Best Online Library Science Programs of 2022

Help schools and communities access information with a bachelor's in library science. Our guide highlights three of the country's top online programs.

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by Liz Simmons

Published on April 13, 2022 · Updated on April 22, 2022

Edited by Rebecca Long
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Library science professionals help people find and assess information. An online bachelor's in library science prepares students to pursue careers at libraries, museums, schools, and information organizations. A typical online bachelor's in library science takes four years to complete.

Tuition costs vary depending on whether your school is public or private, whether the program is in-person or online, and whether you're attending an institution as an in-state or out-of-state student. Public colleges where you can pay in-state tuition are generally the most affordable option.

Salaries for library science graduates vary by career path and experience level. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), library technicians and assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,480 in May 2020. However, during the same period, librarians and library media specialists made a median yearly wage of $60,820.

Some of the best online schools offer library science degrees. Keep reading to learn what to expect from a bachelor's in library science program.

What Can I Expect From an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program?

Library science professionals connect users with information in public libraries, school libraries, healthcare organizations, and museums. Comfort providing customer service and critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills are essential for graduates from library science programs. The library field also requires professionals to have strong research, technology, organizational, and interpersonal skills.

Library science majors can specialize their knowledge for work in public libraries, academic libraries, and school libraries. Other potential concentrations include research and data management, cultural heritage informatics, and archives management.

Online bachelor's in library science programs usually take four full-time years to complete and require about 120 credits. Earning a bachelor's degree online may offer more flexibility and convenience than completing a degree program on campus.

A typical library science curriculum explores library services, information literacy, library management, and information organization. In addition to taking standard classes, some bachelor's in library science programs require students to complete a practicum and/or internship, in which they apply classroom learning to a real-world situation.

Schools offer different types of library science bachelor's degrees, including a bachelor of arts or a bachelor of science. BA and BS library science programs typically include similar curricula and prepare students for the same types of careers. BA students generally take more arts and humanities courses, while those pursuing a BS focus more on science and math.

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What Courses Will I Take in an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program?

Teaching and Learning in Digital Environments

This class explores technology literacy for information specialists. Students learn about instructional design and information literacy in the digital environment. Other topics include the role of social networking in education, web page design, and academic integrity.

Advanced Cataloging and Classification

This course covers the theory and practice of cataloging a variety of materials, including digital resources. In this class, students develop an advanced understanding of the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress classification schemes.

Information Literacy

This introduction to information literacy explores effective research methods. Students learn to find trustworthy sources and critically evaluate information found digitally and in print. During the course, learners also practice proper source citation.

Library Services for Teens

This class focuses on offering effective library services for children ages 12-18. Topics include collection development, youth participation, programming, and technology for teens.

School Libraries

This course introduces the role of school libraries and school librarians in public and private educational settings. Students explore age-appropriate collection development, information literacy, and library management in schools.

Find the Tools You Need to Get Started on Your Degree

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What Are the Admission Requirements for an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program?

Admission requirements for online bachelor's in library science programs vary but typically mirror those of on-campus programs. Prospective students complete applications and submit test scores, letters of recommendation, essays, and official transcripts. Learn more about these requirements below.

Application

Applying to college takes less time now than it did in the past. Instead of requiring students to apply directly, many schools accept applications through the Common Application or Coalition Application. These centralized systems let applicants apply to multiple programs at the same time by filling out one general application.

Test Scores

Many universities require applicants to take college entrance exams, which measure verbal, math, and writing skills. Admissions departments use SAT and ACT scores to assess college readiness. Some programs require minimum SAT or ACT scores.

Letters of Recommendation

Applicants to bachelor's of library science programs are often required to submit 1-3 letters of recommendation. Students typically ask high school counselors or teachers to write letters on their behalf. Applicants should ask for recommendations early to give prospective letter-writers plenty of time to meet deadlines.

Essays

Prospective library science students may need to submit a college application essay. Schools use essays to get to know applicants better and understand their writing skills. In their essays, students generally discuss their academic and career goals. Give yourself enough time to think of a topic for your essay, and ask someone to proofread the draft before submitting it.

