MLIS: Information Organization Concentration

Preparing students for careers in cataloging, indexing, metadata work, or archival organization in a wide variety of settings, including libraries, archives, museums, private corporations, government agencies, and other organizations, the Information Organization (IO) Concentration provides a way for you to formally focus your studies on information organization within the context of your MLIS degree program and its requirements. The Concentration includes a mixture of theoretical and practical knowledge and skills, and will be posted on your transcript upon degree conferral.

About the School of Information Studies

The School of Information Studies prepares students for careers in libraries and the information professions. The School’s array of graduate programs provides students with the opportunity to develop attitudes associated with progressive information services, and to develop an understanding of the value, role, and application of modern technology as it relates to library operations and the transfer of information.

In harmony with the mission of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a major urban research institute, the School of Information Studies strives to make significant contributions towards extending and enhancing the quality of information services and the promotion of information and technological literacy to a diverse society. The School of Information Studies is committed to excellence in instruction, research, and service.

Goals of the school are:

  1. To prepare professionals who are able to provide leadership and adapt to change in a technological and knowledge-based environment for careers in libraries, school media centers, information systems, and related areas, according to accepted professional standards.
  2. To enrich the library and information science profession through recruitment of students with strong academic skills from diverse cultural, geographic, and subject backgrounds.
  3. To enable undergraduate students to achieve qualifications to pursue careers in the information professions through the provision of degree and certificate programs.
  4. To enable students to develop specializations in the information professions at the graduate level through the provision of single and dual degree programs.
  5. To promote a research orientation through participation in the Doctor of Philosophy degree program.
  6. To contribute to the international knowledge base of library and information science through research and publication.
  7. To facilitate the development, provision, and evaluation of library and information services through consultation services to individual organizations and leadership in professional associations locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally.
  8. To offer opportunities for professionals and the wider community to update their skills and knowledge through advanced and continuing education courses, workshops, and programs offered nationally and internationally.

Related Advanced Certificates

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.


An applicant must apply to both the Graduate School and the School of Information Studies.


An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus the following additional requirements of the School of Information Studies to be considered for admission to the program:

  • Applicants from foreign institutions are required to submit the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) score. The minimum acceptable score is 550 PBT or 79 iBT. A score of 6.5 or higher on the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) may be submitted in lieu of the TOEFL.

No prior coursework in library/information science is required. A student whose undergraduate grade point average is below 2.75 (4.0 basis) may be considered for admission on probation. See the Admission on Probation Web site.

Credits and Courses

The minimum degree requirement is 36 graduate credits, 30 of which must be in library and information science and up to 6 of which may be in related areas. Students who have already completed a master’s or doctoral degree in a field other than library science may have the library and information science master’s program reduced to 30 credits. Under special circumstances, up to 6 of these credits may be from another field in a closely allied area with advisor consent. Students who have completed library science courses at the undergraduate level may, upon request, have their coursework reviewed to determine whether the content was the equivalent of that in required courses in the School of Information Studies Program. However, the establishment of such equivalencies will not reduce the total number of credits required for the master’s degree in library and information science, but merely enable the student to avoid unnecessary repetition.

The number of credits needed for each of the coordinated degree programs is 12 credits less than the sum of credits of the two programs if taken separately. All degree requirements of each component program, however, must be satisfied. This includes makeup courses for deficiencies, required courses, and graduation proficiency requirements. The MLIS component of each coordinated program includes 30 credits of SOIS courses including the 12 credits of required courses.

The following are basic required courses:

INFOST 501Foundations of Library and Information Science3
INFOST 511Organization of Information3
INFOST 571Information Access and Retrieval3
INFOST 799Research Methods in Information Studies3
Total Credits12

Minimum Grade Requirement in the Required Courses

The minimum grade requirement for the required courses is a B. Students who earn a grade of B- or lower have not met the minimum requirement and will be allowed to repeat the required course once. Students are responsible for tuition in the repeated course; no credit is earned from the first attempt at the required course, or any required course for which a B- or lower is earned. Materials and assignments used previously may not be reused or resubmitted when retaking a required course unless approved by the instructor. Those who do not meet the minimum grade requirements upon repeating the course will be recommended for academic dismissal. Students may not register for a course for which any of the required courses is a prerequisite until the minimum grade requirement is met.

