Important Deadlines


Intention to Present Portfolio Form due

Advancement to Candidacy Petitions due

Portfolio Due Date

Date of Portfolio Presentations – portfolio dates and times are assigned and specific dates/times cannot be requested

Fall 2019 May 3, 2019 October 6, 2019 October 11, 2019 November 8, 2019
Winter 2020 November 1, 2019 January 13, 2020 January 17, 2020 February 14, 2020
Spring 2020 February 7, 2020 April 6, 2020 April 24, 2020* May 2020*
Summer 2020   TBA N/A Presentations either in the preceding Spring Quarter or the following Fall Quarter

The dates noted above are the portfolio presentation dates through Academic Year 2019-2020. Please note these dates on your calendars, in order to help with the scheduling process.

** Due to the exceptional circumstances during Spring 2020, please see the PPC Guidelines for Spring 2020 Portfolio Presentations and the Portfolio Evaluation Guidelines

Dates for 2020-21 will be posted at the start of the academic term.

Declaration of Intent to Present the Portfolio form (PDF)

Portfolio Requirements

  Since the 1990s, students in the MLIS program who choose Plan II have been required to pass a comprehensive examination (now known as a capstone) that consists of two components: a basic component, and a specialization component. The basic component is a portfolio, which is defined as “a presentation of its author’s professional self as developed in the MLIS program” (see Please note that full information regarding the portfolio is available in the student handbook. Information presented here is an overview. The intention is that the portfolio serve as a basic component of a comprehensive exam by requiring students

  •  “to assess and integrate their learning throughout the core courses of the program,
  •  to relate the advanced work done in specialty courses to their career goals,
  •  to identify learning objectives and describe the degree to which those objectives have been met,
  •  to select key papers written during the program, and
  •  to describe a plan for continuing education and professional involvement.”

Each portfolio consists of a number of distinct elements—specified in the handbook—including a 10-page paper on a significant issue in the LIS field. After preparing these components and submitting the whole as a coherent, persistent package (a.k.a., the “written portfolio” or “recorded version,” which must be on paper but which may be accompanied by a version in digital form), the student gives a public, in-person presentation to a panel of three. The presentation is made in either the second to last or the last quarter of enrollment, either after or during the quarter in which the 18 required MLIS courses are completed. Other prerequisites are: (1) all outstanding entrance requirements completed; (2) all courses completed to the level required for good academic standing (i.e., a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher); and (3) all Incomplete grades removed. Failure in any part of the portfolio may lead to only one opportunity to re-submit the recorded version and/or to make the in-person presentation again. The specialization component is a major paper produced in an elective course—“normally in the student’s area of specialization,” and not the same course that has been used to satisfy the research methods requirement—in which a grade of B or better has been earned. Students include their major paper in their portfolio; in practice, then, the specialization component of the exam can be considered as being part of the basic component.

Goals of the Portfolio

A central element of the portfolio is a 10-page issue paper in which the student (with the assistance of faculty, other students, and the student’s growing professional network) articulates a significant issue for the field. Articulating a significant issue is valuable for several reasons. It provides students with a structure for identifying their interests, for thinking about their career directions, for becoming involved in the intellectual life of the department and the field, for building their professional networks, for developing their professional identities, and for beginning or strengthening their involvement in professional activities and continuing education. One goal of the portfolio is for assessors to determine whether, in their 10-page issue paper, the student has been able to identify a significant issue in the field and has shown the ability to articulate that issue and advocate for change, innovation, or a creative extension of a given service. A second goal of the portfolio is for students to demonstrate leadership by suggesting ways that they would attempt to implement innovations or improvements to existing practices or services. Being the president of an organization or professional society is far from the only way to demonstrate leadership. We are looking for evidence that the student has taken the initiative to define an agenda for their field or profession. A third goal of the portfolio is to challenge students to reflect on their career goals and to present a selection of their best work in a polished, professional format. In the best portfolios, students are able to express their unique voice and demonstrate their learning and growth during the MLIS program. This culminating exercise is also preparation for presenting professional dossiers or portfolios which are required by many employers at the time of application or for promotional reviews.

Showcase Portfolios

Every year, a select number of portfolio presentations are chosen as “Showcase Portfolios” and are displayed in the IS lab. Two students agreed to have their showcase portfolio presentations recorded below for your reference.

Thesis Option

Thesis Guidelines

Please note that full information regarding the thesis is available in the student handbook. Information presented here is an overview. The MLIS thesis plan gives the student the opportunity to write a thesis on a topic of their choice; see Students should anticipate that it will likely take approximately 14 months to develop and complete an MLIS thesis. Students should meet with their advisor, or else with the faculty member who they would like to chair their thesis committee, to discuss possible thesis topics in early spring quarter of the first year of study and ask the faculty member if s/he will chair the committee. The committee chair will also serve as the student’s academic advisor from that point forward. The student should advise the Student Affairs Officer (SAO) in the same spring quarter of his or her intent to write a thesis and, if necessary, the change of advisor. Between spring quarter of the first year and the end of winter quarter of the second year, the student should nominate a committee using the form available here: (To complete the form correctly, the student should enter the following information: Department—Information Studies; Major—509 Library and Information Science; Degree—MLIS.) Three regular ladder faculty members, or other experts pre-approved as eligible to serve by Graduate Division, are required to form a committee, but not all of those faculty members need to be drawn from the Department of Information Studies. The committee nomination form should be submitted to the SAO in the quarter before the one in which the student intends to present the thesis. To be eligible to submit the thesis proposal, the student must: (a) have met all the IS entrance requirements; (b) have taken, or be completing in the current quarter, the required core and research methods courses; (c) be in good academic standing (i.e., have a cumulative GPA above 3.0); and (d) have completed all incompletes. The student is allowed to enroll in up to three courses (12 units) of independent coursework (IS 596, 598) to develop his or her thesis. The thesis does not need to include original research, but it must offer an original approach to, or insights into the chosen topic. It often grows out of a paper already written for another course. Its length will depend upon the topic selected and the approach used to examine it. Most theses, however, tend to be in the range of 60–90 double-spaced pages. If collecting any data from human subjects, or using restricted datasets or records, the student must have the research approved by the UCLA Institutional Review Board (IRB) using the WebIRB application process: It is highly recommended that the student attend a meeting presenting information on University regulations governing manuscript preparation and completion of degree requirements. The Graduate Division and the University Archivist hold meetings at the beginning of each academic quarter; see The student should check the filing date for the quarter in which s/he expects to file. The student should also provide the thesis committee chair with a draft of the complete thesis with sufficient time to respond to his or her comments before sending out the final draft to the entire committee, and schedule the oral presentation in advance of the filing date, leaving enough time for any corrections required by the committee to be made to the manuscript. The student is responsible for scheduling a date, time, and room for the oral presentation with the Department’s Administrative Assistant. The presentation of the thesis is not a formal defense; however, students should anticipate that it will take up to two hours, within which time the student will present his or her work and respond to questions and comments from the committee. Note: It is frequently difficult to get the committee together. Give faculty members several dates and times at least a month ahead. Also make sure you know how far ahead faculty members wish to receive the final draft of the thesis. They may request to receive it up to four weeks in advance of the presentation. Successfully completing a thesis also satisfies the MLIS major paper requirement.