Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS)

Mission Statement:  The MLIS program prepares professionals to exercise creativity, integrity and leadership in designing, implementing and promoting programs and systems for the creation, organization, management, preservation and effective use of information and collections. Graduates of the MLIS program go on to careers as librarians, information managers, researchers, analysts, interaction designers, web content specialists, and more.

The MLIS program is Accredited by the American Library Association and was awarded Continuing Accreditation Status (review in 2023).  View our latest Accreditation Self Study

The MLIS degree program offers a wide range of courses and is highly customizable based on specific student interests. Areas of particular focus include the following:

  • Information sources and services
  • Digital resource management
  • Human-information interaction
  • Information analysis and management
  • Services and management of information organizations
  • Youth services and literature

The educational commitments of the MLIS program are set out in the Statement on Graduate Competencies. The Graduate Competencies provide a framework for the ongoing assessment of the MLIS program through direct and indirect measures of student achievement. The results of the assessment are published annually on the Program Assessment page of the website.

The Master of Library and Information Studies is awarded on completion of 48 credits of work approved by the School.

The are five required courses for the MLIS  program. The MLIS Core courses (taken at the first semester), and a required course, LIBR 504, which may be taken after the completion of the core.

  • LIBR 506: Human Information Interaction (3 credits)
  • LIBR 507: Methods of Research and Evaluation in Information Organizations (3 credits)
  • LIBR 508: Information Practices in Contemporary Society (3 credits)
  • LIBR 509: Foundations of Resource Description and Knowledge Organization (3 credits)
  • LIBR 504: Management of Information Organizations (3 credits)

*Students participating in the program on a part-time basis are required to take LIBR 508 and 509 in their first term. The remaining two Core courses (LIBR 506 and 507) require LIBR 508 and 509 as pre- or co-requisites. All four of the Core courses are prerequisites to all non-Core courses, as the Core introduces knowledge that should be common to all librarians and information professional in related fields.

Please note that Co-op credits DO NOT count towards the 48 credits required the MLIS degree.

Students in the MLIS program should be familiar with the school's Academic Regulations, which contain details on:

  • Advancement Regulations
  • Examinations, Assignments & Attendance
  • Academic Work Load

During the first term the student will take four courses (LIBR 506, 507, 508, 509), collectively known as the Core:

  • LIBR 506: Human Information Interaction (3 credits)
  • LIBR 507: Methods of Research and Evaluation in Information Organizations (3 credits)
  • LIBR 508: Information Practices in Contemporary Society (3 credits)
  • LIBR 509: Foundations of Resource Description and Knowledge Organization (3 credits)

The four Core courses are designed to provide students with an introduction to the concepts basic to the Library and Information Studies field and the opportunity to enhance and exercise their intellectual skills of synthesis, criticism, and analysis in oral discussions and written work about those concepts. The Core courses cover the basic concepts of information in society, information organization, information technology and retrieval, and information agencies and provide a known knowledge/skills base on which every instructor in subsequent non-Core courses can depend. The Core courses are offered using a variety of course-delivery methods, including web-based, mixed-mode, and on-campus. The Core instructors work closely together to ensure that the sum of their courses give students an accurate picture of the profession and its challenges while providing a unified and comprehensive foundation for future study.

All elective courses have at least two [but typically all four] of the Core courses as pre- or co-requisites.

Elective Courses

Students in the MLIS program have the option of tailoring their program to suit their specific needs. Every MLIS students will be assigned an academic adviser who can assist students with selecting elective courses and questions regarding the curriculum.

With a few exceptions, once a student completes the four Core courses they will have met the pre- and co-requisite requirements for the non-Core courses. All established pre- or co-requisites for LIBR courses can be found on the individual course pages and will be strictly adhered to except in extraordinary circumstances.

In such cases the student must first discuss the rationale for an exemption with his or her Adviser and then must submit a written request for an exemption to the SLAIS Graduate Adviser. The decision on whether or not to grant such an exemption will be made by the Graduate Adviser [in consultation with other faculty as needed].

The full list of courses available for MLIS students can be accessed on the Courses page.

First Nations Curriculum Concentration (FNCC)

The First Nations Curriculum Concentration (FNCC) is designed to prepare information professionals to work effectively with Aboriginal communities in support of ongoing developments in Aboriginal culture and languages, self-government, treaty negotiation and litigation.

