Rankings

Best Online Master's in Library and Information Science Programs 2021

Best Online Master's in Library and Information Science Programs 2021

Are you ready to discover your college program?

Search Colleges
TheBestSchools.org is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Degrees in library and information science lead to fulfilling careers in museums, schools, libraries, and private collections.

Many students pursue a librarian degree online because they love reading and books. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that librarians make a comfortable salary of $59,500 per year and projects the field will grow 5% between 2019 and 2029.

Most traditional librarian jobs require MLIS degrees. However, library science programs increasingly focus on digital information and emerging technologies — skills graduates can use in a variety of roles. Companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations all need skilled professionals to help manage digital information, and a library science master's degree can qualify you for these roles.

Many schools offer the option to earn a librarian degree online. The following ranking includes some of the best online master of library and information science programs.

Top 10 Online Master's in Library and Information Science Programs

#1 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#2 University of South Florida Tampa, FL
#3 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#4 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI
#5 The University of Alabama Tuscaloosa, AL
#6 Appalachian State University Boone, NC
#7 Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA
#8 University of North Texas Denton, TX
#9 Louisiana State University Baton Rouge, LA
#10 The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN

What Is an Online Master's in Library and Information Science Degree?

An online master's in library and information science is the terminal professional degree required for most professional librarian jobs in North America. It usually takes full-time students 1-2 years to complete a librarian degree online.

Students who pursue library and information science master's students typically aspire to work as librarians, curators, and other information professionals. Degree-seekers include students coming straight from earning a bachelor's degree, library workers who want to qualify for higher-paying jobs with more responsibility, and professionals in other fields who want to change careers.

Master's in library and information science degrees develop communication, interpersonal, organizational, and technology skills. Students explore the theory behind information systems and learn to use reference systems, effective search techniques, and research techniques and strategies.

Choosing an Online Program

Prospective students need to consider their own unique goals and needs when deciding where to earn a librarian degree online. Factors to consider include accreditation, cost of tuition, internship requirements, and available specializations, which can help students pursue niche careers. Below, learn more about how to choose the best online library science degree programs.

How To Choose Your Major

What Else Can I Expect From a Master's in Library and Information Science Program?

Specific courses and program requirements vary by program. Core courses often include data management, information resources, and economics of information.

Library and Information Science Curriculum

Data Management

This course covers the fundamentals of research data management for professional librarians and the benefits of a robust data management program in libraries. Students explore issues like navigating research data culture, project management and assessment, the value of research data management in libraries, and data analysis and visualization tools.

Information Resources

Students in this course learn to evaluate and effectively use information resources. Coursework emphasizes research techniques for different information resources. Students also learn about trends in information services.

Economics of Information

This course provides an introduction to the economics of information, including how economics affects the strategy, pricing, and structure of information access. Students examine topics like information analytics, open source technology, targeted advertising, and aggregation. This course also covers digital technologies, innovation, and business methods.

Library and Information Science Professional Organizations

Joining a professional organization offers benefits like networking opportunities, access to resume and job help, and subscriptions to journals. Many professional organizations in library and information science offer membership discounts for students and recent graduates.

American Library Association

The largest and oldest library association in the world, ALA provides leadership in the field. Member benefits include access to online courses, professional and leadership development, and networking with other library professionals.

Association for Library Collections & Technical Services

A division of ALA, ALCTS is a national organization for information professionals who work in technical services. Members have access to continuing education, professional development, publications, and a peer network of information exchange.

American Association of School Librarians

AASL serves more than 7,000 school librarians. Members can access publications, networking opportunities, professional development, and a discounted conference rate. Members can also participate in committees to gain leadership skills.

Library and Information Science Careers

Master's degrees in library and information science lay a strong foundation for many diverse career paths, not just the ones listed below. Common occupations for graduates include librarian, college professor, and curator.

Librarians

Librarians help users find information and conduct research. Typical activities include making and using databases of library materials, preparing library budgets, teaching classes about information resources, and planning programs. Positions in the field usually require a master's degree in library and information science from a program accredited by the American Library Association.

Librarians need communication, organizational, and problem-solving skills. Librarians work in schools, public libraries, government agencies, and law firms. School librarians may need a teaching license. Some states also require licensure for public librarians.

Median Annual Salary

$59,500

Projected Growth Rate

5%

College Professors

College professors teach students in community colleges, professional schools, and universities. College professors must have strong critical thinking, writing, and speaking skills. They typically need a Ph.D., but a master's degree is sufficient in some cases. Some positions require relevant professional experience in addition to a degree.

College professors teach courses in their subject area, develop instructional plans, modify curricula, and assess student progress. They must stay knowledgeable about new developments in their field. Many college professors also conduct research and publish articles and books.

Median Annual Salary

$79,540

Projected Growth Rate

9%

Curators

Curators typically work in museums, art galleries, and educational or cultural settings. They manage cultural institutions, oversee collections of artifacts and art, and offer public service activities. Typical job duties include acquiring and exhibiting collections, designing and conducting workshops and tours for the public, planning special research projects, and supervising curatorial staff.

