FAQ for Applicants

Be sure to also read the Admissions Process Overview before beginning the application process.

About The Master’s Programs

The Master of Archival Studies (MAS) degree prepares graduates for careers in the management of records (in all media and forms) along their life-cycle, from creation to permanent preservation. Graduates may work as archivists, digital archivists, digital asset managers, records managers, privacy and information officers, and more. The Master of Library & Information Studies (MLIS) degree prepares graduates to manage information in all formats. That includes organizing, accessing and retrieving information, in digital, print, or other formats. Graduates typically work as librarians, information managers, data asset managers, indexers, literacy specialists and more.

The Dual MAS/MLIS program, in which students pursue both degrees at the same time, is for students interested in acquiring the skills and knowledge required to work in both libraries and archives, or a hybrid library/archive environment, as well as a number of other information environments. Employment opportunities increase with qualifications in both disciplines.

The Master of Arts in Children’s Literature (MACL) program is a multi-disciplinary academic master’s degree, and does not by itself qualify graduates to work as teachers or children’s librarians. It does, however, allow for deeper study into children’s and young adult literature of all types, and is of interest primarily to those who are, or who intend to be, involved in teaching, school or public library services, writing, editing/publishing, theatre/film, storytelling, or affiliated fields. Most of these positions will require additional educational credentials.

The MLIS and MAS programs are 48 credits. Most students complete 12 credits per term, and take a term to obtain related employment experience, so 20 months is the typical length spent completing either the MLIS or MAS degree. It is possible to complete in 16 straight months for those who wish to accelerate their program of study. Those in the dual degree program take longer, generally 28 to 32 months. The MACL degree requires 24 credits of coursework (typically completed in two terms) and a six-credit thesis, which can take at least two terms and sometimes more. You are permitted up to five years to complete your master’s degree, which helps accommodate those interested in part-time studies. SLAIS offers several web-delivered courses over the academic year; however it is not currently possible to complete any SLAIS program entirely by distance.

Tuition fees are set by the University. The official and most current information can always be found in the UBC Calendar.

International students are also eligible for the International Tuition Award in the amount of $3,200 annually (2013-14 figures).

Many MAS, MLIS and MAS/MLIS students find relevant student employment during the time at the school. In addition, many students choose to participate in the Co-operative Education Program and spend at least one term earning money and gaining valuable work experience as well. Be sure to apply for external funding  as part of your preparation for application and study. iSchool students have been quite successful in competitions for these, even before arriving at the school.

About Applying

When evaluating files, the Admissions Committee focuses on three aspects of an application:

  1. Transcripts: The minimum academic requirement for admission to graduate study at UBC is an upper second class (also known as B+) in the senior-level courses of your undergraduate degree, in any discipline.  You can find out more on these minimum requirements at the UBC Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies (G+PS) website. The iSchool Admissions Committee welcomes degrees in all disciplines. In keeping with our goal of increasing the diversity among our students, we look for degrees in the sciences and social sciences. Degrees in the humanities are most common and quite welcome as well.
  2. Letters of reference: Three are required. At least two of them should be academic; that is, from an instructor who has taught you. If your marks are at the lower end, this is even more important. If it has been some time since you finished your degree, try to contact an instructor anyway. Don’t be shy – they receive these requests regularly and will tell you if they aren’t able to provide a letter of support. If you are unsuccessful, consider taking a university-level academic course or two to give yourself an academic reference. As a second choice, provide a reference from employers who can speak to your potential to succeed in graduate-level work. Letters from family or friends are less useful, academically speaking.
  3. Your responses to the questions: Here is where you can differentiate your application from all others. In your responses, we are looking for evidence of interest and passion in the profession, and that you understand where this degree might take you. Here you can also discuss the skills you bring in technology, teaching or leadership.

This is an issue for those whose degrees have a lot of non-theoretical or non-critical coursework. Such degrees may include those in Music Composition (as opposed to theory), Library or Archival Science, Theology, or Studio Arts. Essentially the committee wants to see upper-level coursework that demonstrates critical thinking and engagement with theory, as well as an academic writing component. Examples of such courses might include those in Art History, Music Theory, Comparative Religions, as well as English, Political Science or History. If it is not clear on your transcript, be sure to point out such courses in your application (under “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” or in your resume). Encourage your academic referees to address these issues in their letters of reference.

If your GPA is at or below the minimum requirement for admission, consider taking some upper-level (3rd year or 4th year) academic courses at your local university and achieve first-class standing (A- average). This will demonstrate your academic ability, and give you stronger academic references too. Spend time preparing your application and discuss your draft responses with someone who has graduated from a similar program, or who has completed graduate studies. Follow some related blogs to gain an understanding of issues and trends. Subscribe to the alert services in your academic library databases.  Be informed in responding to the questions.

Our programs are competitive and we receive more applications than we have spaces. Due to the number of applications, unfortunately we cannot provide detailed information on specific applications. In evaluating applications, the admissions committee looks at many factors including GPA, letters of reference, related experience, and understanding of the program and the field. All of these components must demonstrate potential to be successful in a rigorous graduate program and the profession. While you may reapply, unless you have significantly changed your application do not expect a different decision.

Applicants currently enrolled in another ALA-accredited MLIS program or equivalent may apply to transfer into the MLIS, MAS, or Dual programs. You must follow the regular admissions procedure, and will be considered by the admissions committee at the same time as other applicants. All normal requirements for admission to UBC must be met or exceeded. No students whose academic record in any way does not meet our minimum requirements will be accepted as a transfer student. Please state in your application that you are intending to transfer some credits to UBC. All requests for transfer must be made prior to starting classes. The process of evaluating credits for transfer will begin after the applicant has been offered and accepted admission to UBC. The syllabus used for each class being considered for transfer is required. All transfer credit requests will be decided by the iSchool Graduate Advisor, with input from faculty, on a case-by-case basis. A maximum of 18 credits may be applied to the UBC degree program. UBC regulations regarding transfer credits for master’s students will apply.

About life at the iSchool

Our student body numbers between 200- 250 tudents at any time. Approximately 15 to 20 are in the doctoral program and the rest are in master’s level programs. Approximately 25% of our student body holds an international study permit. The majority of these are from the United States; the rest are from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. About 80% of our students are female; more than a third speak at least two languages, more than 20% hold a prior master’s degree, and the average age of a current SLAIS student is 31 years, across all programs.

One of the iSchool’s strengths lies in its experiential learning course offerings. Students obtain hands-on experience through credit-bearing internships and practicum placements. The three-credit professional experience course offers students the opportunity to work in the field under the supervision of a librarian or archivist. The co-operative education program connects iSchool students with paid employment directly related to their degree. And finally, iSchool has developed a strong relationship with practitioners in the field who hire iSchool students in part-time positions as student librarians, archivists, digitization assistants, research assistants and more – again providing real-world experience directly connected to their programs of study.