Earning a master's in library science prepares students for diverse library positions and for employment in environments like public libraries, secondary schools, universities, healthcare offices, and legal offices.

This guide provides information about the top programs offering master's in library science online degrees, commonly required courses, available degree concentrations, and frequently asked questions.

What Are the Top Library Science Programs of 2020? Here Are Our Top 10:

Rank School Location
1 University of Washington Seattle, WA
2 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
4 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
5 University of Wisconsin - Madison Madison, WI
6 University of Maryland - College Park College Park, MD
7 University of Houston - Clear Lake Houston, TX
8 Rutgers University - New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ
9 San Jose State University San Jose, CA
10 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY

Most employers require full-time librarians to hold at least a master's degree in the field. This degree prepares students to work in research libraries, provide assistance to patrons, utilize reference systems, and organize materials. Some specialty libraries, such as law and medical libraries, require librarians with specific skill sets. Earning a master's in library science provides the skills and experience students need to work in these and related environments.

How We Rank Schools

At BestColleges, we believe a college education is one of the most important investments you will make. We want to help you navigate the college selection process by offering school rankings that are transparent, inclusive, and relevant for online students. Our rankings are grounded in a few guiding principles and use the latest statistical data available from trusted sources. Read more about our ranking methodology. We hope our approach helps you find the school that is best for you.

2020 Best Accredited Online Master's in Library Science Programs

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Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle
1

University of Washington

Seattle, WA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

UW has a long history of training Seattle-area librarians, with the first full-time program dating back to 1911. In 2001, an information school was established to better serve this rapidly-evolving field. Graduates of the UW iSchool's master's in library and information science reported an 86% employment rate.

The 63-credit program requires an on-site orientation and online completion of core courses dealing with the organization and management of information services, resources, and collections. Degree plans can be customized with electives in librarianship, social/ethical issues, and information technology. A final capstone project allows students to identify and address a problem in the field.

Applicants to the MLIS program must possess a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA, although individuals with lower GPAs are encouraged to apply.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $825/credit
Credit Requirements: 63 credits
Program Length: 3 years

Delivery

Format: On campus or 100% online, with a required on-site orientation

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (206) 685-9937
Email: iask@uw.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

2

University of South Florida

Tampa, FL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 73%

USF's school of information prepares graduates for meaningful work in libraries, government agencies, and research and information centers throughout the nation. Available academic options include certificates, undergraduate, and graduate degrees, including a master's in library and information science.

Offered both on campus and entirely online, the MLIS program requires completion of 39 credits, including courses in information services, library administration, and collection development and maintenance. Students can select a variety of electives or complete an emphasis in school media/youth services. An ePortfolio serves as the program's culminating assessment.

For full admission, USF requires a minimum 3.25 GPA in upper-division undergraduate coursework. Applicants with a lower GPA must provide GRE scores, an academic writing sample, statement of purpose, and letters of recommendation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: School media/youth services
Tuition: $431/credit in-state; $877/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 39 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid, with required field experience for school media/youth services emphasis

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.25 minimum

Contact

Phone: (813) 974-3520
Email: usf-grad@grad.usf.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

3

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 84%

The master's in library science at U of I's School of Information Sciences has held continuous accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA) since its first approval in 1926. Program graduates report an 82% employment rate, the majority of whom work in public libraries, higher education, and corporate business.

Online MLIS students attend lectures, collaborate in small groups, and present projects in a real-time, synchronous learning environment. The 40-credit program allows for extensive customization, with six guided professional pathways to choose from, or the option to select courses according to individual interests. With approval, students can complete independent study, a practicum, or thesis.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree, resume, personal statement, and three letters of reference. GRE or GMAT scores are required for applicants with GPAs below 3.0.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $636/credit in-state; $1,053/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 40 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required three-day orientation on campus
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (217) 333-3280
Email: ischool@illinois.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

4

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 92%

Through the top-ranked Marshall School of Business, the USC offers a unique online master's in library science. Leadership and management is emphasized, preparing graduates for careers in academic and public libraries, business, and government.

