Core Competencies at the iSchool Build the Foundation for a Successful Career

iStudent Blog

Published: August 15, 2015

Whether you’re a prospective student just starting at the iSchool, or gathering up your past course assignments and putting together your e-portfolio, the iSchool’s core competencies (also known as program learning outcomes) are going to keep appearing. You will need to know exactly what they are and be able to develop these competencies to prove you’re a professional worth hiring.

Students in all stages of their coursework need to keep track of what the competencies are and which assignments provide evidence for the e-portfolio. These 15 MLIS core competencies are essential components of your graduate school coursework.

As part of your e-portfolio, you will provide examples of your coursework for each competency (at least one example; two or three is preferred) as evidence of your qualifications as an information professional.

MARA students are required to provide evidence of 10 core competencies for their e-portfolios.

Understand the building blocks
The core competencies were established to make sure that by the end of your grad school career you’ve gained a variety of skills, insights and experiences, including (but in no way limited to):

  • Planning, management and advocacy skills (Competency D)
  • Being able to design, query and evaluate information systems (Competency E, covered in your core course, INFO 202)
  • Service skills (Competency I)
  • Fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors (Competency J)
  • Research methods (Competency L)
  • The ability to evaluate programs and services on measurable criteria (Competency N)

Be familiar with the competencies now so that you’re not scrambling around at the last minute to provide evidence, for example, of your “proficiency in identifying, using and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.” That would be Competency H, by the way.

If you’re following a specific career pathway, then many of the core competencies will be covered by the recommended courses, but double-check to make sure you’re working your way through them.

The iSchool website has a convenient page where you can map each competency by class. For example, I seem to be missing Competency I, so I’ll need to figure out a class or two that might cover this as I plan out the second half of my coursework.

Quick side note: Competency I (among a few others) is covered by the new INFO 200, but not by LIBR 200 prior to the fall of 2014; in other words, new students will automatically have evidence for Competency I, but if you’ve been with the program for a little while, you may need to map your competencies differently. Read the first note on this page for the details.

MARA students can map their competencies to specific classes by going to this page.

Lay a strong foundation
So why are these competencies so important and how were they created? Of course it’s important that the iSchool curriculum and faculty work with you to make you a thoroughly capable and competent (hence, the name) professional.

The core competencies were developed to align with the iSchool’s mission statement, to educate “information professionals who are highly competent in virtual and physical environments and who contribute to the well-being of our global communities.”

To establish the core competencies, the iSchool faculty worked together to review relevant statements of competencies and principles of specialization documented by professional organizations such as the American Library Association (ALA), the Special Libraries Association (SLA), the Association for Information Science and Technology (ASIS&T), the California Library Association (CLA) and the Society of American Archivists (SAA). The competencies are reviewed every two years by the faculty, led by the Curriculum Committee co-chairs (currently Dr. Linda Main and Dr. Sue Alman), to ensure that they stay current and relevant in an ever-changing field.

These core competencies and the e-portfolio that you build from them are a way to show the iSchool faculty, future employers and yourself that you’ve got a solid set of skills for a successful future—something of which you can be quite proud.

For posts just like this one, check out:
Your Final Experience in MLIS Program: E-portfolio and Thesis Options
The E-portfolio: Why You Should Start Thinking About Your Final Class Now
Use the iSchool Pinterest Boards for Great Tips and Resources During Grad School

image courtesy of cool design



As I am planning out which courses I would like to take, are there some that do not meet any of the competency requirements? For example, I am really interested in children's books, programs, and literature and am planning on enrolling in about three classes dealing with children's literature. Am I making an error here? Please let me know?

Your comment

Please use our Student Services Help Form (where you will enter your student ID), so that I may look up your transcript and see what other classes you have taken so far. In this way I can contact you privately and help you with your course planning questions more individually:

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