MLIS Program Performance


MLIS Program Performance

Program Based Assessment

The San José State University School of Information has developed a set of Program Learning Outcomes that are focused on the core competencies of our profession. The culminating e-Portfolio serves to assess a student’s mastery of all program learning outcomes (core competencies) for the MLIS degree before graduation.


Review and Measurement of Individual Program Learning Outcomes

Starting with the fall 2007 semester, the school has collected data each semester on the number of revisions needed to satisfactorily demonstrate achievement of a defined subset of 5 of the MLIS Program Learning Outcomes or Core Competencies presented in students’ culminating electronic portfolios. Our goal is to have 90% or better of INFO 289 (e-Portfolio) students who need no or only 1 revision to a Statement of Competency, the essay in which they demonstrate achievement of a specific Program Learning Outcome. If less than 90% of students submit work at that level, then that identifies for the faculty a need for curricular review of the courses that address that Program Learning Outcome.

Since 2007, we have collected datasets on all of our competencies and constantly review them as part of our ongoing curricular review process.


Assessment of Individual Program Learning Outcomes Reports MLIS


Course Student Learning Outcomes and Course Mapping to Program Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

Each course has both course learning outcomes – linked to assignments – as well as core competencies (program learning outcomes) defined for that particular class. – See


External Inputs into the Curriculum

Field Based Program Advisory Committees

International Advisory Council

Emerging Job Trends and Titles - annual survey


Retention  and Graduation Data

As a student progresses through the MLIS program there are three key transition points where we can see retention rates.

1. After the required one unit INFO 203. This class – Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success – is the first class taken by students admitted into the program. Students are required to pass the class in order to continue. One of the purposes of the class is to help determine if a student is equipped for the online environment.

Table 1. INFO 203 Retention and Pass Data

Semester Total Enrolled by iSchool Withdrawn
 or dropped
Still Enrolled at Semester End NC CR Retention Rate Pass Rate
Fall 2012 506 81 425 5 420 84% 98.8%
Spring 2013 236 26 210 2 208 89% 99%
Fall 2013 404 68 336 4 332 83% 99%
Spring 2014 355 65 290 1 289 81.7% 99.7%
Fall 2014 507 84 423 1 422 83.4% 99.8%
Spring 2015 370 35 335 2 333 91% 99%
Fall 2015 471 67 404 0 404 85.77% 100%
Spring 2016 439 62 377 1 376 86% 99.73%
Fall 2016 468 57 411 1 410 88% 99.76%
Spring 2017 373 46 327 0 327 88% 100%
Fall 2017 408 47 361 0 361 88% 100%
Spring 2018 374 47 327 1 326 87% 99%
Fall 2018 502 47 455 0 455 91% 100%
Spring 2019 388 44 344 0 344 89% 100%
Fall 2019 636 70 566 2 564 89% 99.65%
Spring 2020 524 62 462 1 461 88% 99.78%
Fall 2020 545 63 482 0 482 88% 100%
Spring 2021 485 52 433 0 433 89% 100%
Fall 2021 557 43 514 2 512 92% 99.6%

2. Core Courses. All students are required to make a B in each of the core classes (INFO 200 (Information Communities), INFO 202 (Information Retrieval System Design), INFO 204 (Information Professions)). Students who fail to make a B are placed on administrative probation. They have one more chance to take the class before they are disqualified from the program. The iSchool faculty’s target is that 85% of graduate students will successfully make a B in 200, 202, and 204 on the first attempt. This requirement regarding earning a grade of B or higher in each core course ensures that our new students themselves have proven that they possess sufficient interest, aptitude, and qualifications for successful completion of the program and subsequent contribution to the field.

Table 2. Data about Students Making Less than a B in Core Classes

  200 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades % 202 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades % 204 Total Enrolled # of less than B grades %
Fall 2012 383 41 10.7 314 28 8.9 311 19 6.10
Spring 2013 219 22 10 219 19 8.6 226 18 7.9
Fall 2013 298 26 8.7 233 18 7.7 219 9 4.1
Spring 2014 290 17 5.8 295 20 6.7 251 11 4.3
Fall 2014 401 41 10.2 341 17 4.9 279 11 3.9
Spring 2015 291 19 6.5 283 10 3.5 263 2 0.7
Fall 2015 365 54 14.79 306 19 6.2 279 6 2.15
Spring 2016 376 21 5.5 354 15 4.23 322 8 2.48
Fall 2016 376 33 9 333 19 6 273 9 3
Spring 2017 225 32 14.2 305 11 3.6 311 6 1.92
Fall 2017 361 23 6.37 373 15 4.02 379 6 1.5
Spring 2018 320 17 5.3 288 8 2.7 379 1 0.3
Fall 2018 436 37 8.49 430 16 3.72 391 5 1.28
Spring 2019 322 25 8 332 8 2.4 319 11 3.4
Fall 2019 564 32 5.67 476 13 2.73 458 11 2.4
Spring 2020 456 25 5.4 445 11 2.47 442 9 2.036
Fall 2020 482 19 3.94% 411 6 1.45% 393 8 2.036

Typically 8%-10% of students who do not successfully pass core classes the first time, and opt to retake, successfully retake the classes.

