Library Science is a management-style profession where one overseas the daily operations of–you guessed it–a library. While at first glance this may seem like a simple profession there is much more to the field of library science than first meets the eye. Library managers are tasked with not just stocking and organizing books in the correct sections, but they are also tasked with sourcing books and materials–that is, finding financially sound options for obtaining the library’s materials.
To conduct this aspect of the library’s business, library professions need to be savvy in sales, budgeting, and cost-analysis. Tied to the purchasing of the library’s materials is the decision of what materials to stock in a library–because the books of a library will ultimately determine its public image and the extent to which customers interact with the library.
And this brings us to the third major area of the library science profession–librarians and library managers will determine the policies and standards for book rentals, purchases, etc. They will also determine the general structure of how to service and interact with library members. This also often leads to public events, fundraisers, and other forms of community engagement. The key takeaway here is that libraries businesses and so library science is more business-oriented than one might first suspect.
Why Earn an Online Master’s of Library Science
Library management professionals might find success with an associate’s or bachelor’s degree, however there is no denying that the best positions–with the best salary packages and professional clout–are reserved for library professionals with a graduate degree or even a doctorate of library science.
Why is this? Well the main reason is that the most prestigious libraries are either large scale state or federal operations, or they are located on premier campuses at universities around the country. In either case, the competition for jobs is stout and is firmly rooted in academic merit.
Thankfully many of the Master’s of Library Science programs today can be completed online and on a flexible schedule, accommodating even the busiest of professionals. Moreover these programs often offer a cadence of coursework that allows for students to graduate quicker than traditional programs, and come with extremely reasonable price tags. As such our researchers have done the leg work and have ranked what online Master’s of Library Science programs are the best options for you.
Best Online Master’s of Library Science
- University of Washington
The University of Washington School of Information is a powerhouse for creating innovative and industry-shifting professionals. Its programs cover an array of subjects in informatics, data science, and library science. Program curriculums are designed to represent the real-world challenges and needs of specific industries, so that by graduation, students will be prepared to enact positive change in their chosen field.
Students at the UW School of Information can earn a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) that is completed entirely through online coursework. U.S. News & World Report ranks the program as the second-best program in the country, but due to the program’s industry-awareness and career-focused curriculum we thought the program deserved a bump up.
Students of the program learn from world-class faculty who have held library management positions around the world, conducted international research, and who have demonstrated tremendous success as educators. Students earning their MLIS at the UW School of Information will enjoy the confidence that they are learning from the best of the best.
- Indiana University – Purdue University
The Indiana University Purdue University (IUPU) School of Informatics and Computing distinguishes itself through a commitment to facilitating the universal applicability of information sciences and technology. Built into the School’s mission statement is the idea that students will be groomed for positions of leadership in their chosen field, and will learn how to employ the tools of technology and information to spur positive change in their careers.
Students at the IUPU School of Informatics can earn a Master of Library and Information Science entirely online. In the program, students will become experts in navigating challenges related to meta-data management, information literacy, and the modern challenges of a technology-based world.
In other words, students will learn about technology in a broad and universal sense which confers value and expertise beyond the traditional conception of a librarian. Alumni of the program go on to develop innovative programs and businesses for library patrons, large corporations, and civic groups.
- Appalachian State University
Appalachian State’s online programs are taught by the same stellar faculty who teach the on-campus programs. The main strength of Appalachian State’s online programs is its commitment to facilitate both professional and personal growth. A central tenet of the University is that the best learning occurs when it is framed in a context that is meaningful to one’s personal life and personal growth.
For students interested in a graduate of library science program that encourages personal thriving, look no further. Appalachian State University offers a fully online Master of Library Science that prepares students to take on roles of management and leadership in the library and information industry.
Students of the program will progress through a strategically designed curriculum that embodies the interests and standards of the accrediting agencies. Specifically, the Master of Library Science program is recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and nationally accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
- University of Illinois
The University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign School of Information Sciences is internationally acclaimed for academic excellence in its faculty, students, and alumni. Students at the School of Information Sciences will learn from faculty who are at the cutting-edge of their fields and who often present new paradigm-shifting models or theories. And alumni of the program go on to work at the highest levels of their fields, carrying forth the School’s reputation of excellence.
