School of Information Sciences - FastTrack MLIS Program


Applications for admission to the FastTrack MLIS program are not being accepted at this time.

Who should apply?

At this time, the University of Pittsburgh School of Information Sciences is authorized to enroll students from all US states except Oregon, Minnesota and Arkansas in our online graduate programs pursuant to state laws and regulations.

How do I apply?

The information you need to apply for admission is available here. We only accept applications online: an application is available at:

When may I apply? When will I know if I have been accepted? When will the FastTrack Program begin?

FastTrack cohorts begin in the Fall and Summer Terms only.

Click here for application deadlines.

To know when each term begins, visit the appropriate course schedule here.

How much will the FastTrack MLIS program cost?

For the latest tuition and fee rates, please check here. Please note that the part-time tuition fees and rates apply to FastTrack students.

Is financial aid available?

At the present time, financial aid is not available to students in the FastTrack MLIS Program. In addition to government financial aid opportunities, applicants are encouraged to investigate financial aid and scholarship opportunities through local, state, and national information management professional associations.

What do I need to connect?

Students in the FastTrack MLIS program are required to connect to the Internet via a broadband Internet service provider (ISP). What this means is that each student must have a connection that relies on DSL (digital subscriber line) or cable modem technology. The reason for this policy is that we believe the quality of Web-based education depends significantly on the quality of the connection that a student has to the Internet.

What type of computer do I need?

The FastTrack MLIS program requires that each student owns a personal computer that is outfitted with an Intel compatible processor with 2 GB RAM or more and that supports Windows XP or Vista.

In the Macintosh environment, the equivalent computer is an Intel-processor-based MAC with Microsoft Silverlight 2.0 and at least 2 GB RAM. Older PPC Macintosh systems are not supported.

In addition, the FastTrack MLIS program recommends that the personal computer is equipped with a graphic adapter capable of supporting streaming video, a microphone for audio input, and a Web browser with Java support. See technical requirements for a more in-depth description.

How is the FastTrack MLIS program organized as a learning experience? What will I learn?

The FastTrack MLIS program is based on the concept of student cohorts and the belief that group-based learning is a highly effective approach to the mastery learning on which professional education relies. The goals of the MLIS program are defined in terms of a series of competencies that each graduate is expected to possess at the conclusion of his or her course of study. This expectation applies to the FastTrack MLIS, as well as the on-campus program.

How long will it take to earn the MLIS degree?

It should take six terms—two years of year-round study—to complete the FastTrack MLIS Program.

How much time will I have to devote to my learning experiences?

Asynchronous learning tends to be comparatively demanding because there is often more emphasis on reading, because contributing in significant ways to threaded discussions and interactive chat sessions tends to be time-consuming, and because it may take more time to locate and assimilate course material presented through a delivery mechanism such as CourseWeb. Hence, two courses in a term represents a full course load in the FastTrack MLIS program.

What courses will I take?

Visit our courses page for more detail about classes and courses of study.

Are there other educational experiences available through the FastTrack MLIS?

In addition to the regular course work, students in the FastTrack MLIS program may undertake LIS 2901: Individual Research, LIS 2921: Field Placement or one of the WISE course opportunities.

May I transfer credits into the FastTrack MLIS Program?

Up to six (6) credits of graduate-level course work can be transferred from an accredited institution of higher education, provided that the credit was not applied toward a previous degree or certificate. Courses that you wish to have transferred must have been taken within four (4) years preceding the date of initial enrollment in the FastTrack MLIS program. You must demonstrate that the course(s) are relevant to your career objectives and to the curriculum. To have credits transferred, you must also obtain the advice and written approval of your faculty advisor.

How will I learn? What teaching methods will be used?

The FastTrack MLIS program will be delivered to students using several methods of instruction: Web-based asynchronous course delivery; synchronized, real-time conferencing for interactive sessions between instructor and students; and an on-campus learning experience each term the student is registered for classes. Asynchronous course delivery using Blackboard's CourseWeb will be the primary method of delivering instruction in the FastTrack MLIS program. This method is based largely on the idea of the Web as an environment conducive to effective teaching and learning. Course delivery is designed to reduce "transactional distance" between instructors and learners by building carefully on the interplay between learning structures and communication as well as facilitating the communication flow between teacher and learner.

