University at Albany (SUNY) Online Library Science Masters Review

In most fields, earning a master’s degree is just one way to improve your skill set, signal your dedication to the field and boost your earnings potential. But in some fields, completing a graduate degree is the only viable path to getting a job in the first place. For the average professional in library and information science, earning a master’s is a mission-critical part of their career, particularly for those who plan to work in schools or public libraries.

The good news is that many institutions, including the University at Albany, part of the SUNY system, offer challenging and fulfilling online master’s degrees that can help professionals start off on the right foot. Let’s explore what students should know about Albany’s program and why it might be right for them.

About the Program

Before we discuss some of the pros and cons of UAlbany’s library science master’s degrees (yes, more than one), let’s share some basic facts and figures students should know.

Basics

  • Institution type: Public
  • Campus: Albany, New York
  • Accreditation: American Library Association (ALA)
  • Program format: 100% online

Tuition and fees

  • Expected total tuition: $16,956 in-state; $33,300 out-of-state
  • Per credit-hour tuition: $471 in-state; $925 out-of-state

Degrees & requirements

  • Library science degrees offered: Master of Science in Information Science School Library, Master of Science in Information Science (STEM)
  • Number of credit hours required: 36
  • Estimated time to completion: 24 months

Biggest Pros

What are the biggest strengths of the UAlbany MLIS degrees from the perspective of the average applicant?

Accreditation

The University at Albany, part of the SUNY system, is one of just a handful of library science master’s programs in the state of New York to earn accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). In some fields, accreditation by bodies like the ALA is something that’s nice to have, but in library science, the rules regarding state licensure, make it critical to earn a master’s from a program that’s gotten the ALA’s stamp of approval. This is especially true for those who are planning to pursue careers in schools and/or public libraries, though rules vary by state, so students are advised to consult their state’s requirements.

State licensure

One of the two library science master’s degrees at UAlbany, the Information Science School Library (ISSL) program, leads to initial certification as a library media specialist, according to guidelines from the New York State Education Department.

Two degree options

In addition to the ISSL program, which can lead to a full-time school librarian job, UAlbany also offers an ALA-accredited Master of Science in Information Science. The MSIS degree offers a handful of concentrations, including archives and records management, data analytics and more, making it ideal for students who want an information science education but don’t necessarily want to work in schools.

Biggest Cons

What are some examples of aspects of the programs that might be less-than-ideal for typical students?

Specializations

Specializations are available only in one of the two ALA-accredited degrees, and the only library-related specialty in the MSIS is library and information science, which is sure to provide general education. This contrasts with several other degrees in the field that allow students to earn a broader library science degree.

Cost

While prices are lower for New York residents, out-of-state online learners should expect to spend nearly $40,000 on tuition, and even in-state online learners will spend about $20,000, which puts UAlbany on the high end of the range for public institutions.

University at Albany (SUNY) Online Library Science Program FAQs

Here’s a look at some of the questions potential applicants ask most frequently about UAlbany’s online MLIS programs.

Do I need to take the GRE?

Usually, applicants to UAlbany’s online master’s degrees in library and information science are required to submit GRE scores, but this requirement has been waived through the fall 2021 admissions period because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Can I complete my degree entirely online?

Yes, both the ISSL and MSIS can be earned entirely online as far as coursework is concerned, but both require either an internship or several weeks of in-person fieldwork.

Can I earn state licensure through this program?

UAlbany’s ISSL fulfills the requirements of the New York State Education Department for licensure as a library media specialist.

Conclusion

The dedication required to complete a master’s degree in any field is intense, and finishing a master’s is a sign of passion and the desire to improve one’s self. But it’s also a huge investment of time and money, so students should be sure their educational decisions are well-considered. The University at Albany is an excellent option for many students, but given its focus, it likely will appeal most to those who are planning to earn state certification in New York.

Additional Resources

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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+