Hack Your Program – San Jose State University SLIS (Online)

11/08/2011 § 34 Comments

Brian McManus is on Twitter @B_rie and blogs here.

Editor’s note: We had several people contact us about Hacking SJSU and we thank you all for that. This is Brian’s experience and we would love to hear about your experiences (positive, critical, neutral, etc) below in the comments. Because SJSU is such a large, growing and diverse program, we value input from other students! – Heidi

Disclaimer: These are my personal opinion and are not representative of the student body, San Jose State University (SJSU), or the School of Library and Information Sciences (SLIS).  Any criticism is meant to be constructive and for the betterment of the program.

I was accepted to all of the University of Arizona’s, Florida State University’s, and San Jose State University’s SLIS programs. I needed a program that allowed me to continue to work full-time as library Staff at Washington State University, had a large and robust Web presence, and did not have a mandatory residency requirement attached to its distance program.  For example the University of Arizona required an 11 day stay at the beginning of a student’s course work; this was my “backup” school.

SJSU’s SLIS program allowed for my criteria; that is why I chose them.

General Overview

San Jose State University’s SLIS program is the largest ALA accredited library school in the world, which I was not aware of before I began writing this post.  The SLIS curriculum is implemented and provided completely through the online format, using both synchronous (communicating in real time) and asynchronous (not communicating in real time) methods, tools, and technologies.

SLIS serves approximately 3,000 graduate students from within the state of California, the U.S., U.S. territories, and other countries.  I have had the opportunity through the program to be classmates with students from Guam and Australia. It was a unique experience I am not sure I would have gotten anywhere else.

The program delivers the curriculum through the D2L (Desire to Learn) Learning Management System (LMS).  As recently as the Spring 2011 semester the SLIS program was using ANGEL, however it has now completed its transition to D2L for its summer courses and into the future.

Programs

SJSU SLIS offers several different types of programs.  There is the MLIS, the MARA, and the San Jose Gateway Ph.D. programs.  As you have no doubt already correctly guessed, MLIS is the SLIS program’s Master’s of Library and Information Sciences degree.  The MARA program is the Master’s of Archives and Records Administration, which is for students interested in working with archives and emerging electronic records and digital asset management … yes, that is directly from the MARA Web site.  The San Jose Gateway Ph.D. Program is an external Ph.D. program due to the nature of SJSU being limited by the state legislature to only offer master’s degree level education to students.  By partnering with Queensland University of Technology in Australia, SJSU is able to offer a doctoral degree in library sciences to a small group.

In 2009, the SJSU SLIS program was ranked 22 by U.S. News and World Report.

 Courses and Pathways

The program requires each student to complete four core courses which act as prerequisites to many of the succeeding courses in the program.  The first is an introductory technology course that needs to be completed within the first two semesters called Online Social Networking: Technology Tools, It’s a one credit course and acts as an excellent introduction to using the different technologies and software each student will need to know to successfully complete their program.  This course has a shortened time frame to complete and is not taken for an entire semester. Some students complete this course during the summer or winter intersessions.  The other four core courses are Information and Society, Information Retrieval, and Information Organizations and Management.  A complete description of each of these courses can be found on the course description web page.

The School of Information Sciences offers a multitude of career pathways to choose from: Academic Librarianship; Digital Services and Emerging Technologies; Information Intermediation and Instruction; Information Organization, Description, Analysis, and Retrieval; Leadership and Management; Management, Digitization, and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records; Public Librarianship; Special Librarianship; Teacher Librarianship; Web Programming and information Architecture; and Youth Librarianship.

The course work is not easy and can be challenging at times, even if a student is attending part-time.  As mentioned above, courses are delivered via the D2L LMS.  Knowing and understanding how to effectively communicate with your classmates and professors using the LMS is extremely important.  Most of the courses I have taken have followed a similar format, with the exception of a couple seminar courses that were either more or less structured. For instance, the advanced reference course where I was an embedded librarian for a distance graduate course at the University Central Missouri.  This course was loosely structured so that my teammates and I could develop library literacy and other helpful content requested by the instructor.

Discussion boards for readings, assignments, and projects are extremely helpful.  With only a couple of exceptions, all  of my professors have been active in the conversations and discussions, which adds a considerable amount of learning and perspective to the learning environment.

