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Online Master’s degree in Library Science
Introduction
master’s degree in Library Science
Best Programs
affordable online master’s in library science
Affordable Programs
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Understanding Programs
No GRE
No GRE
One-year MLIS programs
One Year Program
funding your degree
How to Pay?
FAQ MILS
FAQ
Careers im library science
Careers & Salaries
licensing
Licensing
resources for library science
Additional Resources

Masters in Library Science Online

library science to suit your professional goals

Librarians and library media specialists work for local governments, schools, and professional organizations. They collect, curate, and preserve collections of print and digital publications using research and database tools. Finding the best online master’s in library science to suit your professional goals can be a challenge. But it is worth the search. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted a 4-11 percent increase in librarian jobs, 2018-2028. Master’s in library science graduates can assume leadership roles in their organizations, or they can choose to move on to a Ph.D. This guide is designed to give prospective students a running start in finding the best online MLS programs.

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Featured Online Programs

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Best Online Masters in Library Science Programs

Library Science Affordable

Universities across the country offer online master’s in library science programs. There are many specialization options and types of library science degrees. To determine the best online MLS programs, we vetted universities on many factors, including affordability, faculty publications, accreditation, library specializations, program reputation, graduation, and post-graduation employment rates.

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
#1
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
103 South Bldg Cb 9100, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599
$10,55291%
#2
University of Wisconsin-Madison
500 Lincoln Dr, Madison, Wisconsin 53706
$10,72888%
#3
University of Southern California
University Park, Los Angeles, California 90089
$46,27292%
#4
University of Washington
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
$18,19884%
#5
University of Pittsburgh
4200 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15260
$23,53083%
#6
Syracuse University
900 South Crouse Ave., Syracuse, New York 13244
$38,88083%
#7
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, Florida 33620
$8,35075%
#8
University of Missouri
105 Jesse Hall, Columbia, Missouri 65211
$9,26471%
#9
The University of Alabama
739 University Blvd, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487
$10,78071%
#10
East Carolina University
East 5th Street, Greenville, North Carolina 27858
$4,74966%
#11
University of Kentucky
South Limestone, Lexington, Kentucky 40506
$12,05566%
#12
University of Arizona
1401 E University, Tucson, Arizona 85721
$11,93865%
#13
SUNY at Albany
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, New York 12222
$11,31063%
#14
Kent State University
Executive Office, 2nd Floor Library, Kent, Ohio 44242
$11,76662%
#15
Drexel University
3141 Chestnut St, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104
$35,18169%
#16
University of North Texas
1501 W.Chestnut Ave., Denton, Texas 76203
$5,90056%
#17
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
$5,76554%
#18
University of Colorado Denver
1380 Lawrence Street, Lawrence Street Center, Suite 1400, Denver, Colorado 80217
$6,78652%
#19
Emporia State University
1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, Kansas 66801
$6,39450%
#20
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive # 0001, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406
$8,78649%
#21
Wayne State University
656 West Kirby Street, Detroit, Michigan 48202
$16,28548%
#22
University of West Georgia
1601 Maple St, Carrollton, Georgia 30118
$4,33845%
#23
Texas Woman’s University
304 Administration Dr, Denton, Texas 76204
$4,97343%
#24
Texas A&M University-Commerce
2600 South Neal Street, Commerce, Texas 75428
$3,63043%
#25
Valdosta State University
1500 N Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia 31698
$4,57240%

Source Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

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Most Affordable Online Masters in Library Science Programs