Professional curators typically need a master's degree in a field like museum studies or library and information science, plus relevant professional experience. Those who want to advance in the field often take continuing education courses. Successful curators have good analytical, customer service, and organizational skills.

Median Annual Salary

$49,850

Projected Growth Rate

11%

The Best Online Master's in Library and Information Science Degree Programs

Sort By
Rank School Location Apply More Information
4

University of Wisconsin-Madison 

Madison, WI Apply Now

About this school

UW's master of arts in library and information studies degree boasts accreditation by the American Library Association since accreditations began in 1924.

The 39-credit program includes three required courses in information perspectives and contexts, organization and search, and research and assessment for information professionals. Students then choose from five concentrations: librarianship, digital archives, UX & information technology, data/information management & analytics, and organization of information. Required field experience and an e-portfolio complete the degree.

Applicants must hold a degree from a regionally accredited undergraduate institution with a 3.0 minimum GPA. GREs are not considered.

Graduation Rate
87%
Percent Receiving Loans
32%
Online Enrollment
17%
5

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL Apply Now

About this school

Students enrolled in UA's master of library and information studies program learn responsible information management. Students attend live virtual sessions one night per week to share content, work in groups, and collaborate with faculty.

The 36-credit program includes required courses (information in media and communities, and professional paths) and an area of emphasis (archival studies or school library media). Students must attend a mandatory two-day orientation at the campus.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum overall 3.0 GPA.

Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
39%
Online Enrollment
39%
6

Appalachian State University 

Boone, NC Apply Now

About this school

Appalachian's master of library science program prepares students for careers in school and/or rural libraries.

The highly interactive program blends synchronous and asynchronous classes. Courses include collection development and management, collaborative media program planning, and strategic administration of library sources.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution and submit official GRE or MAT general scores. Official transcripts and references are also required.

Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
48%
Online Enrollment
20%
7

Valdosta State University 

Valdosta, GA Apply Now

About this school

Students earning VSU's master of library and information science program acquire information organization and retrieval skills and learn to manage resources. Potential careers include librarian, digital archivist, and collection development librarian.

The 39-credit curriculum includes information sources and services, academic libraries, and leadership in libraries and information centers. Students must also complete a capstone.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution, with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Submissions must include two application essays, a resume, and three professional recommendations.

Graduation Rate
42%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
Online Enrollment
51%
8

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX Apply Now

About this school

Offered through UNT's College of Information, the master of science degree with a major in library science enables students to successfully function in public, academic, nonprofit, and corporate libraries.

The degree offers a general program of study, with classes such as research, metadata, and information access. Students may also select from five concentrations, including youth, music or law librarianship, or information organization.

Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited institution with a 3.0 minimum GPA and two recommendation letters.

Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
50%
Online Enrollment
46%
9

Louisiana State University 

Baton Rouge, LA Apply Now

About this school

The only American Library Association- (ALA) accredited program in the state, LSU's master of library and information science prepares leaders to guide, direct, and administer information. The 36-credit asynchronous online program is one of only 12 U.S. programs with continuous ALA accreditation since 1931.

The curriculum focuses on research, information and society, and technology. Students may also select concentrations including academic librarianship, knowledge management, youth services, and digital content management.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Recommendation letters, a resume, and GRE scores are also required.

Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
31%
Online Enrollment
23%
10

The University of Tennessee 

Knoxville, TN Apply Now

About this school

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

The 36-credit program's core courses include Information Organization and Retrieval, and Information Technology Foundations. Students select pathways, such as digital collections, data curation, youth services, or public librarianship.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, with a 3.25 minimum GPA. An official transcript, a written statement, and recommendation letters are also required.

Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
42%
Online Enrollment
35%
11

University of North Carolina at Greensboro 

Greensboro, NC Apply Now

About this school

The 36-credit master of library and information science offered through UNCG provides community-centered, hands-on instruction. The oldest American Library Association- (ALA) accredited degree in the state offers synchronous classes.

Studies focus on information organization and access, library administration and management, and technology. The capstone requirement adds a practicum or research component. Students may select instructional technology and school library media coordinator concentrations.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree and submit an official transcript from colleges and universities previously attended. Candidates must also submit a resume and personal statement.

Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
60%
Online Enrollment
46%
12

San Jose State University 

San Jose, CA Apply Now

About this school

The master of library and information science program at SJSU's School of Information prioritizes variety and customization to prepare graduates for a broad range of professional environments, from libraries to NASA.

The asynchronous, 43-credit program focuses on data analytics, metadata, and digital asset management. Electives allow personalization, and students may select an e-portfolio or thesis for degree completion. Students may also participate in internships, including online opportunities.

This program requires a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited institution and a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
30%
Online Enrollment
30%
13

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee 

Milwaukee, WI Apply Now

About this school

UWM's master of library and information science degree offers a rigorous curriculum, fostering professional skills, ethics, and leadership.

