Best Online Master’s in Library Science Programs 2022

A library science degree prepares information leaders who can work in schools, public libraries, and other organizations. We provide a ranking of some of the nation's best programs.

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Published on March 10, 2022 · Updated on April 25, 2022

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Completing an online master's in library science offers a great pathway for those who want to work in libraries,helping patrons find valuable materials for professional and personal reading.

The price of a master's in library science can vary dramatically, especially between public and private institutions. According to College Board, as of the 2021-2022 academic year, public schools charge an annual average of $9,000 for master's degree tuition. Private schools, conversely, charge an average of $29,670. In-state public schools usually offer the best deals.

Most learners graduate within two years. Many graduates find employment in local governments at libraries or schools. Others pursue jobs in for-profit settings such as law firms. The most recent data projects jobs for librarians to grow by 9% from 2020-2030, creating stability for those considering a master's in library science.

Keep reading to learn about the top online schools for library science. This guide can help you make an informed decision about going to graduate school.

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

In preparing for graduate school and reviewing online master's in library science degrees, prospective students must make sure the program fits their goals and learning style.

Most librarians are detail-oriented, thoughtful professionals who enjoy interacting with others and working on teams. They also enjoy solving problems and going the extra mile to find needed materials.

Most of these programs entail 30-40 credits and require approximately two years of full-time study. Students enrolled in accelerated programs may graduate in 12-15 months. Part-time learners may need up to three years.

In addition to general core studies, master's in library science programs may offer concentrations so students can focus their studies in particular areas of the discipline. Offerings vary by school, but some common options include:

Most library science programs are offered as MS programs, emphasizing data and analysis skills. Most also require students to participate in an internship, which allows learners to gain hands-on skills and exposure to networking opportunities prior to graduating.

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Popular Online Master's in Library Science Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

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

Information Organization

Usually taken in the first semester, this course introduces students to the principles and practices of organizing information. Topics covered include how library catalogs, finding aids, internet search engines, and indexes function.

Library and Information Science

This course examines the foundations of library science theory and practice, historical and contemporary developments and issues, and societal concerns moving forward.

Management of Libraries and Information Centers

Designed for future library leaders, this course explores how to effectively and efficiently run libraries and information centers. Students learn about staffing and leadership, evaluating and equipping, and financing.

Archives and Manuscripts

Students taking this class learn to manage and care for repositories of archives and manuscripts, with special emphasis on archivist and curator responsibilities and public access.

Materials and Services to Diverse Populations

This course looks at the role of libraries outside of providing printed and digital materials. The class discusses supporting the unhoused and those with disabilities through access to the internet and basic living services.

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

Admission requirements for an online master's in library science vary among programs. Admission standards for online and in-person programs tend to be similar.

In addition to the graduate admissions materials outlined below, some particularly competitive programs may require prospective students to complete an interview. School librarian programs may also require a valid teaching license.

Application

Most college application systems for online master's in library science programs use an online application requesting basic demographic information such as the applicant's full name, mailing address, date of birth, and citizenship status. Some schools may accept paper applications.

Test Scores

Many master's in library science programs require applicants to submit GRE scores as part of the process. Some departments may allow students with outstanding GPAs or relevant experience to bypass this step. Others may have suspended the GRE requirement due to COVID-19.

Letters of Recommendation

Letters of recommendation allow the applicant's former/current professors, supervisors, volunteer managers, or faith leaders to speak about the candidate's character, work ethic, and preparedness for the rigors of an advanced degree program.

Resume and Work Experience

Most master's in library science programs do not require candidates to possess relevant experience before applying. Programs catering to future K-12 school librarians may require applicants to hold a valid and active teaching license. That said, even unrelated experience should go on a college application resume.

Essays

Grad school essays play a vital part in the admission process. These essays allow prospective students to discuss why they want to earn a master's in library science, how they plan to use the degree after graduating, and why they want to attend a particular program or school.

Official Transcripts

Admissions officers use official transcripts in various ways. Transcripts allow officers to confirm applicants' stated GPAs and ensure they have completed all required prerequisites. Students transferring from one library science program to another can also use transcripts to determine which credits are transferable.

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

Career Outlook

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects jobs for librarians and library media specialists to grow by 9% from 2020-2030. Because librarians can work in a variety of settings, they often find jobs outside the traditional municipal library.

These professionals earned a median annual salary of $60,820 as of 2020. Those working in colleges, universities, and professional schools earned slightly more at $65,120. Librarians in the top 10% of earners brought home more than $97,460 per year.

Librarians can find work in colleges and universities, primary and secondary schools, local government agencies, state and federal archives, and historical societies. See where a master's in library science degree can take you. Learn more about library science careers.

Career Paths

Librarian and Library Media Specialists

Librarians work with the public to find printed and digitized media for both personal and professional use. They also organize and catalog library materials, order new books and periodicals to update the collection, and help library patrons conduct research using reference materials.

