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Become a Media Specialist

Media Specialist Preparation

The Division of School Library Media Programs (SLMP) works with local colleges and universities to provide information and support to MCPS staff members in regard to each university's graduate programs.  The following programs involve field experiences, practical training, theoretical and research-based foundation on the field of information studies, and supervisory support by colleges, universities, and MCPS cooperating media specialists.  Interested candidates will need to research each program to determine the best fit for their circumstances.  While some programs offer a face-to-face classroom experience, others are completely online and others are a hybrid of the two models.  All programs below result in fulfilling the Maryland Department of Education certification requirements for School Library Media Specialist.

Location: Maryland

McDaniel College

The program at McDaniel College results in a Master of Science (M.S.) in School Librarianship as well as state certification as a school library media specialist.  Nationally accredited and recognized through NCATE, ALA, and the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), this 37-credit hour comprehensive program offers courses in literature for children and young adults, technology, information literacy skills, instructional collaboration, selecting quality materials that meet the needs of diverse learners, administrating a school library, and a 99-hour practicum experience.

Delivered entirely online, candidates may begin the program at their convenience, in the fall, spring, or summer semesters.  The online classes are eight weeks long and two classes may be taken back to back in the fall and spring semesters, ensuring that candidates can finish the degree in 2 ½ years.

Towson University

The program at Towson University results in a Master of Science (MS) and certification as a school library media specialist.  With MCPS, Towson forms cohorts of MCPS staff members to conduct the courses in Montgomery County.  School Library Media Cohorts are designed to address the critical shortage of school library media specialists in MCPS.  Candidates are often MSDE-certified teachers who have completed either a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree and are highly motivated to enter a challenging graduate program at Towson University to qualify as a school library media specialist.  The School Library Media Cohort requires a part-time commitment to acquire 36 required and 6 elective graduate credits in the Master of Science in Instructional Technology.  Graduates are qualified to direct library media programs in K-12 schools and serve as a member of a large media center or system-level media program.  The school library media specialist is the keystone of a student-centered library media program where students learn and apply information and technology literacy skills through content-driven multi-disciplinary instruction.  Participants are required to complete a practicum of 180 hours in a school library media center in Montgomery County with experiences at both elementary and secondary levels.  Two of the current cohorts are expected to complete their course of study in July 2018 and July 2019, respectively.  There is no open cohort planned at this time, but individuals interested in future cohorts should contact the School Library Media Programs office.

University of Maryland

The iSchool graduate program at the University of Maryland results in a Master of Library and Information Science degree and Maryland State Department of Education Certification as a School Library Media Specialist (SL).  The SL specialization's mission and curriculum are aligned with the latest national guidelines and standards for school library programs published by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL).  By adopting the mission endorsed by AASL, which represents the school library field nationally, the SL specialization ensures that its theoretical framework and philosophy are consistent with the latest and most advanced national statements regarding the profession.

The primary goals of the specialization are to:

  • Provide candidates with a theoretical and research-based foundation in the historical and contemporary issues influencing the development of the field of information studies and SL.
  • Help candidates develop the understanding and skills necessary to fulfill the five roles of the contemporary school librarian — leader, teacher, instructional partner, information specialist, and program administrator.

  • Prepare candidates to be (1) effective team members and advocates to integrate information literacy throughout the curriculum and (2) leaders in using technology to enhance learning. 

  • Help candidates master the most advanced thinking about learning theory, pedagogy, information access and delivery, educational and information studies research, and concepts and techniques of program management.

  • Provide rich field-based experiences that will enable candidates to apply theoretical understandings to practical settings.
  • Foster a professional attitude, a commitment to the ethics of the SL profession, and a dedication to becoming engaged an active leader in the learning community of the school. 

Each student is expected to participate in the operation of a school library program in both an elementary school and a secondary school for at total of 30 full school days.  Each student must complete two placements and the placements must be in different districts.  One placement must be in an elementary school (for a minimum of 15 days).  For the second placement, students choose between a middle OR a high school (for a minimum of 15 days).  Students enroll in the internship for one semester near the end of their studies but may extend the placements over two semesters, with the instructor's approval.  Students who are currently working in a school are not allowed to complete their internship in the school in which they are employed, but they may complete a placement at another school within the district. 

Location: District of Columbia

Catholic University

CUA’s teacher education program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and School Library Media (SLM) program is recognized by the American Library Association (ALA) and state-approved by the District of Columbia Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE).  The SLM program is designed for individuals who aspire to direct library media programs in elementary, middle, or secondary schools.  Those who have completed CUA’s SLM program are eligible for a license/endorsement in DC and -through a reciprocity agreement - in 44 other states and jurisdictions including Maryland.  Students do not need to take education courses.  You can find more information about the program at

Besides face-to-face and blended courses, LIS offers an Online and Weekend Learning (OWL) Program for the SLM course of study.  Students in this program attend class one Saturday a month. All other instruction is delivered online.  For more information, please visit our website: