Why This Matters

  • CHOOSE FROM A VARIETY OF POTENTIAL CAREER PATHS

    Library science is a very versatile degree that prepares graduates to work in public, school, or specialized libraries; museums; non-profits; and academic institutions.

  • DEMAND FOR ARCHIVISTS TO RISE 9% BY 2031

    As more businesses and institutions shift from paper to electronic files, the need for archivists who can safely and properly digitize documents is increasing at a faster-than-average pace.

  • EARN $25,000+ MORE PER YEAR WITH A MASTER’S

    A master’s degree is typically required to work as a librarian in an academic or public library setting. The annual median wage for this occupation is $61,190, compared to $34,050 for a non-degree library assistant position.

Our Research

This list features some of the best online Master’s in Library Science programs at top colleges across the country. Each school featured is a nonprofit, accredited institution — either public or private — with a high standard of academic quality for post-secondary institutions. Many of the schools on our list have been accredited by the American Library Association, which assesses the objectives, quality, and overall effectiveness of library science-related programs.

We evaluated each school’s program on tuition costs, admission, retention and graduation rates, faculty, and reputation as well as the student resources provided for online students. Then we calculated the Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. Read more about our ranking methodology.

Next, we compared this comprehensive list of online Master’s in Library Science programs to a list of aggregated college rankings from reputable publications like the U.S. News & World Report among others to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

The Top 45 Online Master’s in Library Science Programs

Best Master's in Library Science Programs 2023
01
Intelligent Pick
University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign
01
Best for Law Librarianship
UW Information School
01
Best Internship Program
SJSU School of Information
01
Best for Field Experience
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
01
Best Concentration Options
Syracuse University
01
Best for Community-Based Librarianship
Drexel University
01
Best Archiving Focus
University of Denver
01
Most Affordable
ECU College of Education
01
Best in the Midwest
Kent State University
01
Best Out-of-State Tuition
The University of Alabama
01

Indiana University at Bloomington
01

University of North Texas
01

Rutgers School of Communication and Information
01

The Catholic University of America
01

University of Kentucky
01

Sam Houston State University
01

University of Southern Mississippi
01

Texas A&M University at Commerce
01

Emporia State University
01

North Carolina Central University
01

St. John's University
01

Appalachian State University
01

Chicago State University
01

Kutztown University
01

Louisiana State University

What You Should Know About This Degree

Although not all MLS programs have ALA accreditation, attending an ALA-accredited program will give you the best advantages when it comes to finding a job. Some employers, particularly public libraries and schools, require job candidates to have a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program. If you choose to attend a non-accredited program, be sure to talk to an advisor about what your career options will be post-graduation.

Individuals who go on to work as librarians in public schools typically need teaching certification. In some states, public librarians need to be certified as well. The certification procedures and requirements vary by state, and they may affect where you earn your degree and in what format (online versus in-person). If you’re planning on working in a school or public library, review your state’s requirements, and be sure to select a program that fulfills those requirements.

Many programs, even those offered fully online, have experiential learning components that involve working on-site in a library or related setting. Students who are enrolling in an online program should find out what, if any, in-person requirements the program may have and confirm that they can fit into their schedule and lifestyle.

Professional librarians have the option of becoming members of the ALA for networking, career development, and leadership opportunities.

What’s Next?

Here are some questions to ask when researching Master’s in Library Science programs:

  • Does this program have the specialization that I want? As a broad field, library science has many opportunities for specialization in areas like educational technology, archives and records, academic librarianship, and digital preservation. Now is a good time to explore options for specialization and select a school that will let you focus on your area of interest.
  • Am I eligible for this program? Generally, MLS programs accept students from all academic backgrounds, but programs specializing in academic librarianship may require students to already have teaching certification. Be sure to review admissions requirements carefully to ensure you have the necessary qualifications before applying.

As you research programs, you will also want to check out their application requirements and deadlines. Knowing what materials you need to submit and when they are due ensures a smooth, stress-free application process. You can find this information on the program’s website or by contacting the school’s admissions office.

It’s also important to consider how you will finance your degree. Ask your program about scholarships, assistantships, and loans. If you are currently employed, find out if your job offers tuition assistance benefits.