Graduate Program Admissions

The School of Information and Library Science seeks exceptional students who have the potential to excel in graduate studies and to become future leaders in the field. We try each year to assemble a student body that is diverse on many levels (i.e., race, ethnicity, age, physical ability, cultural perspective, intellectual background, and work experience) to foster the most dynamic learning and research environment possible so that faculty and students challenge each other to explore and envision the possible.


Application Process

Admissions Deadlines 

Frequently Asked Questions 

Additional Assistance


We use many facets of the student’s application to arrive at an admissions decision:

We look for strong academic records, judged by the applicant’s past Grade Point Average (GPA), and we examine the coursework on the student’s transcript(s) to determine personal strengths and areas of mastery. Recently accepted graduate students had an average undergraduate GPA of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

We also use the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) scores and for international applicants the TOEFL or IELTS exam is used to assess potential success in graduate work.

We emphasize the applicant’s written statement of interest in the field, and we look for questions the applicant wants to answer, areas of specialization the applicant wishes to pursue, and a beginning knowledge of the field and its issues and challenges combined with the ways in which our School (faculty, staff, and resources) might help the student delve into those issues. We want students who are excited, open-minded, and full of questions they wish to explore.

We examine the applicant's resume for evidence of qualifications and skills based on practical work experience or exposure to different cultures and perspectives, and we look for evidence of distinction in the awards and honors applicants have received.

We read carefully the three reference letters that applicants include in their application to see how professors, professional peers, or supervisors assess them and their potential. We look for distinguishing characteristics and experiences in these letters that might mark the applicants as superior and unique.We are immensely proud of our students. They challenge us – and each other – to expand our ideas, grow our imaginations, and move the field forward in its constant regeneration. 


  1. Complete and submit the online Graduate School application, and pay the nonrefundable $95 application fee. Applicants who are U.S. citizens or resident aliens should follow the domestic application process; international applicants should follow the international application process. Be sure to complete or upload all of the following items in the online application:
    • Complete the basic application.
    • Upload unofficial copies of transcripts for each school attended (max 300 kB).
    • Upload a résumé including work experience, special abilities and skills (max 300 kB).
    • Upload a Statement of Purpose. General guidelines for the statement of purpose: 
      Your application requires a written statement to uploaded into your application and is a critical component of your application for admission. This is your opportunity to tell us what excites you about the field of library and information science, and what problems you want to help solve in this field. Please also tell us how your prior experiences have prepared you for this next step toward your career goals and how UNC-SILS will help you achieve them
    • Arrange for three letters of reference. These letters are solicited by entering recommenders' email addresses into the online application. Recommenders can upload their letters directly into your application. At least two letters should be from persons having first-hand knowledge of the applicant's academic capabilities
    • Scores on the General Test of the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) taken within the past five years, sent from Educational Testing Service. Applicants holding a terminal research degree (e.g., JD, MD, DDS, Ph.D.) may request a waiver from this requirement. The Graduate School requires a minimum score of 50% (50 percentile) in both the verbal and quantitative sections and at least a four (4) on the writing section. The GRE code for UNC-Chapel Hill is 5816.
    • International applicants must also send scores on the TOEFL. The graduate school's TOEFL minimum requirement for admission is 90. For the IELTS the minimum is 7
    • Have your official test scores sent to the Graduate School: 

Graduate Admissions
The Graduate School 
CB #4010, 200 Bynum Hall

Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010

2. Wait for your admissions decision. You will receive an email from the Graduate School accepting or denying your application.

3. If admitted, please send final official copies of your transcripts to the Graduate School: 
Graduate Admissions
The Graduate School
CB #4010, 200 Bynum Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010

4. International applicants: You are not required to provide the financial certificate at the time of application. If you are admitted, instructions on how to submit your financial certificate and supporting documents will be provided in your admissions letter. Please refer to your letter for how to upload your materials for your I-20. 

Applications are not considered complete until all material has been uploaded into the application.  Applications are not reviewed until all materials (forms, transcripts, test scores, essay and references) have been received. Admissions decisions are made on a rolling basis. Applicants who apply early are likely to find out their admissions decision relatively quickly. Financial assistance is not considered until the applicant has been approved for admission. It is imperative that your application, including all supplementary materials, is submitted before the deadline.

SILS admits master's students for matriculation in the fall, spring and summer semesters, however Doctoral applicants are only admitted for the fall semester. We recommend beginning the program in the fall semester, since that is when most introductory courses are offered and when most merit-based financial assistance awards begin.

DEADLINES-2021 Admissions cycle


*Admissions decisions for fall are made a on a rolling basis starting in JANUARY

Application opens for Fall for Doctoral (PhD), Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)  TBA
Doctoral (PhD) application closes December 15
To be considered for any merit based aid including aid from the Graduate School and SILS which includes the CALA and CATA programs, any departmental non-service fellowships December 15
Last day for Masters (MS) applicants to submit an application with the graduate school and SILS to be considered for Fall admission  June 8
Application closes for Fall for Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)  June 8
Application opens for Spring for Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), and Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)  TBA
Application closes for Spring for Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), and Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)   October 13


Application opens: Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), and Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)  August 1
Application closes for Spring for Masters (MS), Post Masters Certificate (PMC), and Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)   March 9



Can I submit my application without my letters of recommendation and GRE scores?

Yes. As long as you have uploaded your essay, resume and unofficial copies of your transcripts you are able to submit your application and pay the application fee.

My test scores are still missing even though I have submitted my application several days ago. How long does it take for my scores to match up?

It has been taking between 7-10 days for GRE and/or TOEFL scores to match up with your application. If you still do not see your scores after 10 days please feel free to contact us and we will help you in tracking down your scores.

I have submitted my application but one of my recommenders backed out and I need to change recommenders. How can I get the recommender changed in the system?

We are unable to change recommenders in the system. However, you can have your new recommender email the Graduate Student Services Coordinator directly and we will be glad to upload the replacement letter into your application.

How do my recommenders get notified to submit their letters?

Once you enter their information and their email address into the system, it will automatically send them an email with information and link to upload their letter.

How will I be notified of my admissions decision?

The graduate school will send you an email saying your decision is ready for you to view. You can log into your applicant portal in Slate to see your admissions decision.

Need more application help?



Prospective students may make appointments with faculty and staff members to discuss admission requirements, program schedules, and curriculum content. The school office arranges appointments within its normal business hours (8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday).