Students who love books and dream of working with rare texts and special collections should consider a career in library science. Earning a master’s in library science online is the first step toward landing a fulfilling position in a museum, school, library, or private collection. Professionals with a graduate degree qualify for high-level roles in numerous careers, many of which are experiencing growth. As organizations increasingly turn to digital forms of information organization and cataloguing, demand for library science professionals continues to expand. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment for archivists will grow 14% in the coming decade, nearly double the average rate for all occupations.
Choosing a Program
Students earning a master of library science online typically focus on fundamental principles of information organization. By exploring common methods of managing and cataloguing collections, candidates learn to select context-appropriate organizational techniques and provide the correct degree of accessibility. An online master’s in library science may also include coursework in areas such as leadership and management, information technology, and service provision. Some programs culminate in a thesis or dissertation, and nearly all include a required course in research methods. community
Some schools allow students to choose a concentration or area of specialization as they earn their master’s in library science online. While options vary from program to program, common concentrations include school library science, archives and records management, digital content management, and academic librarianship. Specialized academic tracks present valuable opportunities to gain occupation-specific knowledge and skills. Learners interested in particular subfields of the discipline can tailor the online master of library science degree to meet their professional and academic goals. In some fields, concentration coursework may fulfill the educational requirements needed to pursue certification.
For career information, skip down:
- What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Library Information Science Program?
- Online Master’s in Library Information Science Careers
- Accreditation for Online Master’s in Library Information Science Degrees
- Professional Organizations for Library Information Science
Online Master’s in Library Information Science Degree Program Ranking Guidelines
We selected the degree programs based on the quality of program and range of courses provided, as well as school awards, rankings, and reputation.
What Are the Best Online Master’s in Library Information Science Programs?
1. University of Southern California
Los Angeles, California
Offered through USC’s Marshall School of business, the master of management in library and information science features a unique emphasis on leadership skills for information managers. Learners can earn this master’s in library science online. The program offers many advantages to graduates, including business knowledge and advanced management strategies for information collections. The program’s unique interdisciplinary nature prepares graduates for an assortment of career paths in academic libraries, as well as government agencies, businesses, museums, medical centers, and many other professional organizations. USC is home to a vast collection of academic resources, including a comprehensive network of 24 libraries and an extensive digital collection. The school also hosts the Center for Library Leadership and Management, which offers community opportunities and leadership training.
The degree uses a cohort format, in which candidates complete most courses together, following the same program sequence. The curriculum includes information science courses and business courses, which includes the course Business for Non-business Professionals, providing students with an interdisciplinary approach. Courses cover topics such as collection development and management, strategic information and competitive analysis, and management communication for leaders. The program ends with a capstone in library and information management that reiterates key curriculum topics. Consisting of five 15-week semesters, the degree typically takes about 20 months to complete. USC offers all courses completely online, with no campus visits required.
USC is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, the American Library Association, and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.
2. University of Maryland
College Park, Maryland
Located in College Park, UMD is the flagship school of the University System of Maryland and the largest college in the state, serving more than 39,000 students annually. The school’s online master of library and information science integrates research and practice, training degree candidates to serve as socially engaged information professionals skilled in the use of technology. UMD offers several concentration options, including school library, youth experience, and an individualized program plan that allows online learners to pursue their own course of study.
The online master’s in library science program requires a minimum of 36 credits and offers thesis and non-thesis tracks. The school library concentration includes a non-thesis option only, while the youth experience and individualized tracks include both options. Candidates who choose the thesis path complete 30 credits of program coursework along with six credits of thesis work. Non-thesis candidates complete 36 credits of coursework, including a three-credit field study in library service, which builds professional experience in an information science setting. All candidates must complete a program core that includes courses in serving information needs, achieving organizational excellence, creating information infrastructures, and designing principled inquiry. Most students complete the degree within two years, though UMD allows up to five years to complete all coursework.
UMD is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The master’s of library science online program is fully accredited by the American Library Association.
3. East Carolina University
Greenville, North Carolina
ECU’s library science program was founded in 1939, and today it ranks as one the state’s top producers of school library media coordinators. The master of library science program emphasizes experiential learning and the use of technology, with a flexible, fully online delivery format that caters to working students. The program requires students to complete a total of 39 credits, and offers three concentration options: academic library, public library, and school library media.
