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.
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?
University of Nebraska at Omaha
|Omaha, NE||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Founded in 1908, the University of Nebraska Omaha (UNO) offers both a bachelor of multidisciplinary studies in library science and a bachelor of science in education with a concentration in library science. The metropolitan university delivers a comprehensive, relevant, and diverse course of study in addition to a stellar job placement rate, providing credentialing for entry-level library positions.
Library science is one of 12 concentrations offered by UNO including aviation studies, cybersecurity, and information technology. Core courses teach subjects such as children's literature and education, teaching and learning in digital environments, and leadership and management in libraries and information agencies. UNO's library science degrees are entirely asynchronous, online four-year programs that requires 30 credit hours in the concentration area and completion of two 12-credit secondary fields for 120 credits total.
UNO provides online advising and library services including database access, interlibrary loan, and document delivery request services. The university maintains a high standard of faculty and staff responsiveness to online learner needs.
Admission standards for high school graduates are an ACT composite score of 20 or SAT score of 950 or above. Transfer students must hold a 2.0 GPA and have met 16 core course requirements. In-state tuition is $280/credit while out-of-state tuition is $365/credit. The University of Nebraska Omaha is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC).
University of Southern Mississippi
|Hattiesburg, MS||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 47%||
Founded in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi is located in Hattiesburg and Long Beach, Mississippi. The university's four-year, 124-credit bachelor of science in library and information science degree provides the skills for a successful career in library and information science.
Graduates may work as public, elementary school, and high school librarians, branch managers, operations specialists, and library technicians. Courses such as cataloging and classification, information technology and libraries, information ethics, and sources for a multicultural society precede the library practicum course which fulfills the three-credit capstone requirement. The library and information science degree program is completely online.
The University of Southern Mississippi offers four routes for admission (writing ACT and SAT scores are not considered for admission): a 3.2 high school GPA with submitted ACT or SAT scores; a 2.5 high school GPA or class ranking in the top 50 percent with a 16 composite ACT score or a combined 770 SAT score in critical reading and math; a 2.0 high school GPA, a composite ACT score of 18 or 860 for the SAT critical reading and math; or student athletes who meet the NCAA standards for full qualification under Division 1 guidelines.
Transfer students must hold an associate degree from an accredited institution or have completed 30 general education credits, with a 2.0 minimum GPA. A $20 online delivery fee per credit in addition to $4,312/semester constitute the cost of tuition. The University of Southern Mississippi is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and the American Library Association (ALA).
Northern Kentucky University
|Highland Heights, KY||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 40%||
Located in Highland Heights, Kentucky, and founded as a state college in 1968 and a university in 1976, Northern Kentucky University emphasizes organizing, accessing, and assessing information in its bachelor of science in library informatics accelerated program. With approximately six start dates per year, the program provides convenience and flexibility for online students. The start dates coincide with the spring, summer, and fall seven-week sessions. The integration of online learners with information through technology is a program outcome of note. Learners gain the skills to work as library paraprofessionals, online researchers, online content editors, and information services managers.
The university offers 13 core courses including information literacy, introduction to meta information, and critical reading. Special topics in library informatics, intellectual property and information rights, and management in library and information centers are required electives. A seven-week, project-oriented senior capstone course concludes the 120-credit, four-year program.
Tuition is $437/credit and $1,311/course in addition to $960 in total fees divided by credit hour. Applicants must also pay a $40 non-refundable online application fee. This fee is waived for Northern Kentucky University alumni, active military, and veterans. Transfer students must hold a 2.0 GPA and 24 transferable credits. Students with a 2.0 GPA and less than 24 credits require ACT, SAT, or COMPASS/Accuplacer scores. Northern Kentucky University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
University of Maine at Augusta
|Augusta, ME||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 17%||
Located in Augusta, Maine, the University of Maine at Augusta (UMA) was established in 1965. The school offers a bachelor of science in information and library science that prepares students for advancement to American Library Association master's programs. UMA also provides career advancement opportunities for current library staff who wish to build upon their education and qualifications.
This degree program enhances technological skills and promotes creative and critical thinking, preparing graduates to enter the workforce as specialized paraprofessionals. Information and library science courses, such as information literacy, cataloging and technical processes, digital library technology and services, and web page design are delivered asynchronously. The 120-credit, four-year program includes the senior capstone internship or advanced research course. The internship consists of 120 onsite hours under the supervision of an MLS librarian.
UMA's Assessment of Prior Learning allows students to earn credits through a portfolio process, which is recommended for individuals with five years or more of full-time library work experience. Students can apply online for free throughout the year and submit transcripts electronically. Applicants gain program admission through one of three routes: 30 general education credits, with a 2.5 GPA from an accredited institution; a combined SAT score of 1,000 or the University of Maine at Augusta AS degree program with successful completion transfer to the bachelor of science degree program. Tuition costs $233/credit for in-state learners and $291/credit for out-of-state learners. The University of Maine at Augusta is accredited by the New England Commission of Higher Education (NECHE).
Clarion University of Pennsylvania
|Clarion, PA||Cost: $$$$$||Graduation Rate: 50%||
Founded in 1867, Clarion University is located in Clarion and Venango, Pennsylvania. The university's bachelor of science in liberal studies with a concentration in library and information studies prepares graduates for paraprofessional and provisional librarian jobs in addition to the master of science degree, working towards credentialing in the library and information system. Most Clarion faculty members hold the highest degree in their discipline.
The 120-credit, four-year degree program begins with a synchronous online orientation. Courses concentrated in library and information studies include information for life, informed citizenry, organization of information, and information for healthier living. Learning outcomes are achieved through the acquisition and retention of knowledge with the development and implementation of programs for specific groups such as senior citizens and children.
Online resources include the writing center, which provides feedback within 48 hours during regular operating hours. A mandatory online orientation is another student resource to help Clarion students succeed.
Incoming freshmen and transfer students must complete an online admission application that costs $35. Applicants must submit SAT or ACT scores and transcripts to Clarion's admission office. Transfer students need six or more credits from an accredited institution with a GPA of 2.0 minimum. Students should consult the Pennsylvania Transfer and Articulation Center to determine course transferability. Tuition costs are $409.20/credit in-state and $461.20/credit out of state. Clarion University of Pennsylvania is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE).
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|
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.
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%
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%
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.