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College of Mass Communications and Information Studies


Frequently Asked Questions

Required Coursework

Are the master's and school library certification courses available online? 
All of the courses are offered online, and specific courses are typically offered online twice a year. Some courses also are taught face-to-face on the Columbia campus at Davis College.

Can previously taken education courses be used to meet the requirements for initial certification? 
Undergraduate or graduate education courses taken at other institutions might qualify if they were taken within six years of when you would graduate from our program. Library school faculty would review a student’s transcript to make the determination. 

Do I have to complete my education courses at USC?
The four education courses required for initial certification may be completed at other colleges and universities; however, the courses must be approved by your advisor before you begin taking them.

How long does it take to complete the school library certification program? 
It depends on how many courses you take in each semester and whether you take courses in the summer semester, so it varies widely. Typically, students who work part- or full-time, need 2.5 – 3 years to complete the MLIS with school library certification, but it can take longer.

How many classes can you take each semester? 
The maximum number of courses allowed is four per semester without special approval. Most of our students who work part- or full-time can only manage 1 or 2 courses per semester plus courses in the summer sessions. Some financial programs specify the number of courses to be taken in a semester. Students are responsible for checking the requirements for loans they are awarded.

Is the CAEP certification applicable for public or other libraries? Schools in other states? 
This certification by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation is for teacher preparation programs nationally, including those that prepare students to be school librarians as it does here. This accreditation applies to the school library certification program you complete at USC and is recognized by other states as an indication of the high quality of our program. The master’s degree in library and information science  that you complete, along with school library certification, is accredited by the American Library Association and is recognized by all libraries in the United States. 

Previous Degrees

I already have my M.L.I.S. degree from USC, but I did not pursue school library certification. What courses will I need to take?

You will take courses required for the school library certification program. A school library faculty advisor will review your transcript to determine the courses you had for your degree and the currency of some of the courses. 

If I have a Master's degree in Instructional Technology (or a similar field), do any of those courses count toward a Master's in Library Science?
No. You will be seeking an additional master’s degree.

I have a Master's in Library Science or Information Science from another institution and have experience in a public library, but now I want to pursue school library certification. What do I need to do? 
You would apply for one of our post-graduate programs to do the required coursework for school library certification. You can find information about the certificate (18 hours) or specialist (30 hours) post-graduate programs here.

For students seeking school library certification, the specialist degree is recommended because 30 credit hours in a program makes S.C. educators, including school librarians, eligible for a significant pay increase. You can continue to take courses after completing the required school library certification program until the 30 hours is achieved (up to six years from start of the degree program).

What if I have taken post-graduate courses outside of my master’s degree?
Only two courses may be transferred.

How many hours can I transfer?

A student will be allowed to transfer up to six hours of courses to apply toward the Master of Library and Information Science degree.

Procedure

Up to six hours of graduate credit taken at other accredited institutions or credits earned at USC before admission to our school may be transferred under these conditions:

  1. The credit may not be more than six years old at the time the student will graduate.
  2. Course work in library science must be earned at an ALA-accredited library school.
  3. The credit must be germane to the student's career objectives;
  4. If it's a required course, you will need to present evidence, such as a syllabus, so advisers can determine whether the course is comparable to ours.
  5. The course must have been taken for graduate credit and recorded that way on your official transcript.
  6. Courses that have been used to earn other degrees will not be accepted.
  7. The grade received must be a B or higher.
  8. You'll need to provide a course description comparable to that produced in the USC catalog.

The Practicum Experience

What is the purpose and structure of the 135-hour internship/practicum? 
The internship is an authentic learning experience at the end of the certification program in which students spend two, non-consecutive days each week (over 10-12 weeks) in a school library under the supervision and guidance of a licensed and experience school librarian mentor. Students are expected to practice a variety of skills learned throughout their program and to complete specific activities as part of the experience. Spring and fall are the only semesters in which students may apply for the internship/practicum.

How many internship/practicum experiences will I have? 
If you already hold a current teaching certificate, you will complete one internship. If you do not have a teaching certificate, you will be seeking initial certification, which requires two internships in separate semesters (spring and fall).

How do classroom teachers take the time away from school to complete the 135 practicum hours? 
Students need to have this conversation with their principal early in the program to determine what will be required. Many of our students are classroom teachers and have made the arrangements successfully. Each school system varies in what accommodations will be made.

  • Students may be required to take unpaid leave days and/or pay for their own substitutes. We encourage students to apply for the S.C. Teacher Loans program, which significantly offsets the cost of our coursework to help compensate for this situation.
  • Some school systems will allow students to use a combination of sick and personal leave for the 20 days.
  • Other school systems will allow students to accumulate comp time by working during summers, such as on curriculum projects or professional development efforts.

Will I have any input on what school library I am placed at for my internship/practicum?
On the internship application, you will indicate your preferred school system(s) and even school(s). The faculty internship coordinator will work with you to determine a placement that is suitable and reasonably close to your home.

Can I do my internship/practicum in the school where I work, or where my children attend/have attended? 
No. Every school has its own culture and environment. The internship/practicum is an experience intended to replicate the reality of taking a position in a school where you do not know the faculty or staff. Part of your practicum experience is to be exposed to a different environment, to work with teachers you do not know, to prepare you for the experience of being hired as a librarian in a school.

Applying to the Program

How do I apply? 
Directions and applications can be found here.

What are the application deadlines? 
October 15 for spring semester and March 15 for summer and fall.

If I already have a graduate degree from USC, do I still need to take the GRE or MAT before applying to the MLIS program? 
If you took the GRE or MAT before earning your graduate degree, you do not have to take the test again if you have proof of the score — even if it is older than 5 years. You must have earned a graduate degree along with having taken the GRE or MAT.

How do I submit GRE or MAT scores that were taken earlier?
You must indicate USC as the school to which your scores shall be reported. USC’s school code for the GRE is 5818 and for the MAT 1719.

How does a principal submit the letters of recommendation?
Once you provide the principal’s e-mail address in the application, he/she will receive instructions directly from the Graduate School on how to complete the recommendation electronically.

How long does the application stay on file?
The Graduate School will hold your incomplete application for one year.

Can I postpone starting courses once I am admitted, and if so, for how many semesters? 
Once you are admitted, you may postpone enrollment for one year. If you do not enroll before the first year (semester to semester), you must reapply. If you plan to postpone, you must submit an Update Request Form (found on the Graduate School website). 

What is the tuition?
Tuitition and fees can be found on the Bursar's Office website. Students who live in other states will be charged the same tuition as a South Carolina resident plus $100 per credit hour.

Financial Aid

What are some funding sources available to cover tuition, etc., other than financial aid?
Please see the following sources.

South Carolina Teacher (and Career Changers) Loan programs

American Library Association Scholarships

Contact Us

Still have questions? Contact Tilda Reeder at sclibsci@mailbox.sc.edu