This is a named option within the Library and Information Studies M.A.

The master's degree at the Information School (iSchool) prepares graduates to develop, provide and assess information services that create, collect, organize, store, analyze, find, distribute, and use information in a diverse, technological, and global society.  The program prepares information professionals to work in five broad, overlapping areas of the information professions.

Librarianship: Graduates obtain employment in college and university librarianship, public librarianship, youth and young adult librarianship, electronic collections management, science and health librarianship, research data management, and school library media centers.

Archives in a Digital Age (on-campus program only): Graduates obtain employment in digital asset management, digital preservation and curation, digital archives, corporate archives, government archives, special collections, and tribal libraries archives and museums.

Data/Information Management and Analytics :  Graduates obtain employment in information analysis and visualization, knowledge management, prospect research, systems analysis, digital asset management, data and information governance, records management and compliance, research data management and project management.

Organization of Information: Graduates obtain employment in metadata management, taxonomy and ontology development and implementation, digital asset management, cataloging, XML and linked data, and database management.

User Experience Design and Information Technologies: Graduates obtain employment in user experience design, interaction design, systems analysis and project management,  IT training, educational technology support, digital asset management and curation, content management, and database development and management.

The master's degree requires 39 credit hours. Full-time students generally complete the program in two academic years with summer work; part-time students complete it in three to four years. Students gain hands-on experience as part of their degree through the school’s required 3-credit field practicum. Students may choose practicum settings based on their career goals.

Named Options

Students interested in the Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies should refer to one of the named options:

OPTIONAL Specializations

The Information School hosts several specializations that require specific coursework from other departments or other requirements.

Business School Graduate/Professional Certificate in Strategic Innovation:The Information School offers a specialization in information innovation and organizational change in conjunction with the School of Business graduate/professional certificate which can be completed as part of the school's M.A. degree (on-campus program only).

Certificate in Leadership: iSchool students can earn the UW–Madison Certificate in Leadership as part of their Information School M.A. degree (on-campus and online programs).

Double degrees: The iSchool offers double degrees with the UW Law School, the School of Music, and the Department of Art History. These require separate admissions and additional coursework. (on-campus program only)

School Library Media Services and Administration: The equivalent to a teaching license is required for school library media certification in the state of Wisconsin. This can be obtained before or after completing the School of Information MA; it is not required for admission.  For licensed classroom teachers with master's degrees, web-based school library media certification courses are available through the UW System School Library Education Consortium (UWSSLEC).  

Online students (distance degree option) should note: Specialized courses in art, music and law, as well as courses offered outside the Information School that may be part of concentrations, specializations or double degrees, are generally not available online. For a distance student with academic background in one of these areas, combining the general Information School degree with the specialized background may be the best preparation.

The Information School master's program is accredited by the American Library Association, recognized by the Wisconsin Division for Libraries, Technology, and Community Learning for certification of public librarians, and recognized by the state's Department of Public Instruction for preparation of school library media specialists.

ABOUT THE INFORMATION SCHOOL

PROGRAMS

The UW-Madison Information School, "the iSchool," is a professional school offering several degrees and non -credit education that prepare students for careers in the information professions:

  • The iSchool M.A. degree is a professional masters that offers five concentration areas: Librarianship, Archives in a Digital Age, Data/Information Management and Analytics, User Experience Design and Information Technologies, Organization of Information.
  • The Capstone Certificate in User Experience Design is an educational credential aimed at working adults who seek further education to advance their careers or move into new fields without the commitment of a full masters degree. See the Capstone Certificate Guide page here.
  • The Ph.D. degree provides advanced academic preparation for those wishing to pursue careers in academia, industrial research or policy making. See the Ph.D. Guide page here.
  • Undergraduate Digital Studies certificate provides undergraduate coursework in information technologies and society and information management. See the Undergraduate Certificate Guide page here.
  • The iSchool offers non-credit continuing education short courses that help information professionals stay up to date.

COMMUNITY

The Information School at UW-Madison is well known for its public-good, community-engagement orientation. It is home to student organizations that shepherd information-justice projects including the Jail Library Group, the Tribal Library Archives and Museums Group, and the Allied Drive Literacy Project. Student groups at the iSchool are very active and organize and sponsor events. 

The iSchool Library, whose windows overlook the shores of Lake Mendota and the oak trees of Muir Knoll, is a very popular campus space for study, group work, social events and relaxation.  The Information School Library is also home to:

  • RADD "Recovering Analog and Digital Data" a digital data recovery workshop that provides fee-for-service recovery of data from a wide variety of media types.  
  • The Text Technologies Press: typography and letterpress printing equipment for teaching book history, book arts, design, art, and making. 

RESEARCH & SCHOLARSHIP

The Information School faculty are known for scholarly work in the areas of:

  • data and information policy and ethics,
  • user behaviors and literacies,
  • print culture,
  • library and information technology history,
  • electronic publishing,
  • information and communications technologies (ICT) and development, and transnational diaspora use of ICT,
  • the social aspects of ICT.

Faculty have made valuable scholarly contributions in the areas of medical information retrieval systems, online search behavior and search effectiveness, publisher e-journal licensing practices, information technology history, print culture and library history, information ethics and policy, and youth and new media.  For more information see the iSchool Research Overview Page.

