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 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.
Here are some questions to ask when researching Masters 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.