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Information Resources and Library Science: Graduate Programs

Overview: 

Master's Program

1. Program Description

The Master of Arts, with a major in Information Resources and Library Science, is a fully ALA-accredited terminal degree for practice in the library and information professions. It can prepare a student for professional opportunities in a wide variety of environments including libraries, archives, publishing, the corporate sector, and Internet and other technology companies. For more information regarding the program, and for a list of courses offered, see our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/program/masters

2. Admission review

Upon recommendation of the SIRLS Admissions Committee, admission to the SIRLS MA Program is granted by the director of SIRLS and the Graduate College. To be admitted, students must meet the requirements of both the Graduate College and SIRLS:

  •  A bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona or from an accredited college or university recognized by the University of Arizona
  • A grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher

Applicants must submit an application form (online), an essay, a resume, two letters of reference, and all college transcripts. These items are reviewed by the Admissions Committee, comprised of SIRLS faculty and staff. Reviews are documented and archived.

Applicants who are not admitted, for academic reasons, may re-apply after taking additional college courses to strengthen their application. Applicants may take the Foundations course, IRLS 504, as a ‘non-degree seeking’ student and if they do well, may apply for the MA Program and transfer this course into the program once they are admitted.

MA students can start their programs either in the Spring or Fall semesters after having completed the mandatory introductory course, IRLS 504: The Foundation of Library and Information Services. This course is offered twice in the Summer for those students starting the program in the Fall and once in the Winter for those students starting the program in the Spring. The application deadline for students wishing to begin in the Spring semester is September 1st. The application deadline for students wishing to begin in the Fall semester is February 1st.

International applicants must complete a financial guarantee form (Graduate College website) and submit TOEFL scores in order to assure SIRLS and the UA that they meet financial and language proficiency standards.

3. Student/faculty liaison

Each year, a current MA student is selected to represent the students at the monthly faculty/staff meetings. This student confers with other students, gathering comments, suggestions, complaints, and questions for each meeting. These comments, questions, etc are discussed by faculty and staff and the liaison reports back to the students. This affords students a ‘chair at the table’ when important issues are discussed. Both academic and administrative suggestions and comments from students are considered and action is taken when appropriate. These conversations are documented, shared, and archived in the meeting minutes. For more information, see http://sir.arizona.edu/lso/feedback.htm

4. Plan of Study

A Plan of Study (POS) is required of each MA student. The POS identifies courses taken or to be taken by the student which have been approved by SIRLS to apply toward graduation requirements such as the completion of an ePortfolio (see below). It also identifies when the student plans to graduate. The POS is submitted by the student to his/her faculty advisor for review and discussion and is then sent to the Graduate College where it is either approved or sent back to the student and the SIRLS program coordinator for further action. Students cannot graduate without an approved POS on file with SIRLS and the Graduate College. 

5. Electronic portfolios

Students need to be skilled at assessing their own learning and identifying additional competencies needed. As students progress through SIRLS, faculty expect that students will move from dependence on faculty assessment of their achievements to a realistic self-assessment of their learning. The ePortfolio reflections are the tools and opportunities for students to monitor their own learning and to augment it as needed. The ePortfolio reflections are also read and evaluated as either "acceptable" or "in need of revision" by a SIRLS faculty evaluator. Evaluator comments guide the student in his/her path to learning and the attainment of the ten competencies. Reflections are organized around these 10 competencies. For more information regarding ePortfolios and student learning, see http://sirls.arizona.edu/node/1710

6. Faculty advisor processes

Advising at SIRLS is centralized. The faculty advisor stays in close contact with each student, meeting at least once per year to review academic progress. The faculty advisor must approve the student’s POS, ePortfolio, transfer courses, and any exceptions to academic or administrative policy. A review form is used to document meetings. For more information, see http://sirls.arizona.edu/node/1397

7. Satisfactory progress and academic milestones

Student progress is evaluated after each of the following academic milestones: 

  • Required first course, IRLS 504 The Foundations of Library and Information Services
  • ePortfolio
  • Faculty advising
  • Plans of Study
  • Graduation paperwork

For more information on each of these steps, see our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/node/1398

8. Course/instructor evaluations

Every student is given the opportunity to evaluate, anonymously, each instructor and each course taken. These evaluations are discussed with instructors by the director and are part of curriculum improvement as well as faculty performance. Online evaluation forms are issued to students by UA (centralized function). Results are archived in the faculty performance system (PETS). 

