Why This Matters


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


    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.


    A master’s degree is typically required to work as a librarian in an academic or public library setting. The annual median wage is $59,050, compared to $34,050 for a non-degree library assistant position.

Our Research

We primarily reviewed programs that offer a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree, although we also included Master of Science (MS) in Library Science degrees. The different degree types may have different pedagogical approaches, but both offer the training necessary for careers in library science.

All of the programs listed are offered at regionally accredited institutions. The American Library Association (ALA) accredits MLS programs in the U.S. Most, but not all, of the programs on our list have ALA accreditation. Others are accredited through the Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (CAEP).

We included programs delivered through in-person, online, and hybrid formats. The programs are ranked by evaluating their reputation, faculty, cost, and course strength, and giving them an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out Our Ranking Methodology.

  • 88 hours to write this article
  • 162 universities and colleges we assessed
  • 242 education programs we compared

The Top 45 Online Master’s in Library Science Programs

Best Online Master's in Library Science Degree Programs
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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.