Best Library Science Schools in the Country for 2021

Library science is a rapidly growing field in graduate education, and it’s easy to see why. The median pay for librarians is nearly $60,000 per year, and demand for these jobs is expected to outpace the average U.S. job over the next decade. But as any student or observer in this field knows, earning a master’s degree is the first crucial step on the path.

There are dozens of library science master’s degrees available in the U.S., but not all will provide the type of training that will help students get the education they need for challenging, fulfilling careers. Library science professionals and students are used to doing a little research, and it’s fair to say a great deal of study is warranted when deciding on a library science master’s program.

Our Selection Criteria

To that end, we analyzed the more than four dozen graduate-level library science degrees that have earned accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA), which is considered a prerequisite for employment in many library science roles. From a smaller group of finalists, we selected these 25 programs based on how well they balance several factors.

Reviewed: 50+
Curated: 35
Top Picks: 25

  • Reputation: How the university and program are thought of by peers.
  • Credibility: How well the school ranks in major ratings publications.
  • Value: Comparison of the educational quality to total tuition costs.
  • Popularity: A measure of search volume about the university and degree program.

About Library Science Degrees

While the programs on our list represent our opinion of the best library science degrees taking into account cost, reputation and value, your mileage may vary. Perhaps a specific specialization or concentration is most important to, or maybe your deciding factor will be whether you can earn the degree online.

Here is a look at the factors most library science students weigh when making their decisions:

  • Cost: The figures we listed and used in our rankings cover the total expected cost of tuition, but remember that there are expenses beyond tuition. Various fees may apply depending on the specific courses you take, and there will likely be other costs you encounter.
  • Flexibility: Some but not all programs are offered online. Others are offered only on-campus, while some give students the option and others have a hybrid approach where some work is done online but some face-to-face time is required. Additionally, some programs may be designed to be completed on a full-time basis, but most allow room for part-time students.
  • Accreditation: For the purposes of this ranking, we only considered programs that have earned accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). In any educational field, various bodies weigh in on whether a program is rigorous enough to meet their standards, and accreditation can be an important signal to a future employer. But in the library science field, ALA accreditation is often a prerequisite to even being considered for a job, as many public and school librarian roles are subject to licensure rules that mandate applicants have master’s degrees from ALA-accredited programs.
  • Degree type: Graduate degrees in library science come with a variety of names, all of which signal slight differences in curriculum and program focus. The most common you’ll find on this list is a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS), but others include Master of Science in Information Studies (MSIS), Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) and Master of Arts in Library and Information Science (MALIS).
  • Specialization: Particularly for those who have a clear picture of their career goals, specializations and concentrations are crucial. That’s because if you’re hoping to become a school librarian, a library science degree that focuses on, say, archiving is unlikely to provide you with the training you’ll need to earn state licensure. Some institutions refer to these as degree paths or career pathways, but those all are terms for concentrations or specializations.

Best Master’s in Library Science Programs for 2021

Take a look at some details of the degrees, specializations, cost and more of the 25 library science master’s degree programs to make our list. Exploring the details of these programs should help you narrow down the list of schools you’re considering, but be sure to do your own digging to find out what aspects of each program are most important for you. And consider contacting the admissions offices of each program (information is included for each), as these offices are staffed by experts who have answers to pretty much any question you could have.

SCHOOLS IN THIS RANKING

    1. University of South Florida
    2. University of California Los Angeles
    3. University of Maryland
    4. University of Texas
    5. Queens College CUNY
    6. University of Alabama
    7. University of Missouri
    8. University of Kentucky
    9. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee
    10. Rutgers University
    11. Kent State University
    12. University of Washington
    13. Chicago State University
    14. Emporia State University
    15. Louisiana State University
    16. San Jose State University
    17. LIU Post - Long Island University
    18. University of Pittsburgh
    19. Syracuse University
    20. University of Southern Mississippi
    21. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
    22. Drexel University
    23. St. Catherine University
    24. Catholic University of America
    25. St. John's University

#1 University of South Florida

With a wide range of specializations and a total in-state tuition cost that’s less than $15,000, the University of South Florida’s Master of Arts in Library and Information Science earns the top spot in our ranking. With 39 credits required for graduation, most students will need at least three years to complete their degree, which is capped off with an eportfolio experience in which students get a chance to showcase their educational experience. This degree can be completed entirely online or in a traditional classroom setting.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Arts in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $13,586 in-state; $30,096 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 39
  • Specializations: Information Storage and Retrieval, Public Librarianship, Academic Librarianship, School Media Specialist, Archives and Records Management, Visualization of Information, Information Technology, Human Information Behavior, Information Policy and Information Literacy