Classes for the 36-credit program include information access and retrieval, and research methods. Students select from concentrations (public library, information organization, or information technology) or specializations (academic, information law, or information literacy). The degree culminates with a thesis or research project.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited institution, with a 2.75 minimum GPA. Candidates must submit a transcript for higher-education studies, a reason statement, recommendation letters, and GRE or GMAT scores (waived through fall 2021).

Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
58%
Online Enrollment
36%
14

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY Apply Now

About this school

Accredited by the American Library Association since 1928, Syracuse University's library and information science master's degree prepares students to manage information resources, assess library and instructional learning, and design and employ policies.

The 36-credit program covers such areas as curation, technical infrastructure, and management and policy. Participants select professional pathway studies, such as archives and special collections, or digital curation and services. Students also participate in the Immersion Milestone Event, a three-day residency workshop.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, undergraduate transcript, personal statement, recommendation letters, resume, and GRE scores.

Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
Online Enrollment
13%
15

Sam Houston State University 

Huntsville, TX Apply Now

About this school

SHSU's master of library science prepares students for school librarianship careers. Participants learn about teacher collaboration, multimedia collection management, and successful library maintenance.

Courses required in the 36-credit degree include school librarian administration, digital techniques, information services and resources, and collection development. Students must complete an e-portfolio.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a valid Texas teaching certificate. Submission materials include an official transcript.

Graduation Rate
52%
Percent Receiving Loans
48%
Online Enrollment
53%
16

University at Buffalo 

Buffalo, NY Apply Now

About this school

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

Studies focus on information use and research. Concentrations include public libraries, special libraries (those serving museums or businesses), or information storage and retrieval. Specializations include music, librarianship, and law librarianship. Special projects, practicums, and directed study courses provide real-world experiences.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA. References, undergraduate school transcripts, and a purpose statement are also required.

Graduation Rate
76%
Percent Receiving Loans
47%
Online Enrollment
17%
17

University of Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, PA Apply Now

About this school

Pitt's master of library and information science degree teaches students to put theories, skills, and ethics into critical and reflective professional practice. The 36-credit program provides a three-course foundational core, electives, and experiential learning through a design-methods sequence.

Core studies involve understanding the information needs of knowledge organizations and implementing and integrating organizational solutions. Other classes focus on systems data and information and community information professionals. Thematic areas include public library services, children and youth services, information technologies, and civic engagement.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited college or university, with a 3.0 minimum GPA.

Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
50%
Online Enrollment
6%
18

University of Houston-Clear Lake 

Houston, TX Apply Now

About this school

UHCL's master of science in school library and information science prepares future librarians by encompassing technology and learning integration, teacher collaboration, and literacy programs.

The 33-credit curriculum includes courses in children and young adult literature, school library administration, and instructional partnerships. Requirements include a school librarian preparation seminar. The program also offers an optional internship or practicum.

Admission requires a bachelor's degree (3.0 minimum GPA), a valid Texas Teaching Certificate, and a school administrator recommendation letter.

Percent Receiving Loans
35%
Online Enrollment
38%
19

Emporia State University 

Emporia, KS Apply Now

About this school

ESU's master of library science program prepares students for information-agency careers. While offered online, the program includes many degree courses that require face-to-face intensive sessions.

Core theory classes build a foundation, while tools courses offer hands-on instruction. Application classes focus on information transfer, management, and technology. Electives pinpoint professional issues, and a capstone completes the degree.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, reference letters, a resume, and a statement of objectives. GRE scores are required but could be waived during the advising interview.

Graduation Rate
45%
Percent Receiving Loans
66%
Online Enrollment
54%
20

East Carolina University 

Greenville, NC Apply Now

About this school

ECU's master of library science prepares library professionals with high-tech and hands-on emphasis. Graduates quality for careers in schools, universities, community colleges, and public libraries.

Course options 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.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and send recommendation letters and a statement of purpose essay.

Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
55%
Online Enrollment
45%
👏

End of list, bravo!

Ranking Methodology
Best Online Programs

Online Master's in Library and Information Science Programs Ranking Guidelines

We ranked these degree programs based on quality, curricula, school awards, rankings, and reputation.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Does It Take to Complete a Master's in Library and Information Science Program?

Program length varies, but most library and information science master's degrees take full-time students 1-2 years to complete.

What Can I Do With a Master's in Library and Information Science?

Earning a master's in library and information science opens the door to careers in libraries, museums, educational settings, and information management.

How Much Do You Make as a Librarian?

Professional librarians make a median annual salary of $59,500, though exact rate varies depending on location, job title, and years of experience.

What Is Library and Information Science?

A multidisciplinary field, library and information science is all about the organization of information. Library scientists use tools like databases to organize information and make it accessible to stakeholders or the general public, often in libraries and similar settings.

What Is a Master's in Library and Information Science?

Most professional librarian jobs require a master's in library and information science degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association.