Students progress through the asynchronous, 31-credit curriculum in team-based cohorts. Required courses include management communication for leaders, collection development and management, and research and professional applications. A final capstone involves the creation of an electronic portfolio through student-driven research or project-based experience.

To qualify for admission, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA, and related work experience. The college also requires three letters of reference and a statement of purpose. USC does not accept transfer credits for the MMLIS program.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Management in Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,928/credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits
Program Length: 20 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Related work experience

Contact

Phone: (888) 836-4681
Email: admissions@librarysciencedegree.usc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

5

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 87%

UW-Madison information school strives to educate leaders and innovators who are adept in the creation, retrieval, use, and curation of information in all its forms. The iSchool offers non-degree, undergraduate, graduate, and professional academic options, including an online master's in library and information studies.

After taking three required courses, students can select one of four concentration areas: librarianship, data/information management and analytics, information technology and user design, or information organization. Culminating experiences include a 120-hour field project or practicum, and an ePortfolio. A total of 39 credits is required to graduate, with completion possible in two years.

UW accepts new students to the MLIS program once a year in the fall. Applicants should demonstrate a minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 credits of undergraduate coursework.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Studies
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Librarianship; data/information management and analytics; information technology and user design; information organization
Tuition: $850/credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required field project or practicum
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (608) 263-2900
Email: admissions@ischool.wisc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

6

University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 86%

UMD's online master's in library and information science boasts a high rate of job placement. Of all students awarded degrees in 2017, 97.2% secured a job within two months of graduation. Academic libraries and government agencies hired the most graduates, followed by archives and special collections, public libraries, and school libraries.

MLIS students complete 36 credits total, including core courses focused on information infrastructures and achieving organizational excellence. Available online specializations include diversity and inclusion, school library, youth experience, or a self-designed plan. The culminating experience requires completion of either a field study experience or thesis.

To be eligible for admission, prospective students must possess a bachelor's degree and a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Diversity and inclusion; individualized program plan; school library; youth experience
Tuition: $731/credit in-state; $1,625/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required field study
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (301) 405-2039
Email: mlisprogram@umd.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

7

University of Houston - Clear Lake

Houston, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 54%

UHCL offers eleven graduate programs entirely online, including a 30-31 credit master's in school library and information science. This degree is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation and satisfies education requirements for the Texas school librarian certification.

Core courses include study of school library services, literature selection for young adults and children, and selection and application of technology. A required school library practicum serves as the capstone experience. Degree completion is possible in as little as 18 months.

Program admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, minimum 3.0 GPA in the last 60 credits of coursework, and a valid Texas teaching certificate. Applicants with a GPA below 3.0 must provide GRE scores.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in School Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $414/credit in-state; $929/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30-31 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required school library practicum
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: All applicants must hold a valid Texas Teaching Certificate and provide a letter of support from a school building administrator

Contact

Phone: (281) 283-2500
Email: admissions@hcl.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

8

Rutgers University - New Brunswick

New Brunswick, NJ Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

While Rutgers no longer offers a standalone library science program, students interested in this field can pursue a rigorous master's in information with a library and information science concentration. Available both online and on campus, the 36-credit degree is fully accredited by the American Library Association.

This program allows students from diverse academic backgrounds to engage in study areas that might not otherwise be available to them, such as data science or multimedia production. Faculty conducts courses in an asynchronous format for maximum flexibility. All concentration pathways require completion of an ePortfolio capstone, showcasing academic accomplishments, career goals, and objectives.

Admission is competitive. Applicants must possess a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit two letters of recommendation, a personal statement, and either GRE, MCAT, or LSAT scores.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Information
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Library and information science; school librarianship; data science; archives and preservation; interaction design and informatics; technology, information, and management
Tuition: $900/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MCAT, LSAT

Contact

Phone: (848) 932-7500
Email: sci-info@comminfo.rutgers.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

9

San Jose State University

San Jose, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

The school of information at SJSU offers several certificates and degrees for distance learners, including a 43-credit master's in library and information science, which has been continuously accredited by the ALA since 1969. Eighty percent of recent graduates report employment in a library or information science career environment.