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Required without undergraduate GPA of at least 3.25

Contact

  • Phone: (813) 974-3520

Visit School Direct


#2 University of California Los Angeles

UCLA’s Master of Library and Information Science requires completion of 72 credits, which typically means three years of study for the average student, who can choose from a variety of exciting specializations. Their experience will culminate in completion of an eportfolio, though a thesis track is also optional for most specializations in this on-campus program.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $16,847 in-state; $31,949 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 72
  • Specializations: Archival Studies, Informatics, Library Studies, Media Archival Studies, Rare Books/Print and Visual Culture

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional
  • GRE: Required

Contact

  • Phone: (310) 825-5269

Visit School Direct


#3 University of Maryland

The University of Maryland’s iSchool, housed at the system’s main campus in College Park, offers a Master of Library and Information Science that can be completed in as little as two years for students who are able to devote full-time hours to their training. A wide range of specializations are available, and students can further customize their education by attending in-person or online, though the degree does require a thesis or field study as the culminating project.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $26,316 in-state; $58,500 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Archives and Digital Curation Diversity and Inclusion, School Library Certification, Youth Experience, Intelligence and Analytics, Legal Informatics

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (301) 405-2033

Visit School Direct


#4 University of Texas

Offered on the main campus of the University of Texas system is a Master of Science in Information Studies that offers one of the most expansive suite of specializations among all library science master’s programs we studied. Capstone options include a professional experience project, school library practicum, thesis or master’s report, and the degree is only offered on-campus.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Information Studies
  • Total expected tuition cost: $29,048 in-state; $37,676 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: User Experience (UX) Research, User Experience (UX) Design, Digital Humanities, Data Curation, Preservation Administration, Collections Care, Archives, Records Management, Academic Librarianship, Public Librarianship, Youth Services Librarianship, Data Analysis, Data Science, Human-Centered Data Science, Applied Machine Learning and Deep Learning, Statistical Modeling and Data Science, Health Informatics

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional
  • GRE: Required; no minimum published, but median score is about 312

Contact

  • Phone: (512) 471-3821

Visit School Direct


#5 Queens College (CUNY)

Queen’s College, part of the City University of New York system, is home to a Master of Library Science program that gives in-state students a shot at earning their library science master’s for under $20,000. While it’s not unique in the country, that does come in well below average for New York programs. A research project is required to complete the degree, which can only be earned on-campus.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $16,920 in-state; $30,780 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Library Media Specialist

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional
  • GRE: Required for those with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (718) 997-5000

Visit School Direct


#6 University of Alabama

A thesis-optional Master of Library and Information Studies at the University of Alabama’s main campus is the only ALA-accredited master’s program in the state of Alabama. With several specialization options, the program further distinguishes itself by virtue of a very low online tuition cost, as well as allowing students to attend on-campus or online, though in-person tuition is considerably higher.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Studies
  • Total expected tuition cost: $21,560 traditional in-state, $60,500 traditional out-of-state; $15,120 online in-state and out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations & areas of emphasis: Archival Studies, School Library Media, Academic Libraries, Digital Stewardship, Information Literacy, Public Libraries, Social Justice and Inclusivity, Special Libraries, Youth Services

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (205) 348-4610

Visit School Direct


#7 University of Missouri

The University of Missouri’s Master of Library and Information Science is offered entirely online, and the program is among the best online degrees at mirroring the in-person experience. That’s because coursework and interaction are delivered via a mix of synchronous and asynchronous requirements. A practicum is required to complete the training, though a limited number of specialties are available.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $18,075
  • Credits required: 39
  • Specializations: Archival Studies, School Library Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (573) 882-6311

Visit School Direct


#8 University of Kentucky

A fully online Master of Science in Library Science is the primary offering of the University of Kentucky’s iSchool. All of the most popular specialties are available, and tuition is relatively low. A culminating independent study or practicum are required, or students have the option to complete additional IT classes to make up the required coursework.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $24,892
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Academic Libraries, Health Information, Information Systems, Public Libraries, School Librarian Program, Youth Services and Literature

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (859) 218-0956

Visit School Direct


#9 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

The Master of Library and Information Science at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee offers both online and in-person delivery methods, and the wide range of specializations are sure to appeal to students all over the country. Online tuition is relatively low for all students, while in-person costs for Wisconsin residents is even lower. A thesis is optional in this program, while field study is recommended for those who lack professional experience.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $26,689 traditional in-state, $56,911 traditional out-of-state; $28,800 online in-state and out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations & concentrations: Archival Studies, Information Organization, Information Technology, Public Library, Academic Libraries, Digital Libraries, Information Law, Policies and Ethics, Information Literacy, Special Libraries