Regardless of concentration track, all candidates take 24 credits of core courses that build fundamental knowledge, with courses including foundations of library and information studies, introduction to reference, and technology for library services. Each concentration requires an additional 15 credits, split between specialized concentration courses and electives that allow students to explore relevant areas of interest. The academic library concentration may lead into a graduate certificate in community college instruction, while the school library media concentration may lead to public school media coordinator licensure. Graduates from all tracks are also prepared for the North Carolina Public Library Certification.
All candidates must complete a professional internship that requires 110 working hours in a professional library environment. Library media majors who lack initial teaching licensure must first take a three-credit initial internship course that builds introductory experience in a school library setting. All students must also complete a culminating portfolio.
ECU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The library science master’s online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
4. University of Missouri
Based in Columbia, MU offers a hybrid master of arts in library science that emphasizes education, research, and outreach. The degree requires a total of 39 credits and includes specialization options in either e-learning or school library. The 18-credit program core covers topics such as cataloging and classification, information policy, emerging technology, and diversity in libraries. Students use the remaining 21 credits to explore their concentration area: the school library track offers courses such as children’s library materials and library administration, while the e-learning track offers courses such as digital media and instructional system design. Most degree candidates complete a practicum experience worth 2–3 credits, building professional skills in a library environment. The practicum may occur at a student’s current place of employment or in another library setting that offers new learning opportunities.
MU uses a varied hybrid delivery format that includes both on-campus and online courses. Online classes include both synchronous and asynchronous components, with some sections requiring live class meetings with set login times and others allowing students to complete work on their own schedule. The school offers face-to-face courses at five campus locations in two states: Columbia, Kansas City, Springfield, St. Louis, and Omaha, Nebraska. Not all courses may be available online or through a single campus location, but MU advisors can assist students in making convenient course selections.
MU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The master’s of library science online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
5. The University of Alabama
The oldest and largest college in Alabama, UA serves more than 38,000 students from its campus in Tuscaloosa and through its online program. The school’s master of library and information studies examines the socially responsible use and organization of information, training graduates for leadership positions in libraries and other information environments. Degree candidates explore information in personal, organizational, and educational contexts, with a fully online format designed to accommodate working students. The program uses a synchronous delivery format in which students attend weekly virtual meetings, allowing classmates and faculty to interact and collaborate. Candidates also benefit from a cohort model, completing most of the program curriculum with the same group.
The degree requires a total of 36 credits, split evenly between the program core and elective courses. The 18-credit core curriculum builds essential skills through courses including organization of information, research methods, and information technologies. Candidates fulfill the remaining 18 credits with electives, building specialized knowledge in areas of professional interest. Students must complete a minimum of 12 library science credits, though the remaining credits may be in any relevant subject area. The curriculum offerings fulfill all requirements for the State of Alabama School Library Media Certification, though students must take approved courses and complete a comprehensive certification exam.
UA is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The master’s in library science online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
6. Rutgers University
New Brunswick, New Jersey
With a total enrollment of more than 68,000, Rutgers serves students from all 50 states and over 125 countries, operating a main campus in New Brunswick, New Jersey as well as a sizeable online program that includes a master’s of information degree with a concentration in library and information science. Online learners benefit from small class sizes that offer individualized faculty attention, and Rutgers offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer to accommodate varying student schedules. All online learners also receive assistance from enrollment and executive coaches, who help students navigate admissions, enrollment, course selections, and connections to other campus resources.
The 36-credit curriculum includes core courses, concentration courses, and electives. Rutgers offers significant flexibility in course selection, allowing students to study the topics that best suit their professional interests. For example, students must choose three courses from the concentration core, which includes a dozen course options, such as information literacy, cataloging and classifying, social informatics, and intellectual freedom. Students can additionally pursue a specialization in school librarianship.
All candidates must complete three courses that bookend the program: introduction to library and information professions, colloquium in library and information studies, and an ePortfolio capstone. Students who do not meet the minimum technology standards must additionally complete an introductory course on information technologies for library and information science.
Rutgers is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The online master’s in library science program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
7. Syracuse University
Syracuse, New York
Syracuse’s master of science in library and information science program examines the community role of libraries, with 11 available focus areas, including academic librarianship, historical materials, and youth services librarianship. Online courses feature a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous delivery, with live weekly class sessions, group work, and multimedia coursework that students complete on their own schedule.