3. Culminating. In order to graduate with their MLIS degree students must complete as a culminating experience either INFO 289 (e-Portfolio) or INFO 299-Thesis.

The great majority of students select e-Portfolio. The goal of the e-Portfolio is to provide a program-based assessment to ensure that each student demonstrates mastery of all program learning outcomes (core competencies) for the degree before graduation.

The e-Portfolio can be completed in one semester though the preparation happens all throughout the student’s program.

The completion of a thesis represents an organized research effort, where the student makes an original contribution to the field. It may take as many as two or more years, although most theses require about 18 months complete. Between fall 2010 and fall 2019 six students completed a thesis.  In 2012, a graduating student -Jack Tilney- won the University’s outstanding graduate thesis award. To see MLIS theses in the King Library use the Scholarworks information in point one on this page.

Table 3. INFO 289: e-Portfolio Statistics

  Total Enrolled Passed No Credit* RP RP(cont’d)
Fall 2012 285 253 (89%) 11 20 3
Spring 2013 327 296 (90%) 18 13 1
Fall 2013 293 253 (86%) 19 21 1
Spring 2014 305 282 (92%) 12 11 6
Fall 2014 242 218 (90%) 14 9 0
Spring 2015 273 252 (92%) 14 7 0
Fall 2015 253 225 (89%) 13 15 0
Spring 2016 262 239 (91%) 8 15 0
Fall 2016 263 245 (93%) 11 7 0
Spring 2017 257 234 (91%) 15 8 0
Fall 2017 293 266 (91%) 12 15 0
Spring 2018 281 254 (90.4%) 12 15 0
Fall 2018 300 278 (92.7%) 7 15 0
Spring 2019 279 248 (88.9%) 21 10 0
Fall 2019 292 253 (86.6%) 12 20 7
Spring 2020 344 302 (87.8%) 12 20 10
Fall 2020 316 269 (85.1%) 10 21 16
Spring 2021 400 343 (85.75%) 19 21 17

*Students who obtain a No Credit in INFO 289 have one more chance to retake the e-Portfolio course. A No Credit is awarded if a student fails to submit at least 10 satisfactory statements of competency with supporting evidence. If a student receives a second No Credit, they are disqualified from the MLIS program. Between fall 2012 and Spring 2021, there were eighteen disqualifications due to failing to produce a satisfactory e-Portfolio after two attempts.


Graduating Student Exit Survey Data

We survey our graduating students each semester as they complete the MLIS program. The information below is from one of our most recent exit survey, presenting the 136 survey responses we received from MLIS students, who graduated in Spring 2021

For a summary of Spring responses, please visit the MLIS Student Experience web page.


MLIS Alumni Survey Data

We survey our MLIS alumni within 13 months after they graduate to track employment trends, ensure that our curriculum remains relevant, and help us anticipate shifts in the job market.

Our most recent survey was sent in June 2021 to graduates who completed the MLIS program during calendar year 2020. We received a total of 119 responses to our survey. Not all of the questions were mandatory, and the responses may be rounded.

“I was very happy with the quality of education that I received at SJSU. Especially since I was working while studying, I found the course work and information directly applicable to what I was doing. I also see SJSU as a leader in the library science field and am proud to have studied there.”

We are pleased to share the following data regarding our alumni:

  • Library and information science is not the first professional career for many of our recent graduates (50%). They are changing their career focus to LIS from a wide variety of fields, such as education, retail, non profit, medical fields, and publishing.
  • Many students begin the MLIS program already having some library work experience and/or gain library work experience while completing their studies. Only 23% said they had not worked in a library.
  • Of those who are currently employed, 64% hold jobs in a library or information science career environment, 11% are working in a LIS capacity but not in a LIS institution, and 13% are employed in a non-related position and field. 

The survey continued with questions asked of those who are working in a LIS career environment or related capacity.

  • 66% have full-time positions and are working in diverse LIS career environments, including public libraries, academic libraries, K-12 schools, and special libraries. 94% of full-time workers are employed in permanent positions.
  • Their job titles are just as varied as their employers and include Digital Asset Librarian, Tribal Library Specialist, Children’s Librarian, Branch Librarian, Teacher Technology Leader, Family Learning Coordinator, Reference and Instruction Librarian and many more positions.
  • Our alumni are putting their MLIS skills to work performing many different job duties, such as circulation, collection development, outreach, and reference/information services.
  • When asked to select their primary job assignment, the following job assignments received the most responses: reference/information services, circulation, public services, school librarian / school library media specialist, children’s services, and YA/teen services.
  • In anticipation of graduating, 54% of students who weren’t already employed began the job search more than 7 months in advance of their graduation date. Some respondents indicated that pandemic-related economic conditions had delayed or impacted their job search. 
  • Many students worked while earning their degree and opted to remain with an employer or position held prior to or while attending the MLIS program. Those who chose to stay with an existing employer after graduation said the master’s degree helped advance their career. 49% reported that they received a promotion, became eligible for tenure, got a raise, and/or moved from support staff to professional staff.