Median Annual Salary: $60,820

Archivists and Curators

These professionals help catalog and preserve archival materials important to the historical record. Whether working in a historical society, library, or museum, archivists interact with the public to help them find and view records for research purposes.

Median Annual Salary: $52,140

High School Teacher

After working as a school librarian for a time, some may decide they want to move to the classroom to educate students. High school teachers lead classrooms of students in grades 9-12 and teach subjects such as history, English, math, and science. In addition to leading class periods, they create and grade assignments and provide assessments for students along the way.

Median Annual Salary: $62,870

Library Director

Library directors often work as operations managers, overseeing all the components required to keep a library running smoothly. They hire and manage staff, oversee budgets and spending, establish rules for keeping order within the collections, and handle any required disciplinary action.

Median Annual Salary: $64,095

Instructional Coordinator

Whether working in a school or another education-focused setting, instructional coordinators create and implement curricula and teaching standards. They review available educational materials, compare the materials with assessment standards, and implement those they feel work best. They also arrange training on the newly introduced materials for teachers and staff.

Median Annual Salary: $66,970

Library Science Not For You? Check Out These Related Careers.

Education Careers Teaching Careers Higher Education Careers

Continuing Education

After earning their online master's in library science and working in the field for several years, some graduates may decide to pursue a doctorate in library science. These doctoral programs typically serve individuals who want to conduct research on library science or teach the discipline at the postsecondary level.

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

Cost

Students should understand the true program costs associated with earning a master's in library science. They should also compare online and campus-based program costs to see which format is more affordable.

Program Format

Online master's in library science programs come in both synchronous and asynchronous formats. They also offer both part-time and full-time schedules. Some departments may even provide accelerated programs for those looking to graduate quickly.

Location

When considering whether to go to college online or on campus, students should pay careful attention to whether an online program requires any in-person requirements.

Accreditation

The American Library Association accredits master's in library science programs. Students should look for this seal of approval when considering programs. They should also ensure their online college holds proper institutional accreditation before enrolling.

Student Support

Student support services help make the college experience enjoyable and educational. Before deciding on any program, applicants should ask about services such as mentorship opportunities or help connecting with internship sites. If studying through digital learning, ask about online-specific student services.

Best Accredited Online Master's in Library Science Programs

Rankings compiled by the the BestColleges Ranking Team

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#1 Online College in California

University of Southern California

School Information
Location Los Angeles, California
Admission Rate 11%
Graduation Rate 92%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,995
Out of State | $1,995

Credits to Graduate
31

Program Information
Program Accreditation | Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business | American Library Association

USC's master's in library science program requires 31 credits. Learners can complete the degree in 20 months. The curriculum explores topics such as marketing management and library project management. 

Students develop advanced skills in library and information technology management. Enrollees receive hands-on experience during a supervised internship. Degree-seekers apply their knowledge during a research or project-based experience. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#2 Online College in Florida

University of South Florida

School Information
Location Tampa, Florida
Admission Rate 48%
Graduation Rate 75%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 55% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $7,840 for 18 credits
Out of State | $15,864 for 18 credits 

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

USF's master's in library and information science (MLIS) prepares learners for Florida certification to work as school librarians or media specialists. Students complete the accredited degree's 39 semester hours online. The program's 11 research areas include metadata and public librarianship. 

All enrollees complete a technology elective. Learners show their competencies with a portfolio of their work. In-state students pay the most affordable tuition for this online master's in library science. MLIS scholarships help students pay for tuition. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and GRE scores. Applicants may request GRE waivers.

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#3 Online College in Illinois

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

School Information
Location Champaign, Illinois
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 85%
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $663
Out of State | $958

Credits to Graduate
40

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

Illinois' iSchool offers a master's in library and information science. Enrollees learn how to analyze and preserve information for a variety of professions. Students complete 40 credits online in 18-24 months. Learners take two required courses and tailor the rest of the degree to meet their needs. 

Six professional pathways include youth and school librarianship and archival and special collections. One pathway provides specialization in information organization and management. Applicants need a bachelor's degree. Illinois makes GRE/GMAT scores optional.

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#4 Online College in California

San Jose State University

School Information
Location San Jose, California
Admission Rate 64%
Graduation Rate 64%
Accreditation Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 35% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $474
Out of State | $474 

Credits to Graduate
43

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

Students can customize SJSU's master of library and information science to meet their career goals. The 43-unit program offers various specialized courses and electives. Required coursework includes study of information communities and applied research methods. Learners build in-demand technology-focused skills.

Enrollees culminate the online master's in library science with a thesis or e-portfolio. Students can complete optional online internships and virtual guest speaker presentations. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#5 Online College in Washington

University of Washington

School Information
Location Seattle, Washington
Admission Rate 52%
Graduation Rate 84%
Accreditation Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities
Percent Online Enrollment 8% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $852
Out of State | $852

Credits to Graduate
63

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

UW's iSchool offers a master of library and information science. Learners complete 63 credits online in three years. Enrollees learn how to organize information and resources. They also study the management of information organizations. 

