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 Youth Services emphasis is designed to prepare students to work with children and teens in various library and information settings.


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

The program consists of 39 credit hours, including 18 credits of required courses.

  • Must include 15 credit hours of 9000-level courses
  • Must include 12 hours of courses taught by a full-time faculty member

For the Youth Services emphasis, students complete an additional six courses:

  • ISLT 9405 Sociocultural Aspects of Literacy or IS_LT 9403 Gender Construction in Children’s/Adolescent Literature and Media
  • ISLT 9407 Intellectual Freedom and Its Discontents
  • ISLT 9431 Children’s Library Materials
  • ISLT 9433 Youth Services in Libraries
  • ISLT 9434 Teen Library Materials
  • ISLT 9444 The Public Library

See descriptions of all SISLT classes.

See all LIS forms and planners.

Tentative Course Rotation


Services to children, youth, and families are an important part of any public library setting. There are other settings as well where youth librarianship is used – for instance, in social services settings and some specialized information agencies.

Career Paths

Our graduates enjoy a variety of career paths. Jobs for MLIS graduates with the Youth Services emphasis area may include:

  • Children’s librarian
  • Young Adult/Teen librarian
  • Youth services section manager

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 (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