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 1: 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 with guidelines and due dates specified on the attached document (“Capstone Project Summary”).   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 (feedback and suggestions provided).  

To explore the range of possibilities, both the University of Washington and the University of Texas at Austin provide examples of research and project based capstone topics that their MLIS students have undertaken. 

The final outcome of the Capstone Project may be in the form of a poster, a webpage, a journal article, an app, or some other product (approved by instructor). Students are encouraged to submit their projects to be presented at the SOIS’ Student Research Day in December or May (summer projects may be submitted for December).  The SOIS Research Committee will judge the submitted projects and award a Top Prize of $1,000 and up to three Honorable Mention Prizes of $500 each.  

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

Option 2: Thesis

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.

Thesis Option Guidelines

Master's Thesis Checklist

UWM Graduate School Thesis and Dissertation Formatting

UWM Graduate School - Thesis/Dissertation Defense Deadlines

Option 3: 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.


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

Linda Barajas
Phone: (414)229-3316