Library Science Most Affordable

A student’s major concern in searching for a university is to find an affordable online master’s in library science. Franklin University reports that the master’s degree tuition for a typical public or private university ranges from $30,000 to $40,000. To help you out, we have researched and compiled a list of schools based on affordability:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
#1
Texas A&M University, Commerce
2600 South Neal Street, Commerce, Texas 75428
$3,63043%
#2
East Central University
1100 E. 14th Street, Ada, Oklahoma 74820
$4,29837%
#3
Northeastern State University
600 N Grand, Tahlequah, Oklahoma 74464
$4,50033%
#4
Valdosta State University
1500 N Patterson St, Valdosta, Georgia 31698
$4,57240%
#5
North Carolina Central University
1801 Fayetteville Street, Durham, North Carolina 27707
$4,74049%
#6
East Carolina University
East 5th Street, Greenville, North Carolina 27858
$4,74966%
#7
Appalachian State University
287 Rivers St, Boone, North Carolina 28608
$4,83973%
#8
Texas Woman’s University
304 Administration Dr, Denton, Texas 76204
$4,97343%
#9
University of North Carolina, Greensboro
1400 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, North Carolina 27402
$5,21959%
#10
University of Nebraska at Omaha
6001 Dodge St, Omaha, Nebraska 68182
$5,55850%
#11
Sam Houston State University
1806 Ave J, Huntsville, Texas 77340
$5,76554%
#12
Chicago State University
9501 S. King Drive, Chicago, Illinois 60628
$5,85017%
#13
University of North Texas
1501 W.Chestnut Ave., Denton, Texas 76203
$5,90056%
#14
Emporia State University
1 Kellogg Circle, Emporia, Kansas 66801
$6,39450%
#15
University of Central Missouri
108 W South Street, Warrensburg, Missouri 64093
$7,52451%
#16
University of Houston, Clear Lake
2700 Bay Area Blvd, Houston, Texas 77058
$7,92080%
#17
University of South Alabama
307 N University Blvd, Mobile, Alabama 36688-0002
$7,95646%
#18
Murray State University
218 Wells Hall, Murray, Kentucky 42071
$8,21455%
#19
University of South Florida
4202 East Fowler Ave, Tampa, Florida 33620
$8,35075%
#20
University of Southern Mississippi
118 College Drive # 0001, Hattiesburg, Mississippi 39406
$8,78649%
#21
Purdue University
420 University Blvd, Indianapolis, Indiana 46202
$8,82650%
#22
Middle Tennessee State University
1301 East Main Street, Murfreesboro, Tennessee 37132
$8,94647%
#23
Jacksonville State University
700 Pelham Road North, Jacksonville, Alabama 36265
$9,60041%
#24
Western Kentucky University
1906 College Heights Blvd, Bowling Green, Kentucky 42101
$12,14048%
#25
University of Washington
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
$18,19884%

Source Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

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Understanding Masters in Library Science Programs

An online master’s in library science degree prepares future librarians for academic settings, K-12 schools, museums, galleries, governmental agencies, and corporate libraries. Programs take from one-to-three years to complete. Students take core classes and then concentrate on a specialized curriculum that matches their career choices.

Online Masters in Library Science Degree Types

There are three-degree types conferred at universities that grant accredited, online Masters in Library Science degrees.  The nomenclature may vary by university. Some programs may use various names for their MLS.  These can also be called a Master of Librarianship, Master of Information Studies, or Master of Library and Information Studies. Study each university’s curriculum as well as education requirements for each program.  Here are the three major degrees:

MS Library Science

The online MS in Library Science has both theoretical and practice components. Students are typically required to complete a master’s thesis or take additional courses beyond the required total.  Students pursuing the MS in Library Science may find the widest possible variety of jobs within the profession. The MS in Library Science can also serve as a foundation for work toward a doctorate.

Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)

MA Library Science

The MA in Library Science is a terminal degree.  Students focus on the liberal arts as they apply to library science. The MA concentration introduces students to many of the same topics as the MS degree but does not require a graduation thesis.


Specializations in Masters in Library Science Programs

In pursuing a Masters’s in Library Science, students choose a concentration that prepares them for their chosen career within the larger field. Specializations build the qualifications required for the kind of library or data system where graduates plan to practice.  Concentrations include:

Academic LibrariesStudents focus on the knowledge base and best practices for work in a college or university library, including academic publications, research, and digital collections.
Public LibrarianshipCourses prepare the graduate for managing, budget planning, and staffing in a public library. The focus is on research management and decision making.
Children’s LibrarianshipWorking as a librarian in a school setting has its own unique skills. Librarians must stay current with programming trends and curating for a K-12 audience.
Specialty LibrariesMLIS specializations for libertarians plan to work in libraries with a collection focus such as medical or law libraries. Often courses in professional terminology are required.
Digital Libraries SpecializationThis library and information science degree ready digital specialists to serve universities, businesses, governments, and private organizations. This specialization includes training in information architecture, data organization, and multimedia.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in master’s in library science Programs

From their very first librarian course online, master’s students begin gathering the essential skills necessary for success in their careers. These include using analytical reasoning and clear communications/interpersonal relations in working with all populations. Other key skills include collection documentation and management, research methodology, technology, and education. Here’s a sampling of common courses to examine:

Reference and Information Literacy ServicesThis online librarian course provides an overview of print and electronic resources related to service delivery in varied communities.
Archival Theory, Principles & PracticeStudy of the principles and theories in acquiring, arranging, preserving, and cataloging collections.
School Library ManagementA survey of best-practices for librarians in K-12 schools. A review of the responsibilities of the school librarian/library director. 
Intelligence & AnalyticsThis comprehensive study focuses on archival data security, research, data analysis.
Information ResourcesIn preparation for employment in reference services, the course focuses on methods for scholarly, reference, and general resources.

