Master of Science Degree

ms_webready-1.jpg?itok=AP8teRFGGSLIS graduates understand both the theory and the practice of library and information science (LIS): they have studied the foundations and principal ideas of the discipline and have been introduced to the values and expectations of the profession. We foster critical thinking about the literature of LIS and related fields and encourage high standards of professionalism and service. Our graduates are prepared to develop and evaluate resources and programs, and to understand the needs of many different kinds of users. Students who have completed our ALA-accredited program are equipped to anticipate social and technological changes, and to promote change that advances the profession, improves technology, and encourages positive social transformation.

Graduates of our master's program are qualified to pursue careers as librarians and information scientists in the information industry. Many master's students and recent graduates cite the opportunity to design their own programs of study as a major advantage at Illinois; examples of specializations include reference and information services (including an emphasis in community college librarianship), design and evaluation of information systems, services for children and young adults (including K–12 Licensure), community information systems (including the Certificate in Community Informatics), data curation, socio-technical data analytics and special collections librarianship.

Learn more about our programs and connect with us via your personalized Illinois Connect page!

Courseload and Limits


The master's degree program requires 40 hours of graduate study, including two core courses, "LIS 501: Information Organization and Access" and "LIS 502: Libraries, Information, and Society." Additionally, each semester, students pursue electives from a broad range of LIS course offerings. MS students may also opt to earn up to 12 hours in graduate electives through other UIUC courses and/or request transfer of LIS coursework from an ALA-accredited master's program (maximum 8 hours) or, alternatively, graduate level coursework from any accredited institution (maximum 4 hours).

The usual full-time course load is 12 hours during the fall and spring semesters, four hours during the four-week Summer Session Term I, and eight hours during the eight-week Summer Session Term II. A master's degree candidate with a full-time load can complete the 40 hour program in two semesters and one summer, though many students choose to continue in the program for an additional semester or two. Master's degree students must complete all requirements for the degree within five years after registering for graduate work. International students pursuing the degree on-campus are required to maintain full-time status (the equivalent of 12 hours in each semester of the academic year). 


Credit Load in Fall and Spring

Credit Load in Summer

Domestic graduate students without assistantships

Maximum:  20 hours

Minimum:  2 hours

Maximum:  12 hours

Minimum:  *0 hours

International graduate students (with or without assistantships)

Maximum:  20 hours

Minimum:  12 hours

Maximum:  12 hours

Minimum:  **0-6 hours

Graduate students with (25%-67%) assistantships

Maximum:  20 hours

Minimum:  10 hours***

Maximum: 12 hours

Minimum:  4 hours (8-week course)

Graduate students with fellowships

Maximum:  20 hours

Minimum:  12 hours

Maximum:  12 hours

Minimum:  4 hours (8-week course)

 *Domestic students without assistantships are not required to register in the summer.
**International students are required to register for 6 hours if they enter during the summer term.  Continuing international students are not required to enroll for the summer terms unless they have fellowships or assistantships. 
Grad students may request an exception to these limits through their advisors, but exceptions must be established prior to the 10th day of classes, per Graduate College regulations.

Students may petition for an exception to carry a slightly reduced load in exceptional circumstances or in their last semester while they are looking for a job. Permission to carry more than 20 hours in fall and spring and more than 12 hours in summer must be approved by the GSLIS Dean and by the Graduate College (see


Students usually enter the master's program in the fall semester and take the required core courses, "LIS 501: Information Organization and Access" and "LIS 502: Libraries, Information, and Society." Students may also enter the program in the spring and summer semesters. Leep online learning students begin in Summer and now have a Spring enrollment option.


The Graduate College requires students to maintain a minimum G.P.A. of 2.75. The credit/no-credit option applies only to courses taken outside the library and information science curriculum and to courses taken as "non-degree." Hours taken under the credit/no-credit option are not computed into the grade-point average and may not be applied to a degree in library and information science.

Scheduling Options

Students have two interchangeable scheduling options for master of science degree course work: an on-campus schedule and Leep online learning. When considering which scheduling option to apply for, students should think about which course work delivery method they will predominantly use: if they think they'll be taking most or all of their courses on campus, then they should apply for the on-campus program. If they think they'll be taking most or all of their courses online, then they should apply for Leep. However, once students are admitted, they may have the option to enroll in courses using either option, depending on their needs. Administrative staff and advisors will work with students during registration to make sure they are able to enroll in the classes that best meet their needs for any given semester.

Please see the Computer Literacy Requirements for information about basic technical competencies.

Minimum Admission Requirements

  1. Graduation from an accredited institution with bachelor's degree requirements substantially equivalent to those of the University of Illinois.
  2. GRE scores are only required for applicants with a GPA below 3.0 on a 4.0 scale in the last two years of undergraduate coursework. Applicants holding a JD or PhD are not required to submit GRE scores.
  3. Letters of reference from three individuals who are able to comment on applicant's aptitude for graduate studies and professional pursuits.
  4. International applicants whose native language is not English must submit evidence of having passed the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) with a score of 620 or higher (or 260 or higher for the computer-administered version; 104 or higher [at least a 25 in each section] for the IBT). (The Intensive English Institute exam may be substituted with a score indicating comparable English proficiency.) The IELTS test is also accepted with a minimum score of 7 in each section. The GSLIS TOEFL code is 90.

    Note: The University's Division of English as an International Language offers courses to help currently enrolled Illinois graduate students whose native language is not English. These courses may be used to improve a student's language proficiency so that he or she is able to function as effectively as possible within the university environment, but they are NOT counted toward degree requirements. The division also operates an Intensive English Institute and the LinguaCenter, where other kinds of help may be obtained.

Submitting Admission Materials

Applicants will need to apply to the Graduate College using the Web-based electronic application (APPLY NOW). NOTE: As this application is used by applicants to all of the graduate departments, we are tailoring it to fit our needs. After completing the online application (within which are instructions for submitting your letters of reference electronically), you are given three upload sections:

As your transcripts come directly to GSLIS from the University, you should not have to mail anything in. Have your educational institution(s) send your transcripts to us directly at:

501 E. Daniel St.
Champaign, IL 61820-6211

Information about resources to assist domestic underrepresented applicants in available here.