Jump to content

Illinois (MLIS) vs. Maryland (HCIM)


Recommended Posts

For information science. Basically my decision comes down to cost vs. program. These two were my top choices, precisely for these reasons - Illinois is the least expensive, and Maryland has the ideal program for me. So essentially my decision comes down to whether or not I like Maryland's program twice as many dollars worth as Illinois'. And therein lies the problem - I can't quite figure it out.

A little background: I'm currently two years out of undergrad, working as a researcher in the recruiting field, but I want to get out of that, ideally into UX and information architecture analysis and consulting after I finish my masters program. Obviously, this could change as I work towards my degree but that is, for now, my end goal.

So here are my main points of contention:


ILLINOIS (Urbana-Champaign)


  • Much less expensive (in-state tuition + cost of living)
  • #1 ranked (tied) MLIS program; great name recognition in the information science field for job placement post-grad
  • Guaranteed job during program even if no assistantship (this is my alma mater and my old job will hire me back, nothing fancy but it'll be some income at least)
  • Familiar with the situation so the transition will be easier, may even be able to room with my BFF who might head back as well (read: cheaper to share)

    • Kind of want a new environment; may show a lack of breadth on my resume if I attend the same school for both undergrad and grad?
    • Not as targeted of a program; would have to self-structure my desired focus (human-computer interaction)

      MARYLAND (College Park)


      • Urban setting, which potentially sets me up for better networking opportunities and career options (esp. government ones) post-grad.
      • Very targeted program, with my degree title actually being MA in Human-Computer Interaction; UMD offers an HCI lab
      • Program requires both an internship and a capstone project, will will be applicable practical experience for my career goals


      Moving cross-country is a rather complicated process, not only the actual moving but finding a place to live & cost
      Over 2x the cost of UIUC - tuition alone, plus more expensive urban cost of living
      Brand new program, so no actual prestige/ranking yet, and being part of the inaugural class for the program could mean it's still disorganized and frustrating


      If anyone has any input/insight I'd greatly appreciate it - or if you are having similar issues or looking into the same programs and just want to commiserate!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

At first glance, I would think the pros of Illinois (especially cost and program ranking) outweigh the pros of Maryland. Does Illinois offer opportunities similar to Maryland's for an internship or capstone project? As for networking, I would guess that if Illinois is the #1 MLIS program, the faculty would have plenty of contacts, so you wouldn't lose much in that way by not going to Maryland (I understand that the urban area would be beneficial though).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A Masters thesis is an option at Illinois, but the internship/experience segment isn't as prominent, though I'm sure my familiarity with the bureaucracy of UIUC will help me in trying to find potential experience opportunities either within the University or at outside venues. Mostly it's the issue of a more theoretical, prestigious program (UIUC) vs a more scientific, practical one (Maryland).

Good point about the faculty contacts; I hadn't thought about it that way. Thanks!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.