Graduate school has a reputation for being expensive. If a master’s degree is all that’s standing in the way of achieving your dream of being a librarian, though, it may well be worth the investment in your future. Just like undergraduate degree programs, the tuition costs for graduate degrees can vary considerably from one school to another. Factors such as whether the school is private or receives some public funding, and whether or not you qualify for in-state tuition rates, can affect the cost of your education.
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Tuition Rates at Top-Ranked Master’s in Library Science Schools
The cost of your education doesn’t always equate to the quality. There is a wide range of tuition rates for a master’s degree in library science, even among well-respected schools. At the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign, which U.S. News & World Report ranked as the number-one library and information studies program in the country, full-time students pay an in-state tuition rate of $7,146 per semester. The out-of-state rate for full-time study is $12,277 per semester. Online students pay per credit, rather than semester, with Illinois students paying $636 per credit hour and out-of-state online students paying $1,053 per credit hour.
With 40 credit hours required and the shortest timeline to graduation 12 months, students here would expect to spend a minimum of $21,438 – assuming an in-state tuition rate and the fastest possible completion time. Online students would expect to spend $25,440 if they live in state or $42,120 living out of state.
The school ranked second by U.S. News & World Report, the University of Washington, actually costs more. The University of Washington charges the same online and residential tuition rate of $825 per credit. With 63 credits required regardless of learning format, the total estimated tuition cost is $51,975.
At the third-ranked school, the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill, the tuition rate for in-state students of the Master of Science in Information Science program carrying a full load of graduate courses is $7,026. Out-of-state students must pay more than double the in-state rate, $15,889 per semester.
Just because you could easily spend $40,000 to $50,000 to earn your master’s degree in library science doesn’t mean you have to. Some schools charge considerably lower tuition rates despite offering a quality education that meets the high standards of the American Library Association or, for school library science programs, the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).
For example, East Central University in Oklahoma, accredited by CAEP, offers an online Masters of Library Media program for aspiring school librarians. Tuition for students of East Central University depends on the number of credits they take per semester, with a maximum tuition rate of $4,775 for in-state graduate students taking an ambitious course load of 20 credits. With just 32 credit hours required to complete this degree, students who take large course loads could, in theory, earn their degree from this school for less than $10,000 in tuition costs.
Prospective students should consider the full cost of the degree, not just tuition. Fees can add thousands of dollars per semester to the price of an education. If you plan to move closer to campus or to reduce your working hours, consider these financial impacts, as well.
Paying for Your Master’s Degree in Library Science
Whether your degree costs $10,000 or $50,000, you need to figure out how to pay for it. There are numerous options for funding your graduate education in library science. Find out if you are eligible for federal financial aid by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Depending on your eligibility and financial need, you may be able to borrow as much as $20,500 per year in loans from the federal government for your graduate education.
Colleges and universities often offer scholarships and graduate assistantships that can cover tuition and other costs. You can also look for scholarship funding through external organizations. The American Library Association offers scholarship opportunities of its own, as well as resources for financial assistance for library science students. Scholarships and assistantships are particularly valuable because, unlike loans, you won’t have to pay back the money awarded to you. Another option to consider is whether your employer, if you are currently working, offers tuition reimbursement or discount programs that can contribute to your college funding.
The United States Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a median wage of $59,050 for all types of librarians. College librarians earn the most, at $64,130, with elementary and secondary schools next, paying a median wage of $60,780.