The MLIS program requires 27 credits of electives, allowing students to choose from topics including government information sources, web usability, and early childhood literacy. Professional internships and school library field work placements are also available. As a culminating experience, students complete either an ePortfolio or thesis.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and demonstrate a minimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA. SJSU does not require test scores, letters of recommendation, statements of purpose, or resumes.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $474/credit
Credit Requirements: 43 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with optional fieldwork or internship experiences
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (408) 924-2490
Email: Online contact form
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

10

University at Buffalo

Buffalo, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 76%

UB boasts a catalog of more than 300 graduate and professional programs, including a master's in information and library science. Offered exclusively online, the degree requires 36 credits and offers completion times as brief as two years. Graduates are prepared for a variety of information careers.

Students can pursue a generalist track or select courses from several focus areas, including information management, public and academic libraries, or special libraries. In collaboration with other UB schools, the department of information science also offers two unique dual-degrees: an MLIS/JD in legal information management and analysis and an MLIS/MA in music librarianship.

Admission requires a minimum undergraduate 3.0 GPA, GRE, or MAT scores, and references and a goals statement.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Information and Library Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Legal information management and analysis; music librarianship
Tuition: $5,655/semester in-state; $6,785/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MAT

Contact

Phone: (716) 645-2412
Email: lis-information@buffalo.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

11

Syracuse University

Syracuse, NY Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

American Library Association-accredited since 1928, Syracuse's 36-credit master's in library and information science takes an interdisciplinary approach to developing librarianship knowledge, skills, and values. Graduates have found work with employers, including Penguin Random House, the National Gallery of Art, and the NYC Department of Education.

The synchronous online curriculum combines both theory and practice, with courses in management principles; information policy; and library planning, marketing, and assessment. Students must attend at least one on-site immersion, with additional fieldwork and practicum experiences required for those enrolled in the optional school media concentration. This concentration satisfies requirements for New York state certification.

Applicants must demonstrate a minimum cumulative 3.0 GPA on undergraduate work. The college also requires GRE scores, a personal statement, resume, and letters of recommendation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in School Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: School media
Tuition: $9,720/semester
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 18 months

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with at least one required on-site immersion; students in the school media concentration must complete fieldwork and a practicum
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE

Contact

Phone: (855) 497-3255
Email: admissions@ischoolonline.syr.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

12

University of South Carolina

Columbia, SC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 77%

UofSC's college of information and communications offers seven bachelor's degrees, four master's degrees, two doctoral degrees, and several graduate certificates. Students can earn a 36-credit master's in library and information science online or through a mix of online and on-site classes.

Alongside nine credits of required coursework, the bulk of the program allows students to select classes aligned with their professional interests. Available areas of study include special collections librarianship, preservation planning, and music libraries and information services. The degree culminates with the creation of an ePortfolio, containing a resume, vision statement, and work samples.

Admission requires submission of two letters of recommendation, undergraduate transcripts demonstrating a minimum 3.0 GPA, and qualifying GRE or MAT scores (minimum 294 and 410, respectively).


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $572/credit in-state; $692/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online or hybrid

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MAT

Contact

Phone: (803) 777-5067
Email: slisss@mailbox.sc.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

13

University of Colorado - Denver

Denver, CO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 48%

A leader in distance education, CU offered its first online courses in 1996. Today, CU Online boasts a catalog of 37 online degrees, including a master's in learning design and technology. Educators seeking advancement to a school library media specialist position can pursue a concentration in teacher librarian leadership.

This two-year, 30-credit degree requires completion of courses in information literacy, school library management, and promoting literature in schools. Completion of a school library field experience serves as a capstone and satisfies education requirements for teacher-librarian endorsement. All students create a professional portfolio demonstrating program competencies.