Culminating Experience Requirement in Library and Information Science

Effective Fall 2016, INFOST 799 meets the requirement for the culminating event for the MLIS program. If 591 was taken prior to the fall of 2016, it can still be used to meet the culminating event requirement. Said course must be taken in SOIS and cannot be transferred into the program.

Thesis Option

Students may choose the thesis option in order to satisfy the program requirements and must take at least three credits of thesis coursework in addition to the 36 credits required for the comprehensive examination option, making the minimum credits required for the thesis option 39 credits. However, only 3 credits of thesis coursework may count toward the total degree credit requirement of 39.

Those who already have a graduate degree must complete a minimum of 33 credits for this option. Students who choose the thesis option in the coordinated master's degree programs also need to take an additional 3 credits of thesis coursework. Thus, while total degree credits vary among the coordinated master's programs, the Master of Library and Information Science component of each requires 33 credits of SOIS coursework, three of which would be taken as thesis credit.

Students pursuing thesis options in both programs will be required to fulfill each program's thesis requirement and complete two separate theses. Students in the thesis option must take a minimum of 3 credits of research methods. A course other than INFOST 799 may be chosen in consultation with the major professor. Additional courses that do not count toward degree requirements may be required by individual circumstances.

Students must complete the required MLIS and research methods course before they will be allowed to defend the thesis proposal. Students must register for INFOST 898: Master's Thesis (1-3 credits), during every semester of thesis work. Students may select the thesis option at any point in their course of study, but are encouraged to make this decision and form their thesis committee as early as possible to avoid the necessity of taking additional coursework.

The faculty advisor assigned to each student upon admission may serve as the student's thesis advisor, but is not required to do so. It is the student's responsibility to enter into a mutually agreed upon advising relationship with a thesis advisor in SOIS, who then serves as chair of the thesis committee.

Students must pass an oral examination in defense of the thesis. The thesis defense may be repeated once. A student may withdraw from the thesis option; however, the student would need to meet all course requirements for the MLIS degree.

Information Organization Concentration

Students pursuing the Information Organization Concentration must take 15 credits of coursework from the list of qualifying courses as electives within the overall MLIS program. 

The Information Organization Concentration requires a minimum of 15 credits of coursework taken from the list of qualifying courses below. The student’s concentration program must be approved by the SOIS Information Organization Curriculum Coordinator. A fieldwork experience of 1-3 credits with a focus on information organization is required of students without practical experience.

Courses that qualify for the concentration are as follows:

INFOST 582Introduction to Data Science3
INFOST 619Topics in Information Organization: (with an IO related topic)1-3
INFOST 712Resource Description for Library Catalogs3
INFOST 714Metadata3
INFOST 716Thesaurus Construction3
INFOST 717Information Architecture3
INFOST 719Advanced Topics in Information Organization (with an IO related topic. May be repeated with change in topic to 9 credits max.)3
INFOST 750Arrangement and Description in Archives (prereq: INFOST 650)3
INFOST 771Data Curation3
INFOST 780XML for Libraries3
INFOST 785Database Managment Systems for Information Professionals3
INFOST 898Master's Thesis (with an IO topic, directed by an IO faculty member)1-3
INFOST 990Fieldwork in Library and Information Science Services (with a focus on IO. Prereqs: all INFOST core courses and relevant IO elective courses.)1-3
or INFOST 759 Fieldwork in Archives and Manuscripts

Additional Requirements

Time Limit

Students in the 36-credit program must complete all degree requirements within seven years of initial enrollment. Students in the 30-credit program must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment.