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 Information 


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 $85 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:
    1. Complete the basic application.
    2. Upload unofficial copies of transcripts for each school attended (max 300 kB).
    3. Upload a résumé including work experience, special abilities and skills (max 300 kB).
    4. Upload a Statement of Purpose. The Statement of Purpose for Masters and PMC applicants should reflect the applicant's career goals, how the applicants educational background and work experience will contribute to their experience a SILS, and how attending SILS will assist the applicant in achieving their career goals. For PHD applicants the statement of purpose should discuss the applicant's general area of research interest, how the applicants educational background and work experience led the them to becoming interested in that particular research area, and how attending SILS will help them to achieve their research and career goals.
    5. Arrange for three letters of reference. These letters are solicited by entering recommenders' email addresses into the online application. At least two letters should be from persons having first-hand knowledge of the applicant's academic capabilities.
  2. Have your test scores sent to the Graduate School: 
    Graduate Admissions
    The Graduate School
    CB #4010, 200 Bynum Hall
    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-4010
    1. 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. Applicants who took the GRE prior to August 1, 2011 the Graduate school requires a combined minimum combined score of 1000 on both the verbal and quantitative sections of the GRE and at least a four (4) on the writing section. Applicants who took the GRE starting on August 1, 2011 the Graduate School requires a minimum score of 50% (50 percent) 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.
    2. 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. 
  3. Wait for your admissions decision. You will receive letters from SILS and the Graduate School accepting or denying your application. You may submit your application for North Carolina residency within the time suggested by the Graduate School.
  4. 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
  5. International appicants: 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-2017 Admissions cycle


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

Application opens August 9
Doctoral application closes December 13
To be considered for Graduate School financial assistance(MS, PhD) *The Graduate School (which SILS is a division of) provides limited amounts of aid to all graduate programs that are part of the Graduate School. Financial aid from the graduate school is extremely competitive and is usually offered to the most promising applicants December 13
To be considered for a Carolina Academic Library Associate (CALA) or Carolina Technology Associate (CATA)  January 1

To be considered for SILS financial assistance (MS, PhD) including departmental merit based assistantships and non-service fellowships. Applicants who receive any merit-based aid from SILS will be notified by April 1.

February 9
Last day for Masters applicants to submit an application with the graduate school and SILS to be considered for Fall admission April 11
Application opens August 9
MS Applicants October 11
Application opens August 9
MS Summer I & II March 14
Post-Masters Certificate Summer I March 14

*During recent years, spaces have been filled earlier than these deadlines. Prospective students are encouraged to apply early even if financial assistance is not being requested.


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).