my CV, Statement of Intent, or other documents in person?

No, as we no longer require hard copies of these specific documents. You will be uploading all supporting documents to the online application system. Your referees will be automatically emailed for them to provide a letter supporting your application. 

I would like to reapply again next year. Will you hold my documents for me?
No, you will have to resubmit all of your documents each year you apply.

Online Learning FAQs

Are there mandatory events (like orientation) that I need to attend in-person? Are any of these events offered online?
Online students are not required to attend any on-campus events. There will be orientation resources available to all MLIS students regardless of online or on-campus program delivery. Online students will be informed of events with a recorded or live-streaming component that may be of interest to SLIS students, as well as general events within the Faculty of Education or wider university community.
What kind of software is used to conduct the online classes? Does it require me to purchase a particular type of software?

Online classes are conducted using the university's eClass platform and generally do not require the download or purchase of additional software. eClass is also designed to be compatible with those technologies designed for accessibility. 

Is the program completely flexible? Can I complete the coursework / lectures anytime I want or do I need to log in to attend classes at a certain time?
While there are no set meeting times for online classes, students will generally be expected to complete a certain portion of the class each week (i.e., doing the readings and then participating in online discussion). As in a regular classroom setting, successful teaching and learning depends on mutuality.Readings and other materials will generally be available in advance, but students should expect that discussions will only take place during a certain timeframe each week
Are all required readings and course materials online or do I need to order in books?
This is highly dependent on the individual courses and the discretion of your instructors. While many readings will be made available to you online via the eClass platform, certain courses will require the purchase or loan of additional materials. Consult your syllabus or with your instructor for further information on required readings.
Can I do a practicum or a work placement as an online student?
Online students are welcome to complete a 100-hour practicum placement, which counts as one course (three credits) towards the completion of your degree. Information about practicum requirements can be found on the course page. Students are also invited to contact the SLIS office for further details.
What is my expected course load per semester?
The online offering is completed on a part-time basis. Online students can take a maximum of two courses per semester (Fall, Winter, and Spring/Summer) for a maximum of six courses per calendar year. Graduate education is demanding and students should expect to spend 12-15 hours each week engaging with course materials, participating in online discussions, and completing assignments.

Other Questions

What computing skills will I need?
Information Technology is becoming an increasingly important aspect of library work. While traditional library skills will remain important, SLIS recognizes that its graduates need to have a strong background in information technology if they are going to be competitive in the workforce. Consequently, SLIS strongly encourages its students to consider this fact when registering for their elective courses. Applicants to SLIS programs are expected to have basic computing skills (e.g. familiarity with word processing programs and web browsing) and a strong comfort level with Internet-based applications, email, and electronic databases.
Are there any research assistant or graduate assistantship positions available?
Graduate assistantships are offered to second-year students only. Occasionally a professor will advertise for research help but that should not be considered a reliable source of income.
Where are our graduates?

A degree from the School of Library and Information Studies is your key to future employment. Completion of an MLIS at SLIS will give you many skills that will make you a sought-after employee. Libraries can be found in almost all communities, organizations and regions. SLIS takes an active interest in the employment opportunities of its graduates. Every year SLIS conducts the Placement Survey in an effort to track the employability of its graduates to ensure that the training received matches the demands of the labour market. This yearly survey has consistently found that graduates of SLIS programs experience extremely high rates of employment in the library and information sciences field within three months to a year after graduation.

These surveys have also found that SLIS graduates are represented in all branches of the library and information sciences field - public libraries, academic libraries, government and medical libraries, archives and working in careers beyond the traditional library environments. A degree from the University of Alberta and the School of Library and Information Studies will take you straight into a promising and rewarding career.

Click to view an interactive map of where SLIS Alumni live around the world.

Who are our students?
At the School of Library and Information Studies we recognize that our students will learn valuable lessons from their fellow students - the people they study with, attend classes with and socialize with. In order to ensure that your experiences at SLIS are informative, stimulating, and rewarding we recruit students from a wide range of academic, professional, and social backgrounds. SLIS Students are from all parts of Canada, the United States, and many other nations including India, China, Belgium, Africa, and more, and have backgrounds in the Arts, Sciences, Trades and the Professions. We encourage our students to be active participants in the life of the School. All students are represented by the Library and Information Student's Association (LISSA), which serves as a liaison between the student body and the school's faculty and administration, LISSA also organizes frequent extracurricular, professional development and social events.
What is it like to live in Edmonton?

Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta, one of Canada's western prairie provinces. The City of Edmonton has a population of over one million people, and a metro population of approximately 1.5 million. The Edmonton Metropolitan Area (also known as the Capital Region) includes several surrounding cities and towns. Edmonton is Alberta's second-largest city, after Calgary, and is Canada's fifth-largest municipality. Edmonton is serviced by Edmonton International Airport (YEG), and the Edmonton Transit System (ETS) provides bus and light rail transit across the city, with multiple transit stations located on University of Alberta campuses. 

Edmonton is a dynamic and diverse city located in central Alberta on the North Saskatchewan River. The city is renowned for its support of its arts and cultural institutions, and is home to the Royal Alberta Museum, Art Gallery of Alberta, and the award-winning Edmonton Public Library system. The sunny summer months see many festivals held throughout the city celebrating diversity, the arts, and the numerous groups that contribute to life in Edmonton and Alberta. The Edmonton Heritage Festival and the Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival are some of the largest and best known, and are held near the U of A's North Campus. During the winter months residents enjoy winter sports such as hockey, skiing, and outdoor skating both here in Edmonton and in the majestic Rocky Mountains. 

As a northern city Edmonton experiences long summer days with up to 17 hours of daylight. During the winter you can expect a blanket of snow under clear starry nights, and with a bit of luck you'll catch a glimpse of the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights. Edmonton has one one of the the largest urban park systems in North America, including the North Saskatchewan River Valley which is 22 times larger than Central Park in New York City, with over 160 km of trails and paths. Surrounding Edmonton within easy access are many natural areas including Elk Island National Park and, in the Rocky Mountains, Jasper National Park. Elsewhere in Alberta you'll find attractions close enough for weekend trips, such as the City of Calgary and Banff National Park. 

Even after many years of steady growth the cost of living in Edmonton and Alberta remains very affordable. The cost of living, combined with the many natural features and cultural attractions in and around the city, bring many people to live, work, and study in the Edmonton area.