Lastly, courses are added and dropped using the SLIS’s MySJSU.  Once admitted to the program, each student has an account they can login to that helps them manage their student account, including classes and finances.  Many administrative emails from SJSU are communicated via this system. It is helpful to set up your email notifications to your personal email so that you do not miss these messages.

Financial Aid/Scholarships/Assistantships

The financial aid services provided by SJSU are mainly the same as those provided by other large state universities.  There is not necessarily a great deal of red tape involved with receiving financial aid once you are admitted and once you register for classes.  The key to this and many other graduate programs is to maintain a good academic standing within your coursework and to meet the minimum requirements for course load.  SJSU’s SLIS program requires its students to maintain a 3.0 overall GPA while in the program and to be at least half-time, which translates to taking 4 credit hours per semester.  Since all but one of the classes are 3 credits, students who wish to receive financial aid must take 6 credit hours per semester.

There are multiple scholarships available for students in the SLIS program that can help with the costs of attending SJSU.  The SLIS program maintains their own list and SJSU has a more general list.

Per credit cost of the SLIS program for distance students (special session) can be found here.

Per credit cost of the SLIS program for CA students (regular session) can be found here.

Student assistantships ($/hour) are also available through the program. The type of work ranges greatly from writing and researching in specific areas of study to working as a student peer trainer.  These are wonderful opportunities for some hands on experience while getting paid and supplementing a student’s income or lessening their cost of attendance.  Since this is the largest SLIS program in the country, there are many opportunities for assistantships.

Internships

Being affiliated with and a part of the SLIS program provides for some benefits. One of these are the internship resources.  As part of the graduate experience, students are encouraged to locate and complete an internship if they do not have library experience already.  SJSU’s SLIS program has an internship database that lists internships in the United States and abroad.  Students may gain credit towards their degree by enrolling in an internship designated class, LIBR 294, as well.

Involvement

There are opportunities for student involvement within the SJSU SLIS program.  There is the ALASC, American Library Association Student Chapter, which organizes social events near the SJSU campus and promotes professional development among other events.  There is also a student administered professional development society called ASIS&T (American Society of Information Science & Technology).  In addition to these, every student admitted to the SLIS program is automatically a member to the LISSTEN (Library & Information Science Students to Encourage Networking) group, which is another group to promote and encourage professional development and networking within the program.  Also, the LISSTEN group has a blog called the Call Number, which invites students to make contributions.  Another blog and opportunity for students to publish their work or perspective and edited by fellow students called the SLIS Descriptor.  There are many opportunities for students to be involved, network, and post their perspectives.

Why Prospective Students Should Consider SJSU’s SLIS Program

The SLIS program at SJSU is robust, flexible, and geared towards the student’s overall success.  The program’s course offerings are immense and from what I’ve seen students never have trouble registering for the core classes. The administration will add courses as needed and work with students to get them into the classes they need (I’m sure there are those that will disagree and have a negative story, but I have never had a problem.  Just make sure you register on the first day of registration and follow all the steps. This seems to hang-up a significant number of people.)

The program is geared towards both students who want and can go full-time and those that need to work full-time and attend courses part-time.  Also, student advisors are embedded into the LMS (Learning Management Software) so that you have access to them just like you would for your other courses.  This makes it extremely easy to email your advisor and post questions that other students may also know the answers to via discussion posts/rooms.

There are many great opportunities for SLIS students become involved in their profession and at varying levels.  Students have their choice of assistantships, networking within the student organizations, and publishing their class projects or sharing their unique perspective on multiple blogs.  These and others are opportunities for professional development and exposure to aspects of librarianship and the information sciences profession that can only enrich and further each student’s career.

Finally, SJSU’s SLIS program hosts lecture series, colloquia, and other professional development series throughout each semester via web casts and other streaming technologies.

Weakness/Room to Grow On

From my perspective, there are not many areas of the program that I can identify as having a weakness.  I think all programs could use more faculty and increase their course offerings, however I have never thought to myself, “Why doesn’t SLIS offer class XYZ.”  Perhaps some of my fellow SJSU SLISers can chime in and share their thoughts on our program.

