Hack Your Program: University of Denver

Program Overview

The MLIS program at the University of Denver is a part of the Morgridge College for Education, in the  Department of Research Methods and Information Science. DU’s library program is the only fully in-person program in the Rocky Mountain region. They do not offer any online courses and focus on the on-campus experience. DU operates under the quarter system, which divides the academic year into four, 10-week parts: Fall (September-November), Winter (January-March), Spring (March-June), and an optional summer quarter.

Admissions

The admissions cycle is once a year, with priority deadlines in December and a final deadline in January. For the best chance of receiving funding, it is recommended that you apply by the priority deadline. The program requires an interview before admission, given either in person or via Skype.

Coursework

The degree is 58 credits, distributed as follows:

  • Core Courses (28 credits):
    • Foundations of Library, Archives and Information Science
    • Organization of Information
    • User and Access Services
    • Management in Information Organizations
    • Library and Information Technologies
    • Education Research and Measurement
    • Capstone OR Practicum
  • 30 credits of Electives

An online portfolio accumulating coursework is also required to obtain the degree. DU only offers one official concentration: the School Libraries concentration, which has additional core requirements. Dual programs with art, history, medicine, and law to support special librarianship are also common, but tend to be developed by each student individually.

Organizations

For such a small program, there are quite a few student organizations that are worth getting involved with, including LISSAA (Library and Information Science Student and Alumni Association), an ALA student chapter, an ASIS&T student chapter, an SLA student chapter, and an SAA student chapter. It is easy and worthwhile to get involved.

Strengths

  • This is a small program with a lot of one-on-one attention. The faculty are available and it is easy to make real connections with professors.
  • All courses are offered in the evening, starting at 4pm. This gives students ample time to have jobs and lives while still attending classes. It also makes it easy for this hacker to commute to Denver.
  • The University Libraries Anderson Academic Commons is a wonderful library that’s a really good example for library students. They provide great instruction and research services, have recently undergone a huge renovation that highly valued student input, and I’ve yet to stumble upon a resource that they can’t get access to.
  • The Colorado library community is very tight-knit and this program attempts to get students involved from day one. In my first quarter alone, I had at least five program-sponsored or assigned opportunities to network.
  • Denver has a lot of really interesting libraries and museums that are always willing to take on DU students as volunteers, interns, and employees. Current students work in medical libraries, the Colorado Supreme Court library, and local public libraries. There are also opportunities at the Denver Botanic Gardens, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, National Renewable Energy Labs, and lots of other cool places.
  • Lack of official concentrations allows for a lot of flexibility – personally, I’m attempting to cobble together an archives/public libraries concentration.
  • The academic, social, and professional resources available to students are really excellent.
  • More specific courses (teen services, government docs, outreach, etc.) are taught by adjunct faculty who are practitioners in the field.
  • The campus is beautiful and a great place to be if you’re going to opt for an in-person program.

Weaknesses

  • $$$$ – DU is crazy expensive. $1200 a credit hour expensive. Those great resources and that beautiful campus don’t pay for themselves! Having said that, there are scholarships and assistantships available, but, as far as I can tell, you have to be really scrappy to hook an assistantship.
  • The quarter system is really nice in the fall when you get six weeks off from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. It’s less nice in the winter and spring when you go for twenty weeks with one week of spring break.

As a first year, I don’t have many critical thoughts about the curriculum or requirements. I’m still getting my bearings, and my experience so far has been largely positive. I’m sure I’ll want to look back on this when I finish my degree and provide some more seasoned insights into the program, so expect an update in a year or so. If there are any other current DU MLIS students out there who want to weigh in on what I’ve said, please feel free to do so in the comments. On the other hand, if you’re considering DU and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask – I would be glad to answer.

*Image courtesy of the Morgridge College of Education*

7 replies

  1. Nice to see DU represented!
    I go back and forth on the quarter system. On one hand sometimes it feels like it moves SO FAST (are we really already in week 7?) and that it’s harder to dig really deeply into the topics. On the other hand, I also think that given the time constraints the topics we are covering are really distilled into their essence. The quarter system was an adjustment to be sure!

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  2. Good write up. I’m a second year student in the program. Here are my thoughts. I’ve had some good instructors here. The cost is expensive, but a scholarship from the school has helped some. I use the free RTD bus pass the school provides to get from home to my internship to school. The classes are usually once a week, and they usually have online components in Canvas like assignments, tests, or discussions. The student listserv lists lots of internships, jobs, and other opportunities. I found my current internship through it.

    My biggest technology hack is to sync the online class calendars with my Google calendar. I then put a widget on my phone that shows upcoming due dates. Some instructors don’t put all their assignments in the assignment area, so I always check and add calendar entries for ones that are not there. I also have the Canvas app and widgets for it on my phone.

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  3. I’m coming DU for MLIS this coming autumn 2016 term, and I am wondering if there is someone who would be willing to talk with me about finding an apartment, a job, and how to meet like-minded people. Thank you in advanced!

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