US News Best Online Programs Grad Education 2023This degree is part of the library and information science program, housed in the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies (SISLT). The program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).

The MLIS with Library Media Specialist emphasis is designed for those who wish to receive an initial or additional certification as a library media specialist. Upon completion of the degree, graduates are certified to work as school librarians/library media specialists and are certified at all grades K-12. The program is intended for students who intend to be school librarians in the state of Missouri. If you intend to pursue a library media certification program for another state, please consult your state department of education to see if our program will work for your state requirements.

There are two different pathways to this degree:

  1. For students who already hold a Missouri teaching certificate: Take the 39-hour MLIS degree program to add School Library Media certification to your existing teaching certification.
  2. For students who do not hold a Missouri teaching certificate: Take the 58-hour program which includes MLIS course work and additional hours in teacher education preparation to complete your MLIS degree and gain school library media certification.

Visit our certification page to learn more about the certification process.


The MLIS degree program is offered completely online.

We use several different course structures to provide you with the broadest and most instructionally appropriate class opportunities.

  • Online asynchronous classes allow you to participate anytime, anywhere.
  • Online synchronous classes, scheduled at fixed times to allow online, offer real-time interaction without the drive time.

Course registration materials will indicate if a course has any synchronous sessions.

Degree Requirements

For students who already hold Missouri teaching certificates, the program consists of 39 credit hours, including 30 credits of required courses. Each student completes a three-credit school library practicum. Elective courses are selected in consultation with faculty advisers.

For students who do not hold Missouri teaching certificates, the program consists of 58 credit hours, including 30 credit hours of library and information science content, 18 hours of professional teacher education, and 10 hours of school library practicum and internship.

See descriptions of all SISLT classes.

See Program of Study for the MLIS with Add-on School Library Media Certification — Admission 2014–2020

See Program of Study for the MLIS with Add-on School Library Media Certification — Admission 2021–Later

See Program of Study for the MLIS with Stand Alone School Library Media Certification — Admission 2014–2020

See Program of Study for the MLIS with Stand Alone School Library Media Certification — Admission 2021–Later

Tentative Course Rotation


Librarianship is a rapidly changing field that prepares you to serve new kinds of library and information users with new expectations. Technology has changed the way librarians retrieve information for their users, yet traditional services remain the same – whether in person or online. Librarians must be information experts in the information age, and our program helps prepare you to become just that.

Career Paths

Our graduates enjoy a variety of career paths. Jobs for MLIS graduates with the Library Media Specialist emphasis area may include:

  • Information literacy librarian
  • Library media specialist
  • School librarian
  • Academic librarian
  • Student success librarian
  • Youth services librarian at a public library

Scholarships & Aid

SISLT Financial Aid information

MU Student Financial Aid Office

MU Graduate Assistantships

College of Education Scholarships


Before You Apply

You may test the waters by taking up to nine hours of SISLT course work, but:

  • Taking courses prior to applying does not guarantee admission;
  • Be sure to take courses that will be included in your program of study – check with the student services office before enrolling;
  • No more than nine hours will count toward your degree before you are officially accepted into the program.


The application packets should be completed by:

  • Fall admission:
    • Priority deadline: Feb. 15
    • Regular deadline: May 1
  • Oct. 15 for spring admission

All applications received after the above dates will be considered for admission in the following semester.

Admission Decisions

Decisions on admission will be based on due consideration of all information presented.
Timeline of review and admissions decisions following the application deadline:

  • Within one week, the SISLT Student Services Office will make complete files available to members of the MLIS Admissions Committee.
  • Within three weeks, members of the MLIS Admissions Committee will individually evaluate all applications.
  • Within four weeks, members of the MLIS Admissions Committee will meet to present and discuss their recommendations. The Committee will then vote on each candidate. At this meeting, applicants who are accepted will be assigned an initial adviser based on compatible interests and current advising responsibilities of faculty.
  • Within six weeks, applicants will find out via email whether they are accepted.

Admission Requirements

  • GPA of 3.0 (4.0 scale) in the last 60 hours of undergraduate education
  • Submit official test scores
    • For international applicants: Official TOEFL scores (if applicable) or equivalent scores (MU code: 6875, SISLT: 90).

Meeting the minimum qualifications does not guarantee admission into the program.

How to Apply

1. Apply using our convenient online Graduate Application; incomplete applications cannot be considered.

Upload the following materials to the online graduate application:

  • Resume or CV
    • This should demonstrate high potential for success in the library and information science field.
  • Responses to essay question prompts.
    • Demonstrate your ability to succeed in a competitive Masters program that meets wholly online.
      • Help the Admissions Committee understand what you will bring to the program, and why you’re a good fit.
    • In addition, demonstrate your capacity for success in a rapidly evolving and social field.
      • LIS professionals make extensive use of technology and must be excellent communicators.
      • They are highly engaged, constantly learning, and ethical in the work they do providing access to information for their users.
      • For additional insight into what the program requires, look to the student learning outcomes.
    • To help us determine how your strengths match what our school provides, you will be asked to provide an answer to each the following questions with a paragraph of around 150 words.
      1. People are an essential aspect of the information professions. Describe your preparation for working in this service-based and user-focused environment (e.g., educational experiences, past work experience, etc.).
      2. Technology is another essential aspect of work in the information professions. It is used in many aspects of our work as individuals, and for collaborating as professionals. During the course of your degree, you will be required to use a variety of technologies to create and to collaborate. Describe some ways that you have used technology either personally, professionally, or both.
      3. The information professions are fundamentally interdisciplinary. How has your unique background (e.g., your education and your experience) prepared you for work in this field?
      4. The connection between information, technology, and people is mediated by professional action undertaken by individuals and professional associations. How do you see yourself contributing to the information professions upon graduation?
      5. The MLIS is an online program, and many classes require attendance at real-time class meetings using web-conferencing software. How will you be a successful and engaged Master’s student during your time in the program?
  • Two letters of recommendation
    • In the online application, you will need to supply names and contact details of two academic or professional contacts, ideally who understand the rigors of graduate school, who can attest to your critical thinking, your analytical and writing skills, and your potential as a graduate student in a highly-ranked and competitive program and/or your potential as a LIS professional. The Graduate School will contact your references with instructions regarding the letters. Letters from friends, family members, or co-workers who are not supervisors to whom you report, or letters from anyone who is not familiar with your scholastic aptitude for graduate-level coursework are not appropriate, and will not count toward a completed application.
    • We strongly recommend that you have at least one recommendation letter from an undergraduate or graduate instructor who can attest to your critical thinking, and one letter from a supervisor or employer who can speak to your work ethic, propensity for learning new tasks, collegiality, or general “soft skills” that will support your future success in the information professions. If you have a unique circumstance (e.g., self-employment or no contact with former instructors), please contact us for advice. We do not accept letters of reference from references who cannot look objectively at your experience and potential for success given the requirements of this program and of professional-level work in the information professions.
  • Unofficial transcripts
  • For international applicants:

2. Have official transcripts sent to:

MU Office of Research and Graduate Studies
210 Jesse Hall
Columbia, MO 65211


SISLT Student Services Office

Amy Adam

Program Manager IStudent Support Services

Breanne Meyer

Student Support Specialist II

303 Townsend Hall
Columbia, MO 65211