It is for these reasons that US News & World Report ranked the School of Information Sciences’ Master of Science in Library and Information Science as the best program of its kind. In the program students will not only cover the foundational coursework of the profession, but they will also have the freedom to build personal interests and expertise.
Specifically, the program facilitates internship opportunities, professional field training experiences, and collaborative research projects with the program’s top notch faculty. If you have a stand-out academic background and wish to work at the forefront of library science, then this program has few competitors.
- Fort Hays State University
Fort Hays State University’s core mission is to ‘outlast and achieve’ and this mission is carried on by its students as well. At FHSU students will learn how to go beyond their conception of giving 100%, so that they learn how to give 110% when the stakes are high. This is why FHSU students go on to tremendous success and maintain positions of leadership in their respective fields.
Students at FHSU can earn a Master of Science in Education with a Library Media Specialist concentration. This program is designed specifically for students or education professionals who hold a teaching license. For students interested in combining a career of education with a career in library science, this program is second to none.
Students enrolled in the Library Specialist Track will complete coursework in the following areas:
- Innovative Technology Integration
- Educational Research
- Educational Leadership
- Data Analysis & Assessment
- Instructional Design & Assessment
- Cultural Diversity
- San José State University
The San José State University School of Information grooms IT, data science, and library science professionals. Students at the School are taught how to apply theoretical models to practical problem solving. Programs are constructed around career-centric curriculums that emphasize industry and market opportunities available to students.
The San José State University School of Information offers students a Master of Library and Information Science. The School ensures that its students have the same care, guidance, and opportunities as their on-campus counterparts. Curriculum is delivered through a flexible course format that is largely asynchronous, meaning that students progress through the program at their own pace.
Students of the program will also enjoy the opportunity to build key specialities. Students choose from a robust catalogue of coursework that reflects the burgeoning areas of the industry.
- University of Wisconsin-Madison
The University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW) iSchool is a future-facing program that positions students to capitalize on burgeoning trends and opportunities in the job market. The UW iSchool informs its degree programs with the current research and best-practices from accrediting bodies, so that online students can enjoy the confidence that they are learning from the best of the best.
The UW iSchool offers students a Master’s of Library and Information Science that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of individual students. Students can build experience and expertise in key areas by participating in research projects, community engagement, and collaborative coursework.
Specifically, students can pursue specialization in any of the following areas:
- Digital archives
- UX & information technology
- Data/information management & analytics
- Organization of information
- University of Houston – Clear Lake
The University of Houston Clear Lake (UHCL) College of Education is a premier institution in the higher education industry. Its programs are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), and grooms students for positions in schools, libraries, and even IT companies.
Specifically, the College of Education offers a Master of Science in School Library and Information Science that can be completed entirely Online. Curriculums emphasize the training of education professionals to work closely with elementary, middle, or high school teachers to integrate technology and information science.
Graduates of the program will excel in library science and library management positions. Students of the program will also establish the necessary prerequisites for a number of prestigious certifications–specifically, the Texas School Librarian Certification, and you will have the option of adding Texas Master Technology Teacher certification.
- University of Maryland
The University of Maryland (UMD) College of Information Studies houses some of the most prestigious and acclaimed degree programs in the country. Many of its programs rank in the ‘Top 5,’ which is likely due to the quality of faculty who are industry leaders and professional experts in their respective fields. The UMD College of Information offers top tier programs in the following areas:
- Library and Information Science
- Digital Humanities
- Computational Archival Science
- Data Privacy and Sociotechnical Cybersecurity
- Youth Experience, Learning, and Digital Practices
- Social Networks and Online Communities
- Data Science, Analytics, and Visualization
- Information Justice, Human Rights, and Technology Ethics
Specifically the UMD College of Information Studies offers an online Master’s of Library and Information Science that is ranked as one of the best programs in the United States. It is ranked #2 in online programs of its kind, and #8 of all MLIS programs (both on-campus and online).
