Contrary to conventional understanding of the field, library science doesn't just involve sorting books and archiving documents. Online library science bachelor's degree students learn how to master information, which requires skills in collection, interpretation, synthesis, and effective presentation. Because of this, these professionals succeed in a variety of industries, including corporate librarianship, health information sciences, market research, and database administration. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that jobs in library science and related fields will grow between 2016 and 2026, including 13% growth for curators and archivists and 9% growth for librarians.

What are the best library science programs of 2020? Here are our top 5:

Rank School Location
1 University Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE
2 Northern Kentucky University Highland Heights, KY
3 Clarion University of Pennsylvania Clarion, PA
4 University of Maine at Augusta Augusta, ME
5 University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg, MS

Choosing a Program

All library science bachelor's degree online programs cover topics in the organization of information, collaborative leadership, and research and inquiry. These are all important skills for business and academic professionals. Most baccalaureate programs also include a capstone requirement, usually in the form of a research project. Additionally, many schools provide internships or other field opportunities to help students gain hands-on experience, advance into a graduate program, and find employment after graduation.

Beyond certain common characteristics, each program has different concentrations, courses, and focus areas. If your career goals lie in education, consider a program grounded in information literacy, teaching, and learning in the digital age. If you're drawn to a particular type of literature, such as children's or young adult fiction, be sure the program covers this area of interest. Because online library science bachelor's degrees are so flexible, you can always craft your own interdisciplinary concentration or minor.

What Are The Best Online Bachelor's in Library Science Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

UNO emphasizes academic excellence, and its students benefit from hands-on learning and multiple research opportunities.The university also offers some of the best online programs in Nebraska.

Aspiring librarians can earn an online bachelor of science in education with a library major. Library science courses include teaching and learning in digital environments, managing collections in libraries and information agencies, and management of resources in libraries.

UNO utilizes the Canvas learning management system. Online assignments include essays, exams, discussion boards, and group work. Students can also access online tutoring. Transfer students from accredited institutions may apply. UNO holds regional accreditation from the Higher Learning Commission.

2

Northern Kentucky University

Highland Heights, KY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 42%

Established in 1968, NKU offers nearly 120 degrees, including 90 bachelor's degrees. Its enrollment exceeds 14,000 students from around the world, and graduates gain access to a vast alumni network.

Students drawn to evaluation and information management can earn an entirely online bachelor's degree in library informatics. This degree requires 121 credits, including 45 major-related credits. Core library informatics courses include fundamentals of business computing, introduction to application development, management information systems, and critical reading. Students also complete a culminating capstone course.

Online courses typically follow an asynchronous format, allowing students to complete assignments on their own time while meeting deadlines. NKU holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

3

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clarion, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Clarion offers over 175 programs, including 100 bachelor's degrees. The school strives to provide affordable coursework, and over 80% of its students receive some form of financial aid.

The Department of Library Science at Clarion offers an online bachelor of science in integrative studies with a library and information studies concentration. This degree requires 120 credits, including 48 general education credits, 48 core credits, and electives. Core courses include informed citizenry, organization of information, and the information society.

First-year college students must submit ACT or SAT scores and official transcripts. Students considering the honors program need a high school GPA of at least 3.64 and a minimum 1220 SAT score or 25 ACT score. Transfer students from accredited schools may apply. Clarion holds regional accreditation from the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.

4

University of Maine at Augusta

Augusta, ME Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 18%

UMA is one of seven universities within the University of Maine System, serving over 5,500 students annually. The university strives to transform the lives of all students, including many nontraditional learners.

UMA offers an online bachelor's in information and library science with no in-person attendance requirements. Notable courses include cataloging and technical processes, advanced reference service and materials, creating marketing materials for library and information agencies, and reader's advisory. This program also requires a senior capstone internship/practicum or a 120-hour advanced research project.

Online courses utilize an asynchronous format. UMA holds regional accreditation from the New England Commission on Higher Education.

5

University of Southern Mississippi

Hattiesburg, MS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 49%

Founded in 1910, USM prioritizes diversity, inclusion, and civic engagement. Students at USM engage in over 100,000 hours of service annually. The university oversees140 bachelor's programs, including multiple online options.

USM offers a bachelor's in library and information science that does not require in-person attendance. In addition to general education coursework, students complete 45 major-related credits and an 18-credit minor. Library science courses include sources of information for a multicultural society, rural and small libraries, and library instruction.