The Associate Director meets with the Program Coordinator twice per year to plan course offerings. Courses are scheduled one, two, and three years out. Upcoming semesters as well as a three year rotational schedule are posted on the SIRLS website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/courses/3yrSchedule

9. Pre and post graduation exit surveys

Surveys are sent to all students in their last semester of study. An additional survey is sent after graduation. The following is the link for all 2009 graduates: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/WZZB53H

Surveys, both pre and post graduation, are issued from the office of the Assistant Director. Survey results and analyses are shared with faculty and students and are archived.

10. Programmatic Review

UA Academic Program Review, faculty committee structure, monthly faculty/staff meetings, annual faculty retreats, ALA accreditation, AzLA Advisory Committee, IMLS funding, and State Library funding. 

11. Knowledge River Program

Knowledge River is a part of the Masters program and focuses on training library and information professionals to serve Latino, Native American, and other diverse communities. In addition to the assessment procedures for the Masters program as a whole, the Knowledge River program has its own advisory committee (which hold an annual retreat) and strong community programs for placement and graduate assistantships.

12. Analysis and changes made

  • The Foundations of Library and Information Services (IRLS 504) course was revised and made into a prerequisite for all of the other courses in the program. Feedback from faculty suggested that a significant amount of time in courses was spent getting a few unprepared students up to speed with basic knowledge of the profession and of technology. This course created a baseline of knowledge that faculty then could assume that all students have.
  • Four new distribution requirements were added (2006). At a strategic planning meeting, the faculty reviewed ALA recommendations for core competencies and devised a set of four courses to cover the relevant areas. This decision was also based on an analysis of student and alumni feedback.
  • Course scheduling decisions are made each semester. These decisions are based on data of demand for courses in previous semesters. In addition, the faculty decided that the required courses should be offered every semester. The number of sections is decided by registration and in order to create a balance between online and on-campus offerings.
  • An ePortfolio requirement was added (2006). A committee that included faculty and a University of Arizona librarian did extensive research into what other LIS programs were providing as a capstone experience. This decision was also based on an analysis of student and alumni feedback.
  • A dual degree MA program with Near Eastern Studies was created (2007). This decision was in response to suggestions from students and alumni and following talks with faculty from the Near Eastern Studies Department. This decision was also a response to the Council on Library and Information Resources effort, begun in 2003, to provide an "alternate career path" for humanities PhDs.
  • The faculty advising function was centralized to improve consistency of advice to students (2008). This decision was based on a review by faculty, alumni, and students of student advising.
  • GRE scores were dropped as an admission requirement (2009). The curriculum committee reviewed the issue at the request of the admissions committee. Examination of the literature on GRE scores and the lack of correlation between GRE scores and SIRLS student performance were used by the committee to arrive at a recommendation to drop the requirement. A recommendation was brought to the full faculty for review. Faculty approved the change and will continue to monitor performance of students to decide if the requirement should be reintroduced in the future.
  • A grade of B is now required for required distribution courses.
  • DigIn courses were opened up to Masters students. This decision was made in response to demand by students, and was reviewed by Curriculum Committee.

13. Likely future changes

  • Increasing digital archival librarianship content in the curriculum. This is based on a review of feedback from students, alumni, and prospective students. For example, students enrolled in IRLS 504, which all students are required to take at the beginning of their program, are asked what their areas of interest are. In addition, alumni and archivists have hired SIRLS graduates to work in archives. These people have asked SIRLS to consider an expanded Archives program. The Director and the Assistant Director have held a series of meetings during 2010 with over a dozen archivists and members of the Pubic History faculty at ASU to discuss the needs of the archives community. The Assistant Director has also attended an archives conference. These meetings helped to identify a set of core competencies in archives. These are being mapped by the curriculum committee to ALA competencies. As student demand has increased, new courses on archives have been added. The curriculum committee will develop advising documents for students based on input from the field. New courses will continue to be added to insure that core skills are provided.

