Mississippi Masters in Library Science
Though their occupation has some decidedly aged roots, today’s librarians are a far cry from the shushing school marms of the not-so-recent past. Modern library science professionals must be experts in this emerging field, and they can work in a variety of settings, from schools and public libraries to less-obvious places like the justice system or even within corporations.
No matter the job title, a successful library science career most often means earning a master’s degree in the field. Let’s take a look at the state of graduate study in library science in Mississippi as well as what prospective library science professionals need to know before they hit the job market.
Mississippi Library Science Programs
Typically, any prospective library science professional will need a master’s degree to qualify for a job, but that doesn’t mean educational options are one-size-fits-all. In fact, many schools offer multiple degree options, and almost all provide specialization options that give students a chance to customize their degree journey.
That said, while students should have some options when it comes to curriculum details, most degrees in the field have similar-sounding acronyms, including Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Science in Library Science (MS), Master of Information Science (MIS), Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) or Master of Science in Information (MSI).
Also, for most students, getting a job, especially one in a government-funded setting such as a school or public library, usually means getting a degree from a program accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Even for jobs in other settings, most employers prefer candidates who complete ALA-accredited programs.
In Mississippi, one university offers an ALA-accredited library science master’s degree, so let’s take a look at what students need to know.
University of Southern Mississippi
- Institution type: Public
- Delivery method: Online
- Campus: Hattiesburg
- Total expected tuition: $17,784
- Degrees offered: Master of Library and Information Science
- Graduate certificates offered: Archives and Special Collections, Youth Services and Literature, School Library endorsement
Students in Mississippi have one option for obtaining an ALA-accredited library science master’s degree in their state, though the program is based online, so flexibility is a priority. The University of Southern Mississippi offers a 100% online Master of Library and Information Science in which out-of-state students pay the same tuition rate as residents of Mississippi.
Potential degree pathways include school library licensure, public librarianship, academic librarianship, special librarianship and technical services. The average full-time student completes the Southern Miss program in five semesters, while the typical part-timer takes seven semesters.
- School of Library and Information Science Graduate Programs
- Possible degree tracks
- Library and information science faculty
Mississippi Library Science Outlook
A typical librarian or media collections specialist in Mississippi makes nearly $44,000 per year, according to data published by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the third-lowest average wage in the U.S. for these workers, and it’s well below the national average wage for the occupation, which is $58,000.
Across Mississippi, a couple of cities and metro areas boast wages that exceed the overall state average, though data is limited. Of the three cities with available data, the average librarian wage in the Gulfport-Biloxi area is the highest ($50,350), while librarians in Jackson can expect to earn the least, as the city has an average librarian wage of $43,000.
Librarian jobs are expected to grow over the next several years, though projections in Mississippi are on the lower end compared to other states. Department of Labor data suggests that employment of librarians and media collections specialists in Mississippi will rise by 5.3% through 2028. While this is a positive growth number, it’s quite a bit lower than the overall growth projection for the U.S., which is 6.4%.
Employment of other library and educational workers is expected to see even slower growth in Mississippi. These jobs are projected to increase by 3.4% compared to a national growth rate of 5.7%.
As the information age continues to expand the horizons of human understanding, the demand for people who are trained in facilitating access to this information will only continue to grow. While the current state of employment in Mississippi is mixed, the outlook over the next several years is positive.