Standards for the Development of Sixth-Year Programs in Schools of Library and Information Science



The goal of a sixth-year program in library and information science is to provide a formal continuing educational experience for practicing librarians which will advance the individual’s potential to achieve identified career goals.




A sixth-year program should be a cohesive, planned program which has a purpose different from that of a doctoral program. The formal educational program for a sixth-year program should extend over the equivalent of one academic year.


While it is highly desirable that an individual in a sixth-year program utilize one full academic year for concentrated study, research, and synthesis, this is not always possible. Therefore, the several schools can determine modifications—such as three consecutive summers—as long as the individual completes the program in a designated period of time. That period of time should not be so extended that courses taken early in the sixth-year program are out-of-date by the time of completion of the program. The sixth-year certificate or degree or other form of recognition of completion of a formal program should be distinct from certificates or other awards given to candidates for the doctoral degree part way through their programs (usually upon completion of all by the dissertation).





The objectives of a sixth-year program are to provide an individual the opportunity to:

1.     Upgrade and update his/her knowledge in library and information science.

2.     Develop a specialty in a subject discipline or a library function (Technical Services, Administration, etc.)

3.     Redirect a career path or to enrich and strengthen demonstrated capabilities in a career path.




A sixth-year program is an advanced educational step for individuals who have demonstrated capabilities and competencies needed by the profession. In a field which is changing so rapidly, such updating or expansion of knowledge is essential.





The curriculum for a sixth-year program:

1.     Should be individually planned by a faculty advisor or a faculty committee in cooperation with the student.

2.     Should include some courses specially planned for post-master’s students.

3.     Should encourage interdisciplinary course work.

4.     Should include a strong component relating to research, problem solving, and evaluation.

5.     Should require the student to exercise critical judgment and present problems with oral and written presentations.

6.     Should represent a unified program fulfilling the student’s needs. It should not consist of a series of unrelated courses which only accumulate credits.

7.     May permit a carefully reviewed and evaluated field observation or experience for credit when it can be proven that such observation or experience is an essential component of the student’s educational program.





Library and Information Science is a multi-disciplinary field. While it must be assured that the objectives of the sixth-year program are being met, the student should have every opportunity to take those courses missed in the fifth-year program but considered essential to current library and information science development.


Likewise, the student must have the opportunity to select courses in other disciplines which will enrich and expand his/her knowledge. The sixth-year program, helping an individual prepare for a leadership role, must have a strong component relating to research, problem solving, and evaluation. There are many ways of achieving this requirement and different schools will fulfill it in different ways.





The faculty assigned to teach courses in the sixth-year program should meet the institution’s qualifications for anyone teaching at the post-master’s level. At least a substantial part of the program should be taught by regular faculty.




Faculty teaching courses for the sixth-year program need to be experts in their fields, understanding current trends and potential developments in their area of specialty. They should be able to direct students to critical and evaluative modes of thinking. Programs which are taught only by visiting faculty may lack cohesiveness.





Students admitted to sixth-year programs should:

1.     Hold a fifth-year degree from an ALA-accredited program.

2.     Have had enough professional experience in a library, information center, or school library media center to profit from an individually planned program or specialization.




The sixth-year program is not intended to serve as a substitute for a first professional degree. Students who enter the program should have enough background to benefit from the advanced courses specially planned for the post-master’s level.




A sixth-year program should be an integral part of the school’s total educational endeavor. An administrative structure is required to direct, operate, and evaluate the sixth-year program. Faculty should not be assigned to either teaching or advising in the program on an overload basis. The financial resources of the school should be sufficient to support the sixth-year program, without diluting the fifth-year or any other program.




Students in the sixth-year program are part of the total student body of the school and should be treated on the same basis.





The school is responsible for providing physical facilities, equipment, and space essential to the individualized program of the sixth-year student.



In July, 1977, John T. Eastlick (Denver) was asked to develop a draft of a position paper for consideration by the AALS Board of Directors. That position paper was developed and revised by the board in the general format of the C.O.A.’s Standards for Accreditation, 1972.


Position Paper Adopted by the Association of American Library Schools,


January, 1978

Reaffirmed October 14, 1990

ALISE Ethics Guidelines Statement