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

Are you ready to discover your college program?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Choosing an Online Program

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

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

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

Library and Information Science Curriculum

Data Management

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

Information Resources

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

Economics of Information

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

Library and Information Science Professional Organizations

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

American Library Association

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

Association for Library Collections & Technical Services

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

American Association of School Librarians

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

Library and Information Science Careers

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

Librarians

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

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

Median Annual Salary

$59,500

Projected Growth Rate

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 developments 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, plus relevant professional experience. Those who want to advance in the field often take continuing education courses. Successful curators have good analytical, customer service, and organizational skills.

Median Annual Salary

$49,850

Projected Growth Rate

9%

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

  1. University of Southern California
    Location

    Los Angeles, CA

    The only online information science degree from a top-ranked business school in the nation, USC's master of management in library and information science prepares students for high-level librarianship. The curriculum explores leadership and management strategies, preparing students for nonprofit and corporate careers.

    Studies include research methods, collections management, and communication in project management, along with a capstone requirement.

    Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited program with a 3.0 minimum GPA. Official college/university transcripts, reference letters, and a purpose statement are also required.

  2. University of South Florida
    Location

    Tampa, FL

    Tuition

    $10460

    USF's master of arts in library and information science teaches essential competencies and skills to help professionals perform at a high-proficiency level.

    The 39-credit curriculum focuses on advanced library administration, information technology and literacy, and research. Students may also select electives that align with professional goals. Those who specialize in the School Librarian / Media Specialist track must obtain additional certification from the Florida Department of Education.

    Applicants must submit GRE test results at 156 (verbal) and 141 (quantitative) minimums. Applicants must hold an undergraduate degree from an accredited institution (3.25 minimum GPA) and submit recommendation letters, a resume, a statement of purpose, and an academic writing sample.

  3. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
    Location

    Champaign, IL

    Tuition

    $15829

    Taught through its School of Information Sciences, U of I's 40-credit master of science in library and information science teaches information management, analysis, and preservation. Online students collaborate with faculty and peers in real-time and participate in an on-campus orientation.

    Core courses include information organization and access, and information and society. Pathway studies include youth and K-12, research and information services, and knowledge management. Students select electives (including a practicum option) or work with advisors to customize programs.

    Minimum applicant requirements include a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college with a 3.0 minimum GPA.

  4. University of Wisconsin-Madison
    Location

    Madison, WI

    Tuition

    $14169

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

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

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

  5. The University of Alabama
    Location

    Tuscaloosa, AL

    Tuition

    $20465

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

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

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

  6. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $10491

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

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

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

  7. Valdosta State University
    Location

    Valdosta, GA

    Tuition

    $13630

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

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

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

  8. University of North Texas
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $12600

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

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

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

  9. Louisiana State University
    Location

    Baton Rouge, LA

    Tuition

    $17437

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

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

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

  10. The University of Tennessee
    Location

    Knoxville, TN

    Tuition

    $21019

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

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

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

Best Online Programs

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

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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

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

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

How Much Do You Make as a Librarian?

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

What Is Library and Information Science?

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

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

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

Header Image Credit: | Getty Images

Learn more, do more.

More topic-relevant resources to expand your knowledge.

Popular with our students.

Highly informative resources to keep your education journey on track.

Take the next step toward your future with online learning.

Discover schools with the programs and courses you’re interested in, and start learning today.

woman in an office