This degree also requires an internship, which students complete during their senior year; participants can make arrangements with a local library. All online students pay in-state tuition rates. USM holds regional accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

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

Students pursuing a library science bachelor's degree online usually take the same foundational coursework, regardless of the school they are attending. However, course structure and content vary depending on program philosophy and instructor expertise. For example, liberal arts programs tend to contain more electives than programs that focus on a specific career path or industry. Some online library science degrees include specialized courses like youth library services or information technology.

Curriculum for an Online Bachelor's in Library Science

The list below details five common classes for online library science bachelor's degrees. Some courses prepare you for certain jobs or duties. Although most programs will have some version of these courses, keep in mind that coursework tends to differ by program, especially at the advanced level. Don't be shy when speaking with a school's admission office. Ensure that you learn all the details before committing to a program.

  • Information Agencies and Services: Grounded in hands-on practice and virtual field trips, this course trains students to identify and analyze information providers in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. Students learn how to use user-centered systems and services rendered by the government. Career librarians and professionals in the computer and data analytics fields may benefit from this course.
  • Leadership and Management in Libraries: This business-oriented course teaches students fundamental supervisory skills, including training staff, implementing collaborative work strategies, creating business plans, and managing the financial calendar. All information professionals may find this class useful. The course prepares library science students for schooling or work in other fields like human resources and entrepreneurship.
  • Information Architecture: This advanced course centers on digital information systems and user experience. Students learn taxonomic theories and how to develop and test interface design. Additional topics include navigation, labeling, and organization of data. As library science integrates more aspects of information technology and data management, students can expect cross-over between the fields. As a result, students learn innovative practices and can take advantage of dynamic career opportunities.
  • Cataloging and Classification: A fundamental library science topic, this course examines the primary techniques and support tools used in library-oriented classification and archiving. Additional topics include descriptive and subject heading, authority control, bibliographic utilities, and online catalogs and data management systems. The course is of most use to reference librarians, but the ideas and skills also benefit information scientists of all kinds.
  • Grant Writing and Development: This course trains students to seek out and apply for external funding. Students learn to cultivate community partnerships as well as allocate resources and services to underserved populations. A general but important topic, grant development is useful to all businesses and organizations. These skills are especially critical for careers in the nonprofit sector.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Bachelor's in Library Science?

Online library science bachelor's degrees, like other baccalaureate programs, generally require at least 120 credits and take four years to complete. Common degree requirements like internships or capstone experiences may also lengthen completion time, particularly if a school requires you to complete work with a partner organization in their area. To avoid this, enroll in a program that allows you to pursue an internship in your local community or with your current employer. Another way to earn your bachelor's more quickly is to prioritize schools that offer accelerated classes and summer enrollment. These options not only provide scheduling flexibility, but also enable you to fit in more coursework each semester.

Course structure also dictates the length of a library science bachelor's degree online program. Though remote classes are usually asynchronous, some colleges and universities follow a cohort format. A cohort format requires you and your peers to progress through a program concurrently by taking one class at a time. This model may benefit busy working professionals, but it doesn't allow for the freedom and speed of individually paced learning.

Accreditation for Online Bachelor's in Library Science Degrees

Accreditation reflects a college or university's ability to confer valid degrees recognized by employers, professional organizations, and government entities. Two main types of accreditation exist: national and regional. National accreditation is a stamp of approval from a national organization working with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). Schools that are nationally accredited are usually specialized, vocational, or for-profit in nature.

Regional accreditation is conferred by one of six organizations, depending on the location of a school. This type of accreditation reflects high standards for academics and professional outcomes. Regional accreditation is generally considered more valuable and prestigious than national accreditation. Online library science bachelor's programs can also be accredited by an industry-specific organization such as the American Library Association.

The ED ensures that colleges and universities follow national education mandates by taking charge of a school's federal funding, including awards like the Pell Grant and the Stafford Loan. CHEA is a nonprofit whose mission is to advocate for and maintain the academic integrity of its 3,000+ member institutions. CHEA schools also receive private funding, research support, and student resources. You can visit the ED's and CHEA's websites for more information on regionally and nationally accredited schools.

Employment Outlook for Bachelor's in Library Science Graduates

Bachelor's in Library Science Salary

The table below utilizes data from Payscale to lay out the median salaries for library science bachelor's degree graduates. You can pursue the majority of these careers with baccalaureate credentials and advance by accumulating work experience. Additional formal education often speeds up this process, enabling you to develop specialized skills in a shorter amount of time. Additionally, certain positions, like information architect, require knowledge and training not usually found in a bachelor's program. For these specialized jobs, you may need a certificate or master's degree.