  • Increasing faculty involvement in ePortfolio evaluation. A committee of faculty attended UA assessment workshops. A review of the Academic Performance Review procedures by this assessment committee indicated areas where ePortfolio format and procedures could be changed to give student more timely feedback and faculty more helpful data for strategic decision making.

  • Broadening the focus of the Masters program. Based on data from a 2010 spring survey of job placement for our students, library jobs have decreased since the economic downturn. We are evaluating the work affiliation of the members of SLA and other sources to help advise students and potentially to update the curriculum to meet new LIS job trends.

PhD Program

1. Program description

SIRLS confers the Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) with an emphasis in Information Resources and Library Science. The goal of the doctoral program is to prepare future intellectual leaders in the area of information. Specifically, the program is geared toward intensive study of the organization, evaluation, and use of information. Each doctoral student is expected to articulate his or her own goals within these general areas. A student must minor in a second area, determined in consultation with the faculty advisor and approved by the SIRLS Ph.D. Studies Committee. The Committee is comprised of faculty and chaired by the director. For more information regarding the program, and for a list of courses offered, see our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/program/phd

2. Admission review

The Ph.D. studies Committee makes recommendations to the faculty, who then vote for admission or rejection with a simple majority prevailing. Faculty expertise and interest in the student's area of study are major factors in the admission decision. 

Upon recommendation of the faculty, admission to the SIRLS Ph.D. Program is granted by the director of SIRLS and the Graduate College. Admission to the doctoral program is competitive and based on both the applicant's abilities and faculty interest and expertise in the student's proposed area of study. 

Specific admission requirements are described on our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/program/phd

Admission to the doctoral program normally occurs in the fall semester. Upon admission, each student is assigned a faculty advisor.

3. Requirements of the Ph.D. Program

There are two parallel sets of requirements for the Ph.D. Program. One set is the Graduate College requirements, as found on the Doctor of Philosophy section of the Graduate College website at http://grad.arizona.edu/academics/program-requirements/doctor-of-philosophy

The second set contains the requirements of the SIRLS Ph.D. Program and are described on our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/program/phd/chronology

4. Annual review by advisor

Each year, toward the end of the spring semester in May, the Ph.D. Studies Committee meets with each doctoral student and his/her advisor, using the School's Satisfactory Academic Progress guidelines. 

5. Course/instructor evaluations

Every student is given the opportunity to evaluate, anonymously, each instructor and each course taken. These evaluations are discussed with instructors by the director and are part of curriculum improvement as well as faculty performance. Online evaluation forms are issued to students by UA (centralized function). Results are archived in the faculty performance system (PETS). 

6. Plan of Study

The student is to determine a Plan of Study (POS) in consultation with his/her major advisor and with the approval of the Ph.D. Studies Committee. This Plan of Study details the student's courses which are required, elective, transferred in from an MLS program or equivalent (if applicable), and which involve research methods. The major advisor must approve any subsequent changes in a Plan of Study. 

The POS should be approved by the end of the first year of residence. It should be submitted to the Graduate College by the third semester in Residency and must be approved for continuation in the program. 

7. Qualifying exams

A diagnostic examination is required within the first semester of residence and preferably within the first two weeks of residence. The examination may inform decisions regarding student's Plan of Study. It may also be waived with the approval of the major advisor and the Ph.D. Studies Committee. 

8. Comprehensive Examination

The comprehensive examination is to ensure that the student has the necessary depth and breadth of knowledge in the area of Information Resources and Library Science. 

The Comprehensive Examination/Dissertation (CE/D) Committee consists of the major advisor, at least two additional faculty from the student's major field (at least one of whom must be SIRLS faculty), and two faculty members from the student's minor. 

On successful completion of the written and oral portions of the comprehensive examination, the student advances to candidacy. 

Comprehensive oral and written examination paperwork is submitted to the Graduate Degree Certification Office before admission to degree candidacy. Oral and written exams must be taken in the same or successive semesters, not counting summer sessions. 