Official Transcripts

Universities typically require applicants to submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges. Schools typically use official transcripts to assess a student's grades and conduct a transfer credit evaluation. The number of credits you can transfer varies by school and program.

What Can I Do With an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Degree?

Career Outlook

It might not be one of the most popular college majors, but library science helps students develop a versatile skill set that can be applied to many different career paths.

The job outlook and typical salary for graduates with an online bachelor's in library science varies by occupation. Factors that can impact earnings include level of experience, location, and industry. According to the BLS, librarians and library media specialists made a median yearly wage of $60,820 in May 2020.

Because of the degree's versatility, library science majors can pursue work in many settings. Graduates can pursue jobs in local, state, and federal government agencies; education and educational services; healthcare; and museums and historical sites.

See where an online bachelor's in library science can take you. Learn more about library science careers.

Career Paths

Librarians and Library Media Specialists

Librarians and library media specialists help people conduct research and find the information they need. Potential work environments include libraries, schools, law firms, and museums. Most professional librarian roles require a master's degree in library and information science. However, a bachelor's in library science suffices for librarian and library media specialist positions in some states.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $60,820

Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help librarians operate academic, public, school, and special libraries. Typical duties include sorting and shelving materials, assisting patrons, and performing clerical and administrative tasks. Library technicians and assistants usually need at least a postsecondary certificate in library technology. A bachelor's in library science can help candidates stand out from other applicants.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $31,840

Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers

Archivists, curators, and museum workers oversee, prepare, and restore items from institutional collections. They work at historical sites, museums, schools, and government agencies. Depending on their role and where they work, they need a bachelor's or master's degree. Typical job duties include organizing materials, designing exhibits, researching collection items, and preparing items for storage.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $52,140

Medical Records and Health Information Specialists

Medical records and health information specialists work with health and medical data. They organize information in databases, assign codes for reimbursements, and review patient records. Potential job titles include medical coder, cancer registrar, and health information technician. Medical records and health information specialists need sharp attention to detail and strong analytical and interpersonal skills.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $45,240

High School Teachers

High school teachers prepare students for college, technical school, and employment after graduation. Daily duties include lesson planning, grading assignments, creating classroom rules, and supervising students in and out of the classroom. Requirements vary by state, but high school teachers usually need a bachelor's degree and a teaching license.

Median Annual Salary (May 2020): $62,870

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Continuing Education

Library science professionals can expand their career and salary opportunities by pursuing education after earning a bachelor's in library science.

Becoming a professional librarian usually means completing a master's degree in library and information science. These master's programs require a bachelor's degree as a prerequisite. Most do not require applicants to possess a bachelor's in library science, but the degree can increase an applicant's chances of admission.

A professional certification in a specialized area of library science can open the door to new career opportunities. Library science graduates take continuing education or professional development classes to gain new skills and keep up with developments in the field.

How Do I Choose an Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program?

Cost

The price for a bachelor's in library science varies by program. Costs can increase or decrease if a school is public or private, if a program is in-person or online, and if a student is in-state or out-of-state. Calculate your true program cost, not just tuition, by accounting for fees attached to books and transportation. Also consider the potential for decreased income while in school.

Program Format

Some online bachelor's in library science programs offer synchronous, real-time learning in a virtual classroom. Asynchronous programs, on the other hand, let students log on and complete coursework any time that works best with their schedule. Consider if you want to enroll full time or part time. Students eager to graduate quickly can look for accelerated degree options.

Location

Should you choose an online or on-campus program? Both offer pros and cons, so it depends on your personal preferences and circumstances. Even students choosing an online bachelor's in library science should consider location if the program includes some on-campus requirements.

Accreditation

Accreditation is an evaluation process that colleges go through to prove they meet quality standards. Choose a bachelor's in library science program at a regionally accredited college. Attending a regionally accredited institution makes it easier to transfer credits to another school, qualify for financial aid, and apply to graduate school in the future.

Student Support

Look for bachelor's in library science programs that offer student services. Important support resources include mentorship and internship programs, tutoring, career services, and technical help. Traditional on-campus bachelor's programs provide access to this kind of assistance, but distance education programs also offer online student services.

