Handbook for MLS Advisors

Program of Study

A student’s Program of Study lists the courses the student will take, the members of the student’s MLS faculty committee, and other pertinent information.  Please see "Graduate Degree Program & Degree Outlines, modified for MLS students for more details.  A Program of Study should be developed soon after the student has taken nine hours in the program.  You should electronically submit a completed Program of Study form (this site is linked to the MLS Student Handbook) to the MLS Program Director, who then submits it to the Graduate School for final approval.

The MLS degree is a 31-hour program consisting of a ten-hour core, an 18-hour concentration, a three-hour culminating experience, and comprehensive exams.  Each of these is explained below.

The Ten-hour Core

The ten-hour core consists of the following courses:

IDS 801 Introduction to Graduate Liberal Studies (1 hr)
            IDS 802 Ways of Knowing in Comparative Perspective (3 hrs)
            IDS 803 Emerging Knowledge Society  Origins and Implications (3 hrs)
            IDS 804 Information Literacy (3 hrs) 

The ten-hour core is one of the distinctive features of the MLS program and is meant to serve as the intellectual and skill foundation for the MLS degree.  IDS 804 meets the research requirement for a graduate degree.  The Director will not approve substitutes for courses in the core.  Ideally, each concentration would, in its courses, continually refer back to the foundation.  Students should therefore be strongly encouraged to take the core before taking any classes in the 18-hour concentration.  One important rule is that a student will not be allowed to take more than 19 hours of credit if he or she has not yet completed the ten-hour core.

If a student is completing a second MLS degree, he or she would not need to repeat the ten-hour core.  Instead, the student would work with his or her faculty advisor to select other courses deemed appropriate.  A student completing a second MLS degree must complete all other parts of the program: 31 hours of approved courses (including a culminating experience), an MLS faculty committee, and comprehensive exams.


The 18-hour Concentration

You probably serve as an MLS Advisor for a concentration that has already determined its curriculum.  You do have the flexibility of modifying that curriculum and including other courses into a student’s program of study, if that meets the student’s needs and also is acceptable to you, the Director, and the Graduate School.  The key is to make sure that the student’s curriculum is a coherent whole.  Please work with the student early in his or her program (as soon after the first nine hours as possible) to select courses for the concentration and to put together the student’s Program of Study.

A student may request that credits taken at other universities be transferred in to the MLS program.  While up to 15 hours can be transferred, it is preferred that not more than nine to twelve hours be transferred.  There are two reasons for this: first, writing and grading comprehensive exams may otherwise be difficult; and second, with 15 hours of transfer credit it’s not much of a FHSU degree.  Only a course meeting all of the following criteria can be transferred:

  1. must be offered for graduate credit
  2. must be offered by an accredited school
  3. must be for a grade (no “pass-no pass” or “satisfactory-unsatisfactory” courses)
  4. must have a grade of “B” or better
  5. if included in the student’s program of study, no more than six years can elapse between the time that course was completed and the time that the student graduates with an MLS degree

Even if a course meets all of these criteria, you determine whether to accept courses into the student’s Program of Study.  You could, for example, ask for a course syllabus and use the syllabus to determine whether you will allow a course to transfer into the student’s Program of Study.

The Culminating Experience

The requirement to complete a culminating experience can be met by an internship, a project, or a thesis.  The MLS faculty committee should evaluate the culminating experience and voice its approval before a grade for the culminating experience is reported. A brief discussion of each option follows.

INTERNSHIP. You and the student select an appropriate organization in which the student can serve as an intern.  You would serve as the student’s mentor while she or he was serving as an intern.  You would determine the requirements that the student should meet to earn a grade for the internship, but please make sure that the student serves at least 144 hours as an intern (assume  a three-hour class - one ‘in-class’ hour plus two ‘out of class’ hours, three days a week, for a sixteen week period).  The student could sign up for internship credit in your department (you will need to create a Virtual College section to do this) or for IDS internship credit.  You would serve as the mentor in either case, and in the latter case you would report the student’s grade to the Instructor of Record (who most likely will be the Director).  You could ask the student to report on her or his internship on a regular basis (for example, once a week) and you could ask someone in the organization in which the student is interning to report frequently on the student’s internship.  You could also provide a reading list and ask the student to incorporate into his or her reports references to the books/articles in the list.  Finally, toward the end of the student’s internship you could ask him or her to write up a critical analysis of her or his experience (guided by a list of questions given to the student by you).  

PROJECT. A project has an intuitive sensibility to students in the arts or humanities: for example, an exhibition for an art student, or performance of a composition for a student in music. A project may be appropriate for your student as well.  You may agree with your student that he or she will write a research paper and then develop a series of presentations, or a series of web pages, for example.  A project should not be a ‘thesis-lite’ – it should be just as demanding as a thesis (though with different requirements).  You are welcome to consult with the Director regarding what would be appropriate for a project.  

THESIS.  This option is undoubtedly familiar to you, so not much will be said here.  The student must do both secondary and primary (original) research.  The Graduate School does have requirements that a thesis must meet, so please work with your student to make sure he or she complies with those requirements. If possible, the student should orally defend her or his thesis.  This could be done via a conference call for a Virtual College student.   

The Comprehensive Exams

If the culminating experience is a thesis, the student would need to pass one, four-hour comprehensive exam.  If the culminating experience is either a project or an internship, the student would need to pass two, four-hour comprehensive exams.  The comprehensive exams are, collectively, an opportunity for the student to demonstrate mastery of his or her subject.  The comprehensive exams should be more than a test on the courses taken.  They should afford the student an opportunity to demonstrate familiarity with the relevant literature covered both in and outside of her or his coursework, and an opportunity to provide a nuanced, complex, and critical and analytical response to the questions at hand.

Once the student has passed the comprehensive exams, you should prepare a Ballot that reports the results.  Each member of the MLS faculty committee should sign the form and each should mark whether the student has satisfactorily or unsatisfactorily passed the exam.  In the MLS program, the Director is considered the “Chair,” so the Ballot should be submitted to the Director for a signature prior to being sent to the Graduate School.

The student should file an Intent to Graduate form on or before the appropriate deadline of the student's last semester.


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