Accreditation for Online Masters in Library Science Programs

Accreditation is a voluntary university process using an independent association to measure academic quality and student support. Both employers and other educational institutions may require applicants who have graduated from online MLS programs accredited by a regional or national organization. In addition, students who attend a school that is not accredited are disqualified from Federal financial aid packages. The American Library Association is the accrediting institution dedicated to librarian programs. Only ALA-approved colleges should be on your list of prospective schools. There are also regional accreditation agencies that evaluate programs. To learn more about accreditation, visit our guide. Here are the pertinent accrediting organizations:


Timeline for graduation from Masters in Library Science Programs

Completing a master’s degree in library science online can take from one to two years.  Universities often grant five years to complete a master’s. The flexibility of online master’s programs means that it’s up to each student to set their own timelines. A student committing to full-time work on the degree will finish sooner than a student who must attend on a part-time basis. Part-time students may have to fit their studies around their work or to raise a family. Other factors affecting program length include needing additional financial aid or deciding to change your research area.


Online Masters in Library Science Programs Admission Requirements

There are no “one-size-fits-all” requirements for acceptance to universities offering the online Masters in library science. Every program establishes its own admissions policy. Applicants must also satisfy university-wide requirements to attend the program. Study each school’s admission requirements and hit the deadline for applications. Here are several common requirements:

Bachelor’s Degree: Among the major prerequisites for Library Science Masters is completing a bachelor’s degree from an accredited college or university.  The degree may be from any college major. Undergraduate studies in liberal arts and computer science provide a solid foundation for work toward the online master’s in library science.
Transcripts: All universities require graduate school applicants for transcripts of their undergraduate and post-graduate work. Transcripts validate the bachelor’s degree and indicate past academic performance.
GRE Scores: Universities may or may not require GRE scores to apply. Those that do may grant GRE waivers to students with an undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0. If your program calls for a GRE, visit our guide to GRE requirements and exam prep here.
Letters of Recommendation: Round up three or four letters, depending on the university’s requirements. Library programs prefer letters from former professors. They may also be submitted from current or former work managers. Letters speak to the student’s knowledge, character, work, and academic potential.
Resume: Having prior experience in a library setting is a plus. A resume documents the experience and identifies employers.
MLIS Application Essays (Statement of Purpose): The statement of purpose is a personal essay describing the student’s career goals and why this particular program best serves those goals.
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Online Masters in Library Science No GRE Programs

Some universities offering an online Master’s in Library Science do not require a GRE score in their admissions requirements. For many students, that is a boon. They do not have to spend time and money paying and preparing for the exam. In lieu of the GRE, these universities evaluate the admissions requirements. Here are some programs offering a master’s in library science online with no GRE required:

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One Year Library Science Masters Programs Online

One-year MLIS programs are accredited and reduce the amount of time to complete the program. Students who can keep up with the accelerated pace can quickly enter the field and enjoy total tuition savings. The universities offering these programs may also waive requirements for a GRE. Here are some one-year MLIS programs to give you an idea of what is involved:

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How to Pay for Online Master’s in Library Science Programs

The cost of tuition and fees to complete your online master’s in Library Science may seem discouraging, but fortunately, you do not have to pay for it all on your own. There are several pathways to funding your degree. Some require repayment, and some do not.

Techniques for Paying for Your Online Master’s in Library Science

Library Science masters programs online

Financial Aid

When you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, the US, the Department of Education evaluates your financial needs and recommends the amount you can receive in subsidized or unsubsidized loans, work-study, and federal grants programs. Your FAFSA results are forwarded to your university.

grant for MILS

Grants

Like scholarships, grants are awarded by the federal and state government, your online master’s in the library science department, or the university where the program is conducted. For example, the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) awards $5,000 in individual research grants that do not need to be repaid.

Library Science masters programs online

Fellowships

Fellowships are for research and fieldwork. They are offered by universities, library associations, and governmental organizations. Fellowships underwrite field experiences that may be crucial to completing your degree or in landing a job.


Scholarships for Masters in Library Science Students

Scholarships are often the first choice among student financial aid resources since they do not have to be repaid. The American Library Association is one of the largest scholarship-granting organizations in the MLIS arena. Here are four examples of available scholarships:

scholarship

David H. Clift Scholarship

Who can apply? Students who are enrolled in an American Library Association-accredited masters in library science program. Amount: $3,000.