Job Title Overall Median Salary Median Salary for Entry-Level Median Salary for Mid-Career Median Salary for Late-Career
Archivist $46,165 $43,332 $49,917 $55,002
Research Analyst $53,037 $51,165 $62,040 $79,452
Instructional Designer $60,943 $55,920 $64,845 $75,187
Library Director $61,821 $49,617 $55,366 $72,785
Information Architect $94,218 $69,126 $92,541 $117,811

Bachelor's in Library Science Careers

At its core, library science represents the management of information. Consequently, an online library science bachelor's degree sets you on the path to a variety of career options. You can choose to work in a team as a marketing professional or library director. You can also opt to work independently as an archivist, computer analyst, or digital scientist. Whatever your calling, library science professionals personify attention to detail, effective problem solving, and assessment of multifarious information sources.

Librarian

These professionals help patrons find information and conduct research. They can work in multiple settings, including academia, law offices, and corporations. Librarians also organize library content, create and maintain reference systems and digital archives, and provide outreach and educational opportunities for the community. You can become a librarian with a bachelor's degree, but additional school and professional training result in better job prospects.

Median Annual Salary: $57,680
Projected Growth Rate: 9%

Instructional Coordinator

Using exceptional research and data analysis skills, instructional coordinators work in schools, government agencies, or private educational organizations. They design, help implement, and analyze the effectiveness of curricular models and teaching materials. Instructional coordinators also mentor and provide training to other educators. These professionals usually start out as teachers and general administrators.

Median Annual Salary: $62,460
Projected Growth Rate: 11%

Archivist

These information specialists collect, organize, store, and preserve permanent records and other important documents. Because information is now largely digital, archivists should possess advanced data analysis and network management knowledge. With such a varied and useful skill set, archivists can work in many settings, including public libraries, universities, government organizations, and private companies.

Median Annual Salary: $47,230
Projected Growth Rate: 13%

Information Research Scientist

These research experts aggregate and analyze digital information in order to create new technology and find new uses for current technology. Research scientists also solve problems in medicine, science, business, academic, and other fields. Because they operate with such advanced skills, information research scientists generally possess at least a master's degree.

Median Annual Salary: $111,840
Projected Growth Rate: 19%

Market Research Analyst

These professionals collect and analyze consumer, competitor, and other market data to help businesses create strategic plans. Market research analysts not only respond to sales trends, but also anticipate them. They usually work in teams and must possess clear communication and effective interpersonal skills. Entering this profession usually requires a master's degree, but a bachelor's with additional professional training may suffice.

Median Annual Salary: $62,560
Projected Growth Rate: 23%

Source: BLS

Professional Organizations

Online library science bachelor's degree students can accelerate their career development by joining a professional organization. These independent entities advocate for favorable governmental policies and support research advancement. And though participation usually requires an annual fee, members benefit from opportunities to connect with colleagues and partner organizations through workshops, social events, and large multi-day conferences. Library science students also benefit from scholarships, internship and job boards, and academic resources like the American Association of School Librarian's eLearning seminars.

  • American Library Association: As the premier library science professional organization in the U.S., ALA oversees accreditation for certificate and degree programs. Members benefit from professional development and career opportunities, as well as conferences and generous scholarships.
  • American Association of School Librarians: Serving more than 7,000 members, AASL advocates for education and accessible academic resources. Members enjoy access to awards, grants, and scholarships. The association also holds an annual conference and supports professional development through its research publications.
  • Association for Information Science and Technology: ASIS&T has supported research and educational initiatives in information science for over 80 years. The association provides members with project funding opportunities and up-to-date literature on new strategies and innovations in the field.
  • Association of Independent Information Professionals: Unlike most professional organizations, AIIP specifically supports freelancers and entrepreneurs working in information science. In addition to its annual conference, AIIP also hosts business partnerships and career development workshops.
  • International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions: The only global organization on this list, IFLA was established in 1927 to unite library science professionals. Today, the organization represents information professionals from 140 countries. IFLA offers conferences, social events, and research opportunities. The federation also publishes a scholarly journal and publicizes funding opportunities.

Financing Your Online Bachelor's in Library Science Program

While conducting research on prospective online library science bachelor's degrees, you should factor in cost and financial assistance, as well as how a school aligns with your interests and career goals. Student loan debt constitutes one of the major burdens for college graduates. Tools like the Free Application for Student Financial Aid (FAFSA) help you sign up for multiple awards and loans simultaneously. You should also look into funding opportunities provided by community and professional organizations such as the American Library Association.

AN OVERVIEW OF FINANCIAL AID

Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.

UNDERSTANDING THE FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.

FINANCIAL AID FOR ONLINE STUDENTS

Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR SINGLE PARENTS

Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.

FINANCIAL AID FOR VETERANS AND ACTIVE MILITARY

Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.