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A master’s degree in library science gives students the skills to manage multiple media forms at public or private organizations such as libraries and museums. Training focuses on collecting, archiving, managing, logging, preserving, and overseeing various institutions’ books, films, documents, and staff.

Library science careers include librarians and library media specialists, who typically earn an average annual salary of $61,190. Archivists earn an average of $50,000 annually, and library technicians average $34,000.

Earning the best online master’s degree in library science can cost at least $12,000 at a public school and more than $26,000 at a private university.

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

Choose your area of study

Master’s degree programs can be tailored to a preferred study area if a student knows their career goals. Having goals makes it easier to narrow down the area to concentrate on. Answer questions like the following to determine your area of study:

  • In what environment do you want to work?
  • What jobs do you want to perform?
  • Do you want a leadership role or an assistant role?
  • Which types of media do you prefer to oversee?

Popular areas of study in library science include digital archivists, school and public librarians, research analysts, editors, and information officers.

Research schools and programs

Researching master’s in library science programs is good practice for your future career. Learn as much as possible about a program to see if it fits your lifestyle, values, and career goals. Look at program and university reviews, speak with former and current students and staff, and document the highlights and lowlights. Specific areas to research may include the following:

  • Professor-student interactions and accessibility
  • Student support services available
  • Number of graduates who land jobs in their field
  • Cost of the program and hidden fees
  • Graduation requirements, such as internships, thesis, and exams

Follow universities on social media and participate in online live events, orientations, group chats, or Q&As.

Prepare for tests and applications

Preparation for a master’s in library science program must begin long before the courses start. Schools depend on deadlines for applications. For example, they may have application deadlines for financial aid, university admission, or program admission. If a program requires a passing score on a graduate entrance exam, plan to take the exam in advance, with enough time to get the scores before the application deadlines. The Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a standard test used for admission.

Most master’s in library science programs require the following documents to be submitted with the application for admission:

  • Transcripts
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Resume
  • Personal statement

Select your program

Once all the application materials are ready, submit them to your preferred programs. If you haven’t made a final decision on a school, consider additional factors, like the following:

  • Application fees
  • Tuition costs and financial aid
  • Amount of work to complete outside of class
  • Family responsibilities
  • Work responsibilities
  • Graduation and placement rates

Most importantly, choose a school accredited by reputable agencies, such as the American Library Association.

Determine how you will pay for your degree

People who think they cannot afford a master’s degree in library science may not know the many avenues for obtaining financial help. One or more, or a combination of multiple options, like the following, can make earning a degree possible:

Start financial planning by contacting the school’s financial aid department. They can help you get started with the FAFSA and other programs created to help students pay for graduate degrees.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Library Science Programs

Best Master's in Library Science Programs Badge

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

Texas A&M University - Commerce

Fresno Pacific University

Louisiana State University

Wayne State University

Kent State University

St. John's University

Drexel University

University of Missouri

North Carolina Central University

The University of Alabama

University of North Texas

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

SUNY at Albany

University of Kentucky

University of Wisconsin at Madison

Syracuse University

University of Southern Mississippi

Emporia State University

ECU College of Education

Chicago State University

Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Southern Connecticut State University

Sam Houston State University

University of Maryland

San Jose State University

Appalachian State University

University of Central Arkansas

University of Washington

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

University of South Florida

University of Southern California

University of Arizona

Texas Woman's University

University of Colorado

University of Denver

University of Buffalo

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How We Rank Schools

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, including U.S. News & World Report, to simplify a student’s college search. We pored through these rankings so students don’t have to.

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

Libraries play a vital role in sharing information and preserving media treasures. Therefore, the best master’s in library science programs teach students necessary skills, such as cataloging, researching, collecting, and archiving documents, films, videos, books, and more.

Some master-level programs require students to participate in library internships after completing core and elective coursework, which can take one to two years. Core subjects often include learning how to manage libraries, research, cataloging, and collection management. Examples of electives include digital collections, information resources, and administration.

Master’s degree programs in library science consist of at least 36 credit hours. Typically, nine or more credit hours are assigned to the student’s thesis or portfolio project and internship hours in a supervised library environment.

Students learn skills to help them succeed in a library science career, including adapting to technological changes, being digitally literate, managing resources, and organizing information.

Potential Courses You Will Take in an Online Master’s in Library Science Program

  • Foundations in Information Technologies. A foundation course introduces students to the various technological resources they can use to be successful. Examples include social media networking, telecommunications, and the Internet. Students get the opportunity to work on multiple projects using different technologies.
  • Information Sources. This class teaches them how to provide patrons with the information they need through online, print, electronic, and other resources. Students will also learn to assess how well their services meet patrons’ needs and eliminate or replace the service when necessary.
  • Leadership in Library Science. Students planning to take leadership roles in libraries will learn how to improve their leadership skills to oversee library staff, volunteers, students, and community members. Maintaining professional relationships and team-building skills are beneficial. Students will also learn the characteristics of successful leaders in a library setting.
  • Multiculturalism in Libraries. Students learn how to assess the diverse needs of their community and provide multicultural learning experiences for everyone, giving all library patrons access to information in a format best suited for them. Students also learn how to access multicultural information and resources.

Online Master’s in Library Science Program Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online master's in library science program?

Application details should be verified by contacting the university’s admissions department and speaking with an admissions counselor. While most online master’s in library science programs provide detailed information on their website, talking with someone via phone or video is still a good idea.

You will likely find that every master’s degree program differs slightly in its application requirements. However, some items seem to be consistent among programs, including the following:

  • GRE test score
  • Completed application
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Transcripts showing completion of a bachelor’s degree and GPA
  • Resume

Application deadlines may also differ, so you must stay organized.

How much does an online master's in library science program cost?

The cost of a master’s degree program depends on many factors, such as if the school is in-state or out-of-state. The average cost of an in-state master’s in library science program is around $12,000, and out-of-state is $26,000. Tuition costs are similar when comparing private and public institutions. Public schools typically cost around $12,000, and private schools around $26,000.

Base tuition rates are not the only costs to consider. The time you must spend away from a job to complete your education is money you can’t earn. Expenses like childcare also count. Online programs often add fees to their base tuition. Fees for online resources, student services, and technology are a few examples.

How long does it take to earn an online master's degree in library science?

Many of the best online master’s in library science programs require between 30 and 40 credit hours to graduate. Those hours include core curriculum, electives, internships, and a final thesis or project. Most schools develop their master’s plan to be completed within two years for full-time students. Some provide accelerated programs, allowing you to complete in one year or 18 months.

The time it takes you to complete those requirements may differ from the time it takes other students. Family, work, and social activities may influence your time, extending your time to graduate. Online master’s degree programs offer more flexibility than on-campus programs, which can help you meet your graduation goals.

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