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

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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 $59,050 per year and projects the field will grow 6% between 2018 and 2028.

Most traditional librarian jobs require MLIS degrees. However, the knowledge that students learn in library science programs also translates to many other fields: Library science programs increasingly focus on digital information and emerging technologies. Companies, government agencies, and nonprofit organizations need skilled professionals to help manage digital information. A graduate degree can help you stand out from the competition.

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

Top 10 Online Master's in Library and Information Science Programs 2020

#1 University of Wisconsin Madison, WI
#2 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA
#3 University of Washington Seattle, WA
#4 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL
#5 Syracuse University Syracuse, NY
#6 University of Pittsburgh Pittsburgh, PA
#7 University of Arizona Tucson, AZ
#8 University of Maryland College Park, MD
#9 University of Missouri Columbia, MO
#10 The University of Tennessee Knoxville, TN

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

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4

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign 

Champaign, IL

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
84%
Percent Receiving Loans
62%
5

Syracuse University 

Syracuse, NY

About this school

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 which build relevant experience outside of traditional coursework.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
79%
6

University of Pittsburgh 

Pittsburgh, PA

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
83%
Percent Receiving Loans
78%
7

University of Arizona 

Tucson, AZ

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
64%
Percent Receiving Loans
92%
8

University of Maryland 

College Park, MD

About this school

Established in 1861, the University of Washington enrolls over 46,000 students in a full array of undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral degree programs. Among its many offerings is an online master’s in library science degree program for busy students who seek to advance in the field on their own terms. Comprised of 63 quarter–credits, the curriculum blends core courses, elective courses, and a final degree project to develop students’ foundational and advanced library science knowledge and skills. Master’s in library science online students engage with topics, such as:

  • Design
  • Management
  • Pedagogy
  • Policy
  • Research and Organizational Technology

Students earning the library science degree online complete a blend of asynchronous and synchronous courses. This provides them with opportunities to study on their own schedules as well as to study live alongside other students in an online cohort and engage with professors.

Students enroll in 6–8 credits per quarter and complete the program in three years or less. The program includes options for experiential learning through internships and studying abroad. All students must complete a three–day on–campus orientation at the start of the program. Applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 GPA or better and must submit GRE scores.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
86%
Percent Receiving Loans
74%
9

University of Missouri 

Columbia, MO

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
69%
Percent Receiving Loans
85%
10

The University of Tennessee 

Knoxville, TN

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
94%
11

Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College 

Baton Rouge, LA

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
67%
Percent Receiving Loans
96%
12

University of Kentucky 

Lexington, KY

About this school

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 advisor 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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
66%
Percent Receiving Loans
95%
13

The University of Alabama 

Tuscaloosa, AL

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
72%
Percent Receiving Loans
80%
14

Wayne State University 

Detroit, MI

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
47%
Percent Receiving Loans
94%
15

University of South Carolina 

Columbia, SC

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
77%
Percent Receiving Loans
91%
16

Drexel University 

Philadelphia, PA

About this school

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.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
74%
Percent Receiving Loans
100%
17

Kent State University at Kent 

Kent, OH

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
60%
Percent Receiving Loans
96%
18

University of North Texas 

Denton, TX

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
53%
Percent Receiving Loans
81%
19

University of South Florida 

Tampa, FL

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
73%
Percent Receiving Loans
91%
20

San Jose State University 

San Jose, CA

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
74%
21

University of Wisconsin 

Milwaukee, WI

About this school

The flagship campus of the University of Hawaiʻi System, UH is based in Mānoa, 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 Hawaiʻi 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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
44%
Percent Receiving Loans
83%
22

East Carolina University 

Greenville, NC

About this school

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 science and information services 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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
65%
Percent Receiving Loans
81%
23

St John's University 

Queens, NY

About this school

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 advisors 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.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
61%
Percent Receiving Loans
100%
24

Simmons University 

Boston, MA

About this school

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.

School Type
Private Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
80%
Percent Receiving Loans
100%
25

University of Hawaii 

Honolulu, HI

About this school

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.

School Type
Public Nonprofit
Graduation Rate
59%
Percent Receiving Loans
82%
👏

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.

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 their librarian degree online. Factors to consider include accreditation, cost of tuition, internship requirements, and specializations that will help students pursue their specific career goals. 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, marketing the value of research data management in libraries, and data analysis and visualization tools.

Information Resources

Students in this course learn to effectively use various information resources. This course 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 fundamental economics of information, including how economics affects the strategy, pricing, and structure of information. Students examine topics like information analytics, open source, 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 to students and recent graduates.

American Library Association

The largest and oldest library association in the world, the 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 the ALA, the ALCTS is a national organization for information professionals who work in technical services. Membership offers continuing education, professional development, publications, and a peer network of information exchange.

American Association of School Librarians

The 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. Typical 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

$59,050

Projected Growth Rate

6%

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 development in their field. Many college professors also conduct research and publish articles and books.

Median Annual Salary

$79,450

Projected Growth Rate

11%

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 and relevant professional experience. Those who want to advance in the field often take continuing education courses. Important qualities for successful curators include analytical, customer service, and organizational skills.

Median Annual Salary

$49,850

Projected Growth Rate

9%

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 $59,050, though numbers will vary depending on location, job title, and years of experience.

What is library and information science?

A multidisciplinary field, library and information science applies tools and theories from information technology, education, and management to the organization of information in libraries and other 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.

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