Aside from its impressive catalogue of accolades, students can earn degree specializations in several key areas. Specializations provide coursework direction in the following areas:
- Archives and Digital Curation
- Youth Experience
- Intelligence & Analytics
- Diversity and Inclusion
- Legal Informatics
- University of North Carolina at Greensboro
UNC Greensboro (UNCG) Online has worked hard to guarantee online students the same learning outcomes and professional development offered to their on-campus counterparts. Degree programs consist of rich curriculums filled with various teaching philosophies and multimedia formats that are meant to engage students with varying predispositions toward different learning formats.
Particularly in the case of the online Master of Information and Library Science, students will engage coursework that is presented in video, lecture, and peer-collaboration projects. To encourage peer collaboration the program is delivered primarily through synchronous scheduling, so that students of the program will progress through work at the same time.
The program consists of 36 credits and is fully accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The program also offers students a capstone project in lieu of a thesis project where students can begin to establish a professional focus, which can function as the beginning of a professional portfolio.
- Murray State University
The Murray State University College of Education and Human Services does not just educate students, the College trains students to become leaders and advocates for civic good and social progress. The College offers a number of excellent programs in a range of fields in formal and non-formal education, such as social work, criminal justice, and early childhood education.
The College of Education and Human Services offers a fully online Master’s of Education in Library Media. As the name of the program suggests, curriculum is based on a foundation of topics and philosophies of education. Graduates of the program will become librarians who are experts at teaching students how to use technology to better engage digital resources.
There are two program tracks: one for certified teachers that can be completed in just 30 credit hours, and one for non-certified teachers that can be completed in 40 credit hours. Students of the program will become librarian experts who excel in the following professional responsibilities:
- Texas Woman’s University
With approximately 15,000 students, Texas Woman’s University (TWU) is the largest university that is mostly focused on servicing female students in the United States. Its online degree offerings look to give women a leg up in professional achievement and academic development. Programs are meant to prepare women to capitalize on key market opportunities, which will be particularly advantageous to those looking to capitalize on burgeoning opportunities in the library science industry.
The TWU Master of Library Science program can be completed entirely online and is accredited by the American Library Association Committee on Accreditation. A distinguishing element of this program is its offering of various specialization track options.
Specifically, students can establish professional expertise by enrolling in one of the following degree specialization tracks:
- Academic Libraries
- Public Libraries
- School Libraries
- Special Libraries
- Health Science Libraries
- Information Technology
- Technical Services/Cataloging
- Community Informatics
- Louisiana State University
The LSU College of Human Sciences & Education is a nationally recognized College of academic excellence and professional innovation. Students at the College are taught how to value health, personal growth, and intellectual inquiry over one’s lifespan. Moreover students at the College are taught how to leverage academic expertise to find professional success–in other words, students are taught how to put theories into practice.
The LSU College of Human Sciences & Education offers a fully online Master’s in Library Science and Information. The program has been fully accredited since 1931 and is the only ALA-accredited program in Louisiana, making it the oldest and most prestigious program of its kind in the region.
Students may complete the 36 credit hour program on a full-time or part-time basis, completing coursework which is primarily taught by full-time, expert faculty. More than 80% of all coursework and electives is taught by the program’s full-time faculty, a benefit which few programs can compete with.
- University at Buffalo
At the University at Buffalo (UB) Department of Information Science students will have the singular opportunity to participate in international research. The department’s faculty participate in some of the nation’s most renowned research efforts, which often result in paradigm-shifting models, theories, and conclusions. The UB Department of Information is an excellent destination for any student looking to participate in a research-focused degree program.
The UB Department of Information Science offers a Master’s of Science in Information and Library Science. The program is accredited by the American Library Association, but also prepares students to work in a variety of professions in the information industry–even those seemingly unrelated to library science.
This points to the versatility of the program’s curriculum. Specifically students can pursue specialization in any of the following degree paths:
- Music Librarianship
- Law Librarianship
- Special Projects
- Directed Studies (Builds real-world experience)
- University of North Texas
The University of North Texas (UNT) online has earned national recognition and acclaim for its student-first, consumer-friendly practices and policies. UNT Online offers a number of accelerated degree programs that can be completed in as little 12 months. Moreover many of its degree programs offer extremely competitive tuition packages, which are designed to be particularly accessible to out-of-state students.
UNT Online offers a Master of Science in Library Science that is completed through 36 credit hours of digital coursework organized into 12 total digital classes. The program is designed to prepare students for professional achievement in a wide-array of fields in library science and related careers.
