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Curriculum

MSI classroom

In just two years, your Master of Science in Information courses can give you the expertise you need to join our highly successful graduates in the workforce or in academia.

The MSI is a 48-credit degree program, with a minimum of 42 credits required from School of Information courses (or 39 with advisor approval). While the program will take you two years to complete on a full-time basis, you may also elect to take it over three to four years part-time.

We believe in interdisciplinary work and experiential learning, and our students live that philosophy. All MSI students take a minimum of three credits of graduate-level coursework outside the School of Information, and all students complete an approved internship at an external organization. Your coursework includes several components that ensure a substantial academic program yet allow for flexibility.

One thing you’ll notice in our masters’ courses is our focus on practical, real-world applications for the theory and methods you learn. Students in many of our courses tackle real-world problems from organizations around the world, offering solutions those organizations can use even before they graduate. That kind of practical experience not only gives students a realistic view of what information careers entail, but also helps build relevant experience that they can highlight in their resumes or portfolios. We have an incredible success rate for career placement and salaries, and the mix of practical work with theory in our courses is one reason why.

UMSI coursework 

Your UMSI study will include introductory courses, advanced courses, mastery courses and UMSI Internship Program courses. Included in the introductory and advanced courses are prerequisites for mastery courses, which are designed to provide a strong foundation in a particular area of interest and prepare you for your chosen mastery course. By tailoring what mastery course you aim for and the prerequisites you take, you have flexibility within the program while still getting the high-level education that our #1-ranked program is known for.

You may choose to take advanced electives that support additional depth in your primary area of interest or select electives to diversify your skills and knowledge. The courses you select from are organized as introductory through advanced, with most advanced courses having a prerequisite sequence.

Mastery course or master’s thesis

You’ll complete either a three-credit mastery course or six-credit master's thesis in your second year. Mastery courses require you to demonstrate synthesis of the major theories, methods and approaches to inquiry and/or schools of practice necessary for entry into a particular career in information professions. Each mastery course has five to eight prerequisite courses that must be taken in advance of the mastery course.

Five mastery courses are offered every year: Big Data Analytics, Digital Curation, Librarianship and Archival Practice, UX Research and Design, and User-Centered Agile Development. Other mastery courses may be offered based on demand and instructional availability.

(Note: While mastery courses hold a prominent place in the curriculum and serve as a kind of capstone for the MSI degree, they are just like any other three-credit course on your transcript. The MSI is a single degree — no explicit indication of specialization or focus appears on the transcript, which only show course titles and grades.)

The Master’s Thesis Option Program (MTOP) is a rigorous two-semester research experience where, working closely with a faculty advisor, you explore original research questions and apply the tools of information science to generate new knowledge. Students apply to MTOP at the end of their first year in the MSI program and, if accepted, enroll in independent study courses for thesis research in their second year.

Cognate coursework

Cognates, or related courses, are graduate-level courses taken outside the School of Information. U-M offers hundreds of courses each semester across a multitude of disciplines in its graduate schools, which have earned nearly 100 top-10 rankings from U.S. News & World Report. Cognates give you an unparalleled ability to explore an interest, advance a skill set or develop depth in an area of focus outside the School of Information while still enjoying top-ranked instruction.

UMSI Internship Program

To graduate, you are required to earn six to nine credits on an approved internship — short-term or part-time work that builds on the knowledge and skills you gain in coursework. Most students satisfy the UMSI Internship Program requirement through completion of a full-time internship in the summer between their first and second years in the MSI program, but once you’re eligible to enroll in UMSI Internship Program courses, your internships can be completed during any term. We provide resources and support to help you find an internship.

We ask all students to participate in an internship for a number of reasons. First, it gives you the opportunity to see the results of the skills you’re building in real-world situations. Second, it gives you a better understanding of the challenges in the field, which you bring back to your second-year coursework. Third, it allows you to build experience, as well as a stronger resume and/or portfolio, which future employers look for. And finally, we know that the connections made during internships often lead directly to employment, helping to ensure that your odds of finding a job in the field of your choice after graduation are nearly guaranteed.

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