2022 Best Accredited Online Bachelor's in Library Science Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Online College in Mississippi

University of Southern Mississippi

School Information
Location Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Admission Rate 97%
Graduation Rate 49%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 70% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $384
Out of State | $384

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Regional Accreditation | Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

A public school based in Hattiesburg, USM offers one of Mississippi's top bachelor's in library science programs. The program focuses on information management theories and practical approaches to library administration. All candidates complete an internship or practicum at a library in their own community.

Program applicants need at least a 2.0 GPA. First-year applicants must also submit SAT or ACT scores. USM charges a nonrefundable $45 application fee.

#2 Online College in Nebraska

University of Nebraska at Omaha

School Information
Location Omaha, Nebraska
Admission Rate 83%
Graduation Rate 50%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 53% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $259
Out of State | $398

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Regional Accreditation | Higher Learning Commission

One of Nebraska's top public colleges, UNO hosts a fully online bachelor's in library science program. Candidates explore topics including reference resources, digital citizenship, and advanced cataloging. The program graduates nearly a third of all library leaders and managers in Nebraska. 

Library science applicants need a 2.5 GPA or above. Candidates must also pay a non-refundable $45 application fee. The program does not require SAT or ACT scores.

#3 Online College in Maine

University of Maine at Augusta

School Information
Location Augusta, Maine
Graduation Rate 13%
Accreditation Yes New England Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 76% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Self-Paced Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $245
Out of State | $314

Credits to Graduate
120

Program Information
Degree Completion Program | No
Regional Accreditation | New England Commission of Higher Education

One of Maine's major public colleges, UMA offers an American Library Association-certified, fully online bachelor's in library science. The program explores information management theory and practice, along with the role of libraries in communities. Course topics include collection development, web page design, and library management.

Applicants must hold either 30 transfer credits with a minimum 2.5 GPA or a combined SAT score over 1000. Alternatively, students can enroll in UMA's library science associate program before transferring into the bachelor's program.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bachelor's in Library Science Programs

Is a bachelor's in library science worth it? true

The answer to this question depends on your career goals and academic interests. For students who want to pursue a career in the library science field a bachelor's in library science is a good place to start.

Some people still think of a physical campus when they imagine the ideal college experience. However, an online degree in library science can definitely be worth it, depending on your circumstances and goals.

Distance education programs are usually just as rigorous and widely respected by employers as traditional on-campus programs. In some, but not all, cases online programs cost less than in-person ones.

What can I do with a bachelor's in library science? true

A bachelor's in library science prepares graduates to pursue many library and information management-related careers. Potential careers include library technician and assistant, museum worker, and teacher. Most professional librarians need a master's degree in library and information science, and many graduates do go on to pursue higher degrees. However, some libraries hire librarians with just a bachelor's degree.

A library science bachelor's degree can also help students qualify for graduate programs in many other subjects like art history, English literature, information technology, and education.

Are library science majors in demand? true

The skills that library science majors gain can apply to nearly any job or industry. The demand for library science majors depends on what occupation they pursue after graduation.

The BLS projects that librarians and library media specialists will see 9% growth between 2020 and 2030, which is average across all occupations. But, the BLS projects little to no growth for library technicians and assistants in the same time period. New openings will likely be the result of other workers retiring or moving into other positions.

How much money can I make with a bachelor's in library science?

The amount of money you can make with a bachelor's in library science degree depends on what occupation you choose.

For example, library technicians and assistants earned a median annual salary of $31,840 in May 2020, while librarians and library media specialists earned a median yearly wage of $60,820 during the same period.

Other factors that can affect potential salaries for library science graduates include where they live, what industry they work in, and their years of professional experience.

What are the highest paying jobs with a bachelor's in library science?

The highest-paying jobs for graduates with a bachelor's in library science include high school teachers, who earned a median annual wage of $62,870 in May 2020, according to the BLS. Librarians and library media specialists earned $60,820, middle school teachers made $60,810, and kindergarten and elementary school teachers earned $60,660.

A bachelor's in library and information science can prepare graduates to pursue diverse career paths. This may include some positions less obviously related to library science that garner higher salaries.

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BestColleges.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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