If you have a knack for researching information online and in books, periodicals and other sources, you may already be considering a career as a librarian. It takes more than a love of books to work in a library. Most librarian positions require a graduate degree in a subject like library science or information studies. With 50 such programs currently holding academic accreditation from the American Library Association, it can be difficult even to figure out where to start your college search.

To make things easy, our list of the top 10 library science and graduate schools highlights schools with master’s-level information studies programs that rank among the best in the nation.

1. University of Illinois—​Urbana-​Champaign

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

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It’s no coincidence that the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign tops U.S. News & World Report’s list of the best library and information studies schools in the country. The public institution is home to “one of the largest public university libraries in the world,” which houses more than 24 million resources. It also launched America’s first Ph.D. program in Library and Information Science.

At the Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign students can pursue a Master of Science in Library and Information Science or a Master of Science in Information Management. They also pursue other areas of study, like a graduate concentration in bioinformatics or a Certificate of Advanced Study (CAS) in Library and Information Science or in Digital Libraries.

Besides being ranked first in the nation overall, the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign’s library and information science program also earned high rankings from U. S. News & World Report in six specialties:

  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 1st
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 2nd
  • School Library Media, tied for 5th
  • Health Librarianship, ranked 7th
  • Archives and Preservation, ranked 8th
  • Information Systems, tied for 8th

In addition to its respected on-campus programs in library science, the University of Illinois—Urbana-Champaign also offers a distance learning option through its Leep online learning program. Both master’s-level programs are designed to accommodate part-time and full-time students.

Location: Champaign, IL

Enrollment: 10,245 graduate students

Tuition: $17,774 in-state; $27,834 out-of-state

2.​ University of North Carolina—​Chapel Hill

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

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Ranked 2nd in the nation on U.S. News & World Report’s list is the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill. Students at the UNC School of Information and Library Science can earn a Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) or a Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) degree through two years of full-time study. The school also offers an undergraduate program as well as a Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Science and a hybrid Post-Master’s Certificate in Information and Library Science program that combines online and on-campus studies.

The study of library science has a long history at UNC. The school, which became the first public university in the country in 1795, has offered courses in library education since 1904. The School of Library Science, as it was then called, accepted its first class of students in 1931.

Degree programs in information and library science at UNC are known for their small class sizes, their renowned instructors and the resources and cutting-edge technology their students have access to throughout their education. Students in both master’s programs take core courses in Human Information Interactions, Organization of Information, Management for Information Professionals and Overview of Research Methods. MSLS students also complete core courses in Resource Selection and Evaluation and Information Resources and Services. Additional core classes for MSIS students include Programming for Information Professionals, Systems Analysis, Database 1 and Information Retrieval.

Seven of UNC’s library science specialties earned recognition from U.S. News & World Report:

  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 1st
  • Archives and Preservation, tied for 1st
  • Health Librarianship, ranked 2nd
  • Law Librarianship, ranked 4th
  • Information Systems, ranked 6th
  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 8th
  • School Library Media, tied for 10th

Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Enrollment: 10,669 graduate students

Tuition: $11,584 in-state; $28,796 out-of-state

3. University of Washington

University of Washington

IMAGE SOURCE: The University of Washington

At the master’s level, the University of Washington Information School offers both a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) and a Master of Science in Information Management (MSIM) degree path. Study options are also available at the undergraduate level through the Bachelor of Science in Informatics program, at the doctoral level through the Ph.D. in Information Science program and at the certificate level in the discipline of Information Security & Risk Management.

The MLIS program is focused on imparting both theoretical and practical knowledge to help students take their place as “leaders in the library and information world.” Required coursework includes Information Behavior, Information and Society, Organization of Information and Resources, Management of Information Organizations and Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals. The MLIS degree program offers both on-campus and online study options as well as a law librarianship path.

The MSIM degree path grooms students to work fields like data management and transfer, information system design, business intelligence and information assurance and security. In addition to completing fieldwork and a two-semester capstone project, required courses include Foundations: Information, Communication, Teamwork; Policy and Ethics in Information Management; Analytic Methods for Information Professionals; and Management and Strategic Leadership. Students in the MSIM degree program can choose from fill-time or mid-career, part-time study options.

The Information School is currently home to more than 600 total students, including 374 full-time and 242 part-time students. The largest program is the distance learning Library & Information Science program, where more than 88 percent of students are enrolled part-time. On campus, the largest program is Information Management, followed by the school’s residential Library & Information Science degree path.

U.S. News & World Report has awarded high rankings to five of the University of Washington’s library and information science specialties:

  • Law Librarianship, ranked 1st
  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 2nd
  • School Library Media, tied for 3rd
  • Information Systems, tied for 4th
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 5th

Location: Seattle, WA

Enrollment: 10,088 graduate students

Tuition: $15,192 in-state; $29,415 out-of-state

4. University of Michigan—​Ann Arbor

University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

IMAGE SOURCE: University of Michigan—Ann Arbor

The field of information studies in constantly evolving, and so is the School of Information at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor. It started as the University of Michigan Department of Library Science in 1926 and quickly become the third school in the nation to achieve accreditation from the American Library Association. The department went through additional name changes during the 1960s and 1980s before settling on its current name in 1996.