9. Dissertation Proposal

In addition to the comprehensive written and oral examination mandated by the Graduate College, SIRLS requires Ph.D. students to pass a dissertation proposal defense. The dissertation proposal defense is to ensure that the student has chosen an appropriate problem for the dissertation and has a plan of action that allows him/her to tackle that problem. 

In order to remain in good academic standing, the student must pass the dissertation proposal defense no later than the semester immediately following the semester in which the comprehensive examination is completed. 

10. Dissertation Defense

A final oral dissertation defense examination is administered by the student’s CE/D Committee. Upon successful completion, paperwork is submitted to the Graduate Degree Certification Office for a final degree check and conferral of the degree. 

11. Programmatic Review

UA Academic Program Review, faculty committee structure, monthly faculty/staff meetings, and annual faculty retreats. 

12. Analysis and changes made

  • Financial Aid Policy was revised (2010). 

DigIn Certificate

1. Program Description

The explosion of digital information and the growth of online information services has led to a shortage of professionals who combine an understanding of the disciplines of libraries, archives, and data management and who also have the technical knowledge and learning skills needed to create and manage digital collections in a fast-changing environment. The Digital Information Management Graduate Certificate Program (DigIn) is designed to provide working professionals as well as full-time students with a balanced mix of content that combines practical applied technology skills along with a foundation in the theory and practice of building and preserving today’s digital collections. Its purpose is to help students build lasting careers in digital collections management, and to support emerging leaders in the information professions. For more information regarding the program, and for a list of courses offered, see our website at http://sirls.arizona.edu/program/digIn

2. Admission review

DigIn applicants must meet the same admissions criteria as for the SIRLS master’s program. Thus, the basic qualification needed for admission to DigIn applicants is a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution of higher education with a satisfactory GPA. 

Upon recommendation of the DigIn Admissions Committee, admission to the DigIn graduate certificate program is granted by the director of SIRLS and the Graduate College. To be admitted, students must meet the requirements of both the Graduate College and SIRLS:

  • A bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona or from an accredited college or university recognized by the University of Arizona
  • A grade-point-average of 3.0 or higher

Applicants must submit an application form (online), an essay, a resume, two letters of reference, and all college transcripts. These items are reviewed by the DigIn Admissions Committee, comprised of SIRLS faculty and staff. Reviews are documented and archived. 

Applicants who are not admitted for academic reasons may re-apply after taking additional college courses to strengthen their application. Applicants may also take up to 12 credits of DigIn courses as a ‘non-degree seeking’ student, and if they do well, they may reapply for the certificate program and transfer course taken on a non-degree seeking basis into the program once they are admitted. 

DigIn students may enter the program in the Spring, Summer, or Fall semesters. 

International applicants must complete a financial guarantee form (Graduate College website) and submit TOEFL scores in order to assure SIRLS and the UA that they meet financial and language proficiency standards. 

3. Student data collected and archived

DigIn maintains extensive data on all admitted students (drawing information from application files) and on the progress of students through the program (based on registration records). Combining and regularly updating these data sources enables us to carry out fine-grained analyses of our student audience. We also gather and aggregate student feedback from all DigIn courses, which we report regularly to IMLS. 

4. Annual survey of students and alumni

Beginning in June 2010, DigIn began an annual survey of current students and graduates. Students are asked to give feedback on each DigIn course and on their overall experience with the program, including the impact of taking DigIn courses on their employment and career goals. 

5. Programmatic Review

UA Academic Program Review, faculty committee structure, monthly faculty/staff meetings, and annual faculty retreats. Monthly reports are given by the DigIn Director to the faculty at the regular faculty meetings. In addition, DigIn is regularly evaluated by IMLS as a grant-funded project. For our two current grants, we submit narrative and financial reports twice each year. As one grant ends in July 2010, we will also be preparing a more extensive final report. DigIn also has a national advisory panel which meets annually to help provide broader perspectives on evaluation and to provide feedback on the curriculum and recruitment strategies. 

6. Analysis and changes made

  • In conjunction with three grants by IMLS, DigIn has undergone intensive and ongoing curriculum development efforts since it was launched in 2007. We continuously evaluate our teaching methods, and are currently in the process of implementing a virtual lab facility that will have a significant impact on each DigIn course.
Updated date: Thu, 12/09/2010 - 16:24