MSIS Curriculum

Degree Requirements

The Master of Science in Information Science degree requires:

  • 48 semester hours of graduate-level course work
    • 28.5 hours of required core courses (see table below)
    • 19.5 hours of elective courses (see Course selection below)
  • Satisfactory completion of a comprehensive examination
  • Satisfactory completion of a master's paper or project

  First-Year student Checklist   

Second-Year Student Checklist

Comprehensive Exam Guidelines

Program Goals

  1. Students are prepared to apply critical thinking to a particular challenge that might be experienced in a professional setting. They will be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of particular solutions, and use concrete examples to clarify the challenge and its possible solutions.
  2. Students are prepared to apply standard professional tools to problem definition and solution. They will be aware of the classic and current tools and technologies available to information professionals, and will be able to select and apply those tools and technologies to information problems. 
  3. Students are prepared to apply ideas, theories, and empirical evidence to solve problems that information professionals might face in the workplace.
  4. Students are prepared to demonstrate a nuanced understanding of a particular information setting/context, including the needs of the users; the types of materials being collected; the realities of budget, management, and organizational structure; the types of challenges faced and ways to address those challenges; new/current professional and research developments pertinent to the setting/context; the influences of social and political milieu on the setting/context; and how quality may be defined and assessed within that setting/context.
  5. Students are prepared to express their ideas clearly. They will be able to describe problems/challenges, situations, and solutions in an understandable way; synthesize ideas from multiple sources, and engage with those ideas in depth; and develop an argument in a coherent and logical manner.

MSIS Required Courses

  • INLS 500: Human Information Interactions (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • INLS 509: Information Retrieval (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • INLS 520: Organization of Information (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • INLS 523: Database 1 (3.0 credits) (first for Database Specialization, or second semester)
  • INLS 560: Programming for Information Professionals (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • INLS 581: Overview of Research Methods (3.0 credits) (MUST be taken in first or second semester)
  • INLS 582: Systems Analysis (3.0 credits) (suggested for first or second semester)
  • INLS 585: Management for Information Professionals (3.0 credits) (suggested for third semester)
  • INLS 781: Proposal Preparation and Presentation (1.5 credits) (third semester, pre-req INLS 581)
  • INLS 992: Master's Paper (3.0 credits) (usually final semester)


Most of the required 48 hours will be taken within SILS. A full list of INLS course descriptions can be found on our courses page. Many students enrolled in the information science program also elect to take one or more courses in other departments on campus (such as the Kenan-Flagler Business School, the School of Journalism and Mass Communication, or the Department of Computer Science) or at nearby universities (principally Duke and N. C. State).

Students without extensive practical experience are encouraged to enroll in the Professional Field Experience course (INLS 795). This structured practicum provides the opportunity for students to apply theoretical knowledge to an individually selected work environment.

Information Technology Competency Requirement

All incoming SILS master’s students must have demonstrated competency for basic computer applications. If you already have credit for INLS 161 (261) or 461 you are not required to take the Information Technology Competency test. You may either:
  • Successfully complete the information technology test, OR
  • Register for INLS 161 your first semester; however, this class will not count toward the 48 credits needed for your master’s degree.
The objective of the information technology competency requirement is for incoming students to show facility with web pages, basic server commands, and basic usage of common office applications. The tasks in the following test - hyperlinked below - should be fairly simple for someone who has the required technology competence.
If you encounter something you do not understand in the specific instructions, you can find answers within the help or manual functions of the tool involved, by searching the internet, or by using resources linked either from this Study Guide or from this INLS 161 course webpage. You may take the test as many times as you need to in order to pass it. If your first attempt is unsuccessful, please teach yourself the knowledge you need to complete the test and then re-submit.
If we do not have evidence of your completed technology requirement by that date, you will need to register for INLS 161 your first semester (but you will not receive graduate credit for the class toward your degree), so PLEASE complete the test successfully by the date listed.

Take the Information Technology Competency Test

DEADLINE: You MUST have completed this test one week before classes start for the semester in which you begin your studies:
  • August 14, 2018 for students beginning in the fall 2018 semester
  • January 2, 2019 for students beginning in the spring 2019 semester