Frequently Asked Questions - Prospective Students

Do you require any particular BA or undergraduate course of study for admission?

We do not require a BA in any particular discipline; SLIS students enter the program with a wide variety of course work and experience. For those students pursuing school media certification it is important to note that state regulations require teacher licensure in order to be a teacher librarian or school media specialist in the state of Iowa.

Library and information science professions are interdisciplinary fields that value a diversity of experiences and specializations. There are numerous career tracks that graduates of the SLIS program can take, and each can be supplemented with different undergraduate majors and trainings. For instance, prospective students wishing to be a social sciences reference librarian in an academic library may wish to have a BA in a social sciences field, and those hoping to be archivists may benefit from a BA in history or a related field.

However, prospective students should not feel limited by their BA discipline. Current students have a range of majors including, but not limited to, accounting, English, music, history, political science, ancient civilization, art and design, natural resources, psychology, religious studies, literature, foreign language, art history, computer science, sociology, and biology/neuroscience.

Skills that are beneficial in library and information professions can be learned from many disciplines. Prospective students should demonstrate proficiency and interest in technological tools, promoting lifelong learning, and a desire to serve a community of library users.

Learn more about skills necessary for librarianship here.

Learn more about types of libraries and their suggested skills here.

How long does it take to complete the program?

The MA program is designed to be a two-year program. Students must complete 36 semester hours of credit to graduate. The maximum amount of time for which course credit can be counted toward the degree is 10 years. If the date of the course is over 10 years old, the student will have to retake that particular course again or find another one that meets the requirement.

How much does it cost?

Costs of tuition and fees per semester hour can be found at the University of Iowa Tuition and Fee Tables. From the options select the appropriate semester and the Graduate College.

If I'm completing the program online, how much does it cost?

All online students, whether residents of Iowa or non-residents, are assessed the same tuition which is equivalent to that of Iowa residents. For more information please see: and select the Session, College (select Graduate College) and under Filter by Learning Center select Online.

What kinds of financial assistance are available?

Scholarships are available as well as some quarter-time research assistantships. Further information about the School's financial aid.

Are payment plans available to students?

For more information on financial options, contact the Graduate College Office of Student Financial Aid.

Do you offer courses via distance education?

We offer students the option of completing their MA in Library and Information Science online through our video conferencing system. We combine web-based education with on-campus instruction and collaboration, allowing distance students to participate real-time with their campus classmates. For more information follow this link.

Is the GRE required?

No. Effective Fall 2013 the GRE is no longer required.

How many students apply to the SLIS master's degree program, and how many are admitted?

Admissions to the School are both competitive and inclusive, bringing together a strong group of learners who value community, knowledge, and service. Applicant numbers fluctuate from year to year and include students applying for admission to certificate and joint-degree programs. In recent years, entering cohorts have neared thirty-five to forty students. These numbers mean our students enjoy good faculty-student ratios in the classroom, as well as mentoring and collegial relationships with their peers and professionals around the state.

How many students are enrolled in the program?

Our program currently instructs multiple cohorts of enrolled students, averaging around 90 students most years. Our students include certificate students with the University of Iowa Center for the Book and in digital humanities. Students in other degree programs at Iowa also enroll in SLIS courses to enhance their knowledge of archives, book history, and other content areas. Strengthening their technology skills is another common purpose of non-degree seeking students. These numbers and student profiles foster a connected and engaged community of interdisciplinary learners preparing for a variety of careers in libraries, instruction, and information services.

How do transfer credits work?

Transfer credits up to 6 semester hours from other institutions may be accepted toward the MLIS. Approval is granted by the Transfer Credit Committee on a course-by-course basis. The student applying for the transfer must fill out the appropriate request form, provide course descriptions and syllabi, and provide a written rationale explaining how the course goals and content are applicable to to his or her program.

I am not currently an Iowa resident. What steps can I take to achieve residency?

Please visit the Officer of the Registrar's web site to learn about residency requirements, and view their informative brochure on How to Establish Yourself as an Iowa Resident.

What if my TOEFL iBT or IELTS English Proficiency scores won't be available until after the admission deadline?

The admissions committee has the ability to grant conditional admission pending on test scores. This is examined on a case by case basis.

My undergraduate GPA is less than the required 3.0. Could I still be considered for admission to your program?

In certain situations the admissions committee may recommend admission for applicants who do not meet the minimum 3.0 GPA. These offers must then be approved by the Graduate College before the student is officially admitted to the program. In these instances the applicant would provide information detailing why the lower GPA is not reflective of their current ability to succeed in our program, e.g. illness or other extenuating circumstances at the time of their undergraduate education. This explanation along with strong letters of recommendation and statement of interest from the student help the committee determine the outcome of the review.