Proficiency Requirements

MLIS Culminating Experience

Regulations of the UWM Graduate School require that all candidates for graduate degrees “demonstrate proficiency to integrate the knowledge of that discipline” in which they obtain a degree. The faculty of the School of Information Studies (SOIS) has determined that this requirement be met through successful completion of one of the following activities.

Option One: Capstone Project

The MLIS Capstone Project involves identifying an information problem in a real-world setting and developing the means to address it.  You must have completed 60% of your course work and all core courses before registering for this activity.  It will be available to students in fall, spring and summer terms, run over a 12 week period (11 weeks in summer) with guidelines and due dates specified on the D2L capstone project site.  There are 5 phases with deadlines throughout the term.  Each phase of the project requires a submission to D2L which will be evaluated by an instructor who has been assigned to oversee projects in specific sections.  Submissions will be graded as either "Pass" or "Needs Improvement."  If the latter, feedback is provided to support the student in preparation for a revised phase submission.

The final outcome of the Capstone Project may be in the form of a poster, a webpage, a journal article, a mobile app, or some other product, provided it is approved by the instructor.  In recent terms, students have submitted their capstone projects for such venues as professional journals, research posters for conferences, and documents for use internally within their libraries.

Please click here for more details on the Capstone Option Guidelines >>

Option Two: Thesis Option

Students may select the thesis option at any point in their course of study, but are encouraged to make this decision and form their thesis committee as early as possible to avoid the necessity of taking additional coursework.

Please click here for more details on the Thesis Option Guidelines >>

Master's Thesis Checklist

UWM Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Formatting

UWM Graduate School - Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadlines

Option Three: Proficiency Exam

Students choosing the proficiency examination option must successfully pass a written examination. This written examination consists of a list of approximately 8-12 questions that are distributed at the start of the examination period from which students select two questions to answer. A student who fails the examination the first time may repeat it once. However, a student who fails the examination may not select the thesis option.

Note: Students intending to graduate in December (2015), must complete the capstone project or, if they enrolled before January 2014, may opt for the proficiency exam.

Please click here for more details on the Proficiency Exam Guidelines >>


If you have questions related to the proficiency exam or the Capstone Project, please contact:

Dr. Tom Walker, Chair of the Proficiency Committee

Linda Barajas
Phone: (414)229-3316