Hacking SJSU’s SLIS Program

Stay organized: Make sure all your accounts with the program are sending notifications or forwarding content to one central location so you do not have to check multiple emails and accounts to stay in the loop.  Also, sign-in to the D2L LMS every day and keep up with all your class discussion posts.

Take an active role in one or more of the student associations and groups within the program.  You can never start networking or getting involved too soon.

If you are not already gaining actual library experience, take advantage of the SLIS internship database and resources.

Check the SLIS homepage for updates on upcoming colloquia series, conference SLIS will have a booth at, and program sponsored webinars and professional development opportunities.

Final Grade

I am grading the SJSU SLIS program as an A.  I would give it an +A, however let’s be honest, no program is perfect.  However, this one is pretty close.  I would also like to add, that this is an up and coming program, which I feel is underrated, with much forward momentum.  Its faculty are dynamic and well-known in the information professional field, faculty members such as Meredith Farkas (widely known as a Web 2.0 guru) and Michael Stevens (writer of the poplar library blog Tame the Web).  Coupled with a large number of faculty and course offerings, this program is more than adequately equipped to produce information professionals of high caliber and help take libraries positively into the future.

Thanks for reading and I look forward to your thoughts and comments.

Additional Information

SJSJ SLIS Hompage

Program Annual Review (Brochure)

Advising FAQ (additional admissions, accreditation, and other questions)

Current Student Web page (computing, courses, graduation, people, registration, resources, SJSU, SLIS)

SJSU SLIS Facebook page

SJSU SLIS’s SLIS21 Blog (curriculum and registration discussions)

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§ 34 Responses to Hack Your Program – San Jose State University SLIS (Online)

  • Thanks for the review Brian. There is some overlap between this program as outlined here and Florida State, my school, also an online program. Look for a FSU SLIS Program Hack coming soon.

    One issue: Really? No criticisms? Everything is great? Maybe others want to chime in here?

  • zfrazier says:

    Say hello to your parents for me. I met them at Mike’s wedding.

  • rose l chou says:

    I’m finishing up my third semester at SJSU, and I will say that my experience has been really positive overall. I’ve enjoyed most of my professors, and I’ve never run across a systems issue with the program being online. I honestly don’t have any major criticisms of the program itself, just questions about LIS education as a whole.

    To add to the Hack SJSU piece, there is a great Yahoo group for students. It includes a database of professor reviews, and the discussions are pretty active.

    I know that a big criticism of SJSU is the large number of students in the program. My question is if it’s the role of grad programs to regulate the market. Many program enrollment limits are due to lack of resources/faculty, but if SJSU is able to accommodate this number of students — and there’s a demand for the education, I don’t see what’s necessarily “wrong” with such a big program.

    • brimcmanus says:

      Hi Rose,
      It’s great to hear from another SJUS SLISer! I’m glad you’ve had a positive experience with SJSU as well. I think along with the graduate programs to regulate the market, students help regulate the market as well. If the programs are being offered and students are still enrolling, then the ‘market’ seems to be regulating itself. I agree with you, there is nothing wrong with SJSU’s program being large, the demand is there, as you pointed out. Thanks for your comment.

  • Thanks Brian! I am also a student at SJSU. I am starting my third year. Up until last semester I’ve only taken one or two classes at a time because I too had been working. I’ve appreciated SJSU’s program’s flexibility with classes and the diversity of the available classes. I chose SJSU for many of the reasons Brian did. I looked at other online programs (UW-Milwaukee, Florida State and Drexel), but I couldn’t justify the additional expense of these programs. I am considered a Special Student at SJSU which means that I am out of state or out of a certain zip code area within CA and unsubsidized by state funds.

    I agree with much of what Brian has to say, but I would have to say the video/presentation software/platform, Elluminate, used seems to have a few issues and isn’t overly intuitive. It seems like a lecture or presentation is guaranteed to have problems even with the most careful planning and practicing. It is especially hard to find login information if isn’t specifically given to you by your professor or Elluminate student assistant.

    Another thing I’ve desired from SJSU is a student ID. This has more to with the fact that I would like to take advantage of my student status and get some of those discounts offered by different businesses! I have no idea if it is normal for a grad student to get a student ID or not because I have no other grad experiences. I understand you can get an ID, but it is paper and according to my sources doesn’t look very official and isn’t accepted at most places.

