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Master’s Program Components Overview

Thesis Option

Students electing the thesis option will write a master’s thesis under close supervision of a thesis committee. All thesis option students must take INSC 504—Research Methods in Information Sciences— before beginning the thesis unless they have already successfully completed a thesis or dissertation in another discipline or have completed an equivalent course.

Six hours of Thesis, INSC 500, must be taken within the 36 hours (as of Fall 2016) required for graduation. (Students may register for more than 6 hours of INSC 500, but only 6 hours will count towards graduation.) The required thesis hours can be taken in one semester or spread over two or more terms. Students must be registered for INSC 500 in the semester they complete and defend their thesis. The oral defense of the thesis, which is the final comprehensive examination, substitutes for the written examination that is taken by non-thesis students.


ePortfolio Option

The ePortfolio provides an opportunity to integrate one’s learning across the entire SIS program and to present one’s capstone achievement in the program. The ePortfolio focuses on both learning process and learning outcomes. As a student-driven process, developing an ePortfolio engages the student to take a systematic look at the learning experiences through self-reflection, self-evaluation, and synthesis and integration of knowledge with real world applications. Further, the ePortfolio process also nurtures lifelong learning skills to prepare students for the 21st Century challenges facing information professionals. All ePortfolio option students must take INSC 505—ePortfolio upon completion of the required courses or concurrently with the required courses.

Students not enrolled in courses in their final semester must register for one credit hour of INSC 502 Use of Facilities and Registration or pay the Exam fee incurred by the Graduate School. The Exam fee is the cost equivalent of one credit hour and must be paid by the date listed on the Non-thesis Programs Deadlines sheet found on the Graduate School website.

More information on the ePortfolio option



The practicum, INSC 599, is available to students who can show that a particular work experience will be an integral part of their program of study. It is open to students who choose a career goal for which little or no formal coursework exists and for those who wish to gain experience to augment formal coursework.

The practicum may emphasize a particular type of service offered by a library or other information agency or it may provide experience in a variety of services offered by such agencies. The student then works with seasoned information professionals to gain hands-on experience.

Eligibility for a practicum experience requires a 3.0 cumulative grade-point average at the time of application, and students should apply the semester prior to the proposed practicum. Students must also have completed the required courses relevant to the practicum. A 3-hour credit practicum requires work experience of 150 hours (an average of 10 hours per week in a 15-week semester). On recommendation of the practicum coordinator and after consultation with the advisor, a 3-hour practicum may be repeated concurrently or in a subsequent semester or a student may elect to do a 3-hour practicum at a different location. Students may take a maximum of 6 hours practicum credit.

The following restrictions apply:

  1. a student may not be paid for a practicum experience,
  2. a student normally cannot be involved in a practicum in an information agency in which he or she is or has been employed unless the practicum experience is planned for a different department within the agency,
  3. a student who is concurrently working for teacher certification may not substitute the practicum for student teaching, and
  4. a student cannot undertake a practicum for more than 3 hours of credit if he/she is employed more than 20 hours per week.

A student interested in the practicum experience must discuss the possibility with his or her advisor. The student should then contact the SIS practicum coordinator to discuss the feasibility of a practicum experience and to develop a practicum proposal. The student must write a proposal that is approved in writing by the advisor and the practicum coordinator.

Information concerning the practicum is available from the Practicum page. For information about School Media practicums, contact Cindy Welch. See also INSC 595: Student Teaching in School Library Information Center, and INSC 596: Field-Based Experience in School Library Information Centers.

Independent Study/Research Participation

Students are encouraged to develop research competencies through directed independent study. INSC 591, Independent Project or Research, offers such in-depth study with a member of the faculty who has the necessary subject expertise to direct the study. You may consult a faculty member concerning the possibility of an independent study or you may consult your advisor for suggestions for faculty support of a proposed study. A written proposal for the study is required, and the proposal must be approved by your advisor the semester prior to enrollment in INSC 591.

Other possibilities for independent and small group study include INSC 590: Problems in Information Sciences and INSC 594: Graduate Research Participation. Each of these courses requires the consent of the instructor when offered in the timetable of classes with a specific topic and instructor. After consulting with your advisor, you may petition a member of the faculty for a plan for supervised readings that would enhance your program of study. Again, the plan must be approved the semester prior to enrollment in the course.

A total of 6 hours credit for any combination of INSC 591 or INSC 594 is allowable in the 36-hour degree program. Each course may be repeated once. For example, a student might take 3 hours of INSC 591 and 3 hours of INSC 594, or 6 hours of INSC 591.