The curriculum requires 36 credits, divided between a core knowledge and skills component, an elective component, and a culminating exit requirement component. The 18-credit program core includes topics in information resources, information management, and policy, providing students with a foundation for advanced study. The 15-credit elective component allows candidates to develop their professional skill set, gaining deeper knowledge in a specialized area of librarianship. The historical materials track, for example, features courses in cultural heritage preservation, collection development and access, and preservation of archival materials. Online learners can also create their own course of study by selecting from any available information management elective courses.
The program’s exit requirement takes the form of either an internship or an independent research project. The internship, worth up to six credits, comprises 150 supervised hours in a library or other information management organization, which can be completed either face-to-face or online. Candidates with significant professional library experience often opt to complete the research project on an approved topic.
Syracuse is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The library science master’s online program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
8. University of Oklahoma - Norman
Serving more than 30,000 students, OU is one of the largest public colleges in Oklahoma. The school’s master of library and information studies trains degree candidates to manage, organize, and provide access to information by examining both the administration of information and its impact on society.
The 36-credit degree curriculum is split evenly between core courses and electives. The program core builds foundational knowledge in cataloging, collections, and research, while electives allow candidates to pursue specialized studies. OU offers an optional specialization in health sciences librarianship, which prepares students for information management positions within hospitals, social sciences agencies, and other health-related workplaces. The specialization includes unique courses, such as biomedical databases and biomedical bibliography and reference materials. While the school delivers most of its information science courses online, some health sciences courses may require students to visit the OU Health Sciences Center for face-to-face instruction.
Regardless of specialization, all candidates must complete a culminating experience to graduate, with three options available: a comprehensive written exam, a thesis, or a portfolio. The thesis, worth 2–6 credits, takes the place of elective credits and allows students to perform original research on an information management topic of their choice. The final exam tests knowledge of the program core, while the portfolio requires candidates to synthesize and reflect on their overall work in the program.
OU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The online master’s in library science program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
9. University at Buffalo
Buffalo, New York
The most populous member of the State University of New York system, UB is home to more than 30,000 students. The school also hosts a considerable online program that includes a master of science in information and library science. This flexible degree offers both fully online and hybrid delivery formats, with full-time and part-time options to accommodate working students.
The degree requires 36 total credits, divided between core courses and concentration electives. The nine-credit program core covers fundamental topics in information life cycles, information users and uses, and research methods. UB offers several unique specializations, including law librarianship, music librarianship, special libraries, and information storage and retrieval. The law and music specializations are dual degree programs that combine the information and library science degree with either a JD or a master’s of music. Candidates pursuing specializations outside of the dual degree programs can opt to combine multiple specializations. UB also offers a generalist track that allows students to make any selection of elective courses.
Students pursuing their master of library science degree online benefit from several opportunities to engage in experiential learning, community activities, and networking. One of the program’s defining features is the practicum, which allows participants to perform supervised information work in a professional environment. UB also hosts student groups, departmental seminars, and opportunities for participation in academic committees, all of which build relevant experience outside of traditional coursework.
UB is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). The information and library science program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
10. University of South Carolina-Columbia
Columbia, South Carolina
A major public college in Columbia, UofSC is home to a versatile master of library and information science that offers fully online coursework, making it possible for students to complete their degree without ever visiting campus. For online learners who live near Columbia and wish to participate in campus learning, a blended delivery option allows students to mix online and face-to-face classes.
Requiring 36 total credits, the program centers around six key areas: information and organization, provision of information services, leadership and management, research, technology, and professional development. Students take nine credits of foundation courses that build fundamental skills in information science and technology. The remaining elective credits allow candidates to pursue any relevant area of professional interest, including options like music libraries, children’s literature, government documents, digital archives, and library facility planning. Degree candidates can also pursue courses outside the department and even outside of South Carolina with faculty approval. The program concludes with a three-credit internship that builds experience in a professional setting, such as an academic or public library. Candidates must also prepare a portfolio that brings together all program coursework.
UofSC offers a school library certification pathway through the South Carolina Department of Education, available to both teachers and non-teachers. Candidates without teacher certification must complete an additional 15 credits of coursework, which includes two internships: one at an elementary school and one at a secondary school.
