Library Science (MA)

This is a master of arts degree in information science and learning technologies with an emphasis in library science.

ALA accredited

This degree is part of the library and information science program, housed in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies (SISLT). The program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).


We use several different course structures to provide you with the broadest and most instructionally appropriate class opportunities.

  • Face-to-face classes, giving you the opportunity to meet classmates and future colleagues
  • Online asynchronous classes, allowing you to participate any time, anywhere
  • Online synchronous classes, scheduled at fixed times to allow online, real-time interaction without the drive time
  • Hybrid classes, combining face-to-face and online instruction


Face-to-face and hybrid classes are offered at five different locations:

  • Columbia
  • Kansas City, Missouri
  • Springfield, Missouri
  • St. Louis
  • Omaha, Nebraska

Most library and information science faculty are based in Columbia, with clinical faculty in St. Louis and Kansas City. Partnerships with Missouri State University and the University of Nebraska-Omaha allow us to provide classes in those locations as well.

Degree Requirements

For students admitted in fall 2014 and later, the program consists of 39 credit hours, including 18 credits of required courses. Students admitted before fall 2014 are expected to complete 42-credit hour program (with 16 credits of required courses).

Each student completes a practicum (two to three credits)

Elective courses are selected in consultation with faculty advisers.

  • Must include 15 credit hours of 9000-level courses
  • Must include 12 hours of courses taught by a full-time faculty member

See descriptions of all SISLT classes.

See all LIS forms and planners.

Tentative Course Rotation


We require all students to complete a two- or three-hour practicum as part of the degree. The practicum is the time to dream big, to make connections and to explore something under the guidance of a professional that can’t be explored as part of the regular program.

Many of our students are already working in libraries in some capacity. Sometimes the practicum is an experience in another part of a library (public services versus technical services), in another kind of library (special versus academic) or in a different institution all together (e.g. museums). Students are invited to tailor their practicum experience to their own needs and circumstances, including geography and specific areas you want to explore.

Already work a full-time job? We know that practica can be awkward to fit around your existing schedule, so if your supervisor approves, we can help you implement a more flexible scheduling plan. This might involve working evenings and weekends or extending the practicum experience over two semesters. You can also work on practica at times when MU is not in session (intersessions).

For students already in a supervisory position in libraries and who already make decisions, advisers may choose to waive the practicum after the student has made a case for himself or herself. A general rule of thumb is that a practicum experience might be waived if:

  • A student has a library position with decision-making responsibilities (e.g., a budget to spend, a metadata schema to adopt, etc.);
  • A student is already supervising full-time employees.


Librarianship is a rapidly changing field that prepares you to serve new kinds of library and information users with new expectations. Technology has changed the way librarians retrieve information for their users, yet traditional services remain the same – whether in person or online. Librarians must be information experts in the information age, and our program helps prepare you to become just that.

A Profession in Demand

An impending librarian shortage has been well documented. The American Library Association estimates that nearly 60 percent of professional librarians will reach retirement age within the next decade.

As more people attempt to navigate digital information, libraries and librarians will be needed more than ever to provide relevant and meaningful services to library users.

Career Paths

Our graduates enjoy a variety of career paths. Some of the positions our graduates have taken include:

  • Reference/web services librarian
  • Archives specialist
  • Library director
  • Electronic services librarian
  • Research analyst librarian
  • Access services librarian
  • Director, Washington Public Library
  • Library media specialist
  • Assistant director for public services
  • Vice president for product management
  • Library development coordinator
  • Director, Mid-Continent Public Library
  • Senior librarian
  • Reference instruction librarian

Career Assistance

Career planning and résumé writing workshops are offered on a regular basis at three locations: Columbia, Kansas City and St. Louis.

For more information on these workshops or on general career assistance, email us at or call us 877-747-5868.

Scholarships & Aid

MU Student Financial Aid Office

MU Graduate Assistantships

College of Education Scholarships

Other Financial Aid Sources


Before You Apply

You may test the waters by taking up to nine hours of SISLT course work, but:

  • Taking courses prior to applying does not guarantee admission;
  • Be sure to take courses that will be included in your program of study – check with the student services office before enrolling;
  • No more than nine hours will count toward your degree before you are officially accepted into the program.


Applications are accepted and reviewed for admission continuously until the capacity is met.

The applications should be completed by:

  • July 15 for fall admission
  • Dec. 15 for spring admission

All applications received after the above dates will be considered for admission in the following semester.

Admission Requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate education
    • The average GPA of our admitted students for fall 2014 was 3.66.

How to Apply

1. Complete the online graduate application (ApplyYourself) at least 10 days prior to the deadlines above.

Upload the following materials to the online graduate application:

  • Resume or CV
    • This should demonstrate high potential for success in the library and information science field.
  • Statement of purpose answering these questions (in 500 words or less):·
    • Why do you want to earn a master’s degree in library and information science?
    • What areas of library and information science interest you?
    • Do you anticipate working in a particular type of library or information agency?
    • At which site are you located? At the bottom of your statement of purpose, please indicate one of the following: Columbia/Mid-Missouri; Greater Kansas City Area; Great St. Louis Area; Springfield, MO area; Nebraska; Other.
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • These should attest to your critical thinking, analytical and writing skills, demonstrating your potential as a graduate student and professional.
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • TOEFL scores (Test of English as a Foreign Language): minimum 550 (paper-based) or 80 (Internet-based).

2. Have official transcripts sent to:

MU Office of Research and Graduate Studies
210 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211

3. Submit official test scores

  • Official TOEFL scores (for international students only) (MU code: 6875, SISLT: 90)

We encourage electronic submission, but applicants can also send materials by mail to:

SISLT Student Services Office
304 Townsend Hall
Columbia, MO 65211