Best Online Master’s in Library Science Programs of 2021

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September 13, 2021

Edited by Jordan Stewart-Rozema
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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 Best Online Master's in Library Science Programs of 2021? Here Are Our Top 10:

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#1 University of Southern California Los Angeles,
#2 University of South Florida-Main Campus Tampa,
#3 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison,
#4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign,
#5 Appalachian State University Boone,
#6 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa,
#7 Sam Houston State University Huntsville,
#8 University of Houston-Clear Lake Houston,
#9 San Jose State University San Jose,
#10 The University of Tennessee-Knoxville Knoxville,

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.

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

2021 Best Accredited Online Master's in Library Science Programs

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University of Southern California View School Profile Los Angeles,

Program Overview

USC's master of management in library and information science prepares students for high-level librarianship. The curriculum explores leadership and management strategies, readying students to pursue nonprofit or corporate careers.

Taught through the university's Marshall School of Business, coursework focuses on research methods, collections management, and communication in project management. The program also requires a capstone. USC students gain access to an expansive network of 24 libraries and information centers. Applicants must have some relevant work experience.

Based in Los Angeles, USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission. Accreditation for this library and information science program is provided by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Management in Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,995 per credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits
Program Length: 20 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Request more information about this program.

University of South Florida-Main Campus View School Profile Tampa,

Program Overview

Based in Tampa, USF offers an online master of arts in library and information science. The curriculum focuses on topics like advanced library administration, information technology and literacy, and research. Courses include multicultural literature, adult services in libraries, and instructional technology. Participants must also submit a portfolio.

Students may also select electives that align with professional goals to tailor their degree further. Those who specialize in the school librarian/media specialist track must obtain additional certification from the Florida Department of Education.

USF is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This library and information science program is accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: Per year: $431 per credit (in-state); $877 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.25 minimum preferred
Standardized Tests: GRE required

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Request more information about this program.

University of Wisconsin-Madison View School Profile Madison,

Program Overview

UW offers a master of arts in library and information studies with five concentration areas. Taught through the School of Computer, Data, and Information Sciences, the program includes three required courses in information perspectives and contexts, organization and search, and research and assessment for information professionals.

Students can choose from concentrations in librarianship, digital archives, information technology and user experience, data/information management and analytics, and organization of information. Learners in all tracks also complete a practicum and submit an e-portfolio.

UW is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The American Library Association accredits this library and information studies program.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies
School Status: Public
Tuition: $850 per credit
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required over last 60 credits
Standardized Tests: Not required or considered

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University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign View School Profile Champaign,

Program Overview

Taught through its iSchool, U of I's online master of science in library and information science program focuses on information management, analysis, and preservation. Online students meet faculty and peers while attending an on-campus orientation at the beginning of the program.

The program only requires two cores: information organization and access and libraries, information, and society. Students then select electives or one of six pathways, including youth and K-12 and competitive intelligence. Additionally, joint degree offerings allow students to earn two degrees, such as an MS/LIS and MA in history or MS/LIS and MA in African studies.

U of I is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. This library and information science program holds specialized accreditation through the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $652 per credit (in-state); $975 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 40 credits
Program Length: 18-24 months
Format: Online with an on-campus orientation
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required over last two years of undergraduate study
Standardized Tests: GRE required if GPA minimum is not met

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Request more information about this program.

Appalachian State University View School Profile Boone,

Program Overview

Based in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian offers an online master's in library science program that prepares students for careers in school and/or rural libraries.

The highly interactive program includes classes like collection development and management, collaborative media program planning, and strategic administration of library sources. Students also select either an internship/practicum experience or an applications of librarianship standards field experience. Additionally, students may pursue a dual degree, also earning a master of arts in educational media.

Appalachian is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This library science program is nationally recognized by the American Association of School Librarians and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $267 per credit (in-state); $925 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum preferred
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT required

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The University of Alabama View School Profile Tuscaloosa,

Program Overview

Students enrolled in UA's online master of library and information studies program learn responsible information management. They attend live virtual sessions — usually hosted one night per week — to share content, work in groups, and collaborate with faculty. Students who enroll in two online courses per semester can graduate in less than two years.

The program includes required courses (information and media, information and communities, and professional paths) and an area of emphasis (archival studies or school library media). Available electives focus on topics like information literacy, youth services, and social justice. Students must also attend a mandatory two-day orientation at the school's campus in Tuscaloosa.

UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This library and information studies program is accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Studies
School Status: Public
Tuition: $420 per credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: Less than two years
Format: Online with an on-campus orientation
Instruction Style: Synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not specified

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Request more information about this program.

Sam Houston State University View School Profile Huntsville,

Program Overview

Based in Huntsville, Texas, SHSU's master's in library science program prepares current teachers for school librarianship careers in preK-12 settings, while also teaching participants about scholarly research and professional development.

Students learn about teacher collaboration, multimedia collection management, and successful library maintenance. Participants gain skills in teamwork, ethical practices, communication, and organization. Students also acquire the necessary credits to sit for the school librarian certification exam in Texas. Required courses include school librarian administration, digital techniques, and collection development. Students also complete an e-portfolio.

SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, and its library science department holds accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $598 per credit (six credits per semester)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

University of Houston-Clear Lake View School Profile Houston,

Program Overview

UHCL's master of science in school library and information science program is offered online and focuses on technology and learning integration, teacher collaboration, and literacy programs. Requiring a valid Texas teaching certificate, the program combines academic and fieldwork experiences that are aligned with state and national certification standards. Graduates gain skills in management, child and young adult literature selection, and cataloging and classification.