Can I specialize?

Yes. The FastTrack MLIS offers these specializations.

What are the career opportunities?

There are so many career opportunities for those with the skills and knowledge to manage information. Students in the FastTrack MLIS cohorts will be preparing for careers in school library and media center management, medical librarianship/informatics, technology companies, archives or in academic, public, or special libraries. Click here for more career resources.

What is the profile of previous cohorts?

Students from the previous cohorts live in Delaware, Florida, Maryland, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, California, Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania and the District of Columbia. They range in age from 24 to 65, and hold a variety undergraduate degrees in elementary education, English, psychology, art history, zoology, communications, social work, urban planning, sociology, speech, biology, and mechanical engineering. Many students also hold additional advanced degrees. Though most members of the cohort do have library experience, several members have less than one year experience. The cohort concept makes it possible for all FastTrack MLIS students to learn from other cohort members. The range of backgrounds, experiences and interests adds to the discussions, projects and overall learning experience of each student.

Who do I contact if I have more questions?

Our advisors and faculty are available to answer your questions. Start by sending your questions or area of inquiry to We will help you to get all the information you need to make a decision.

What is WISE?

Web-based Information Science Education (WISE) is a unique and groundbreaking opportunity for students enrolled at Pitt to take online courses from other leading schools to broaden the scope of the curriculum. The WISE consortium uses advanced technology as a means to enrich one’s education and foster relationships among students, faculty, and universities. More information about WISE can be found here.

Attendance at On-Campus Experience

The FastTrack MLIS Program is based on the cohort model with the intention that each student will be an active participant in an online community of learners with classmates and instructors. The FT MLIS Program has been developed for adults who have career and family obligations. It uses a combination of asynchronous course instruction and a short period of face-to-face interaction on-campus each term.  This component of face-to-face instruction was the key factor in receiving approval from the Provost of the University of Pittsburgh.  Several employers have also based their approval of participation on this key component.

The Library and Information Science Program faculty stand firm in its conviction that the on-campus experience is vital to the strength and reputation of the MLIS program.  Therefore, all students enrolled in the FastTrack MLIS Program must attend the mandatory on-campus sessions in each of the six terms of study.  A medical situation validated by the student's physician is the only accepted excuse for not attending an on-campus session. If a student claims other extenuating circumstances, the student may petition the Admissions and Review Committee for permission not to participate in a single term’s on-campus experience.

Students enrolled in one or more asynchronous courses must participate in each term’s on-campus experience.  A student may be exempt from participation in a single term only if they are registered for two of the following:

That student must arrange for an individual telephone interview with the supervising faculty member a minimum of one time during the term.

Policy on Participation in an On-line Course

The FastTrack MLIS Program was developed for adults who have career and family obligations.  The asynchronous design of the courses allows for students to participate at any time or any location.  On-campus students now have the option of registering for a course either on-campus or on-line.  All students registered for the on-line section of an LIS course must meet the participation policy.  Just as on-campus students are required to attend each class session and to participate in class activities, on-line students (both FastTrack MLIS students and on-campus students registered for the course on-line) are required to participate actively in each learning experience as required by the individual instructor and to complete each course assignment by the instructor’s deadline.  It is the responsibility of all on-line students to make arrangements for participating in the course consistently throughout the term.  An instructor allots a grade or number of points for timely and regular participation and lowers the grade or number of points if the student does not participate.  Some instructors hold Virtual Chats that may be required.

“G” (Incomplete) Grades

The instructor decides whether to grant a student the option of not completing a course by the end of the term and granting a grade of “G.”  Permission is granted only in the case of a medical emergency or a personal or professional crisis.  Students may not carry more than one Incomplete (G) grade into the following term.  University policy is that incomplete grades must be completed by the end of the following term. 

On-line versus on-campus

At the iSchool, degree programs offered on-line are the same as those offered on-campus. Only the delivery system differs!