Today, the School of Information is known for its multidisciplinary educational approach that combines a focus on both the human users of information and the technology of managing information resources. Due to its focus on incorporating practical experience and research into classroom studies of theory and principles, the University of Michigan’s School of Information is considered “the first iSchool in the world to offer an integrated Master of Science in Information degree.”

At the University of Michigan, the professional degree path for aspiring librarians and information studies professionals is the Master of Science in Information (MSI) program. The University of Michigan’s School of Information is also home to additional degree paths, including the new Bachelor of Science in Information, a Ph.D. in Information and a multidisciplinary Master of Health Informatics program.

Core coursework for MSI students includes three foundation courses:

  • Information in Social Systems: Collections, Flows, and Processing
  • Contextual Inquiry and Project Management
  • Networked Computing: Storage, Communication, and Processing

Students must also complete required courses in management and research methods as well as internships, electives and non-program graduate-level coursework.

The University of Michigan excels in a number of library and information studies specialties, with U.S. News & World Report ranking the school highly in concentrations like:

  • Archives and Preservation, tied for 1st
  • Information Systems, tied for 1st
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 4th
  • Health Librarianship, tied for 4th

University of Michigan information science students can also create their own tailored MSI program of study to pursue an education outside the realm of the school’s seven established specializations.

Location: Ann Arbor, MI

Enrollment: 8,570 graduate students (342 MSI students)

Tuition: $20,638 in-state; $41,688 out-of-state

5. Syracuse University

Syracuse University

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Tied for fourth place on U. S. News & World Report’s list is a private research university with a long history. Syracuse University dates back to 1870, and its School of Information Studies is considered “the Original Information School in the nation.” Originally founded in 1915 as the School of Library Science, today the highly ranked library and information science school offers more than 15 study options, with programs at the undergraduate, graduate, certificate and doctoral levels.

The Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree program is the typical education path that prepares aspiring librarians for work in a wide range of positions and industries, from academia to the corporate world. Core subjects of study include introductory coursework in library science professions, resources and organization and management and policy. Students can choose from part-time and full-time options and can complete their work through traditional and online courses.

Syracuse University also offers four specific graduate library and information science degree paths:

U.S. News & World Report ranked three of Syracuse University’s library and information studies specialties among the top 3 in the nation:

  • Information Systems, tied for 1st
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 3rd
  • School Library Media, tied for 3rd

Location: Syracuse, NY

Enrollment: 6,593 graduate students

Tuition: $24,984

6. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey—​New Brunswick

Rutgers University

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Tied for sixth place on U.S. News & World Report’s list is Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. The University has more total graduate students than any other school on our top 10 list, including more than 360 students in the institution’s two master’s-level information studies degree programs. On-campus students in these academic paths attend courses in classrooms and laboratories spread across five different campus buildings.

At Rutgers University, the Department of Library and Information Science is part of the School of Communication and Information. In addition to the highly ranked Master of Information degree program, the department is also home to a Master of Communication and Information Studies program, an Information Technology and Informatics undergraduate program, a PhD in Library and Information Science, a School Library Certification program and non-degree education courses.

The Master of Information is the school’s professional graduate program, which replaces the previously offered Master of Library and Information Science. Rutgers University students can earn their Master of Information degree on-campus or through 100 percent online studies. They can study full-time or part-time, but must finish their coursework within a three-year period to graduate. The current Master of Information program includes foundation courses such as:

  • Introduction to Library and Information Professions
  • Human Information Behavior
  • Organizing Information
  • Information technologies for Library & Information Service Agencies
  • Management Principles for the Information Professions
  • Information and Society
  • Colloquium in Library and Information Studies

Students can also choose from concentrations in Library and Information Science, Data Science, Informatics and Design and Technology, Information and Management, or they can create their own pathway in the general Master of Information focus.   Four library and information studies specialties earned high rankings from U.S. News & World Report:

  • School Library Media, ranked 2nd
  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 6th
  • Information Systems, ranked 7th
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 8th

Location: New Brunswick, NJ

Enrollment: 19,000 graduate students

Tuition: $16,272 in-state; $27,648 out-of-state

7. University of Texas—​Austin

University of Texas at Austin

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The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Information allows students to combine practical experience and research opportunities with interdisciplinary classroom instruction. With the opportunity to create their own tailored program, build an online portfolio and choose a capstone project that ranges from volunteer work to writing a master’s thesis, students of the University of Texas at Austin’s iSchool can attain a one-of-a-kind education.

Students in the Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS) degree program take just three core courses:

  • Information in Social and Cultural Context
  • Perspectives on Information
  • Understanding Research

Most of their studies revolve around electives that, taken strategically, can help students develop expertise in their choice of more than a dozen possible areas of study. Students also complete a required capstone experience in the form of a fieldwork project, school library practicum, master’s thesis or report ready for publication.

