Online Masters in Library Science Programs

While not every job in library or information science requires earning a master’s degree, that’s often the key educational step to the most popular careers in the field. From librarian to media collections specialist to school library worker, all require completing at least one master’s degree in library science or a related field.

This is a big investment of time and money, of course, but there’s also good reason to consider such an investment, beyond having a passion for the field. That’s because the median wage for librarians in the U.S. is just under $60,000, which is much higher than the typical wage for all occupations (about $40,000), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

And job opportunities are expected to become more prevalent over the next several years, with employment of librarians projected to grow by 5%, compared to the 4% growth expected for all U.S. occupations.

But not all degrees in the field are created equal, and there are many states where master’s degrees in library science are hard to come by. Fortunately, though, there are many colleges and universities that offer these degrees either entirely or partially online.

Let’s learn more about the educational options available for students who need the flexibility of being able to earn their library science degree online.

15 Best Online Master’s in Library Science

The majority of college and university programs for library and information science in the U.S. that have earned the stamp of approval from the American Library Association offer degrees that can be earned entirely or mostly online. ALA accreditation is often required for some library jobs, particularly those in public libraries or schools, and many private employers strongly prefer candidates to have degrees from ALA-accredited programs.

The wide availability of ALA-accredited online library science programs makes the field an ideal one for students who can’t afford to relocate across the country to attend their ideal school, but it also makes it more complex to decide which program is actually the best.

There are a handful of the 40+ ALA-accredited programs that stand out, though, and we’ve collected their information below:

St. John’s University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Queens, New York
  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $50,203
  • Click here to learn more

St. John’s fully online Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) has one of the widest selections of specialty areas, including academic librarianship, archival studies and youth studies, among the schools at the top of the list. The total tuition students should expect to pay is on the higher end of the scale, but the reputation of the degree makes the university a wise investment for students who are considering library, informatics, information science or similar careers. See our exclusive review of St. John's University.

Syracuse University

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Main location: Syracuse, New York
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Library and Information Science, School Media Specialization
  • Total expected tuition: $40,392
  • Click here to learn more

The second school on our list is another major university based in New York state, and Syracuse University first earned its accreditation from the ALA in 1928. That’s long before telephones were common in most American households, let alone the internet. Students who are in the area can opt to attend traditional classes, but Syracuse also offers its Master of Science in Library and Information Science entirely online, making this a decidedly modern option.

University of Southern California

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Los Angeles
  • Degree: Master of Management in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $79,800
  • Click here to learn more

Truly a unique degree option, USC’s library science graduate degree comes in the form of a Master of Management in Library and Information Science. The university’s Marshall School of Business is host to the leadership-focused degree that can help students open up the doors to high-level careers in informatics, information science, librarianship and more.

University of Washington

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Main location: Seattle
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, MLIS in Law Librarianship, PhD in Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $53,235
  • Click here to learn more

Online students in the University of Washington’s Master of Library and Information Science have the option to attend some in-person classes, though they’re not required to. The flexibility of choosing how to obtain this outstanding degree makes it an ideal option, and the law librarianship program, open only to those with existing law degrees, is widely regarded as the single best in the country.

University at Buffalo (State University of New York)

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Buffalo, New York
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Information and Library Science, Master of Science in School Librarianship, MS/JD Legal Information Management and Analysis, MS/MA Music Librarianship, PhD in Information Science
  • Tuition: $11,330 in-state; $13,570 out-of-state
  • Click here to learn more

The University at Buffalo, part of the State University of New York system, vaults itself to near the top of our list thanks to the sheer volume of available degrees offered through the information science department and joint degrees in which students can combine their study of information science with music, law and education degrees.

Long Island University Post

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Campus: Greenvale, New York
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Library Information Science, Master of Science in Library and Information Science (School Library Media), Dual Master’s (with New York University), PhD in Information Studies
  • Tuition: $23,440
  • Click here to learn more

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science is home to Long Island University Post’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science. Students can choose between 100% online courses, or they can attend classes at the Greenvale, New York campus, and several popular focus areas are offered, including archives and records management, rare books and special collections and youth librarianship.

