Prospective Student Frequently Asked Questions

This page contains answers to our most frequently asked questions across the following categories:

Application Process

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

Our graduate admissions committee meets shortly after our application deadline of February 1. The latest that you will hear back from us is April 30, but we do try to get back to students as quickly as possible. We ask for your patience as we review a high volume of applications during those months.

May 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 we ask that all students reapply. Applicants will have to re-compete for a spot in the program.


How do you calculate my admission GPA?

We use the last ★60 (20 three-credit courses) that are from an accredited university. If you did 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, you must have a 4-year degree.

I have a 3 year bachelor's degree but I did additional course work after? Am I eligible to apply?

If you 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 university level courses therefore we will not use those courses to calculate your admission GPA.

Why was my application rejected?

We are unable to provide you with a detailed reason for the admission decision. Please be reminded that all applications are evaluated as a whole, based on all the information provided by each applicant. Meeting all admissions requirements does not guarantee admission. Competition for entry into our graduate program is extremely high.

Program Questions

How long will I have to complete the program?

Students must have completed all requirements within six years of the time they are first registered in the program.

What are the required courses I am required to take?

All SLIS students are required to take the following five courses:
  • LIS 501 Foundations of Library and Information Studies (Required)
    An introduction to the historical, current, and potential roles of libraries and of library and information professionals in western society.
  • LIS 502 Organization of Information (Required)
    An introduction to the organization of knowledge and information focusing on theory and principles for application in a variety of settings.
  • LIS 503 Reference and Information Services (Required)
    An introduction to reference and information services and resources. Includes history and varieties of reference services, user populations, instruction, ethics, access issues, the reference interview, search strategies, evaluation of services, and the organization, selection, evaluation, and use of major information resources.
  • LIS 504 Leadership and Management Principles for Library and Information Services (Required)
    An introduction to the principles and practices of leadership and management in the professional lives of librarians, archivists, and other information service practitioners.
  • LIS 505 Introduction to Research in Library and Information Studies (Required)
    An introduction to the fundamental concepts, approaches, methodologies and uses of research in library and information environments. Includes research design, proposal writing, identifying and defining research problems, critically evaluating and analyzing research, and applying research findings to solve practical problems in libraries and information centres.

In addition to the above core courses, all students are required to complete two designated Information Technology (IT) courses

Am I allowed to transfer coursework done at another post-secondary institution to your program if I am admitted?

Maybe. 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 and a capping exercise = ★39
Thesis-based MLIS: 13 courses and a thesis paper = ★39

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 School does not offer specific streams for specialization, students are encouraged to take those electives that align with their career aims. 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 the most optimal course of study.

What electives can I take?

The School offers a variety of electives each year, most of which will be announced a few months in advance of a given term. 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. For a complete list of electives, please visit the course listings page.

Can I take any of the online courses?

We try to offer at least one online delivery course per term for on-campus students (section 8XX). These course sections are separate from our online MLIS courses, as the fees for those courses are different. Online courses with sections 7XX are restricted to online MLIS students.

Referees & References

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?

Yes and no. 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. Tip: If you have been out of touch with your professors for a long time, it can be useful to show them old coursework so that their memories are refreshed. 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.

Can I drop off / send in my referees' reference forms?

No, with the application system all references are submitted electronically by your referee.

Can my references submit their forms electronically?

Yes, our system allows references to be submitted electronically.

Supporting Documents

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, CV Form, and Personal Statement in person?

No, you will be uploading all these documents to the online application system. We no longer require hard copies.

I would like to reapply again next year. Will you hold my documents for me?

No, you will have to resubmit all your documents electronically each year.

Misc. Questions

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.

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.

There are also other officially recognized student groups, such as the Future Librarians for Intellectual Freedom (FLIF) and a branch of the Canadian Library Association Student Chapter. There are also numerous other operating student groups, such as a support group for part-time students. SLIS encourages all students to make the most of their academic experience and participate in these groups.

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

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.

What is it like to live in Edmonton?

Edmonton is the capital of the province of Alberta; one of Canada's prairie provinces. The City of Edmonton has a population of approximately 900,000 with a metro population of over one million people. The Edmonton Metropolitan Area (also known as the Capital Region) includes surrounding cities and towns. Edmonton is Alberta's second-largest city after Calgary, and is Canada's fifth-largest municipality. Edmonton is a dynamic and diverse city located in central Alberta on the North Saskatchewan River, just a few hours away from Jasper National Park. Edmonton has one of the the largest park systems in North America, including the river valley. As a northern city Edmonton experiences long summer days with up to 17 hours of daylight. The city is renowned for its support of its arts and cultural institutions. 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 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.

Online Learning FAQs

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 an orientation for new students that will be recorded. Any on-campus SLIS events that are relevant or of interest to the online cohort will be recorded and uploaded to this website so they may be viewed at your convenience.