Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) Overview

The Master of Science in Library Science Program is a 48-unit, two-year program. The MSLS curriculum educates students in the collection, organization, storage, and retrieval of recorded knowledge for a variety of institutions and groups.

Please note: A new curriculum has been approved. Students entering in the Fall semester of 2013 or after should visit the new curriculum page. Current students who entered prior to Fall semester 2013 should refer to the older curriculum page.

For more information about the MSLS program, please contact us via e-mail or call 919.962.8366.

Program Mission/Goals

The goal of the MSLS program is to enable students to contribute to the design, development, and management of libraries, archives, and other information institutions, and their collections and services; lead the development of new services and technologies to improve access to information for users; and demonstrate a theoretical knowledge of library and archival science, including the theory of information organization, effective communication, and social, political, cultural, and ethical issues.

MSLS graduates are prepared to:

  1. 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. 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. Apply ideas, theories, and empirical evidence to solve problems that information professionals might face in the workplace.
  4. 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. 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.

Career Prospects

Over the next six years, 41,000 librarians - about 20 percent of the work force - will reach retirement age. Currently 56 percent of all librarians are over age 45. Salaries are increasing, job descriptions are changing, and the demand continues to increase for people with skills to handle information in many settings.

MSLS graduates typically enter careers focused on the provision of library and information services, such as:

American Library Association accredited logo

  • library administration
  • archives and manuscript collection
  • records management
  • cataloging
  • public and reference services
  • acquisitions and collection management
  • children's and young adult librarianship
  • special collections

Graduates are ready to practice within various settings:

  • public libraries
  • academic (college or university) libraries
  • special (corporate, non-profit, or governmental) libraries
  • information centers
  • music libraries
  • health science libraries
  • school library media centers
  • law libraries
  • art libraries
  • digital libraries
  • digital archives
  • museums

Job titles of recent MSLS graduates include:

  • science librarian
  • reference librarian
  • school media specialist
  • branch librarian
  • cataloging librarian
  • serials librarian
  • data services librarian
  • instruction librarian
  • web services librarian
  • metadata librarian

Field Experience

MSIS students may gain professional experience in an information organization, while receiving class credit through the Field Experience Program. Students are mentored by a supervising professional in the organization, as well as by a SILS professor.


For information on tuition, fees, and other financial information, please refer to the Financial Information page.

Benefits of a Residential Program

Benefits of a Residential MSLS from UNC SILS on Vimeo.