The program offers rolling admissions. Applicants should hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. A valid teaching license is required for teacher librarianship endorsement.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in Learning Design and Technology
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Teacher librarian leadership; digital media for K-12 teachers; instructional design and adult learning; eLearning design and implementation
Tuition: $377/credit in-state; $452/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 30 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required school library field experience

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Valid teaching license (or plan to complete a teacher license program)

Contact

Phone: (303) 315-3000
Email: cuonline@ucdenver.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

14

Drexel University

Philadelphia, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 74%

Drexel provides more than 150 degrees and certificate and represents dozens of professional fields. By utilizing asynchronous and synchronous learning formats, Drexel offers students both flexibility and engagement opportunities. One of Drexel's top offerings is an online master's in library and information science.

This 45-credit degree is organized into four 10-week quarters each year, allowing students to complete more courses in less time than a traditional semester model. The curriculum includes study of data and digital stewardship, information ethics, and collection management. A final capstone, spanning two quarters, requires completion of a research or production-oriented project.

To qualify for admission, prospective students should hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Applicants must submit 1-2 letters of recommendation, an essay, and a resume.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,303/credit
Credit Requirements: 45 credits
Program Length: 1-2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (877) 215-0009
Email: duonline@drexel.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

15

Simmons University

Boston, MA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 80%

Alumni of Simmons's School of Library and Information Science go on to work as reference librarians, archivists, literacy specialists, preservation managers, publishers, and web designers. The school's flexible master's in library and information science offers entirely online completion and the freedom to design your own program.

After completing core courses, students satisfy the remainder of their 36-credit degree by selecting one of two preset concentration tracks or individual electives according to their own interests. Available areas of study include archives management, music librarianship, and digital stewardship. Optional practicums and field experiences are available for interested students.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university. Simmons requires GRE scores for applicant's with GPAs below 3.0.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Available Concentrations: Archives management; information science and technology
Tuition: $1,295/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (617) 521-2868
Email: slisadm@simmons.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

16

The University of Alabama

Tuscaloosa, AL Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

UA's dedicated distance learning platform, Bama By Distance, offers dozens of online and hybrid programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Following the completion of a required two-day orientation in Tuscaloosa, UA's 36-credit master's in library and information studies can be completed entirely online.

MLIS offers synchronous classes, with students typically meeting once per week from 6:00-8:45 PM, Central Time). If desired, students can pursue an emphasis in one of six areas, including digital stewardship, academic libraries, and social justice. Candidates for the master's degree can select either a thesis or non-thesis option.

Regular admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and one of the following: acceptable GRE/MAT scores, a prior graduate degree, or five years of professional experience in the field.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Studies
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Academic libraries; digital stewardship; public libraries; special libraries; social justice; youth service
Tuition: $420/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required on-campus orientation
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MAT
Work Experience: 5 years of demonstrated professional experience in the field

Contact

Phone: (800) 467-0227
Email: uadistance@ua.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

17

East Carolina University

Greenville, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

ECU has prepared library professionals for successful careers since 1939. Today, ECU's online master's in library science serves the largest program in the school of education. Graduates pursue work in pre-K-12 schools, universities, community colleges, and public libraries.

The 39-credit degree requires seven core courses, including collection development, research literacy in library science, and organization of information in libraries. Students then select one of three focus areas — academic, public, or school librarianship — to complete their studies. All areas include a 110-hour internship placement for observation and practical experience. A portfolio serves as the capstone experience.

ECU admits new MLS students in the fall and spring. Applicants must demonstrate a minimum 2.7 undergraduate GPA, submit GRE or MAT scores, and supply a statement of purpose and letters of recommendation.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Academic library; public library; school library
Tuition: $249/credit in-state; $893/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 5 semesters

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required internship

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MAT

Contact

Phone: (252) 328-4260
Email: via online contact form
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

18

University of North Texas

Denton, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

Graduate students at the University of North Texas can complete their 36-credit master's in library science online, face-to-face, or through a blended format. Eight pathways are available, including information organization, law librarianship, and archival studies. Alumni find diverse work opportunities in libraries, corporations, law firms, and medical centers.

Core courses in the degree plan cover information access and organization. The online format requires limited in-person attendance at one of UNT's cohort-based institutes, conveniently situated in various locations across the United States. Students must also satisfy field experience requirements with either six months of prior professional work experience or a 120- to 160-hour internship.

