Frequently Asked Questions
About Master’s Programs at SLAIS: The iSchool at UBC
Note: For information on the Ph.D. program, please see the Ph.D. handbook at http://www.slais.ubc.ca/programs/phd-handbook.htm
Be sure to also read the Admissions Process Overview before beginning the application process.
- What is the difference between a Master of Archival Studies and a Master of Library & Information Studies?
- What is the advantage of a Dual MAS/MLIS?
- What can I do with a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature?
- How long will it take me to complete the degree? Can I pursue my degree part-time or by distance?
- How much will it cost? How can I fund my program?
- What do you look for in the applications?
- How can I assess my degree for theoretical and academic content?
- How can I make my application stronger?
- I applied and was turned down. What are my options?
- I am currently enrolled as a master’s student at another LIS school. Can I transfer to UBC?
- What kind of students attend SLAIS?
- Will I have any work experience before I graduate?
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
About The Master’s Programs
- The Master of Archival Studies degree prepares you for a career managing records (real or digital) for both current use and archival purposes. Graduates may work as archivists, digital archivists, digital asset managers, records managers, privacy and access specialists and more. The Master of Library & Information Studies degree prepares you to manage information in all formats. That includes organizing, accessing and retrieving information, in digital, print, or other formats. Graduates typically work as librarians, information managers, data asset managers, indexers, literacy specialists and more.
- The dual MAS/MLIS program, in which students pursue both degrees at the same time, is for students interested in acquiring the skills and knowledge required to work in both libraries and archives, as well as a number of other information environments. Employment opportunities increase with qualifications in both disciplines.
- The Master of Arts in Children’s Literature is a multi-disciplinary academic master’s degree, and does not by itself qualify graduates to work as teachers or children’s librarians. It does, however, allow for deeper study into children’s and young adult literature of all types, and is of interest primarily to those who are, or who intend to be, involved in teaching, school or public library services, writing, editing/publishing, theatre/film, storytelling, or affiliated fields. Most of these positions will require additional educational credentials.
- The MLIS and MAS programs are 48 credits. Most students complete 12 credits per term, and take a term to obtain related employment experience, so 20 months is the typical length spent completing either the MLIS or MAS degree. It is possible to complete in 16 straight months for those who wish to accelerate their program of study. Those in the dual degree program take longer, generally 28 to 32 months. The MACL degree requires 24 credits of coursework (typically completed in two terms) and a six-credit thesis, which can take at least two terms and sometimes more. You are permitted up to five years to complete your master’s degree, which helps accommodate those interested in part-time studies. SLAIS offers several web-delivered courses over the academic year; however it is not currently possible to complete any SLAIS program entirely by distance.
- Tuition fees are set by the University. SLAIS provides a listing of current fees at http://www.slais.ubc.ca/admissions/admissions-tuition.htm; however, the official and most current information can always be found in the UBC Calendar, available at http://www.students.ubc.ca/calendar/index.cfm?tree=14,270,807,0. You’ll find very useful funding information for SLAIS students at http://www.slais.ubc.ca/admissions/admissions-funding.htm. Most MAS, MLIS and MAS/MLIS students find all the work they need before their second term ends at SLAIS. In addition, many students the choose SLAIS Co-operative Education Program, and spend at least one term earning money and gaining valuable work experience as well. Be sure to apply for external funding (provided in a PDF document linked on the Funding page) as part of your preparation for application and study. SLAIS students have been quite successful in competitions for these, even before arriving at SLAIS.
- What do you look for in the applications? When evaluating files, the Admissions Committee focuses on three things taken together:
- Transcripts: The minimum academic requirement for admission to graduate study at UBC is an upper second class (also known as B+) in your undergraduate degree, in any discipline. You can find out more on these minimum requirements at the UBC Graduate Studies website, at http://www.grad.ubc.ca/prospective-students/application-admission/minimum-academic-requirements-canadian-or-us-credentials. The SLAIS Admissions Committee welcomes degrees in all disciplines. In keeping with our goal of increasing the diversity among our students, we look for degrees in the sciences and social sciences. Degrees in the humanities are most common and quite welcome as well.