SC is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The online master’s in library science degree is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
11. The University of Tennessee
UT offers an internationally recognized master of science in information sciences available almost entirely online. The curriculum comprises 36 total credits, with a nine-credit program core that includes courses in information environment, information representation, and information access and retrieval. Students fulfill the remaining 27 credits with any selection of information science courses that match their professional interests. Popular areas of study include academic libraries, corporate information, science and technology data, and public librarianship. UT offers both a thesis and non-thesis track; non-thesis candidates complete additional electives and a comprehensive final exam.
UT uses a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. Synchronous class sessions offer online learners the opportunity to interact with on-campus students through video conferencing, allowing them to participate in lectures, class discussions, presentations, and other collaborative activities. Asynchronous courses use a mix of interactive media and allow students to complete assignments when it best suits their schedule.
While most program content uses an online delivery format, degree candidates must travel to the UT campus for two brief residency sessions that bookend the program. A one-day orientation takes place in August and introduces online learners to UT and the library science program. The concluding session allows students to take final exams or defend their thesis. Online students must live within reasonable distance of a medium-sized public or academic library in order to perform fieldwork.
UT is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master’s in library science online program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
12. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, North Carolina
A public research and liberal arts college, UNCG serves more than 20,000 students through on-campus and online programs. The school’s online master of library and information studies is the oldest program of its kind in North Carolina, with a curriculum arranged around the principles of free speech, open access to information, and lifelong learning. Offering both fully online and hybrid delivery options, the program typically takes around 2.5 years to complete.
The 36-credit degree curriculum requires candidates to complete five core courses that build fundamental information science knowledge, including information sources and services, information organization and access, and library administration and management. The remainder of the program comprises elective courses that allow candidates to pursue professional areas of interest. UNCG offers pathways for both school library licensure and instructional technology licensure; candidates pursuing either license take fewer electives and more required courses. The school delivers most of its coursework synchronously, using scheduled webinars and conferences.
Along with electives, candidates can complete a professional practicum and up to two independent study courses that focus on an approved topic of their choice. The practicum allows students to gain hands-on experience through supervised fieldwork in a library or other information management environment, bringing together class learning and professional practice.
UNCG is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master’s of library science online program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
13. University of North Texas
Based in Denton, UNT offers an online master of science in library science with seven concentration options, including digital image management, health informatics specialist, law librarianship and legal informatics, and distributed learning librarianship. The college offers both full-time and part-time enrollment options, and most students complete the program within three years.
The library science curriculum comprises a program core, guided electives, concentration courses, and general electives. The nine-credit core builds fundamental library science skills, such as collections, information organization, and information access. Students work with an academic adviser to select six credits of guided electives that best match their professional interests, with options including organization and control of information resources, management of information agencies, and information resources development. Twelve credits of concentration courses allow candidates to specialize in their area of choice. Students who opt out of specialization pursue a generalist concentration that allows them to take any selection of electives. An additional nine elective credits build further skills in information science or related areas.
While UNT delivers most of its program content online, the school does require students to attend six days of on-campus sessions dedicated to collaborative coursework and networking opportunities with classmates and faculty. Online students interested in additional campus experiences can enroll in classroom courses on UNT’s main Denton campus as well as at off-campus learning centers in Houston and Dallas.
UNT is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The library program is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
14. Sam Houston State University
Based in Huntsville, Texas, SHSU offers a master of library science degree that emphasizes school librarianship, preparing candidates to manage collections, collaborate with teachers, and administrate successful library programs in Pre-K–12 schools. Graduates commonly serve as school librarians, technology coordinators, and teacher-librarians. All courses are available entirely online, and SHSU offers a special scholarship for new students who enroll exclusively in online courses. Designed to accommodate working students, the program offers three start dates in the fall, spring, and summer.
The master’s in library science online degree comprises 36 total credits divided between 11 required courses and one elective course. The specialized curriculum covers topics relevant to school librarians, including literature for children, digital technology for school librarianship, organization of collections, and school library administration. One additional elective allows degree candidates to explore a chosen topic in library science.
The curriculum also includes a library internship, which provides supervised professional experience and allows candidates to develop their own librarianship practice. Along with hands-on learning, the internship includes conferences, seminars, journals, and evaluation. In lieu of a thesis or final exam, all candidates complete a portfolio that compiles overall program work for analysis.
The program curriculum prepares graduates for the school librarian certification exam, though certification also requires a valid teaching certificate and at least two years of classroom experience. Program applicants who already possess these credentials can complete an abbreviated curriculum that only requires 24 credits.
SHSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).
15. University of Southern Mississippi
A public research college based in Hattiesburg, USM offers a fully online master of library and information science, delivered in a synchronous format that features live class meetings each week. The program curriculum consists of 40 total credits, including a 22-credit program core, 15 credits of electives, and a three-credit master’s project. The program core comprises eight courses, covering fundamental topics, including collection development and management, foundations of librarianship, and cataloging and classification.
Electives offer students the opportunity to explore any specialized area of library and information science, with optional tracks in public librarianship, academic librarianship, special librarianship, and technical services. While these tracks include no set course requirements, USM offers a recommended selection of courses for students to choose from. The public librarianship track, for example, includes courses that cover programs and services for youth, information ethics, library instruction, and topics in service to library clientele.
Students may earn an MLIS degree or MLIS with licensure emphasis degree. Two graduate certificates may be earned either with the MLIS or post-MLIS: a Graduate Certificate in Archives and Special Collections and a Graduate Certificate in Youth Services and Literature. If a certificate is earned with the MLIS, 12 credit hours can count toward both.
USM is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC). The master’s of library science online program is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). USM is also accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
16. University of Pittsburgh
A major research college in Pennsylvania, Pitt enrolls more than 28,000 students annually. The school’s 36-credit, fully online master of library and information science includes a 12-credit program core and 24 credits of electives. The core curriculum covers foundational topics through four courses: understanding information, knowledge organization, introduction to information technologies, and managing and leading information services. Electives allow students to pursue any area of academic or professional interest related to library and information studies.
Pitt also offers two professional pathways designed to meet common information demands in the field: data stewardship, and library and information services. These tracks offer the same program core along with a defined selection of electives. For example, candidates in the data stewardship track choose from courses such as information ethics, research data infrastructures, information visualization, and technologies for data preservation and data forensics.
All candidates have the option to complete a three-credit field experience as one of their electives. This 150-hour experience allows participants to apply program skills, theories, and methodologies to supervised work with an information services organization. Along with hands-on activities, the field experience requires 20 hours of conferences, class meetings, and reflective discussions that allow students to frame their experiences in the context of program principles.
Pitt is regionally accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Higher Education. The master’s in library science online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
17. University of Kentucky
Based in Lexington, UK’s 36-credit online master’s of library science offers candidates the flexibility to pursue their own professional interests, with a curriculum that includes just five required courses. The 12-credit program core includes foundational courses such as information and society, information representation and access, and management in library and information science. UK also requires one technology course, with several options available. Students fulfill the remaining credits with electives, gaining specialized skills in areas of interest. Elective credits may also include independent study or a practicum.
UK emphasizes experiential learning, and online students can participate in practicum, internship, and study abroad programs. The practicum includes a minimum of 140 hours of supervised fieldwork in a library environment and a multimedia capstone project. Study abroad programs allow students to explore cross-cultural perspectives on information management through either partial or full immersion programs in other countries. UK also hosts an Alternative Spring Break program in Washington, D.C., a unique internship that offers students the chance to earn professional experience in some of the capital’s leading libraries and archives, including the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, and the Smithsonian Libraries. Interns spend a week at one of these institutions working under an experienced librarian or archivist, gaining hands-on experience and observing the inner workings of a top information organization.
UK is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The master’s of library science online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
18. Appalachian State University
Boone, North Carolina
Based in Boone, North Carolina, ASU offers a fully online master of library science that emphasizes the educational and social dimensions of information management. The program uses a mixture of synchronous and asynchronous course delivery. Students attend one virtual classroom session each week, which is held in the evening and lasts about three hours. This live session mimics the dynamic of a face-to-face classroom experience, allowing classmates and faculty to communicate, collaborate, and participate in various group learning activities. The rest of the week, online learners complete asynchronous coursework on their own schedule. All students must also make time for regularly scheduled live conferences with instructors.
The curriculum includes a total of 36 credits and typically takes about two years to complete. Candidates take 12 courses total, covering topics such as information sources and services, integrating literature and media into instruction, and strategic administration of library resources and services. All students also complete a three-credit practicum that builds experience in a school library or public library setting.
Graduates can apply for both State of North Carolina Media Coordinator licensure and Public Librarian certification. ASU also offers multiple pathways to school librarianship certification and instructional technology/computers certification. Candidates seeking school librarianship certification who are not already licensed teachers must take an additional 12 credits of courses, while candidates seeking instructional technology must take 18 more credits.