Admission requires a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a one-page statement of purpose and goals, two letters of recommendation, and a resume.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Science in Library Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Archival studies and imaging technology; distributed learning librarianship; general program; information organization; law librarianship and legal informatics; music librarianship; youth librarianship; school library certification
Tuition: $328/credit in-state; $737/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with three required on-site institutes and field experience

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (940) 565-2445
Email: LIS-Chair@unt.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

19

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Greensboro, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 53%

UNCG's division of online learning supports an extensive catalog of web-based courses and programs. Currently, 15 master's degrees offer entirely online completion, including the state's oldest-accredited master's in library and information studies.

This primarily synchronous, 36-credit program requires completion of courses in library administration and management, information sources and services, and information organization and access. Open electives allow students to focus on professional interests or pursue options in instructional technology licensure or school library licensure. All degree candidates complete a practicum and/or supervised fieldwork capstone.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university and a minimum 3.0 GPA. A personal statement and three letters of recommendation are also required.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: School library media coordinator; instructional technology
Tuition: $276/credit in-state; $532/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2.5 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with required practicum and/or supervised field experience
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (336) 615-7044
Email: uncgonline@uncg.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

20

Appalachian State University

Boone, NC Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 72%

Appalachian extends its academic opportunities to students outside of Boone, NC, with online programs, hybrid programs, and three classroom-based learning centers away from the main campus. Appalachian's entirely online master's in library science can be completed in two years of part-time study.

Blending both synchronous and asynchronous courses, the 36-credit program requires the study of collection development and management, collaborative media program planning/evaluation, and critical issues in literature and media. Prior to graduation, students complete either an internship, practicum, or field-based experience.

Applicants must provide transcripts showing a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA, a resume, and three references. The college requires GRE or MAT scores unless the prospective student holds either a 3.4 GPA or five years of relevant work experience.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $237/credit in-state; $895/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required practicum, internship, or field experience
Instruction Style: Synchronous and asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, MAT

Contact

Phone: (828) 262-3113
Email: online@appstate.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

21

Emporia State University

Emporia, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 45%

Through regional program locations, ESU offers its master's in library science to students in Colorado, Utah, Oregon, South Dakota, Nevada, Idaho, and Arkansas. Although courses are primarily offered online, cohorts typically meet for in-person classes 4-6 weekends per semester.

The 36-credit program requires completion of foundational library and information science courses, a technology course, and 14 credits of open electives from the MLS catalog. If desired, students can fulfill nine elective credits with a concentration in archive studies, leadership and administration, or youth services. An assessment portfolio serves as the program's capstone.

A minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA qualifies an applicant for full admission. ESU requires submission of two letters of reference, a statement of objectives, and a current resume or CV.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library Sciences
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Archive studies; informatics; leadership and administration; youth services
Tuition: $266/credit in-state; $604/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 16 months

Delivery

Format: Hybrid
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (621) 341-5203
Email: sliminfo@emporia.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

22

University of Northern Iowa

Cedar Falls, IA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 65%

UNI prepares graduates for work as teacher librarians, instructional coaches, or curriculum directors through a flexible 33-36 credit master's in school library studies. This primarily online program requires one on-campus class session in Cedar Falls and completion of both synchronous and asynchronous coursework.

Cohorts complete courses in school library program leadership, school library curriculum development, and library resources for children and young adults. Practicums provide real-world experience in the function of elementary and secondary school libraries. A required 3- to 6-credit research component can be fulfilled with either a thesis or non-thesis project.

Applicants must hold a current teaching license or have completed appropriate coursework to be eligible for licensure. A bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA is required for unconditional admission.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Arts in School Library Studies
School Status: Public
Tuition: $509/credit
Credit Requirements: 33-36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with one required on-campus class session and a practicum
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Teaching license or completion of teacher education coursework required

Contact

Phone: (319) 273-2717
Email: collegeofed@uni.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

23

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College

Baton Rouge, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Continuously accredited by the American Library Association since 1931, LSU's master's in library and information science is the only degree of its kind in the state. The 36-credit, non-thesis program offers a general track and nine specialization areas, including archival studies, cultural heritage resource management, and school librarianship.