Required classes include media and technology selection and instructional partnerships. Students also complete a school librarian preparation seminar. Learners have the option to engage in an internship or practicum experience. Students who take three courses each term throughout the year can graduate in 18 months.

UHCL is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its library and information science program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in School Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $432 per credit (nine credits per term, in-state); $955 per credit (nine credits per term, out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 33 credits
Program Length: 18 months
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum preferred over last 60 credits
Standardized Tests: GRE required for applicants with a 2.75-2.99 GPA

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

San Jose State University View School Profile San Jose,

Program Overview

The master of library and information science program at SJSU's School of Information prioritizes customization, helping prepare graduates for a broad variety of professional environments. Students learn about ethics, values, and foundational principles involved with information professions. They also gain organizational, retrieval, and evaluation skills.

The program's curriculum focuses on data analytics, metadata, and digital asset management. Electives allow for ample personalization, and students round out their program by completing an e-portfolio or thesis. Students may also participate in internships, including online opportunities.

SJSU is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission. This library and information science program is accredited through the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $474 per credit
Credit Requirements: 43 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required over last 60 credits
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Request more information about this program.

The University of Tennessee-Knoxville View School Profile Knoxville,

Program Overview

UT Knoxville's master of science in information sciences prepares students to manage, navigate, analyze, and retrieve data and content. Graduates can pursue academic librarian, law librarian, and data curator careers.

After completing core courses, students can follow one of 11 career pathways, such as digital collections, data curation, or youth services. The program also provides hands-on learning opportunities through a practicum program.

UT Knoxville is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This information sciences program holds specialized accreditation from the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Information Sciences
School Status: Public
Tuition: $700 per credit (in-state); $775 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous and synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.25 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

Contact the School

Request more information about this program.

Drexel University View School Profile Philadelphia,

Program Overview

Drexel's online master's in library and information science program prepares graduates to work in educational institutions, government agencies, and other information-intense environments. Students learn from one of the oldest, continuously operating library and information science graduate programs in North America.

The curriculum covers areas like information literacy, responsible citizenship, and ethical reasoning. Specific courses include an introduction to archives, data and digital stewardship, and electronic records management. Learners participate in a two-term capstone project to ensure they get practical work experience before graduating. Students may also customize their degree by selecting a graduate minor or pursuing a dual degree. Faculty deliver classes through 10-week quarters.

Located in Philadelphia, Drexel is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. Its library and information science program is accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master's in Library and Information Science
School Status: Private
Tuition: $1,342 per credit
Credit Requirements: 45 quarter credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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University at Buffalo View School Profile Buffalo,

Program Overview

UB's 36-credit master of science in information and library science prepares students for careers at traditional libraries and data-intensive companies. Studies focus on information use and research.

Core courses cover topics like the information lifecycle and research methods. Participants can follow a generalist track or pursue a concentration in an area like public libraries, special libraries, or information storage and retrieval. Special projects, practica, and directed study courses provide real-world experience. Students can participate in group and chapter activities, developmental seminars, and committees.

UB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This information and library science program receives accreditation through the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Science in Information and Library Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $471 per credit (in-state); $565 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 4 semesters
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: Not required

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Request more information about this program.

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College View School Profile Baton Rouge,

Program Overview

LSU's master of library and information science program prepares leaders to guide, direct, and administer information. The curriculum focuses on topics including research, information and society, and technology.

Students may opt to specialize in a focus area, choosing from options like academic librarianship, knowledge management, youth services, and digital content management. Additionally, participants can choose to earn a dual degree, also receiving a master's degree in history or another approved academic discipline.

Located in Baton Rouge, LSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. This library and information science program is accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $696 per credit (nine credits per term, in-state); $1,636 per credit (nine credits per term, out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 3.0 minimum required
Standardized Tests: GRE or MAT required for students with a 2.75-2.99 GPA

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East Carolina University View School Profile Greenville,

Program Overview

Located in Greenville, North Carolina, ECU offers a master's in library science degree that features a high-tech and hands-on curriculum. Graduates of this program qualify for a North Carolina public librarian certification.

Program objectives focus on library science foundations, as well as analyzing, evaluating, and synthesizing research literature. Courses include media instruction, collection development, and instructional strategies and leadership. The program also offers academic library, public library, and school library concentrations. All students must complete a capstone portfolio.

ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The American Library Association accredits this library science program.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $249 per credit (in-state); $894 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 39 credits
Program Length: 5 terms (full-time); 7 terms (part-time)
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: 2.7 minimum
Standardized Tests: Not required

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University of North Carolina at Greensboro View School Profile Greensboro,

Program Overview

The online master of library and information science program hosted by UNCG provides participants with community-centered, hands-on instruction.

The curriculum consists of core courses, electives, and technology requirements. The core focuses on topics like information organization/access and library administration/management. Technology classes include computer-related information management, website production and usability, and media production services. The capstone requirement adds a practicum or research component.Students may also pursue school library licensure or instructional technology licensure.

UNCG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. Its library and information science program is accredited by the American Library Association.

Program Snapshot

Program Name: Master of Library and Information Science
School Status: Public
Tuition: $320 per credit (in-state); $993 per credit (out-of-state)
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years
Format: Online
Instruction Style: Primarily synchronous

Admission Requirements

GPA: No minimum specified
Standardized Tests: Not required

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

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 needed to navigate and use 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 a href="/blog/what-is-a-professional-certification/">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 employ 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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.


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

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 About Online Master's in Library Science Programs

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 earned a median salary of $60,820 in 2020. 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 earned a median salary of $52,140 in 2020, according to the BLS.

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 9% from 2020-2030. 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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