“It was wonderful and prepared me for my current dream job as teacher-librarian in a public school, K-12. Thank you!”

Our alumni shared that they believe the following five experiences/activities were most helpful or important in obtaining their first job in the information profession:

  1. Previous Employment Experience
  2. Technological Skills
  3. Choosing Electives from Multiple Career Pathways
  4. Internship, Practicum or Fieldwork Experience
  5. Subject Specialization

Our students not only live across North America while completing the fully online MLIS program, they are also working in different geographic areas after graduation. For example, our alumni reported their employers are located in the U.S., Canada, India and Ecuador.

The survey concluded with the option for alumni to share their comments regarding the MLIS program. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

  • “The staff was incredibly supportive and focused on student success. I received top notch instruction.”
  • “Working as a Content Editor at the Student Research Journal was invaluable. The skills I learned and was able to put on my resume made my application competitive enough to rise above other applicants and get the job. Generally, people go to grad school to get professional experience in the field of their choice. The Student Research Journal gave me that in spades.”

We invite you to learn more about our alumni by browsing our alumni career spotlights, reading alumni stories, and watching videos of them at work and their impact on our global communities.


2019 Employer Survey

In November 2019, we sent a short survey to a list of employers identified by our alumni. The employers were invited to answer a few questions and share their thoughts about our alumni in the workplace. Although MLIS alumni work in diverse organizations, the majority of employers responding to the survey represented academic and public library settings. The following data primarily reflects the library work environment.

  • Of the 50 write-in responses, only eight did not include the word “librarian” in the job title. iSchool alumni are working in various library roles, including Youth Services Librarian, Programming Librarian, and Virtual Services Librarian, for example. Positions that did not include the word “librarian” included Metadata Specialist, University Archivist, and Digital Archivist.
  • Employers believe the greatest strength of our alumni is their technological skills. 95% of survey respondents marked technological skills as “Very Good” and “Good.” “These students excel in dealing with technology,” commented an employer. Other exceptional skills noted were outreach, research, communication, and organization. (n=44)
  • Many variables factor into job preparedness, which was reflected by employers in their responses. 77% of survey respondents believe the employee was well-prepared and trained for the position. 19% marked “Unsure,” as explained by an employer: “It’s difficult to tell how much preparation was due to your program and what came from on-the-job experience.” (n=43)

Employer feedback on our MLIS graduates employed in their organizations:

  • “I have been impressed with the work ethic of our SJSU hires.” Graduate Job Title: Librarian
  • “Our children’s librarian brings a wealth of experience to the job. She is exceptional in planning her activities and doing outreach.” Graduate Job Title: Children’s Librarian II
  • “She is an excellent supervisor, and cares a great deal about providing superior service.” Graduate Job Title: Access Services Librarian & Supervisor
  • “I have one who is very technologically inclined. Another one is very creative and has great ideas for programs and how to enhance services.” Graduate Job Titles: Librarian II, Librarian I
  • “Technology skills are excellent.” Graduate Job Title: Library Assistant
  • “Our colleague who is an alumna of SJSU has demonstrated exceptional adaptability in familiarizing herself with systems, procedures, and processes related to management of our Federal depository collection.” Graduate Job Title: Government Documents Librarian


2016 Employer Survey

We surveyed employers of our graduates in August of 2016. 128 employers participated in the survey.

  • 88% of employers believed the SJSU graduate(s) were well-prepared and trained for their position in the organization.
  • 82% of employers ranked the technological skills of iSchool graduates in their employ as either very good or good.

Employer feedback on our MLIS graduates employed in their organizations:

  • “I am lucky to have 4 excellent SJSU graduates working in my branch; they are bright, motivated, and manage to be detail oriented while still able to work towards bigger picture goals.” Graduate Job Title: Youth Services Librarian; Librarian I/II
  • “Both of the alumni that work here are exceptional at working with a diverse population. They have excellent public service skills, and they enjoy working with all patrons.  We have a unique type of diversity in our community, and both librarians are perfectly prepared and trained to work with every type of patron.” Graduate Job Title: Librarian I/II; Collection Development Librarian
  • “Cataloging skills and overall critical thinking and organizational skills are outstanding! Communication skills are also exceptional in this graduate.” Graduate Job Title: Cataloguer; Metadata Librarian
  • “Over the years I have hired several SJSU MLIS graduates with resounding success. They have contributed to the growth and stature of our department, increasing its value to the organization such that we are a strong unit within the parent organization. I value SJSU MLIS students so much that I encourage internships to be placed in our library.” Graduate Job Title: Research Librarian; Archivist
  • “Most of my employees who are SJSU graduates began working here through your internship program (note to self – I need to update my internship description). I have found those folks to be an excellent fit here at the library – they have been highly motivated, skilled, and adaptable. Keep ‘em coming!” Graduate Job Title: Youth Services Librarian; Reference and Instruction Librarian; Programming Librarian