Students can pursue fieldwork or independent study. Enrollees culminate the program with a project that highlights their talents. Degree-seekers can apply for the iSchool's merit-based scholarships to help pay for the master's in library science. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#6 Online College in New York

Syracuse University

School Information
Location Syracuse, New York
Admission Rate 44%
Graduation Rate 83%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Percent Online Enrollment 15% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $1,734
Out of State | $1,734

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

Syracuse's master's in library and information science blends online learning and a residency workshop that spans 2-3 days. The 36-credit program includes live weekly classes. A required core covers information literacy services. Elective coursework provides specialized training in areas such as academic librarianship and applied machine learning.

Students can learn how to manage a school library or information systems projects. Learners culminate the master's in library science with an internship or independent study. Applicants need a bachelor's degree.

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#7 Online College in Colorado

University of Denver

School Information
Location Denver, Colorado
Admission Rate 59%
Graduation Rate 77%
Instituation Type Private
Accreditation Yes Higher Learning Commission
Percent Online Enrollment 28% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $956
Out of State | $956

Credits to Graduate
58 

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

DU's master of library and information science offers optional in-person immersion experiences. Students can complete the 58-quarter-credit degree online in 21-27 months. The program requires live weekly classes. Enrollees learn how to apply innovative information science and data management techniques. 

The degree offers an optional three-course archiving focus. Students culminate the master's in library science with a capstone experience or 75-hour internship. Applicants need a minimum 2.5 GPA.

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#8 Online College in North Carolina

East Carolina University

School Information
Location Greenville, North Carolina
Admission Rate 79%
Graduation Rate 66%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 48% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $289
Out of State | $1,020

Credits to Graduate
39

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

ECU has prepared library professionals since 1939. Learners can complete the school's accredited master of library science program online asynchronously. Core courses cover collection development and technology for library services. The curriculum provides three concentrations: public library, academic library, and school library media. 

All enrollees complete a capstone portfolio that includes artifacts and student reflections. Students can complete the degree in 5-7 terms on a full- or part-time basis. Applicants need a bachelor's degree and a minimum 2.7 GPA.

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#9 Online College in South Carolina

University of South Carolina

School Information
Location Columbia, South Carolina
Admission Rate 69%
Graduation Rate 77%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 32% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online or Hybrid | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $515-$572
Out of State | $1,240

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | American Library Association

UofSC's master of library and information science program offers general and school library certification tracks. The 36-credit curriculum requires a six-course core. Students develop expertise in areas such as reference and instruction. Learners also study information organization and access. 

Elective courses include children's literature and digital archives. Students build an e-portfolio that showcases work samples. Enrollees can complete the degree entirely online or in a hybrid format. Admission to the master's in library science requires a bachelor's degree and a minimum 3.0 GPA.

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#10 Online College in Georgia

Georgia College & State University

School Information
Location Milledgeville, Georgia
Admission Rate 80%
Graduation Rate 64%
Accreditation Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
Percent Online Enrollment 29% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.

100% Online | Scheduled Classes

Avg. Cost per Credit
In State | $288
Out of State | $288

Credits to Graduate
36

Program Information
Program Accreditation | N/A 

Georgia College's master of education program offers a major in library media. The degree enrolls licensed teachers and leads to media specialist certification in Georgia. The 36-semester-hour curriculum explores key factors in school improvement. Students receive specialized training in library media best practices.

Enrollees learn instructional design and how to apply instructional technology. The fully online master's in library science program provides internship experience. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a minimum 2.75 GPA, and eligibility for Georgia level-five certification.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Master's in Library Science Programs

Is a master's in library science worth it?

Before pursuing an advanced degree, students must first consider whether an online degree is worth it based on their values and end goals. After that, it's time to decide whether a master's in library science fits their professional aspirations and outcomes.These programs provide specialized training and may suit individuals interested in supporting public information access. Earning a master's in library science is a great option if you enjoy working with people and printed or digitized materials.

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

An online master's in library science provides the skills and credentials needed to take on a variety of roles. Librarians work in governmental, nonprofit, and for-profit settings, managing collections and ordering new materials as needed.Many librarians find themselves working in schools, including both K-12 and college institutions. Others may work in museums or archives to manage research material collections. Still others may work in legal settings to oversee collections of materials related to the law.

Are library science graduates in demand?

Yes, relatively speaking. The BLS projects jobs for librarians and library media specialists will increase by 9% from 2020-2030. This is a slightly above-average projected growth rate.

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

The BLS found that librarians made a median annual salary of $60,820 as of 2020. Jobs in colleges, universities, and professional schools paid the most at $65,120 per year.

Conversely, local government roles (excluding education or hospitals) tend to pay the least at $54,890 each year. Elementary and secondary schools offered a median pay of $62,370, while information-focused industries paid $61,340.

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

The top 10% of earners among librarians and library media specialists made more than $97,460 as of 2020, according to the BLS.Degree type, experience level, job title, and location all affect pay for librarians. Those with years of experience tend to earn more than their recently graduated colleagues, especially if they take on leadership and/or managerial responsibilities.

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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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