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Required but waived through fall 2021 due to pandemic

Contact

  • Phone: (414) 229-4707

Visit School Direct


#10 Rutgers University

Rutgers’ School of Communication and Information is home to a Master of Information that offers several future-thinking specializations. Tuition costs are about average, and the program can be completed online or in-person.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Information
  • Total expected tuition cost: $36,000
  • Credits required: 36
  • Concentrations: Data Science, Library and Information Science, School Library Media, Archives and Preservation, Interaction Design andInformatics, Technology, Information and Management

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Required except for applicants with undergraduate GPA of at least 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (848) 932-7500

Visit School Direct


#11 Kent State University

Kent State’s Master of Library and Information Science offers a wide slate of outside-the-norm specializations, from Cultural Heritage Informatics to Youth Engagement. Few of the standard specializations are available, but for students who want a creative, interdisciplinary education, the relatively low cost will be ideal, and an eportfolio final project will help students further refine their viewpoint.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $26,800 in-state; $27,200 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 37
  • Specializations: Applied Data Science, Cultural Heritage Informatics, Data Information Technology, Digital Humanities, Information Access and Discovery, Information Knowledge and Organization, User Experience in Libraries, Museums and Archives, Youth Engagement: Information, Culture and Community

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Required for applicants with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (330) 672-2782

Visit School Direct


#12 University of Washington

The University of Washington’s iSchool offers a Master of Library and Information Science that, while it’s on the high side of the spectrum when it comes to tuition, includes a unique capstone project that will see students offering solutions to real-world problems. Limited specializations are available, but the program can be completed either online or in-person.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $53,235.00
  • Credits required: 63
  • Specializations: Law Librarianship, School Library Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Not required but considered for applicants with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (206) 685-9937

Visit School Direct


#13 Chicago State University

The only Illinois school to make our ranking, Chicago State University offers a 43-credit Master of Science in Library and Information Science that boasts one of the lowest in-state tuition rates of any school on the list. This hybrid program culminates in a capstone or thesis.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $13,975 in-state; $27,090 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 43
  • Specializations: School Libraries, Archives and Records Management, Academic Libraries and Public Libraries

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Hybrid
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (773) 995-2000

Visit School Direct


#14 Emporia State University

Emporia State’s hybrid Master of Library Science offers an affordable in-state tuition rate, though few specializations are available. Still, a unique cohort experience, most online curriculum and multiple on-campus intensives means students have a one-of-a-kind experience that culminates in a capstone project.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $13,519 in-state; $22,284 out-of-state
  • Credits required: 36
  • Concentrations: Archive Studies, Informatics, Leadership and Administration, Youth Services

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Hybrid
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (620) 341-5203

Visit School Direct


#15 Louisiana State University

Louisiana State’s Master of Library and Information Science is offered only in an asynchronous online format, making it ideal for students who need the utmost in academic flexibility. A list of specializations that includes the most popular in the space is a pretty good incentive, as are the below-average tuition cost and lack of thesis requirement.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $17,460
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Academic Librarianship, Adult Services in Public Libraries, Cultural Heritage Resource Management, Digital Content Management, Knowledge Management, Public Librarianship, School Librarianship, Youth Services in Public Libraries

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Required for applicants with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (225) 578-3158

Visit School Direct


#16 San Jose State University

San Jose State’s iSchool is home to an online-only Master of Library and Information Science that’s delivered in an asynchronous format that offers below-average tuition costs. Most popular specializations are offered, along with a few forward-thinking options, including Digital Curation and Data Science. Students are required to complete an eportfolio or thesis to earn their degrees.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $20,382
  • Credits required: 43
  • Specializations: Academic Librarianship, Data Science, Digital Curation, Digital Services, Emerging Technologies and Digital Services Pathways, Information Intermediation and Instruction, Information Organization, Description, Analysis and Retrieval, Leadership and Management, Management, Digitization and Preservation of Cultural Heritage and Records, Public Librarianship, Special Librarianship, Teacher Librarianship, Web Programming and Information Architecture, Youth Services

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (408) 283-7500

Visit School Direct


#17 LIU Post - Long Island University

The Palmer School of Library and Information Science at Long Island University Post is home to an affordable Master of Science in Library and Information Science that most students will be able to complete in less than two years. With many standard specializations joining standouts like Rare Books and Special Collections, students also have the option of attending online or on-campus, and an internship brings all their training together.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $23,440.00
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Archives and Records Management, General Studies, Information Systems and Technology, Rare Books and Special Collections, Public Librarianship, Youth Librarianship