Besides ranking the University of Texas at Austin as tied for sixth place among America’s library and information studies programs, U.S. News & World Report also rated the school highly in four specializations:

  • Law Librarianship, ranked 2nd
  • Archives and Preservation, ranked 4th
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 9th
  • Information Systems, ranked 11th

Location: Austin, TX

Enrollment: 11,331 graduate students

Tuition: $13,814 in-state; $26,156 out-of-state 

8. Indiana University—​Bloomington

Indiana University-Bloomington

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The information studies education at Indiana University—Bloomington is the most affordable on the top 10 list, and that’s no coincidence. The public institution, which dates back to 1820, has worked hard to keep the cost of attendance down and to be transparent about the financial investment students make when pursuing a degree. The school strives to provide a great value for the tuition money students spend, including offering plenty of research opportunities and specialization options that allow students to customize their education.

The School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University—Bloomington offers 11 programs of study at the master’s and doctoral levels, plus numerous accelerated, dual degree, specialization and certificate options.

The Master of Library Science (M.L.S.) degree path prepares students with the technical skills to gather and assess information resources, assist users with research and create their own educational tools to help users learn. The curriculum includes foundation courses in subjects like helping users find information, organizing information resources, managing libraries of various kinds, effective research methods and using and designing technological tools like databases and digital libraries. Students also gain real-world experience in the library and information sciences profession by completing an internship which includes a final presentation. M.L.S. students can choose from a dozen specializations, ranging from information architecture to rare books. An accelerated program is also available for students who haven’t yet earned an undergraduate degree.

The school also offers a Master of Information Science (M.I.S.) degree designed to prepare students for roles as information scientists. They learn to evaluate and organize data through coursework in subjects like Introduction to Information Science, Database Design, Information Architecture, Human Computer Interaction and computer programming.

Three of Indiana University—Bloomington’s library and information studies specialties earned acknowledgement from U.S. News & World Report:

  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 7th
  • Information Systems, tied for 8th
  • School Library Media, tied for 13th

Location: Bloomington, IN

Enrollment: 10,150 graduate students

Tuition: $9,038 in-state; $25,878 out-of-state 

9. Simmons College

Simmons College

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The ninth school on U.S. News & World Report’s list has a long history of offering a library and information science education and plenty of flexibility in program format options. Simmons College, a small private institution, has trained library and information science professionals since 1902. Although the school’s 1,622 undergraduate students are exclusively women, its graduate student population numbers more than 4,000 and includes both male and female students.

The College’s School of Library and Information Science features numerous options for students to earn their Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree. Not only can students study full-time or part-time (up to six years) to earn their degree at the pace that’s right for them, but they can also choose from traditional, online and hybrid course formats.

Students in Simmons College’s MSLIS degree program take core courses in Foundations of Library and Information Science, Information Organization, Reference/Information Services and technology for library and information science professionals as well as completing a capstone project. They can choose concentrations in the following:

  • Archives Management
  • Cultural Heritage Informatics
  • Information Science and Technology
  • School Library Teacher Program

Students can also pursue further studies in one of the following tracks:

  • Information Organization
  • Management and Leadership
  • Preservation Management
  • Reference and Information Services
  • Youth Services

In addition to earning its place among the top 10, Simmons College’s MSLIS program also earned recognition from U.S. News & World Report for four specialties:

  • Archives and Preservation, tied for 1st
  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 3rd
  • School Library Media, tied for 10th
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 14th

Location: Boston, MA

Enrollment: 4,000 graduate students

Tuition: $21,384

10. Drexel University

Drexel University

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Rounding out the top 10 best library and information science schools in the nation is Drexel University, a private school in the heart of the University City neighborhood of Philadelphia. At Drexel, aspiring library and information science professionals are part of the School of Computing & Informatics.

Students in Drexel’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) degree program complete core courses in Introduction to Research in Information Organizations, Social Context of Information Professions, Information Users and Services, Information Access & Resources, Foundations of Information Systems and Managing Information Organizations.

Students can also choose one of the following specialties:

  • Archival Studies
  • Digital Curation
  • Digital Libraries
  • Library and Information Services
  • Youth Services

Drexel’s MSLIS program excels in several specializations. U.S. News & World Report awarded the program high ratings for the following specialties:

  • Health Librarianship, ranked 1st
  • Information Systems, ranked 3rd
  • Digital Librarianship, ranked 6th
  • Services for Children and Youth, ranked 9th
  • School Library Media, tied for 10th
  • Archives and Preservation, ranked 12th

Flexibility is important at Drexel University, and not only because the school’s numerous concentrations offers students the chance to customize their education. The school allows students to earn their MSLIS degrees through traditional on-campus studies, through a fully online program or by combining the two learning options. They can use practicum experiences to attain real-world professional experience in library and information science even before they graduate. Students who enter the degree path with relevant work experience can even receive college credits for the work they have already done.

Location: Philadelphia, PA

Enrollment: 9,463 graduate students

Tuition: $26,032

Editor’s Note:

When you begin your college search for the right graduate library science program for you, consider this list a guide. There are many other factors and resources to consider when making your college selection. The ALA specifically recommends that aspiring library and information studies professionals weigh factors like cost, admissions requirements, program emphasis, course offerings, distance learning options, program schedule options and the information then can glean from a personal visit to the school.