University of Wisconsin

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Locations: Madison and Milwaukee
  • Total expected tuition: $33,150 online in-state and out-of-state; $31,473 traditional in-state, $63,960 traditional out-of-state
  • Degrees: Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies, Master of Library and Information Science
  • Master’s tuition: $12,050 traditional in-state, $17,321 traditional Illinois resident, $19,087 traditional Minnesota resident; $25,282 traditional out-of-state
  • Degrees offered: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Information Science & Technology, PhD in Information Studies
  • Click here to learn more about Wisconsin-Madison degrees; click here to learn more about Wisconsin-Milwaukee degrees

The University of Wisconsin system is home to two major campuses with library science graduate degrees, easily putting the university in our top 10. At the main campus in Madison, a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies degree is offered 100% online, depending on the specialty chosen, while the system’s Milwaukee campus hosts an online-optional Master of Library and Information Science. In both cases, specialty areas and dual degrees may be available.

Kent State University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Kent, Ohio
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Knowledge Management, MLIS/MBA, MLIS School Library Media, Master of Science in Health Informatics, MLIS School Library Media/Master of Education in Educational Technology
  • Total expected tuition: $26,800
  • Click here to learn more

Kent State is home to Ohio’s only ALA-accredited graduate program in library science, a Master of Library and Information Science that’s 100% online. Dual-degree programs combine information science with business and educational technology training, while cluster areas give students a chance to focus their library science training on one of a handful of areas including cultural heritage informatics, museums and archives and digital humanities.

Louisiana State University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Baton Rouge
  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $17,460
  • Click here to learn more

LSU’s Master of Library and Information Science degree is earned entirely online with no on-campus requirements, and it’s been accredited since 1931, making it one of the most storied programs in the country. Nine specialty areas are available, including academic librarianship, cultural heritage resource management and youth services in public libraries, and students can opt to pair their MLIS with an M.A. in history or other fields.

University of Southern Mississippi

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Hattiesburg
  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $17,784
  • Click here to learn more

Southern Miss offers a 100% online Master of Library and Information Science that sets the same tuition rate for in-state residents as those who live outside Mississippi, and most full-time students complete the program in five semesters. Specialty focus areas include popular options like public librarianship but also less-common ones like technical services and special librarianship.

University of Missouri

  • Format: Online, hybrid
  • Main location: Columbia
  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $18,075
  • Click here to learn more

The University of Missouri offers a 100% online Master of Library and Information Science degree, though students in the area may find courses available at a variety of sites, including the home campus in Columbia as well as Kansas City and St. Louis. A popular specialty option, the MLIS with Library Media Specialist emphasis, leads to school library media certification in Missouri.

St. Catherine University

  • Format: Hybrid
  • Main location: St. Paul, Minnesota
  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $35,928
  • Click here to learn more

The Master of Library and Information Science degree at St. Catherine University, known to its community as St. Kate, will take about two years to complete, with courses offered partially online and partially on nights and weekends at the St. Paul, Minnesota campus. Focus areas include archives and special collections, digital libraries and managerial leadership.

San Jose State University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: San Jose, California
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Teacher Librarian MLIS, Master of Archives and Records Administration, Master of Science in Informatics
  • Total expected tuition: $20,382
  • Click here to learn more

San Jose State’s Master of Library and Information Science is only offered online, which makes it ideal for students who don’t live on the West Coast. San Jose has one of the longest-running 100% online MLIS degrees, first offering the degree online in 2009, and multiple degrees and focus areas are available, including a teacher librarian MLIS.

