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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students who graduate with a bachelor’s degree in library science are qualified to pursue careers such as library manager, library aide, reference librarian, data curator, and library technician. Their work centers on collecting, preserving, archiving, organizing, and distributing books, periodicals, digital information, and more. A bachelor’s degree paves the way for those who would like to earn a master’s degree in library science and become professional librarians.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for library technicians and assistants in 2021 was $34,050, while librarians made an average of $61,190. In 2021-22, the average cost of tuition and fees for bachelor’s programs was $7,869 per year at public universities and $37,095 at private institutions, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. It generally takes four years of full-time study to complete this degree.

How to Choose an Online Bachelor’s in Library Science Program

Choose your area of study

Those with bachelor’s degrees in library science can work in entry-level positions in public and academic libraries. Students interested in a particular aspect of library science or who would like to continue their education and work in a more specialized field should look for specializations or concentrations that align with these goals. For example, various programs offer concentrations in public librarianship, academic librarianship, geographic information, digital collections, youth services, data curation and management, and others. Not all programs offer the same concentrations.

Research schools and programs

Once you’ve determined what you plan to do after you’ve earned your degree, it’s time to research various schools and programs. Look for those offering specializations and internships most relevant to your future goals.

You’ll find that some university websites contain detailed information about their degrees and programs, including admissions, learning format, curriculum, faculty, and more. Other universities put little information online but provide an electronic form you can fill out to receive more information via email or telephone. Some schools require an internship or practicum, and you’ll need to find out which programs provide this in your area. Also, if you want to study part-time, you’ll have to find a school that offers this option.

As you gather information about various programs, take note of these factors as well:

  • Is the school accredited? Make sure the institution is accredited by agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. Proper accreditation directly affects the quality of education you’ll receive. It also affects your eligibility for both financial aid and other postsecondary programs you apply to in the future; most graduate programs require a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university. Furthermore, a degree from an accredited university will open more doors when looking for employment.
  • What is the cost of the program? Before you spend a lot of time researching a program, check the tuition cost. If it’s more than you want to spend, you should consider other programs. Be sure to weigh the cost against all the other factors, though, and remember that the least expensive program isn’t always the best.
  • What is the learning format? Distance learning is delivered in three different formats — asynchronous, synchronous, and a combination of both. Asynchronous is best for students whose circumstances don’t allow them to adhere to a traditional classroom schedule and who must do most of the coursework on evenings and weekends due to family or work responsibilities. Synchronous learning, on the other hand, requires students to be online for live, scheduled classes and lectures. This format facilitates class discussions and better collaboration and communication among students and instructors. Some programs combine synchronous and asynchronous formats, requiring students to be online for certain live classes or lectures. Choose the format that’s best for you.
  • Where is the school located? Although you’ll be doing your coursework online, you may want to take advantage of certain on-campus services, activities, and events. These can include career fairs, in-person orientations, sporting events, student clubs, library access, fitness centers, and more. Additionally, if the program is offered only in a hybrid format, requiring you to take some classes on campus, you will need to choose a school that isn’t too far from where you live.

Prepare for tests and applications

For bachelor’s programs, universities require a high school diploma or GED equivalency, as well as official transcripts. Each school has its own minimum GPA requirement. In addition, some universities require SAT or ACT scores, and the range of acceptable scores varies depending on the institution.

You may also need to submit one or more letters of recommendation, which can be obtained from high school teachers and counselors, as well as a short essay explaining your academic and career goals. Finally, check whether there is a deadline for submitting applications or if the school provides for rolling admissions.

Students whose native language isn’t English will be required to submit test scores showing proficiency in English. Since each university has its own admissions requirements, check its website or contact the school for details.

Select your program

Review your research, carefully consider the pros and cons of each program, and determine which you will apply to. It’s a good idea to choose several schools since you don’t know which schools will accept you and which ones won’t. List them in order of preference, and apply to them all. When all the schools have responded and you have your acceptance letters, choose the program that ranks highest on your list.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Eligible students can get full or partial scholarships from nonprofits, businesses, their employers, or the university itself. Financing is often available through the university, and some schools allow students to pay per credit hour as they work through the program.