    As I mentioned above, the flexibility of this program is key fo me. When I began the program I lived in Wisconsin; I have since moved to Sacramento, CA and will be moving again this fall. I can continue my education uninterrupted by my husband’s employment requirements. I appreciate that all I need is a high speed Internet connection, my laptop and occasional visits to the local library for completion of much of my coursework.

    One thing I wish I was better at was figuring out how to get involved with student organizations from a distance.

    I am looking forward to a new semester starting in two weeks. I was lucky enough to get into one of the world language (Spanish) classes offered this fall through the program. I am also taking Teen Materials. I am back to two classes this semester because of the looming cross country move.

    • -A. says:

      @Becky:

      I just wanted to chime in regarding the issue with the Student ID. Yes, it is a paper ID but I’ve used in different places and it works. The only difference is that you need your driver’s license to go with it since the paper ID doesn’t have a photo. Here is the link to request an ID if you still like to have one: http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/admissions/studentid.htm.

      Btw, I am a “special student” as well and this does not mean that I am out of a zip code area or out of state. All it means is that when I applied for SJSU SLIS I chose to apply for the unsubsidized program. I believe this is the same for everyone else.

      @Brian:

      Thanks for posting this SJSU SLIS review. I agree with you that our program although underrated is a very good one. I do have complaints however. For instance, I’d like to take a class specifically on legal research and SJSU SLIS doesn’t offer it. I also looked for a class in acquisitions and it’s not offered either…

      Cheers,
      -A.

      • brimcmanus says:

        Hi A.,
        As with Becky, it’s great to see anther fellow SJSU SLISer. Hopefully SJSU will add those and other classes soon. The more variety, the better. Thanks for your comment.

    • brimcmanus says:

      Hi Becky,

      I’m ‘special’ too, not that there’s anything wrong with that.

      I have noticed using the Elluminate conference software is cumbersome too, although I’ve never had problems using it. You’re right about being able to expect a couple of glitches with presentations each time you use it, whether it’s your presentation or your instructors, ha! Could we say it adds ‘character’? Probably not. I have noticed that other conference softwares have many of the same issues, especially with connectivity.

      I’m taking Advanced Information Resources and Services and Marketing Library Information Services this semester. I would have liked to have gotten into one of the language courses, but not this semester. Good luck with your semester and the move. Thanks for your comments.

  • Julie says:

    I have no problem with the lack of a student ID. My local grocery had me fill out a form and I just put my student number on it.

    A larger problem is that CSU has continued to raise tuition throughout the three years I’ve been in the program, with added increases even after registration, which Cal. law allows. For this reason, I’m trying to finish asap.

    Another annoyance is that you must take 43 credits, but you can only take 43 credits. If you decide you want to take Cataloging, but you already have 43 units, that’s too bad, you must graduate.

    That said, the program is rich; I’ve had wonderful teachers and a fantastic internship. The yahoo db is useful for teacher and course recommendations. There are many students in the Bay Area, and I’ve made many friends in the program. SLIS leadership organizes events and get-togethers. E.g., I just attended a wonderful library tour of the relatively new Walnut Creek Library.

    I’ll be taking my final course and doing the culminating e-portfolio this fall. It’s been a great experience.

    • rose l chou says:

      A follow-up on the 43 credits — I believe only if you’re a “regular session” (in-state? or within a specific region?) student does the restriction to 43 credits apply. Special session students have the option of taking more because they’re not subsidized by the state.

      On a similar note, I really appreciate that SJSU’s program is 14 classes (not including the 1-credit online orientation) because many of the library school programs I looked at were only 12 classes.

    • brimcmanus says:

      HI Julie,
      I am glad you’ve enjoyed the program. Good luck with your last semester and thanks for your comments!

  • Anonymous says:

    I wrote for and received a paper I.D. each semester, and was never once turned down when using it to receive a discount (I used it whenever possible).

    I’d criticize something more substantial, like the isolation that can occur when attending an online program that substitutes asynchronous writing (discussion boards) for the engagement and stimulation of face-to-face classroom conversations.