Evidencing this is the program’s dynamic curriculum, which prepares students for various paths to success in the following degree specialization options:
- Archival Studies and Imaging Technology
- Information Organization
- Law Librarianship and Legal Informatics
- Music Librarianship
- Youth Librarianship
- General Program of Study
- Texas A & M University
The Texas A&M University Commerce (TAMUC) College of Education & Human Services looks to improve the quality of life in the United States by creating responsible, engaging, and innovative professionals. The College boasts some of the most impressive post-graduation certification and professional examination success rates in educators. The College is known for producing more superintendents and high school principals than any other university in Texas.
The TAMUC College of Education & Human Services offers a fully online Master of Science in Educational Technology of Library Science that prepares the next generation of leaders and educators in the field of library science. The program is completed through 36 credit hours spaced out through coursework over 2 years.
Students of the program are given the option of completing the full Educational Technology Library Science program, or they can complete the graduate certification program separately. The graduate certification program can be completed in as little as a year to earn the ‘School Librarian or Library Media Specialist’ certification.
- Sam Houston State University
The Sam Houston State University (SHSU) experience is built around the foundational motto “The measure of a Life is its Service,” which translates into socially aware degree programs which are designed to cultivate a sense of social responsibility and facilitate the skills to bring about civic good in one’s community–professional or otherwise.
The SHSU Master of Science in Library Science can be completed entirely online and is meant to prepare students to become professional school librarians. Students of the program will also complete a School Librarian Certification so that they are professionally accredited to take on any professional role within a school library.
Specifically, the program curriculum is designed to cultivate skills which are of high-demand in the industry currently, such as: managing large digital and physical catalogues of multimedia and employing an interdisciplinary command of technology and information science to successfully run the day-to-day operations of a library.
- University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri (UCMO) is an institution of strong ethical standards and operates according to a teaching philosophy that is fundamentally student-centric. That is, UCMO employs the motto, “Learning to a Greater Degree (LTAGD),” which refers to its commitment to its students–faculty work not just as educators but as mentors. Alumni are more than just social network connections; they are peers, partners, and collaborators.
UCMO offers a fully online Master of Science in Library Science and Information Services. Students of the program will become accustomed to the industry’s most popular technologies and the ‘best practices’ for employing such technologies to enhance the operations and functionalities of a library.
The program curriculum builds off foundational concepts teach-education and education philosophy. As such graduates of the program will be groomed for success in teaching in any of the following environments:
- K-20 Classrooms
- Military Training
- Corporate Training
- Private-Sector Education Groups
- University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is one of the most successful institutions of higher education in the southwest. USC alumni are proud, USC faculty are international recognized experts, and current students are groomed to turn dreams into achievement. USC is one of the world’s leading private research universities, and its students will be among the privileged few who can participate in industry-shifting–and even world-changing–research projects and initiatives.
USC offers a fully online Master of Management in Library and Information Science that is truly unique. The Master of Management designation is meant to provide key preparation for students who wish to take on mid-to-upper level employment in a library. Graduates of the program will be well-prepared to take on employment in the country’s most large, prestigious, and respected universities.
But emphasized in the program’s curriculum is the diversity of the librarian’s professionals skill set. Graduates of the program will learn how to employ their skills in a variety of other work environments and industries as well–from corporate offices, to IT groups, to governmental agencies.
- Valley City State University
Valley City State University (VCSU) is a technology-literate University that looks to prepare students for the future of their chosen industry or professional focus. VCSU students learn how to cultivate a variety of interdisciplinary skills that will help them succeed in the ever-changing environment of the job market.
For this reason, VCSU designs coursework to reflect the demands of the job market, so that program graduates are appealing to future employers and competitive in various job markets. VCSU offers a fully online Master’s of Library & Information Science that confers the North Dakota Library Media Specialist Certification as well.
Students of the program will progress through coursework in the following areas:
- Applied Research in Current School Library Issues
- Literature & Literacy for Children & Young Adults
- Contemporary Cataloging for the School Library
- Collection Development for the 21st Century School Library
- Using Information Resources
- Collaboration, Management, & Leadership
- Administering & Evaluating Program Resources
- Integrating Information Literacy & Research Standards