Grants, loans, and work-study programs can be obtained from the U.S. government, but to receive these, you’ll need to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Some schools offer lower tuition to members of the military or their immediate family members. Moreover, if your schedule allows, you can work part-time to help pay for the degree.

The Top 50 Online Bachelor’s in Library Science Programs

Best Online Bachelor's in Library Science Programs Badge

University of Southern Mississippi

University of Nebraska

University of Maine at Augusta

Pennsylvania Western University Clarion

Northern Kentucky University

Oregon State University

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How We Rank Schools

This list focuses on undergraduate programs in library science, all of which award a Bachelor of Science degree. We focused exclusively on programs that are offered in an online-only format.

Most of the programs listed below are offered by regionally accredited schools, including those accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, and the WASC Senior College and University Commission. All credits and degrees awarded by these schools are transferable to other institutions. One of these programs includes a teaching credential and is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

What Can You Expect from an Online Bachelor’s in Library Science Program?

A degree in library science focuses primarily on the knowledge and skills needed to collect, preserve, organize, and distribute library resources. Students learn about library resources, library management, information literacy, information organization, database user interfaces and query software, customer service, electronics, and clerical duties. This knowledge can be applied to public and academic libraries, healthcare organizations, museums, and other areas.

Colleges use online learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard, Canvas, D2L Brightspace, or Moodle to deliver course materials.  Students log on to their personal portal and have access to all course materials, including the syllabi, schedules, assignments, reading and audio/video material, tests, grades, announcements, and more. The LMS also has a message board and chat feature, allowing students to collaborate and communicate with one another as well as with instructors.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online bachelor’s in library science degree program

  • Introduction to information literacy. This course teaches students how to locate, evaluate, organize, use, and communicate information in all its various forms and formats. They develop the skills needed to find and select the most relevant information to a subject and evaluate it for authenticity, accuracy, and reliability.
  • School libraries. Students gain an in-depth understanding of how to work in and administer school libraries. Subjects include the librarian’s role, making the best use of technology, creating a reading-friendly environment, systems of organization, physical and digital resources, safety, finding and retrieving information, and more.
  • Fundamentals of cataloging. In this course, students examine various principles and tools used in cataloging library resources. They learn about the creation of bibliographic descriptions as well as subject analysis and content summarization, and the course also covers various models of cataloging in libraries.
  • Technology used in libraries. With so much information available digitally and online, technology plays a larger role in libraries than ever before. In this course, students learn about basic hardware and software found in libraries, principles and policies that govern public computer use, storing and retrieving digital information, web search methods, and more.

Online Bachelor’s in Library Science Degree Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online bachelor’s in library science degree program?

Applications can typically be submitted online through the school’s website. All supporting documentation should be uploaded as well. Many schools accept the Common Application, which allows applicants to bachelor’s programs to apply to multiple schools at once; they don’t have to fill out a separate application for each school. Be sure to check for deadlines and submit everything on time. If you’re considering applying to a program, it’s always best to speak with an admissions counselor first.

How much does an online bachelor’s in library science degree cost?

An online bachelor’s in library science can cost anywhere from $8,000-$60,000, depending on the type of institution the student attends.  Expect additional expenses for technology and software, supplies, and books. Tuition is sometimes much higher for out-of-state residents at public universities, but many such schools offer a flat rate for distance learners.

How long does it take to earn an online bachelor’s in library science degree?

Most bachelor’s degree programs require about 120 credits, which full-time students typically complete in four years. Part-time students need an additional year or two. Some universities offer accelerated programs, enabling students to finish in less time. If you already have an associate’s degree, you may be able to transfer credits and complete the degree in two years. Some universities allow as many as 90 credits to be transferred, with students only needing to take upper-division courses to complete the program.

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