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.
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.
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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.
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:
- Library and Information Services
- School Librarianship
- Youth Services
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.
Best Accredited Online Master's in Library Science Programs
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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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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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