    Professors who utilize great tools like Elluminate (so you can at least hear voices in real time) are to be commended. Elluminate sessions can have their share of technical problems (mostly user, not system-generated, in my experience), but I think having a live, interactive component to a class is crucial. The classes that didn’t offer one were stifling.

  • Susan says:

    The Yahoo group gives a much more critical view of SJSU SLIS: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sjsumlis/ There is a recent discussion of grade inflation which is very illuminating.
    The pluses for SJSU are definitely the flexibility and convenience. I pay “in-state” tuition (known as regular session) and I feel that academically it is worth the price. Last year I paid about $6,000 for one part time semester, one full time semester, and a summer internship. I am not sure that I would feel the same way if I paid the higher, “out-of-state” tuition (special session). Please note that you can live in California and still have to pay the higher tuition rate. This school is definitely not worth picking up a bunch of debt.
    I would not call the school academically rigorous, and the quality of instruction can vary widely. It is important for students to take care in selecting classes and instructors.

    • I pay the special session costs because I lived in WI at the time I started. I felt the special session costs were cheaper then other out of state tuition fees as well as my own in state fees in WI.

  • I’d encourage you all (current SJSU students especially) to get in touch with your student group officers. I had the pleasure of meeting a few of them at ALA, and they are absolutely committed to listening to you, and working hard to address any issues that may come up. They are especially focused on reaching out to groups of distance learners to try to simulate face to face professional relationships as much as possible.

    • zfrazier says:

      I also met a bunch of SJSU people at InfoCamp Berkeley. it seems like in bigger cities in California, Students have created meetups to network and help each other stay motivated. As some one in another program that is heavily or entirely online, socializing with other people in real life can be a huge moral booster.

  • [...] to several listservs. Some US-based, others international. This morning one of the lists pointed to a review of SJSU’s SLIS program. I read—and concur—with the review and am sharing the link here so you can read [...]

  • I wanted to address the comment about getting involved with student organizations. I found that to be a challenge also when I was a student at SJSU. It wasn’t until my last semester that I really got involved with student organizations and found out what a great resource they are!

    I would like to let everyone know that the student group LISSTEN and the SJSU SLIS Alumni Association have recently merged to form the new SLISConnect. Our goal is to help current students connect with alums currently in the field and to set-up face-to-face events. We are just getting our feet off the ground so to speak, but have big plans for the upcoming months. Please check out our new facebook group: http://www.facebook.com/SLISConnect and invite fellow SJSU Students and Alums as well.

    We want to hear your ideas!

  • Margaret Driscoll says:

    The use of Elluminate as a web conferencing tool, although at time glitchy because it requires learning how to use it, is an excellent way to help alleviate the ‘isolation’ inherent in distance programs — hearing each others’ voices and seeing faces via webcam makes community-building much easier.

    I’m entering my last year at SJSU SLIS. I’ve enjoyed virtually all of my classes. I agree that some are more vigorous academically than others, but as in most things, you get out of it what you put into it. I’ve worked in the library world for quite a few years and am now getting the ‘papers to prove it’ (lol) and I found the course offerings and overall educational experience to be an excellent addition to my hands-on work.

  • Robert D says:

    I graduated from the SLIS program recently. I started when some classes were still offered in-person or as hybrid online/in-person courses. I was a bit leery of an online program and was worried that my degree wouldn’t be taken seriously. Needless to say, when the program went fully online I found there was no drop in quality or difficulty. My teachers were great, the lessons were relevant, and most the computer programs we used worked fine (Eluminate is evil).

    Some cons about the program. As mentioned by someone else, the online program is very isolating. You won’t have the chance to socialize and network with fellow classmates before and after lectures and it’s a lot harder to connect with professors. If your professor isn’t terribly computer-literate the class’s webpage can be a mess too. Then there’s the usual gripe about bad professors, but as mentioned earlier there’s a Yahoo group that rates classes and teachers.

    Also, you’ll be doing a lot of the class through your computer (obviously). Eye strain is a pain and halfway through the semester I was printing my reading material just to get away from my computer for a while.

