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MLIS Student Data

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Measures of Student Achievement

The ALA Committee on Accreditation, and by extension the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, are particularly interested in MLIS student retention, time to degree, and employment outcomes of graduates. These measures are listed at the top of this page. Scroll down the page for additional student achievement data.


The OU Graduate College allows five years from matriculation (when students begin the program) to finish a master's program. Therefore, these retention numbers reflect students who completed the MLIS within five years. It is possible for students to petition for an extension, and the "time to graduation" data do show that a very small percentage of students complete their master's degrees within six to six and a half years. The retention numbers in this table do not include students who took longer than five years to complete.

Time to Graduation

This graphic shows the mean (average) time to graduation for MLIS students who graduated in the past five years. The minimum time from starting the program to graduating was 1.4 years in all years 2014 to 2018. The maximum time ranged from 4.0 years to 6.4 years.

The OU Graduate College calculates median time to graduation, and that chart is available further down on this page.

Employment Outcomes for MLIS Graduates

To report "percentage of graduates holding positions relevant to the degree within 12 months of degree completion (may include further graduate study)":

32 students graduated with their MLIS in December 2017 
Job information for 25 graduates was located in January 2019 (78% of December 2017 graduates)
84% (21) were working in library and information science jobs

26 students graduated with their MLIS in May 2018
Job information for 19 graduates was located in March 2019 (73% of May 2018 graduates)
84% (16) were working in library and information science jobs in March 2019

These LIS jobs were predominately librarian and library staff positions in public libraries, academic libraries and school libraries. Other LIS jobs included data science and technology positions and further graduate education in LIS.

Institutional Information about SLIS

Anyone can access institutional data about the University of Oklahoma academic programs through the following data sites:

Institutional Research and Reporting

This university office provides data about enrollment, credit hour production, number of students graduated by college and program, and other similar information.

Graduate College Data Portal

This new data app allows users to obtain a variety of information about students in specific programs such as demographic information, time to degree, and more. At this time, some of the data reflect FALL ADMITS ONLY. Therefore, for programs such as SLIS it only has information for some of our master's students. However, they do plan to add spring and summer admitted students eventually.

Information about MLIS Students and Graduates

Following are several snapshots of information about MLIS students and graduates, including financial support, retention, time to graduation, and employment statistics

Student Support: Graduate Assistantships and Scholarships

14.3% of MLIS Students Received SLIS Scholarships for Academic Year 2018-19

In Spring 2018, the SLIS Admissions and Scholarships Committee awarded $40,500 to master’s students with 25 students receiving awards (14.3% of the student body)

MLIS students also receive scholarships and awards from other organizations. Some examples include:

  • ARL Diversity Scholar
  • ALA Spectrum Scholarship
  • ALA/SAA Mosaic Program Fellowship
  • Oklahoma Library Association scholarships
  • Tulsa City County Library staff scholarships
  • University of Oklahoma, and University of Oklahoma Graduate College Scholarships

In Recent Years, About 12-14% of MLIS Students Receive Graduate Assistantships

In Spring 2018, 12.6% of the MLIS students were supported with graduate assistantships (f=22, N=175), and in Fall 2018 is was slightly higher at 14% (f=27, N=193). These positions were in SLIS (Norman and Tulsa campuses), in Norman OU Libraries locations, OU Tulsa Schusterman Library, and in various archives and offices around campus.

The following chart generated from the Graduate College displays how many students graduating with the MLIS each year had held Graduate Assistant positions.

Number of Degrees Awarded to MLIS Students with Graduate Assistantships

Service Learning

25.4% of MLIS Students do Internships

Experience working in libraries is an important component of education for librarianship as it allows opportunities for students to put theory into hands-on practice. Many MLIS students are already working in area libraries. Others complete internships in libraries, archives, museums, and other placements. Of the 67 MLIS students who graduated in 2017 (spring, summer, fall), 25.4% completed a master's-level internship during their program. This is a total of 17 internships with 10 Norman campus students and 7 Tulsa campus students.

End of Program Assessment Choices

Bar Chart of End of Program Assessment Choices



The OU Graduate College requires the sucessful completion of an end of program assessment to complete the graduate degree. For the MLIS, students can choose between comprehensive exams, a portfolio, or write a thesis. In recent years, around two-thirds of students chose comprehensive exams, one-third chose to do portfolios, and a very small number chose to write a master’s thesis.


End of Program Assessment Outcomes

Table of MLIS Comprehensive Exam Results



This table displays student outcomes of the comprehensive exam from an in-lab exam with an oral defense option from 2010-2011, to a take-home exam with no oral defense option from 2012-2016, to the most current iteration of the exam which is a take-home exam with an oral defense option from 2017 forward. We are continually evaluating and upgrading the comprehensive exam process to improve the experience for students.



The Graduate College allows students two attempts to pass their end of program assessment experience. After two attempts, if they do not pass, they fail to receive their degree. Failure of the second attempt by MLIS students is uncommon.

The two most popular end of program assessment choices are comprehensive exams and portfolios. The following table displays portfolio results for the last several years.

Graduation, Attrition, Retention

The following calculations were made using a dataset of SLIS student data provided by official OU records. 


For students who entered the program from 2010 through 2012 (N=219):

  • 73.5% (161) graduated
  • 26.5% (58) did not

Since the OU Graduate College grants 5 years for students to complete a master's degree without petitioning, attrition/retention was calculated for students who entered the program more than 5 years ago.

The following graphics are from the Graduate College's Data Portal and display the total number of students who graduated with the MLIS, the average time to degree, and some demographic breakdowns.

Employment Outcomes for MLIS Graduates

In August 2017 SLIS collected employment data for MLIS graduates from 2014 to 2016. During that three year period, there were 134 graduates and information was obtained for 110 (82% of graduates).

MLIS Grad Employment Type

Those that work in libraries are employed in different types of libraries as follows:

MLIS Grads Type of Library Employment

Most MLIS Graduates Stay in Oklahoma

Graduates from 2014 to 2016 were found to have mostly stayed in Oklahoma for their professional careers:

  • Employed in Oklahoma = 80%, f=90
  • Employed and/or residing outside Oklahoma = 20%, f=22
  • In Texas = 7
  • Other = AK, AR, CA, CO, GA, HI, LA, MD, MT, ND, NE, NM, OH, TN (2) 
  • N=112 

Employment Advancement to Administration/Management

Bar Chart Showing Job Advancement

Graduates are advancing in their employment by moving into managerial and administrative positions in libraries and in library systems. The chart above includes graduates who are library directors, library system directors, and section heads within large libraries. Graduates' likelihood of moving into these types of positions increases with their years of experience beyond graduation.