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Recommended for applicants with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (516) 299-2866

Visit School Direct


#18 University of Pittsburgh

Pitt’s School of Computing and Information offers a Master of Library and Information Science that adds a couple of data-forward specializations to the standard list, such as Archives and Information Science and Information Technologies. Students can opt to attend online or in-person, and they have a choice whether they want to pursue a thesis project as well.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $36,814
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Academic Information Services, Archives and Information Science, Children and Youth Services, Civic Engagement, Information Technologies, Public Library Services, School Library Certification

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (412) 624-5015

Visit School Direct


#19 Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s iSchool is home to a Master of Science in Library and Information Science that offers an outstanding general education, while giving students the option to pursue school media certification in the state of New York. Total tuition costs are relatively high, but students can earn their degrees online if they wish, though all students must complete an internship.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $40,392
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: School Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Required but waived for 2021 because of pandemic

Contact

  • Phone: (315) 443-3611

Visit School Direct


#20 University of Southern Mississippi

An online-only Master of Library and Information Science from the University of Southern Mississippi offers affordable tuition and is designed to be completed in about 18 months. No formal specializations are listed, but students are encouraged to chart a unique academic path that culminates in a special master’s project.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $17,784
  • Credits required: 40
  • Specializations: None listed

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (601) 266-5518

Visit School Direct


#21 Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Clarion University’s Master of Science in Library Science is an online-only program that offers below-average tuition and includes a few of the most popular specialties in the field. Students can attend full-time or part-time, and motivated learners can earn their degrees in about 18 months after completing a research project or internship.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $18,576
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Local and Archival Studies, Reference and User Services, School Library Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (814) 393-2000

Visit School Direct


#22 Drexel University

Drexel’s College of Computing and Informatics is home to a Master of Science in Information that is one of the priciest on the list, but gives students outside the state of Pennsylvania a chance to earn a Drexel degree by offering the program both online and in-person. Limited specialties are available, but that doesn’t mean students forego a unique experience. Quite the contrary; in fact, the program’s capstone project consists of an in-depth project requiring students to work with teammates to devise a solution to a real-world challenge.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Information
  • Total expected tuition cost: $60,390
  • Credits required: 45
  • Specializations: Library Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional, online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (215) 895-2000

Visit School Direct


#23 St. Catherine University

St. Kate’s Master of Library and Information Science is ideal for working professionals, as most classes meet on evenings and weekends at the campus in St. Paul, Minnesota, in addition to a few courses that students can complete online. Tuition is in the middle of the range and on the low end for a private institution, while an eportfolio process is required for graduation.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $35,928
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Archives and Special Collections, Youth Services, Information Science and Digital Libraries, and Managerial Leadership

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional (some online coursework)
  • GRE: Not required for applicants with undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or higher

Contact

  • Phone: (651) 690-6933

Visit School Direct


#24 Catholic University of America

In the heart of the nation’s capital, Catholic University’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science is the only degree of its kind in Washington, D.C., and one of only a few in the region. Tuition is relatively affordable for a private institution, and the on-campus-only program culminates in a comprehensive exam.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $42,840
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Community Services Librarianship, Cultural Heritage Information Management, Data Science, Digital Libraries, Generalist, Information Architecture, Law Librarianship, Organization of Information, School Library Media

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Traditional
  • GRE: Required for applicants with undergraduate GPA below 3.0

Contact

  • Phone: (202) 319-5000

Visit School Direct


#25 St. John’s University

The Master of Science in Library and Information Science from St. John’s is offered entirely online, and most of the sought-after specializations are available, so the broadest range of students will be able to find a degree that appeals and offers them the training they need for their careers. An eportfolio is required to graduate, and the average student will move through the program in just two years.

Accreditation

  • ALA

Program Overview

  • Degree: Master of Science in Library and Information Science
  • Total expected tuition cost: $50,203
  • Credits required: 36
  • Specializations: Academic Librarianship, Archival Studies, Public Librarianship, Special Librarianship, Youth Services

Format & Admissions

  • Format: Online
  • GRE: Not required

Contact

  • Phone: (718) 990-2000

Visit School Direct


Conclusion

Regardless of the specialty area you’re considering in library science, most careers in the field require a master’s degree. Fortunately for applicants across the country, there are many programs that provide rigorous education at reasonable prices, including a large percentage that can be completed online.

SEARCH MASTERS IN LIBRARY SCIENCE DEGREES

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+