During their program of study, iSchool students enrolled in the FNCC develop a strong foundation in their chosen program (MAS, MLIS, or Dual MAS/MLIS). In addition, they build a deep appreciation for the influence of the information professions on Indigenous histories and ongoing Indigenous initiatives. As an integral part of the concentration, students are supported in gaining experience working in Indigenous-oriented information organizations.

Students interesting in pursuing the FNCC can access more information on the FNCC page.

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) Sub-Specialization

The Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre (MAGIC) coordinates the MAS and MLIS Sub-Specialization in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Human-Computer Interaction is an interdisciplinary field of study that explores human behaviour in technology-rich environments with the goal of informing the design and testing of new technologies. MAGIC does not grant degrees; however, students earning degrees in participating departments can also earn a Specialization in Human-Computer Interaction by successfully completing the Specialization requirements listed below in addition to those necessary for their Master’s degree.

Applications to the the HCI Sub-Specialization are not currently being accepted.



Program pathways are to be used as a way to guide students wishing to focus their studies in a particular area.  Librarianship is still considered the general pathway, and we offer a wide range of courses that focus on public librarianship, academic librarianship, and/or children’s literature and services. The courses outlined within each pathway is not exhaustive and students are encouraged to meet with their assigned faculty advisors with questions about course offerings.

Data Services

This pathway is designed to develop the competencies necessary to provide services related to data, which can enable the data to be used to draw conclusions or make decisions.  An important focus of this pathway is data stewardship, which involves management and maintenance of data and metadata that ensures integrity and quality.  A secondary focus is data analysis, especially the ability to summarize and visualize data to facilitate understanding and communication.  This pathway is associated with professional work in positions such as Data Librarian, Data Curator, Research Data Manager, Data Steward, Data Scientist, Social Media Manager. [read more]

Information Interaction and Design

The focus of this pathway will be on the development of knowledge and skills related to the ways in which humans search for and interact with information and media, and the design of social and technological systems to support those interactions.  This pathway is associated with professional work in fields such as information architecture, web design, information services, instructional design, usability testing and user-centred design.  It is associated with academic research in the fields of information behaviour, human-computer interaction, Internet research, media studies, knowledge organization and design. [read more]

Community and Culture

The focus of this pathway will be on the development of knowledge and skills related to the collection and stewardship of cultural materials and the provision of information and cultural services to communities that support and are respectful of their needs, traditions and ways of knowing.  This pathway is associated with professional work related to community librarianship, community archives, community outreach, cultural heritage preservation and education, digitization and digital curation projects, and information policy.  It is associated with academic research in the fields of community informatics, First Nations studies, LGBTQ studies, social justice librarianship, information policy, museum studies, etc. [read more]

This pathway is complementary to the First Nations Curriculum Concentration.


This outlines the generalist librarianship pathway as well as the specialized areas within it.  It serves a wide range of library-focused careers and is complementary to all other MLIS pathways. [read more]

UBC Faculty of Arts Co-op Program

The Arts Co-op program is a fantastic way for students in the MLIS program to supplement their income and apply their skills in a real world environment.

For information on the Co-op program, please visit the Co-op information page. Please note that while on a co-op placement, you are registered in an Arts Co-op course; however, these credits do NOT count towards the 48 credits required for your MLIS degree.

For-Credit Experiential Learning Options

Students also have the opportunity to complete unpaid field work for academic credit. Students in the MLIS program have the following course-based experiential learning options:

  • LIBR 595: Practicum (0 credits, but recognized on transcript)
  • LIBR 596: Professional Experience (3 credits)
  • LIBR 569R: Graduating Project (3 credits)

Students can learn more about these Experiential Learning options here.

A student with research interests may elect to write a thesis. The decision to do so must be confirmed with the Faculty Adviser before the end of the term in which the student completes 24 credits of course work, after which a thesis advisory committee will be established and a supervisor assigned. The thesis will be prepared and examined according to the regulations of the Faculty of Graduate Studies.

Program Start Date

The program may be started in either September or January.

Average Length of Program

The average completion time of the MLIS program is approximately 2 years.

Minimum Length of Program

The minimum completion time for the MLIS program is 16 months.

Maximum Length of Program

UBC's Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies regulations require completion of master's degree requirements within five years of initial registration (see Duration of Study).

Part-Time Study

Although completion of the MLIS Core courses on a full-time schedule (four core courses completed in the first term) is highly recommended, it is possible to pursue the MLIS degree on a part-time basis. Core courses are pre- or co-requisites for all LIBR electives and completing the core in the first term provides students with the most options in subsequent terms.

Part-time students are advised to complete all their Core courses within 12 months of their start date.