University of Pittsburgh

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Main location: Pittsburgh
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Information Science, PhD in Library and Information Science
  • Tuition: $36,814 (online, in-state and out-of-state)
  • Click here to learn more

Pitt’s Master of Library and Information Science can be earned entirely online in as little as one year, while students who want some on-campus interaction can arrange to participate in some campus experiences (if they’re in the neighborhood). And students still will have the experience of participating in faculty-led research despite learning online.

North Carolina Central University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Main location: Durham
  • Degrees: Master of Library Science, Master of Information Science
  • Total expected tuition: $9,828 in-state; $33,156 out-of-state
  • Click here to learn more

North Carolina Central University is home to a 100% online Master of Library Science degree that’s accredited by the ALA, making the university unique among HBCUs across the U.S. In addition to that distinction, NCCU students have the option of receiving specialized training in a host of areas, including archives and records management, school media or law librarianship.

Other Online Degrees

Outside of the 15 best online programs in the field, there are about two dozen other ALA-accredited library and information science master’s degrees that can be earned entirely or mostly online.

Here’s a quick look at the programs offering ALA-accredited library and information science graduate degrees at least partially online:

Chicago State University (Illinois)

Clarion University (Pennsylvania)

  • Format: 100% online
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Information and Library Science, MSLS/JD (Widener University School of Law)
  • Click here to learn more

Drexel University (Pennsylvania)

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Degree: Master of Science in Information-Library & Information Science
  • Click here to learn more

Dominican University (Illinois)

  • Format: Online, traditional, hybrid
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information Management, Master of Arts in Youth Literature, MLIS/MSW, MLIS/MBA, MLIS/MA in Public History, MLIS/Master of Divinity, PhD in Information Studies
  • Click here to learn more

East Carolina University

Emporia State University (Kansas)

Florida State University

  • Format: 100% online
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Information, Ph.D. in Information, Specialist in Information
  • Click here to learn more

IUPUI (Indiana)

  • Format: 100% online
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, MLIS/MA in History, MLIS/MA in Philanthropic Studies, MLIS/MS in Health Informatics, MLIS/JD
  • Click here to learn more

Rutgers University (New Jersey)

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Degrees: Master of Information, Master of Health Communication and Information, PhD in Communication, Information and Media
  • Click here to learn more

Southern Connecticut State University

Texas Woman’s University

University of Alabama

University at Albany (State University of New York)

  • Format: 100% online
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Information Science School Library, Master of Science in Information Science (STEM), PhD in Information Science
  • Click here to learn more

University of Arizona

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Degrees: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information, PhD in Information
  • Click here to learn more

University of Denver (Colorado)

University of Illinois

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Degrees: Master of Science in Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information Management, PhD in Information Sciences, MSLIS/MA in History, MSLIS/MA in Russian, East European and Eurasian Studies, MSLIS/MA in African Studies
  • Click here to learn more

University of Kentucky

University of Maryland

  • Format: Online, traditional
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Information Management, PhD in Information Studies
  • Click here to learn more

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

University of North Texas

University of Rhode Island

  • Format: Hybrid
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Studies, MLIS/MA in History, MLIS/Master of Public Administration, MLIS/MA in English
  • Click here to learn more

University of South Carolina

University of South Florida

  • Format: 100% online
  • Degrees: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Intelligence Studies
  • Click here to learn more

Valdosta State University

Wayne State University (Michigan)

  • Format: Online, traditional, hybrid
  • Degrees: Master of Library and Information Science, Master of Science in Information Management, MLIS/MA in History, MLIS/MA in Public History
  • Click here to learn more

Conclusion

Graduate education is a significant investment of both time and money, but for people who hope to pursue careers in library science, informatics and related areas, a master’s degree may be the only way to get the job they want. Fortunately for students across the U.S., offering online master’s degrees is the rule rather than the exception, with most ALA-accredited universities doing just that.

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Sarah J

Sarah J

Sarah J is Chief Editor and Founder at MastersinLibraryScience.net, formerly LibraryScienceList.com (LSL). Join us today and become a community curator. We can also be found on Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook. Learn more about me on Google+