Faculty and staff are widely involved in different research groups on campus. For example, the iSchool is home to the Center for the History of Print and Digital Culture, a research center focused on authorship, reading, publication and distribution of print and digital materials. The Information School faculty members are involved with the Holtz Center for Science and Technology Studies, the Digital Humanities Research Network, the HCI+Design Group, the Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, and the Center for Financial Security.

The school admits students to its on campus and online master's programs once a year, for fall semester. Although applications are accepted until February 1, priority consideration, including consideration for departmental scholarships, is given to applications received by December 15.  After February 1, interested applicants should contact the department to ask if a late application can still be considered. 

Note that the online program is called the "distance degree option" in all admissions forms, and students from any geographical location (including Madison, Wisconsin) are welcome to apply.  Online students cannot take face to face courses.

For more information on the Information School MA program, including detailed admissions instructions, please see this link.

The Graduate School requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited U.S. institution, or a comparable degree from an international institution. A minimum undergraduate grade-point average (GPA) of 3.00 (on a 4.00 scale) in the last 60 earned credit hours is required.

Application evaluation criteria include academic abilities, professional promise, leadership and community engagement. An undergraduate program that includes breadth in liberal arts and sciences is required. Any major is acceptable. Prior work experience related to information professions is useful, but is not required. The GRE is not required.

International students: TOEFL or equivalent scores are required if English is not the native language, or if the undergraduate instruction was not in English. The Information School follows UW Graduate School rules regarding English proficiency exams. See the Graduate School website for updated information. For more information about admission to the master's program, see iSchool MA Admissions.

Graduate School Admissions

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.  

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and processes related to funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Named Option Requirements

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
No No Yes No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

CURRICULAR REQUIREMENTS

Minimum Credit Requirement 39 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 33 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement A minimum of 30 credits must be taken from graduate-level Information School M.A. coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (http://my.wisc.edu/CourseGuideRedirect/BrowseByTitle).

The remaining 9 credits of coursework must be 300 level or above and may not include iSchool undergraduate coursework.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Other Grade Requirements Within the student’s total program, one grade of BC or C is allowable in either a required or elective course if it is balanced by a grade of A or AB earned prior to or concurrently with the unsatisfactory grade. A second grade of BC or C or any grade of D or F will normally result in the student being dropped from the program.
Assessments and Examinations Candidates must complete a minimum of a 120-hour practicum, and must complete a portfolio.
Language Requirements No language requirements.

Required Courses

The program has three courses that all students must take.  These courses are foundational to the field and provide prerequisite knowledge for more advanced courses.

Required Courses
L I S 601 Information: Perspectives and Contexts3
L I S 602 Information: Organization and Search3
L I S 603 Research and Assessment for Information Professionals3
Management Courses3
Choose at least 3 credits from the following:
Information Services Management
The Public Library
Strategic Information Services
Technology Courses3
Choose at least 3 credits from the following:
Code and Power
Digital Tools, Trends and Debates
Introduction to Info Architecture and Interaction Design for the Web
Digital Curation and Collections
Database Design for Libraries and Information Agencies
Digital Humanities Analytics
Practicum3
Most students fulfill the practicum requirement by taking:
Field Project in Library and Information Agencies
Electives21
E-Portfolio
Students may take up to 9 credits of electives outside of the iSchool. All non-LIS electives must be approved by the student’s advisor.
Total Credits39

Students seeking school library media certification have additional required courses; for details, see https://ischool.wisc.edu/programs/masters-degree-program/concentrations/librarianship/school-library-media-program/

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Named Option-Specific Policies

Graduate Program Handbook

The Graduate Program Handbook is the repository for all of the program's policies and requirements.

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Students may count up to 6 credits of approved graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With approval, UW–Madison undergraduates accepted into the Information School program may count up to 7 graduate iSchool credits (LIS 400 and above) toward their M.A. degree.

UW–Madison University Special

Students are allowed to count up to 6 approved credits of coursework numbered 400 or above taken as a UW–Madison Special Student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Probation

A student may be placed on probation or suspended from the Graduate School for low grades or for failing to resolve incompletes in a timely fashion. In special cases the Graduate School permits students who do not meet these minimum standards to continue on probation upon recommendation and support of their advisor.   See iSchool Student Handbook.

ADVISOR / COMMITTEE

All continuing students are required to meet with their advisor prior to registering for each semester in order to remove registration holds and ensure timely progress towards degree completion.  Students may switch advisors at any time by completing a change of advisor form.

CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED

The iSchool recommends 3 to 6 credits per semester for online students.  8 to 12 credits in a regular semester is considered full time at the graduate level.  

Time Constraints

The maximum period for completion of the M.A. (under special circumstances) is seven calendar years. Contact the department for more information.

Master’s degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Other

Online program students are not permitted to accept teaching assistantships, project assistantships, research assistantships, or other appointments that would result in a tuition waiver. Also, students in this program cannot enroll in other graduate programs nor take courses outside the prescribed curriculum.

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Faculty: Professors Eschenfelder (Director), Downey, Kim, Whitmire; Associate Professors Rubel, Arnott-Smith, Willett; Assistant Professors Royston, Senchyne

For a complete faculty/staff directory see https://ischool.wisc.edu/