Capstone Experience

For the MLIS degree, you should complete one of these three options: Comprehensive Exam (0 credit), Special Project (ILS 660, 3 credits), or Thesis (ILS 699, 3 credits and ILS 590 as a prerequisite).  This Capstone Experience is required by the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.  See the Capstone Experience Guidelines of the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Comprehensive Exam

All students pursuing a Master of Library and Information Science are required to complete a Capstone experience, as stated by the School of Graduate and Professional Studies. For a Capstone experience, students can complete a thesis, special project, or comprehensive examination. To be eligible to register for the comprehensive exam, students must have completed all the six Core Courses (ILS 502, ILS 505, ILS 507, ILS 508, ILS 509 or 545, and ILS 582) and have completed or be enrolled in courses that will enable them to complete 30 credit hours with an average grade of 3.0 or better in the program prior to taking the exam. 
Exams are scheduled each semester on the first Saturday in November, the first Saturday in March, and the first Saturday in July. The exam is administered online.  Students must register for the comprehensive exam with permission of the Department Chair no later than the first day of the semester in which they plan to take the exam. A Comprehensive Exam Registration Form (click on the link) is available here. Before taking the exam, students should contact the Department Chair to ensure that all course requirements have been met.
The written comprehensive exam is open for 4 hours as an online session. Students will respond to 5 questions directly related to the MLIS Student Learning Outcomes. Each answer will be composed as a Microsoft Word document with one–inch margins all around, a 12-point typeface, and double-spacing.  Additionally, answers must contain between 300 and 700 words. The exam covers material from the five MLIS core courses (ILS 502, ILS 505, ILS 507, ILS 508, and ILS 509 or 545). Each question is graded either fail (a grade of less than "B") or pass (a “B” or better grade). To pass the written exam, students must score a “pass” on each question. If one or more questions are scored as “fail”, the exam may be taken a second time in those specific areas. The retake exam must be scheduled no less than 2 weeks and no more than 3 months after the first (failed) attempt. 
According to the university graduate catalog, “a candidate who fails the comprehensive examination may petition the Graduate Coordinator for a second examination if there are extenuating circumstances. If the petition is not granted, the student will be dismissed from the program. Failure in the second examination results in dismissal from the program and exclusion from further candidacy.” 
In order to be eligible for the MLIS degree, students must earn a “pass” on all questions in the comprehensive exam. Upon its completion, the exam will be distributed among faculty for grading. A verbal follow-up may be requested by the core course instructor at any point following the written exam (and prior to assigning a "letter" grade) if deemed necessary by the instructor. It will take two to three weeks to grade the exam. The Department Chair will notify the student in writing of his/her exam results. The Department Chair is responsible for submitting an automated Graduate Audit Form in Workflow to document for the Registrar’s Office that the student has successfully completed the comprehensive examination Capstone option.

Special Project

In order to complete a Special Project, take ILS 660 (Special Project in Library and Information Science), which is a 3 credit course.  A passing grade (a “B” or better grade) in the course serves as documentation that the capstone special project has been successfully completed.  If you have any questions, please contact the instructor of ILS 660.  See Titles of Special Projects Supervised by Dr. Liu.


In order to complete a Thesis, take ILS 699 (Thesis), which is a 3 credit course.  You should complete its prerequisite (ILS 590: Research in Library and Information Science) first to take ILS 699.  
Those students who believe they already have “significant” research experience and knowledge can apply for a waiver for ILS 590 (Research in Library and Information Science).  If the Department Curriculum Committee (DCC) approves it, they can take ILS 699 (Thesis) without taking ILS 590, a prerequisite for ILS 699.  A written waiver request, which includes detailed descriptions of his/her “significant” research experience and knowledge along with hard evidence (such as a course syllabus for an equivalent research course and the transcript that shows the course), should be submitted to the student’s academic advisor at least one semester in advance (e.g., a student wishing to take ILS 699 in the spring semester should submit the waiver request for ILS 590 in the fall semester).  Then the advisor will present the student’s written waiver request to the DCC.  The DCC will review each request and decide if a student meets the criteria; if not, the student will be required to take ILS 590 as a prerequisite for ILS 699.
A passing grade (a “B” or better grade) in ILS 699 serves as documentation that the capstone special project has been successfully completed.  In addition, you are required to present the results of your thesis research study in a professional conference (or at least your conference presentation should have been scheduled) in order to get a passing grade in ILS 699.  If you have any further questions, please contact the instructor of ILS 699.  See Titles of Theses Supervised by Dr. Liu.




Last updated: April 24, 2024