ASU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. The master’s of library science online program is accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
19. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
The flagship campus of the University of Hawaii System, UH is based in Manoa, a Honolulu suburb. The school’s fully online master of library and information science program uses a combination of synchronous and asynchronous courses, mixing live virtual class sessions with independent work that students complete at their own pace. Due to location, school resources, and time zone differences, UHM does not accept out-of-state students into the online master’s in library science program. O‘ahu residents are also barred from the distance program unless they demonstrate a documented medical condition that prevents them from easily attending campus courses.
The curriculum requires students to complete at least 39 credits, including an 18-credit program core, 18 credits of electives, and a three-credit entrance/exit seminar sequence. The curriculum offers a unique selection of courses based around the program’s six core values: services, professions, resources, technologies, cultures, and management. Students select one course to correspond to each of the six values, with multiple options available to fulfill each section. For example, the cultures component offers courses such as community engagement, introduction to Hawaii and pacific librarianship, and multicultural resources for diverse user groups.
Given the flexibility of its curriculum, UHM offers several professional pathways that include suggested groupings of core and elective courses for various career paths. Candidates can choose from seven different paths, including academic/special librarianship, archives, Asian studies librarianship, cultures/communities, informatics, public librarianship, and school librarianship.
UHM is regionally accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The library science master’s online program is accredited by the American Library Association.
20. St. John’s University
Queens, New York
A private Roman Catholic college based in the New York borough of Queens, St. John’s is home to more than 21,000 students. The school hosts a sizable online education program that includes a master of science in library and information science with six concentration options: academic librarianship, archival studies, management for information professionals, public librarianship, special libraries, and youth services. This fully online degree takes about two years to complete. Classes are taught asynchronously, allowing students to complete coursework on their own schedule, with no set meeting times.
The 36-credit curriculum includes 12 credits of core courses, a three-credit management course, and 21 credits of electives. The program covers key topics such as information sources and services, research and evaluation methods, and information organization. The management component offers two course options: management of libraries and information centers or law library administration. Electives offer candidates the chance to explore their chosen concentration through a selection of four courses. Students in the archival studies concentration, for example, choose from courses such as oral history, archival representation, and genealogical sources and services. Degree candidates complete 12 concentration credits and fulfill the remaining elective credits with a selection of additional courses, such as collection development, database modeling and design, and social justice and the information profession.
St. John’s is regionally accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. The library science program is accredited by the American Library Association.
21. University of Nebraska at Omaha
NU has offered distance education for over 100 years, starting with correspondence courses and other nontraditional methods and eventually developing a comprehensive online learning program that serves students around the state and the region. The school’s master of science in secondary education with a concentration in school libraries trains degree candidates to serve as school librarians and media coordinators, building competencies in leadership and management, public service, and the use of technology. The program uses a primarily asynchronous format that includes assignment deadlines but requires no set login times, giving online learners the flexibility to fit schoolwork around other obligations.
The program curriculum consists of 36 total credits divided between 11 required core courses and one elective. The program core includes key topics such as school planning curriculum, teaching and learning in digital environments, children’s literature and education, and reference resources and services. Elective courses allow students to develop their librarianship practice through specialized studies, offering courses such as culturally responsive teaching, human relations for bias free education, and multicultural literature for children and youth.
NU offers a comprehensive selection of support services to its online learners, including academic advising, library resources, and career counseling. Online advisers help prospective students navigate the enrollment process and make effective course selections after enrolling. The campus library is available to aid with research and other information resources, while career counselors can help current students and graduates locate employment opportunities in the field.
NU is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
22. Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana
A major public college based in Baton Rouge, LSU offers an online master of library and information science with eight optional concentration areas: academic librarianship, adult services in public libraries, archival studies, cultural heritage resource management, digital content management, knowledge management, school librarianship, and youth services librarianship. Available entirely online, the program requires no campus visits. Candidates typically complete the degree in about two years, though LSU allows a maximum of five years to complete all required credits.
This 36-credit master’s in library science online program splits its curriculum evenly between core courses and electives. The 18-credit program core comprises six courses that cover major topics such as information and society, information needs and information seeking, and information technologies and systems. Elective courses build advanced knowledge in various information science areas, with concentration options available for candidates who wish to specialize in one subject.