    In the end though I’m glad I did the program at SJSU. If you’re the type of person who can stay focused and organized on your own than this program is great. I would do my schoolwork and listen to lectures when it was convenient for me, I didn’t have to schedule my day around a midday trip to SJSU for a lecture.

  • Annie says:

    I graduated from SJSU in May and would say that my largest concern about the program is the professors who don’t “get” teaching in a virtual environment. I had some fantastic professors who offered dynamic, multi-media filled courses and were very involved in class discussions, but I also had some classes that felt like the worst kind of independent study (read the book, write/post a response, receive little or no feedback; repeat for 16 weeks). My guess is that this crops up at any school offering online courses, but I wish that SJSU would do a better job vetting or working with professors to ensure that they are well-qualified to teach virtually. In my experience, consistent involvement, feedback and communication from professors went a long way toward staving off the feelings of isolation other students have mentioned.

  • Tracy Guza says:

    I graduated from the SJSU program in May and really enjoyed it. The course selection was amazing, the instructors are leaders in the field, and the flexibility is crucial to attaining this degree while working. I do, however, think that it takes a great deal of effort to stand out in this crowd and it is important to take personal responsibility for ensuring that you gain enough related experience while in the program. Take full advantage of networking opportunities, internships, student librarianships, etc. Make time for and seek out special projects. Build a taxonomy, digitize a collection, consult on a website pro bono, attend InfoCamps, write, publish and speak.

    With such a vast and virtual graduating class and a bevy of MLIS graduates all over the place, self promotion and finding a niche will be key. And no LIS program can do that for you.

    That said, great post and I loved SJSU!

  • Hi there. I’m about to graduate from SJSU and I was the program coordinator from ALASC last year (thanks for the shout out, Micah). I’m a little late to the conversation but I wanted to add three things.

    #1: The first is a “con” since any good analysis should include “areas for improvement.” The SLIS program at San Jose State is crippled by its size. It’s difficult (but not impossible, see #2) to build the type of personal relationships with classmates that grad school should engender when you rarely have the same people in your class twice. Part of what brings grad students together (aside from alcohol) is their passion for their subject interests. I think SJSU would benefit from offering more subject-focused collaborations outside the classroom.

    #2: That said, there is no excuse for not getting involved at SJSU. Between ALASC, SLISConnect, Facebook, local meet-ups, online webinars, ALISE, ASIST, SAASC, and more, there are PLENTY of ways to get involved with other students. All you need to do is take the initiative and stop expecting the program to do it for you. Networking is all about what you make of it. /rant

    Finally, for those who will be creating an e-portfolio, this is the best advice you will ever get: write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s crap. Just make the point to spend X minutes every day writing and re-writing. If you do that, you’ll have no trouble building your e-portfolio competencies.

    Thanks for the post, Brian!

  • This is a really great discussion. I’m a Peer Mentor for LIBR 203 this year, and am going to direct the students here to get more insight from fellow/former students other than myself. Thank you!

  • [...] Hack Your Program – San Jose State University SLIS (Online) « Hack Library School → [...]

  • Stevie says:

    I am starting my last semester at SJ State SLIS, and I want to weigh in that:

    The biggest pro if you ask me is the class selection- there are very obviously some professors there that really have their fingers on the pulse of new developments in the field, and it seems that there are consistently new classes accordingly. If you take this class selection with the sheer number and variety of internship opportunities, you really have a great scope of the field.

    The biggest con that I’ve experienced is relative to the grade inflation comment someone mentioned above- I have in general gotten very minimal feedback on my work, which I find very, very frustrating. In some cases, I’ve corresponded with professors who have then given me good feedback, but sometimes it seems like professors just don’t have the time to give extensive feedback. This to me is a serious detriment, considering the amount of time and energy we’re putting into graduate level work, and then to get a “good” or something with the grade is just unhelpful. I can conjecture that this has to do with the fact that many of the professors are working professionals as well, but in the face of the online school isolation thing, I think feedback is crucial. However, I agree that proactivity about communicating with professors is important. I don’t mean to knock SJSU here or anything, but this is definitely my experience, and something that I’ve mentioned in a handful of course evaluations I’ve submitted.

  • JJ says:

    I’m two-thirds of the way through my coursework at SJSU SLIS, and wanted to add a few things to my classmates’ observations.

