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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 $59,500 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.

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 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Science Programs

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The online master's degree in library and information science at the University of Southern California, located in Los Angeles, offers high academic quality. Graduates train for leadership roles in the field while earning their degree from the master of management in library and information science program. With a master's degree, candidates often pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum covers methodological and research perspectives on library science. Learners often choose a specialized concentration, which can help them stand out in a competitive job market. The admission requirements include a background in library and information science or a related field.

Online enrollees coordinate with the program to complete internships at approved sites in their local area. Internships and other networking events help graduate students expand their professional network.

University of Southern California at a Glance:

Type of School: Private, nonprofit, four-year

Admission Rate: 11%

Total Online Master's Programs: 55

Program Name: Online master of management in library and information science

Graduate Tuition In State: $46,272

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $46,272

Average Tuition
In-state
$57,256
Out-of-state
$57,256
Retention Rate
96%
Admission Rate
11%
Students Enrolled
48,321
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
17% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#2 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Science Programs

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

  • Champaign, IL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign offers an online master's in library and information science. The MS in library and information science program builds specialized skills for advanced practice, preparing graduates for leadership positions with increased salary potential. Earning a master's degree helps candidates move into a new career path or advance in their current field.

The master's curriculum examines theoretical and practical perspectives on library and information science. Learners focus the program with electives or a concentration. The master's program recommends a background in library and information science or a related field for those applying.

Online enrollees complete internships in their local community to gain real-world experience. The program encourages graduate students to expand their professional connections through internships and networking events.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 59%

Total Online Master's Programs: 30

Program Name: MS in library and information science

Graduate Tuition In State: $14,997

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $28,404

Average Tuition
In-state
$14,188
Out-of-state
$33,127
Retention Rate
93%
Admission Rate
59%
Students Enrolled
51,605
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
39% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#3 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Science Programs

University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Madison, WI
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

The University of Wisconsin-Madison offers a flexible online master's in information organization. The program strengthens industry-specific skills, preparing graduates for leadership responsibilities. A master's degree can also lead candidates to new career paths.

The master's curriculum emphasizes the best practices in library and information science. Learners individualize the program to prepare for focused careers. The master's program builds on undergraduate training or professional experience in library and information science.

Online enrollees meet any in-person requirements, such as internships, at approved sites in their local area. Graduate students expand their professional connections by attending virtual networking events.

University of Wisconsin-Madison at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 54%

Total Online Master's Programs: 3

Program Name: Master's in information organization

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,728

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $24,054

Average Tuition
In-state
$9,273
Out-of-state
$36,333
Retention Rate
95%
Admission Rate
54%
Students Enrolled
44,257
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
18% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#4 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Science Programs

The University of Alabama

  • Tuscaloosa, AL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Tuscaloosa, The University of Alabama hosts a top-ranked master's in library and information science program. Graduates prepare for advanced roles in the field during the rigorous master of library and information studies program. With a master's degree, candidates may pursue new career opportunities.

The master's curriculum explores theoretical and practical perspectives in the library and information science field. Learners prepare for focused career paths by choosing electives and concentrations. Applicants with prior experience in library and information science or a related field often meet the admission requirements.

Online enrollees work with the program to arrange professional internships at approved locations in their local area. Internships and other networking events help graduate students expand their professional network.

The University of Alabama at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 83%

Total Online Master's Programs: 23

Program Name: Master of library and information studies

Graduate Tuition In State: $10,780

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $30,250

Average Tuition
In-state
$10,780
Out-of-state
$30,250
Retention Rate
87%
Admission Rate
83%
Students Enrolled
38,100
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
13% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#5 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Science Programs

Appalachian State University

  • Boone, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

From its campus in Boone, North Carolina, Appalachian State University offers an online master's in library and information science. The master of library science program helps graduates move into leadership roles and increase their earning potential. Earning a master's degree can help candidates advance in their current career or pursue a new career path entirely.

The master's curriculum emphasizes research methods and analytical skills. Learners choose electives and concentrations to prepare for focused career paths. Applicants without a degree in library science or a related field may need to meet prerequisite requirements to enroll in the program.

Online enrollees complement the classroom experience with internship opportunities in their local area. Graduate students also participate in networking events to expand their professional connections.

Appalachian State University at a Glance:

Type of School: Public, four-year

Admission Rate: 77%

Total Online Master's Programs: 10

Program Name: Library science (MLS)

Graduate Tuition In State: $4,839

Graduate Tuition Out of State: $18,271

Average Tuition
In-state
$4,242
Out-of-state
$19,049
Retention Rate
88%
Admission Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
19,280
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
23% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges
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.

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