Students complete courses in an entirely asynchronous format, requiring no set login times or on-campus visits. Concentration-specific internships are available, if desired, but not required. Topics covered in the MLIS core include understanding research, information technology and systems, and management of information organizations.

For unconditional admission, applicants must hold a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and submit a resume and statement of purpose. All online students pay the same tuition rates, but nonresidents of Louisiana pay an additional fee to attend.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Available Concentrations: Academic librarianship; adult services in public libraries; archival studies; cultural heritage resource management; digital content management; knowledge management; public librarianship; school librarianship; youth services librarianship
Tuition: $4,358/semester
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (225) 578-3158
Email: slis@lsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

24

Sam Houston State University

Huntsville, TX Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 52%

For more than 139 years, SHSU has provided exceptional educational opportunities to students in Huntsville, TX, and throughout the state. Motivated Texas educators can prepare for a career in K-12 school librarianship by completing a 36-credit master's in library science online.

Required coursework includes the study of school library administration, digital technology for the school librarian, and research design and methodology. An electronic portfolio serves as the final capstone. Program graduates with at least two years of teaching experience can sit for the school librarian certification exam.

Applicants should demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA and provide a copy of a valid Texas teaching certificate, a Teacher Service Record, and writing sample. SHSU requires interviews.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $2,882/semester
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Delivery

Format: 100% online, with a required internship

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum
Work Experience: Valid Texas teaching certificate; 2 years of certified teaching experience preferred

Contact

Phone: (936) 294-1971
Email: graduate@shsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

25

University of Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh, PA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 83%

Pitt is a public research university with more than 200 graduate programs, including a master's in library and information science which has held continuous American Library Association accreditation since 1962. Pitt MLIS alumni work in libraries, archives, government, corporate, and nonprofit settings worldwide.

Structured with the same courses as the on-campus program, the online MLIS degree requires study of how information professionals identify needs and implement solutions in knowledge organizations. The remainder of the program allows students to select courses according to personal interests, such as civic engagement, children and youth services, or archives.

Pitt seeks applicants with diverse educational and career backgrounds. Pitt requires a completed bachelor's degree and minimum 3.0 GPA, along with two letters of recommendation, a resume, and a written statement.


Program Overview

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $12,371/semester
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Delivery

Format: 100% online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum

Contact

Phone: (412) 624-5015
Email: sciadmit@pitt.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook

Online Master's in Library Science Program Overview

Librarians rely heavily on digital tools, such as online and computer-based cataloging systems. Earning a master's in library science teaches students the skills and tools needed to navigate and utilize these systems.

Library science programs include courses in database modeling and design, web design, and digital libraries. Students also learn about literacy programs, research methods, and information organization. Library science programs aim to prepare graduates to serve a diverse patronage in any library setting.

A master's degree serves as a common requirement for library professionals, and many employers seek librarians with this credential. A master's in library science serves as a terminal degree in the field. However, workers in some specialty areas or workplaces may elect to further their education by pursuing a doctorate or additional professional certification.

Common Master's in Library Science Degree Courses

Information Organization

Students gain a fundamental understanding of the theories that have formed information systems. Participants explore the function of library catalogs, search engines, and indexes. This course emphasizes various practices in information organization, including search aids and research tools.

Research Evaluation

This course explores research methods in the social sciences, outlining the evaluation tools librarians can use. Students also learn about ethics in research and research design. Coursework goes over how to utilize literature reviews and references and explores topics in data analysis and research reporting.

Library Management

This course emphasizes leadership skills in library management, exploring topics in library and information center operations. Students learn about planning and implementing programs and new systems, along with effective practices for staffing, budgeting, and housing materials. General management skills for effectively running an information center or library are also featured.

Literacy Programming

This course explores topics related to creating and implementing literacy programs in libraries. Participants look at programming for children, young adults, and adults, exploring methods for planning effective and successful programs for each age group. Many library science programs offer additional courses that provide a more in-depth exploration of programming for each age group.

