Pathways & Specializations


To help you create a program of study tailored to your interests, we offer six professional pathways: suggested groups of core and elective courses associated with specific professional information environments.  Pathways are optional, and do not appear on your transcript or diploma.  Course substitutions must be approved by your faculty advisor and pathway chair(s).

You can view our Curriculum Map by SLO & Pathway for a general overview of applicable courses for each pathway.

Each link below leads to the current listing of required and suggested courses for each individual pathway. You should discuss your pathway options with your faculty advisor during course registration.

Academic/Special Librarianship (Lead: Noriko Asato & Andrew Wertheimer)

The Academic / Special Librarianship pathway is designed to shape the next generation of professionals for careers in university, college and community college libraries.  This pathway is shaped by the Association of College and Research Libraries, who provide a high-level overview of the field.   Students may also pursue this pathway if they want to become special librarians who provide service to specialized users in STEM, law, industry, or related fields.  Students following this area work with an adviser to craft a program of study addressing SLA’s Competencies for Information Professionals.

Archives (Lead: Andrew Wertheimer)

The Archives pathway is for students who seek a career as an archivist or special collections librarian. These professionals preserve records in order to sustain cultures and promote government accountability.  The pathway is in accordance with the Society of American Archivists Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies and ACRL/RBMS Competencies for Special Collections Professionals.  The SAA offers one perspective of the role of archives and the work of archivists.

Asian Studies Librarianship (Lead: Noriko Asato)

UHM is unique in offering an Asian Studies Librarianship (ASL) pathway, which is ideal for students interested in Asia’s people, cultures, society, languages, history, politics, and business.  Students can use this pathway to pursue a career in academic libraries, archives, or applying informatics to Asian contexts and information systems.  This pathway can lead to professional opportunities for students with Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and other Asian language competency.

General/Custom (Lead: Rich Gazan)

The General/Custom pathway is for students who seek a broad base in their professional preparation, or for those who seek to create an individualized program of study that combines multiple areas within and beyond LIS.

Public Librarianship (Lead: Meera Garud)

The Public Librarianship pathway is for students interested in working as reference librarians, young adult librarians, children’s librarians, and branch managers in municipal and community-based public library settings: locally, globally, rural and urban.  This pathway follows professional competencies and literacies set forth by the following divisions of the American Library Association: the Reference & User Services Association, the Young Adult Library Services Association, the Association for Library Service to Children, and CORE: Leadership, Infrastructures, Futures.  ALA maintains an FAQ and resource page about careers in public librarianship.

School Library Media (Lead: Meera Garud)

The School Library Media pathway provides courses required for Hawaii Department of Education licensure as a School Library Media Specialist.  The Hawaii DOE provides an overview of some programs and services provided by School Library Media Specialists.


Specializations are groups of 2-4 courses that can be combined with Pathways to create a personalized program of study, in consultation with your faculty advisor.  Specialization requirements are included on all Pathway course recommendations linked above.

The Asian Studies Librarianship (ASL) specialization can be combined with the Academic/Special Librarianship pathway. For more information, contact Noriko Asato.

The Community & Cultural Informatics (CCI) specialization foregrounds community and cultural information practices and the social nature of information technologies, and can be combined with any pathway. For more information, contact Rich Gazan.

The Information Technology (IT) specialization allows students to explore technology-oriented coursework beyond that required within the LIS degree, and to apply their skills in LIS professional practice, and can be combined with any pathway. For more information, contact Rich Gazan.