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The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) is the master's degree that is required for most professional librarian positions in the United States and Canada. The MLIS is a relatively recent degree; an older and still common degree designation for librarians to acquire is the Master of Library Science (MLS), or Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree. The MLIS and MLS degrees are widely considered to be equivalent. In some universities, these degrees are denoted as MLISc or MLSc or MSLS, as in the case of M.S. for MSc. But in most commonwealth universities, both bachelor's program and master's program has been merged to provide MLIS/MLISc degree. Admission to MLIS programs normally requires holding a bachelor's degree in any academic discipline, and library schools encourage applications from people with diverse academic backgrounds.
In the United Kingdom it is more common for a vocational degree in library and information science to bear the standard designation M.A. or M.Sc.
The MLIS/MLS curriculum can vary widely. Typically, both practical and theoretical components are included, often along with a practicum or internship. Course work may entail traditional library topics, such as reference work, cataloging, collection development, school libraries, or archiving. There may also be a focus on information science and computer science topics, such as database and website design, as well as information architecture (thus leading to the "I" in MLIS). Other skills taught may include management or pedagogy. Students generally complete a research project or thesis during the last semester of their programs.