Experiential learning is a cornerstone of our degree programs. Opportunities through the Design Methods Sequence, field experience, practicum, and our Partners Program are available.

Design Methods Sequence (three consecutive terms; for credit; required of all students)

A major curricular component of the redesigned MLIS is a new three course sequence, called Design Methods Sequence (DMS). DMS is a required three-course sequence of experiential learning for MLIS students in which they work in teams with a partner knowledge organization to solve real-world problems, providing essential and valuable experience that future employers are looking for in our MLIS graduates. The sequence exposes students, both experientially and conceptually, to the mindset, values, and methods of Design Thinking as an approach to finding, understanding, and solving problems. Each term focuses on different stages of the design thinking process, beginning with Identifying, moving on to Implementing, and ending with Integrating. DMS uses the Design Thinking process (i.e define, research, ideate, prototype, choose, implement, and learn) as a scaffold to teach students specific design methods for gathering information, formulating problems, brainstorming ideas, prototyping and testing solutions, and assessing a solution’s effectiveness. Teams of students (4-5) will engage with partnering knowledge organizations to apply the Design Thinking process to address specific information problems and needs.

The three course Design Methods Sequence helps students:

  • Develop a repertoire of design methods conceptually scaffolded by Design Thinking and values-sensitive, human-centric design.
  • Work effectively in small, diverse teams on a specific task in depth for an extended period of time.
  • Collaborate with external partners, organizations, and communities to understand and solve problems.
  • Learn about the mission, culture, values, and practices of a specific knowledge organization.

LIS 2921 Field Experience (for credit)

A field experience (3 credits/120 hours of supervised professional work in an approved information environment, and 30 hours of class time) is recommended, especially if you lack professional experience. Placement positions allow students the opportunity to apply their learning to a practical work experience. Placements are available in corporate libraries, medical libraries, legal libraries, academic libraries, public libraries, archives, as well as other organizations.

LIS 2922 Practicum in School Libraries (for credit)

As part of the SLCP specialization, students are required to complete a LIS 2922 in a school library under the supervision of a cooperating teacher librarian working collaboratively with teachers, teaching information literacy skills, providing services to students and teachers, and managing resources.

The Partners Program

The Partners Program provides Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) students with the opportunity to pursue their education while gaining related work experience in Pittsburgh-area libraries, archives, information centers, and cultural institutions. The Partners Program allows students to experience the work environment of information professionals and to add this learning opportunity to their resume.

The recruitment process begins in early spring upon receipt of a student’s application to the Partners Program; Placement is coordinated by staff. The work commitment for the Partners Program is 10-15 hours per week. Each placement is for three terms; therefore, you will gain a significant amount of experience before entering the job market. To be eligible to participate in the Partners Program, students must be full-time or part-time, on-campus MLIS students who are U.S. Citizens.  Online students may be able to work with their faculty advisor to set up a comparable experience where they live.