Scholarship

George A. Strait Minority Scholarships

Who can apply? The American Association of Law Libraries sponsors this scholarship open to minority students attending an accredited library graduate school program.  Amount: Varies each year.

Scholarship

Marshall Cavendish Scholarship

Who can apply? Applicants must be enrolled in an ALA-accredited master’s program with no more than 12 completed semester hours. Amount: $3,000.

Scholarship

Miriam L. Hornback Scholarship

Who can apply? Open to an American Library Association or library support staffer enrolled in an ALA-accredited MLS program. Amount: $3,000.

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FAQs about Library Science Masters Programs

These are some of the most common questions asked by potential students of the Master of Library and Information Science programs:

What is an MLIS?The Master of Library and Information Science degree is the terminal degree for professionals working in collecting resources — paper and digital.
What is a Library Science Degree?A Library Science degree is offered at the baccalaureate and graduate degree levels. A bachelor’s degree takes four years; a master’s degree takes 1-3 years, and a Ph.D. takes four years to complete.
How can I get a master’s in library science?Coursework in an online Master’s in Library Science takes 1-3 years to complete. You must hold a bachelor’s degree to apply.
Where can I get a Library Science Degree?Online Library Science degrees are granted by accredited public and private colleges at the bachelor’s level and universities.
How long does it take to become a Librarian?It takes 1-3 years to complete the required master’s degree and enter the workforce. School librarians may need an additional year to prepare since they also must be licensed teachers.
Why is accreditation important?Universities and library science programs themselves can volunteer to be evaluated by independent associations. Attending a non-accredited program eliminates you from receiving Federal financial aid. It will also preclude you from acceptance to a doctoral degree.
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Careers and Salary Outlook for Library Science Masters Graduates

Employment of librarians and related professions is predicted to rise between 4 and 11% during the 2016-2028 decade.  Library Science master’s graduates work in a broad range of academic, education, technological firms, public and private organizations. We have researched careers that cover the spectrum of library and archival jobs.  Each listing below cites the job title, the predicted growth in employment, and the role’s median annual salary.

OccupationMedian Annual SalaryJob Growth (2016-2028)Job Description
Librarians and Library Media Specialists$59,500 5%Librarians and Library Media Specialists research professional, non-profit, educational, and governmental organizations.
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers$49,85011%Archivists oversee the collections in museums or other institutions for accuracy and preservation.
Instructional Coordinators$66,2906%K-12 Instructional Coordinatorswork with teachers to develop curriculum, determine educational resources, and review course effectiveness.
K-12 Teachers$61,6604%Graduates of a master’s in library science degree program can add an educational license to qualify to work in the classroom.

Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Certifications and Licensing for Library Science Masters Graduates

Many professions view licensure, certification, or specific endorsements to work in the field. This does not hold true for work in library or library research settings. But school librarians are required to hold certifications or licensure as a schoolteacher in their selected subject area. Be sure to examine librarian requirements in the state where you plan on working. Earning a Certificate in Library Science does not qualify you for work in a school setting.  In some states, school and public library applicants must take and pass the exam for a PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist.

PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist (K-12).  Participants are given 2 hours to answer 120 questions on the exam. The PRAXIS Exam creators, ETS, have free study materials. The University of Kentucky maintains a list of teacher’s certification requirements for all states.

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Additional Resources for Library Science Professionals

Both MLIS students and working librarians rely upon outside associations and organizations to build upon or launch their careers. Your university libraries are a great place to begin your research or interview professionals during the school year.  But many students find that they need additional help in research, networking, or career information. There are online job boards, library science publications, scholarly papers, and career advice at your fingertips. The following resource selection will help find all of that along with additional training, librarian toolkits, industry news, research findings, and scholarships.

American Library Association. The ALA provides support and information for students who intend to work in library careers. Their professional toolkit contains scholarships, community relationships, professional ethics, and library jobs listings.

CareerOneStop Blog. A great job resource for students pursuing a master’s in library science online, the blog offers a range of library job-seekers resources. It maintains listings of free job search sites, salary finders, resume assistance, and much more.

Library Journal.  Founded more than 140 years ago, Library Journal is a home for news, trends, book reviews, library technology articles, and studies on academic and public libraries. A great resource if you are an MLIS student.

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL). A division of the ALA, the ACRL represents 10,000 libraries and individuals. Resources include updates on advocacy issues, awards and scholarships, mentoring, networking, and career assistance.

The Association of Research Libraries.  The association hosts a networking forum for MLIS students at major public and private universities, public institutions, and federal government agencies. Learn about advocacy, career salaries, scholarships, research library trends, and issues.


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