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. While we offer some online courses, we are not an online degree program; we are an in-person, residential program.


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.

Graduate Record Exam (GRE) test scores are no longer required nor are they recommended for applicants to SILS. Applicants may voluntarily submit GRE scores if you feel that these scores would help the admissions committee understand your academic capabilities more completely. NOTE: The standardized test score field will still show up in the application as the basic application is used across multiple graduate programs here at UNC and international applicants are still required to submit TOEFL scores.

The TOEFL or IELTS test (no more than 2 years old) is still required for international applicants, with the following three exceptions:

  1. You are from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction.
  2. You have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university in the United States.
  3. You have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university where English is the SOLE language of instruction.

The UNC graduate school's minimum requirement for admission on the TOEFL is a total score of 90. For the IELTS the minimum overall band score is 7. Most international students admitted to SILS have TOEFL scores above 100.

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
    • International applicants: The TOEFL or IELTS test (no more than 2 years old) is still required for international applicants, with the following three exceptions:
  • You are from countries where English is the SOLE OFFICIAL language of instruction.
  • You have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university in the United States.
  • You have received or will receive a degree from an accredited university where English is the SOLE language of instruction.

NOTE: The graduate school's TOEFL minimum requirement for admission is 90. For the IELTS the minimum is 7. Most international students admitted to SILS have TOEFL scores above 100. The University of North Carolina’s Institution code is #5816. UNC does not require a department code, you may leave that blank.

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

Electronic copies of official transcripts are also accepted and should be emailed to 

More information for recently admitted students including detailed information on how to send your transcripts electronically can be found on the UNC Graduate School's recently admitted student website

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.


DEADLINES-2024 Admissions cycle


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

Application opens for Fall for Masters (MS), Professional Science Masters (PSM), Dual BS to MS Applicants (BS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS), and Doctor of Philosophy (PHD) August 21, 2023

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

Application closes for Doctor of Philosphy (PHD)

December 12, 2023
Last day for Masters (MS) applicants and Dual BS to MS Applicants (BSIS to MSIS or MSLS and BS Environmental Science to MSIS)  to submit an application with the graduate school and SILS to be considered for Fall admission. March 12, 2024
Application closes for Fall for the Professional Science Masters (PSM). June 11, 2024


Application opens for Summer Professional Science Masters (PSM) TBA

Application closes for Fall for the Professional Science Masters (PSM) for Summer 

March 12, 2024



Can I submit my application without my letters of recommendation? 

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 TOEFL 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 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?

What should be included in my Statement of Purpose?

Your Statement of Purpose is an important part of your application and should answer a few important questions:

  • Who are you? What are you passionate about?
  • Why are you interested in research?
  • What is your research experience?
  • What area(s) of research are you interested in pursuing as a doctoral student?
  • What are your short- and long-term career goals and how will a doctorate degree help you achieve those goals?
  • Why do you think that SILS will be a good place for you to thrive as a doctoral student?

Tips for writing a successful Statement of Purpose:

  • The questions above and examples given below are ones that the committee will be thinking about when reading your SoP.  However, your SoP should be written in essay form (i.e., not question-answer pairs).
  • There is no word limit for the statement of purpose, however average length is about 2-3 pages
  • Having answers to these questions will help the committee determine whether you are committed to pursuing and completing a doctorate degree.  And, being committed to something requires: (1) knowing what it is and (2) knowing how it fits with your goals.
  • If you have not had formal research experience, perhaps you can describe a project that you were involved in that was open ended and required you to: (1) do some background reading, (2) define the scope of the project, (3) seek answers to specific questions,  (4) think about evaluation, and/or (5) present your findings to people from different backgrounds.
  • For PHD applicants only: The last question (Why SILS?) is an important one.  In order to be admitted, there must be a faculty member who is enthusiastically willing to serve as your academic advisor.  Therefore, your chances of being admitted will increase if there is a faculty member interested in the same research area(s) described in your SoP. You should feel free to contact faculty who might be a good academic advisor for you.  While this is not required, if you mention a faculty member in your application, the admissions committee will invite them to your Zoom interview.
  • The application form will ask you to list faculty members who might be good advisors based on your shared research interests. This question is optional. However, it may help the committee identify and reach out to potential advisors more effectively.


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).