    First– I agree that the program is currently underrated. I think the school has been undergoing a revolution in the past several years– not the least of which is the transition to completely-online course delivery. In the past two years, I have seen a vast improvement in my professors’ abilities to adapt to and take advantage of the online learning environment. I have also perceived that the faculty list has been very quietly weeded– I believe (without hard evidence) that the school is shedding those professors who are consistently ineffective in the online environment. The administrators take student feedback seriously, and seem to provide a lot of support (technical, instructional, etc) to faculty in order to help them become the best teachers they can be. I would say that this is my biggest commendation to the program– I really think they’re doing something right when it comes to teaching quality. Obviously, not every teacher is going to be brilliantly effective for everyone– and tenure rules keep professors on who may not be as effective as they once were– but I think the overall trajectory at SJSU has been one of improvement.

    Second, with regard to cost: the cost to special session students is a very reasonable $474 per unit. The total cost of the 43-unit degree is $20,382, with no hidden costs– significantly cheaper than some other library schools I am aware of. In my two years, there has been one modest tuition increase for special session students– it’s been the state-supported students who have had to bear the massive burden of the California budget crisis. I absolutely empathize with the difficulty of dealing with huge, unexpected jumps in tuition, but objectively, I believe that SJSU still offers one of the most economical MLIS degrees out there, particularly if you are working concurrently and not racking up cost-of-living loans. It was primarily for this reason– the fact that I would be able to work full time in a library while taking my degree– that I applied to SJSU. I have rarely regretted my decision.

    Speaking of, the only major regret I have had was the very first introductory course I took, called “Information and Society.” I had taken more difficult and interesting introductory-level classes as an undergrad, and I very much hope that this was purely a result of particular circumstances, rather than the overall content of this required course. I very much wish that we had had a more rigorous introduction to the over-arching philosophies of librarianship– including the reading of foundational texts, and true debates on the values and direction of our profession– rather than a tepid textbook and superficial discussions.

    And although it can be difficult at first to form connections with classmates, I have always found required group work to be some of the best opportunities to get to know fellow students, both “inside” and “outside” of class. Facebook has been a great boon, and I have met up with other SJSU students and faculty at professional gatherings and conferences. The reality of our profession is that we are often geographically isolated from other professionals, and that regardless of the size of our library, we are required to utilize technologies to work with people from a distance– sometimes even within our own library systems! I believe that learning how to form connections with our professional peers in distance education will only serve us better later on.

    Well, I think my comment was almost as long as the original post… thanks, Brian, for starting this discussion here at Hack Library School!

  • Just a couple comments (not sure if they were already covered, haven’t read all the others):

    You can still pursue an archives track while getting your MLIS. I believe the MARA program is targeted towards those who already have their MLIS and want to do further/additional coursework in Archives and Records Management. Last I checked, the MARA is not accredited by ALA (and SAA does not do accreditation of programs, just offers guidelines). So if you’re going for your first professional archives gig via SJSU SLIS, you want to get your MLIS and take archives classes. At least, that’s what I was told two years ago.

    Second, SJSU has an SAA student chapter. We have several online meetups during the year, and have associated tours of archives. More about us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/groups/29671378601/

  • Kenneth320 says:

    Thank you to all who shared your opinions on SJSU’s MLIS program. I just received my Bachelors of Art degree in History this past December and I have been struggling with what to do next. I thought I wanted to be a teacher, but the passion was never truly there. Through my degree in history I spent many hours in the library and became acquainted with the librarians. I saw them, and could see myself doing that job. So recently, I I have been studying about different MLIS programs. Many of them require a fall start date and others do not offer an online program. SJSU would physically be the closest school to me (I live in Sacramento) and would be my most likely candidate. I was only hesitant because I saw several negative reviews on other websites that deemed SJSU a waste of time. Since I have missed the filing date for Fall 2012, I do not want to have to wait almost a year a half to enter a program.

    Another question, I know this initial post is a bit old, but for those of you who have graduated from SJSU with your MLIS, how has the job market been? Have you found jobs in your field, has the skills you learned from your MLIS made finding a job easier? I am curious to know.

    Once again, thanks for all your comments and reviews on SJSU. It has helped me immensely.

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