Digital Libraries

This course looks at digital library systems, including their basic structures and design. Students analyze digital library projects and explore methods for utilizing digital information. The course also examines access methods for digital information and library collections, and it may incorporate elements of web design.

Related Master's in Library Science Degree Concentrations

Academic Libraries

This concentration emphasizes the skills necessary to work in a college or university library. Courses may cover academic library administration, an overview of higher education libraries and services, and the implementation of programs and services in university libraries. Students also explore research methods, databases, and digital library services.

Youth Services

This concentration emphasizes curating materials for children and young adults, as well as providing resources to accompany these materials. Graduate students explore topics in pop culture, services for young adults, picture and children's books, and media for young adults.

Archival Studies

A specialization in archival studies emphasizes managing archives and manuscript materials. Courses may include oral history and storytelling, representation in archival practice, and genealogical services. Students may learn about web design and the digital library tools commonly used for archiving and management.

Public Librarianship

Courses in a public librarianship specialization often cover topics related to day-to-day planning and activities, budgeting and finance in library services, staffing and team organization, and advocacy for public libraries and services. Students also explore issues in librarianship, including ethics and decision-making, intellectual freedom, and industry trends.

Specialty Libraries

Specialty libraries, such as law or medical libraries, require librarians with specific skill sets and knowledge to serve those who use the collections regularly. Courses in this concentration vary based on the specialty area, but they often include curating special collections, knowledge and project management, and database modeling and design.

Online Master's in Library Science Admission Requirements

  • Bachelor's Degree

    Master's in library science programs require a bachelor's degree for admission. Although some programs may look for applicants with a bachelor's in library science or a related field, many programs allow students to apply with an undergraduate degree in any area. Students generally must demonstrate a minimum 3.0 undergraduate GPA.

  • Statement of Purpose

    A statement of purpose allows applicants to describe their academic background and explain their qualifications for entering the program. It also informs admissions offices about a student's career goals, research interests, and work experience.

  • Recommendation Letters

    Many library science programs require at least one letter of recommendation for admission. Applicants may need to submit a letter from a specific source, such as a professional colleague, professor, or mentor. Some programs may require 2-3 letters, and some offer an online form for recommenders to fill out in place of writing a formal letter.

  • GRE Scores

    Many master's programs ask students to submit their GRE scores as part of their application packet. However, some schools eschew this requirement or provide waivers to students with work experience or exceptional grades.

  • Work Experience

    Though relatively uncommon, some master's in library science programs may require a specific amount of work experience in the field. This may include working at a library, library internships during a student's undergraduate studies, or other related experience. Submitting a resume provides admissions offices with this information.


Online Master's in Library Science Career Paths

A master's in library science degree serves as a terminal degree in the field and provides graduates with the necessary academic credentials to take on advanced roles in library science. However, some positions and employers, such as those at specialty libraries, may seek applicants with professional degrees or certificates. The most advanced positions in many libraries require a master's degree and ample experience in the field. Other than librarians in public school systems, this field does not usually require a license.


Related Careers

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to earn a master's in library science?

The length of a master's in library science program varies based on degree requirements and a student's enrollment status. Many programs require 30-45 credits, which full-time students can complete in 1-2 years.

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

Earning a master's in library science prepares graduates to work as librarians in university and college libraries, archivists, media specialists, and curators. Working as a primary or secondary school librarian generally requires an additional teaching license.

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

A variety of factors can influence a worker's earnings, including their experience, geographic location, education, and employer. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarians earn a median salary of $59,050. The majority of librarians work in primary and secondary schools and public libraries, while others work at colleges and universities and in local government. Additionally, archivists earn a median salary of $48,400 per year.

Do you need a master's degree to be a librarian?

Generally speaking, yes. Most librarian positions require a master's degree from a graduate program that holds accreditation from the American Library Association. School librarians often need an additional teaching license to work in public schools, and some public librarians may need to apply for a state license.

Are librarians in demand?

According to the BLS, jobs for librarians are projected to grow by 6% from 2018-2028. This rate, compared to all occupations, is about average. Librarians can work in a variety of job fields, which may also contribute to the demand for these degree-holders.

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Additional Reading and Resources

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