Concentration tracks require students to select three or four elective courses in their area of choice, with a variety of course offerings available. For example, the youth services in librarianship concentration offers courses such as collection development for teens, the art and practice of storytelling, and graphic novels in libraries. Degree candidates can also forego concentration tracks and devise their own general course of study, selecting any electives that match their professional interests. The library science program offers additional elective options including internships, independent study, and special topics courses.
LSU is regionally accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.
23. University of Central Missouri
A public college based in Warrensburg, UCMO serves over 14,000 students from 49 U.S. states and dozens of countries around the world. The school’s online master of science in library and information sciences prepares candidates to serve as librarians in pre-K-12 schools, facilitating access to information for both students and teachers. Graduates acquire the skills necessary to instruct others in the acquisition, creation, evaluation, and use of information, developing and implementing effective library programs in schools.
All courses use a fully online format, allowing candidates to complete their degree without ever visiting campus. The program includes a total of 35 credits, with 10 required courses. The curriculum covers major topics in both general and school librarianship through courses such as library media administration, curriculum and the media center, and developing and managing collections.
UCM emphasizes experiential learning, and the degree includes both a practicum component and an action research project in school libraries, each worth three credits. The practicum builds professional experience in a school library, and online learners already employed at a school typically complete the experience in their workplace. The action research project allows candidates to apply research methodologies to a library science issue, exploring their research topic through active participation in a school library setting. In addition to affordable online tuition, UCMO offers a wide selection of scholarships specifically for library and information students.
UCMO is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The online master’s in library science program is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.
24. University of Colorado Denver
Home to one of Colorado’s largest online education programs, CU Denver offers a master of arts in information and learning technologies with an emphasis in teacher librarian leadership. This interdisciplinary degree combines knowledge of technology, learning curricula, human development, and the organization of learning institutions. The program integrates both information management and teaching strategies, preparing graduates to serve as expert information mentors who can help students navigate the rapidly changing worlds of information and technology.
The master’s of library science online curriculum consists of 30 total credits, covering topics such as social media and digital cultures, developing self-paced online courseware, learning with digital stories, and creative design for instruction materials. Not all courses are available online each semester, but CU Denver offers enough options for all students to take a full course load if desired. The program requires a field experience that includes 90 hours of hands-on work in a school library or a similar setting. Rather than a thesis, degree candidates reflect and present their overall learning through a comprehensive professional portfolio.
CU Denver’s program is available entirely online, making it possible for degree candidates to complete all courses without visiting campus. The school also offers three convenient start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Though recommended, program applicants are not required to hold current teaching certification.
CU Denver is regionally accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools. The teacher librarian leadership program is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.
25. Indiana University-Purdue University - Indianapolis
Formed through the merger of Purdue’s Indiana Extension Center and Indiana University, IUPUI is a comprehensive public college that serves more than 30,000 students. The school offers a master of library science with six specialization options: academic librarianship, public librarianship, school librarianship, technical services, technology management, or youth services. IUPUI also offers several dual degree options that combine the library science curriculum with another area of study, such as law, health informatics, or history. These programs combine credits to allow candidates to earn both degrees faster, resulting in a more specialized professional focus.
The curriculum requires 36 total credits, split between the program core, a specialization core, and specialization electives. The 15-credit program core offers the same foundational course sequence to all degree candidates, building skills in key areas such as information sources and services and academic library management. The nine-credit specialization core consists of three required courses that differ between focus areas; for example, candidates in the academic librarianship track take courses in information instruction, online searching, and scholarly communication.
Lastly, the 12-credit specialization elective component allows candidates to select four additional electives in their concentration area, building advanced knowledge and specialized skills. Electives cover a wide variety of subjects and may overlap between concentrations. In the public librarianship specialization, for example, students choose from topics such as marketing for libraries, audio and video resources, digital libraries, and information policy.
IUPUI is regionally accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. The library science program is accredited by the American Library Association.
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What Else Can I Expect From an Online Master’s in Library Information Science Program?
Every online master’s in library science is slightly different, and course offerings tend to vary between schools and programs. Some concepts, however, are included in most curricula. You’re likely to encounter one of the following courses as you earn a master’s in library science online.