- Letters of reference: Three are required. At least two of them should be academic; that is, from an instructor who has taught you. If your marks are at the lower end, this is even more important. If it has been some time since you finished your degree, try to contact an instructor anyway. Don’t be shy – they receive these requests regularly and will tell you if they aren’t able to provide a letter of support. If you are unsuccessful, consider taking a university-level academic course or two to give yourself an academic reference. As a second choice, provide a reference from a library or archives professional who can speak to your interest and suitability for the field. Letters from employers or family friends are less useful, academically speaking.
- Your responses to the questions: Here is where you can differentiate your application from all others. In your responses, we are looking for evidence of interest and passion in the profession, and that you understand where this degree might take you. Here you can also discuss the skills you bring in technology, teaching or leadership.
- This is an issue for those whose degrees have a lot of non-theoretical or non-critical coursework. Such degrees may include those in Music Composition (as opposed to theory), Library or Archival Science, Theology, or Studio Arts. Essentially the committee wants to see upper-level coursework that demonstrates critical thinking and engagement with theory, as well as an academic writing component. Examples of such courses might include those in Art History, Music Theory, Comparative Religions, as well as English, Political Science or History. If it is not clear on your transcript, be sure to point out such courses in your application (under “Is there anything else you’d like to add?” or in your resume). Encourage your academic referees to address these issues in their letters of reference.
- If your GPA is at or below the minimum requirement for admission, consider taking some upper-level (3rd year or 4th year) academic courses at your local university and achieve first-class standing (A- average). This will demonstrate your academic ability, and give you stronger academic references too. Spend time preparing your application and discuss your draft responses with someone who has graduated from a similar program, or who has completed graduate studies. Follow some related blogs to gain an understanding of issues and trends. Subscribe to the alert services in your academic library databases. Be informed in responding to the questions.
- Our programs are very competitive and have more applicants than spaces. Due to the number of applications, unfortunately we cannot provide detailed information on specific applications. In evaluating applications, the admissions committee looks at many factors including GPA, letters of reference, related experience, and understanding of the program and the field. All of these components must demonstrate potential to be successful in a rigorous graduate program and the profession. While you may reapply, unless you have significantly changed your application do not expect a different decision.
- Applicants currently enrolled in another ALA-accredited MLIS program or equivalent may apply to transfer into the MLIS, MAS, or Dual programs. You must follow the regular admissions procedure, and will be considered by the admissions committee at the same time as other applicants. All normal requirements for admission to UBC must be met or exceeded. No students whose academic record in any way does not meet our minimum requirements will be accepted as a transfer student. Please state in your application that you are intending to transfer some credits to UBC. All requests for transfer must be made prior to starting classes. The process of evaluating credits for transfer will begin after the applicant has been offered and accepted admission to UBC. The syllabus used for each class being considered for transfer is required. All transfer credit requests will be decided by the SLAIS Graduate Advisor, with input from SLAIS faculty, on a case-by-case basis. A maximum of 18 credits may be applied to the UBC degree program. UBC regulations regarding transfer credits for master’s students will apply. See http://www.calendar.ubc.ca/vancouver/index.cfm?tree=12,204,342,614.
- Our student body numbers between 240-260 students at any time. Approximately 15 to 20 are in the doctoral program; three or four are in the Certificate of Advanced Study for students who already hold an MAS or MLIS, and the rest are in master’s level programs. Approximately 25% of our student body holds an international study permit. The majority of these are from the United States; the rest are from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe. About 80% of our students are female; more than a third speak at least two languages, more than 20% hold a prior master’s degree, and the average age of a current SLAIS student is 31 years, across all programs.
- One of SLAIS’ strengths lies in its experiential learning course offerings. Students obtain hands-on experience through credit-bearing internships and practicum placements. The three-credit professional experience course offers students the opportunity to work in the field under the supervision of a librarian or archivist. The co-operative education program connects SLAIS students with paid employment directly related to their degree. And finally, SLAIS has developed a strong relationship with practitioners in the field who hire SLAIS students in part-time positions as student librarians, archivists, digitization assistants, research assistants and more – again providing real-world experience directly connected to their programs of study.