The Curriculum for an Online Master’s Degree in Library Information Science
- Information Organization: This course introduces various cataloguing and organizational methods, including Dewey Decimal Classification and standard subject headings. Coursework explores digital collection indexing and retrieval techniques. Students develop the practical skills required to successfully analyze, classify, and catalogue materials in a library setting. Students also examine the importance of maintaining taxonomic standards in school libraries.
- Research in Library Science: Presenting a broad survey of research tools and methodologies, this course prepares candidates to perform original research. Students design and implement studies, collect data using quantitative and qualitative methods, analyze the acquired information, and present their findings in thesis form.
- Library Administration: Students in this class gain a broad understanding of advanced managerial concepts and library functions. The course prepares students for leadership roles within schools and public libraries. Topics include staff hiring and supervision, collaboration with government officials and volunteers, and financial management.
Certifications and Licenses a Master’s in Library Information Science Prepares For
- School Library Media Certification: While all states require school librarians to be licensed, endorsed, or certified, each state has different requirements and guidelines for doing so. In some locations, a state-approved master of library science online program is enough to qualify graduates for endorsement. Further details are usually available through the state Department of Education.
- Certified Public Library Administrator (CPLA): Public librarians who have earned a master of library science degree online and hold three or more years of professional experience may pursue this voluntary certification through the American Library Association (ALA). Coursework is available in online and face-to-face sessions. Some school systems count the certification for continuing education credits.
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Online Master’s in Library Information Science Careers
Individuals who have earned a master’s in library science online can find employment in a variety of fulfilling positions and settings. Whether you enjoy working with elementary school children, cataloguing rare book collections, or developing literacy improvement programs, you can find a rewarding career in the field of library science. Popular roles for graduates include:
- Librarian: Librarians work in public and private schools, public libraries, colleges and universities, and law firms. They organize materials, assist patrons with research, and select new media for their facility. In some environments, they may also teach classes, develop children’s programs, or design reference databases.
- Median Annual Salary: $58,520
- Projected Growth Rate: 9%
- Archivist: Charged with assessing, processing, and cataloguing historical records and documents, archivists work primarily in libraries and museums. Some are experts in certain historical eras or regions, while others specialize in particular forms of media such as maps, letters, or photographs. Most hold a master’s degree in library science or history.
- Median Annual Salary: $47,360
- Projected Growth Rate: 14%
- Instructional Coordinator: Working primarily in elementary and secondary schools, instructional coordinators assess student test scores and institutional standards to develop appropriate curriculum content. They analyze textbooks, technologies, and educational materials. Instructional coordinators also design courses and recommend media. Instructional coordinators who work in public schools usually hold a master’s degree.
- Median Annual Salary: $63,750
- Projected Growth Rate: 11%
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
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Accreditation for Online Master’s in Library Information Science Degrees
Once you’ve decided to pursue a master’s in library science online, it’s important to get your degree from an accredited institution. Accreditation is a quality control process, granted by organizations known as accrediting bodies, to ensure that colleges and universities maintain certain academic and ethical standards. Schools may be regionally or nationally accredited, depending on the organization assessing them. Public nonprofit universities and colleges usually receive regional accreditation, while for-profit vocational schools often receive national accreditation. Individual programs may also receive field-specific accreditation. For example, many master of library science online programs are accredited by the ALA.
Students should attend a school with regional accreditation for several reasons. Typically, credits earned from regionally accredited colleges transfer easily between institutions, while those from nationally accredited schools do not. Regional accreditation is also viewed as more prestigious, since it requires higher standards and a longer process. Many employers prefer to hire candidates who earned a master of library science degree online from a regionally accredited school.
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Professional Organizations for Library Information Science
Whether you’re currently pursuing a master of library science degree online or working in the field, joining a professional organization can provide you with valuable resources. Membership benefits include exclusive job boards, continuing education programs, and networking opportunities such as conferences and seminars. Membership also looks great on a resume. Below are three organizations for library science professionals:
- American Library Association: ALA is the world’s largest and oldest organization of its kind. Widely known for its book awards, ALA sponsors scholarships for library science master’s students, online learners, and minorities.
- Public Library Association: This division of ALA advocates for public libraries nationwide. Members receive exclusive publications and opportunities for networking, publishing, and volunteering. Continuing education programs include eLearning courses and webinars.
- Association for Library Collections and Technical Services: This association of collections and technical services specialists hosts a variety of online courses and educational webcasts. Members are eligible for awards and grants, including several awards for new professionals.
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