The 25 Best Online Master’s in Library and Information Sciences Programs
It’s a tautology at this point, but we live in an information glut. Never in history has there been more content, data — whatever you want to call it. This is all fine so long as you’re able to use that information, but that’s an increasingly difficult task. And without the ability to organize, synthesize, and evaluate information, it ceases to be information. It’s just stuff – worse, useless, and now endless. The organizations that are able to leverage all this information stand to make potentially unprecedented advances, and employers are on the look: according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs among Information Research Scientists are expected to grow 11% through 2024, faster than the national average. For those interested in the field, however, most employers are looking for professionals with a graduate-level degree in the area.
A Master’s in Library Science and Information Sciences is the most versatile and common of such programs, and is designed to prepare students for a wide variety of career tracks, including head librarian (public, private, academic, corporate, etc.), data curator, research specialist, consulting, finance, and much more. Further, most MLS/MIS degrees are highly customizable, with minimal core requirements in order to allow students to tailor a curriculum that fits a student’s professional interests. Below, find our top 25 online programs.
- Affordability (1/3): the average out-of-state tuition per credit hour
- Completion Time (1/3): minimum amount of course work required for certification
- Academic Reputation (1/3): the rank of the school’s parent institution according to US News
1. The University of Alabama
The University of Alabama, founded in 1831, is a public research university located in Tuscaloosa. Alabama is consistently ranked among the top public schools in the country, receiving high marks from US News, Washington Monthly, and Forbes, among others; and, across the school’s 13 academic divisions, particular programs of note include Law, Business, Accountancy, and Communication. It is also the only university in the state to offer doctorate degrees in n anthropology, communication and information sciences, metallurgical engineering, music, Romance languages, and social work. Enrollment reached a record high in 2015, with a student body of 37,100, and graduates benefit from one of the largest, most loyal alumni networks in the world. They also might receive prestigious awards: Alabama has produced 15 Rhodes Scholars, 16 Truman Scholars, 32 Hollings Scholars, 6 Boren Scholars, and 47 Goldwater Scholars. In 2015-16, 11 Alabama students accepted Fulbright scholarships to study across the globe.
Alabama offers a Master of Library and Information Studies in either a 100% online format or hybrid, 75% online format, each of which are cohort-based in order to encourage an intimate and collaborative learning environment. Consisting of 36 credits, core requirements include Organization of Information, Introduction to Library and Information Studies, Research Methods, Information Sources and Services, and Information Technologies. From there, students take a management elective course and complete a combination of directed-research courses and internships. In particular, students will study the intersection of information management and organizations, and how to facilitate access to information. Alabama’s School of Library and Information Studies is ranked 18th nationally, and faculty are experts in the field with online education experience. Course work is typically completed in as little as two calendar years (6 semesters), though students with previous academic credit may transfer up to 9 hours into the program, accelerating the degree. This program is accredited by the American Library Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $360
2. University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a public research university in Tucson with a student enrollment of approximately 42,000. Founded in 1885, it is the oldest university in the state, as well as Arizona’s sole Association of American Universities member. The school offers more than 330 different bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and professional degrees; particular programs of note include in Earth Sciences, Pharmacy, Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Middle Eastern and North African Studies, Rehabilitation Counseling, Social Psychology, Medicine, and more. UA is also a leading research institution, ranking 20th among all public universities and bringing more than $606 million in research investment each year. As one of the country’s top 10 producers of Fulbright Scholars, graduates have the opportunity to continue their studies around the world or go on to pursue wildly diverse careers. Alumni include astronauts and actors; Grammy, Tony, Emmy, and Oscar winners; Fortune 500 CEOs; Nobel scientists, and best-selling authors.
Arizona’s online Master of Arts in Library and Information Science consists of 37 credits. The 15 core credits include Foundations of Library and Information Services, Research Methods for Library and Information Professionals, Organization of Information, Ethics for Library and Information Professionals, and a capstone externship to gain valuable real-world experience. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor their degree through a wide range of electives, distributed electives, or concentration work in either Academic Librarianship, Archives and Special Collections, Digital Information, Health Science Librarianship/Health Informatics, Law Librarianship/Legal Information, and Public Librarianship. (Note that some concentrations are available as separate graduate certificates, for those interested.) Arizona also offers an accelerated master’s (a five-year undergraduate to graduate degree) and dual master’s degrees in Journalism and Middle Eastern and North African Studies. The degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $900
3. University of Washington
Founded in 1861, the University of Washington is one of the oldest colleges on the West Coast, located in Seattle on the shores of Union and Portage Bays, with additional campuses in Tacoma and Bothell. UW offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees through 140 academic divisions, ranging from Business and Engineering, to Public Health and Law. And with a budget that ranks in the top 5 of both public and private universities in the nation, Washington is a leader among higher education research institutions; in fact, it has ranked second overall in federal research funding every year since 1974. The student body totals over 40,000, and UW boasts 136 Fulbright Scholars, 35 Rhodes Scholars, 7 Marshall Scholars, and 4 Gates Cambridge Scholars. Among its distinguished and diverse alumni include Baskin & Robbins co-founder Irv Robbins, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Marilynne Robinson, martial artist Bruce Lee, saxophonist Kenny G, and MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe.
Washington’s online Master of Library and Information Science prepares working professionals to pursue careers in private, government and non-profit sectors. Consisting of 63 credits, core requirements include Information Behavior; Information Resources, Services, and Collections; Organization of Information and Resources; Information and Society; Instructional and Training Strategies for Information Professionals; Research, Assessment, and Design, and Management of Information Organizations, among others. Students then have the opportunity to tailor the degree through elected course work. In particular, the curriculum is designed to provide a broad-based foundation of how information is organized, stored, searched, and used, in addition to relevant technological, policy, research, management, and design concepts. All students must also complete a 5-credit capstone and direct field experience to apply classroom theory to real-world scenarios. As the degree is primarily for part-time students, average completion time is 3 years; full-time students, however, may complete the degree in as little as 2 years. (Alternatively, students may choose to take up to 6 years.) UW also offers an MS and PhD in Information Science.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $765
4. University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee
The University of Wisconsin — Milwaukee, at 28,000 enrolled students, is the second largest university in the state, offering 191 degree programs, including 94 bachelor’s, 64 master’s, and 33 doctorate degrees. Classified by the Carnegie Foundation as an R1 research institution, well-regarded programs include Architecture and Urban Planning, Archives and Preservation, English, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Public Affairs, among others. UW Milwaukee also has an extensive online campus, developed and run in junction with the 13 other members of the University of Wisconsin System. Among the school’s diverse, distinguished alumni include Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft; Golda Meir, the fourth Prime Minister of Israel, and Alberto Fujimori, the 90th President of Peru.
UW Milwaukee’s online Master of Library and Information Science, among the top 15 best in the country, consists of 36 total credits. Core requirements include Foundations of Library and Information Science, Organization of Information, Information Access and Retrieval, and Research in Library and Information Science. From there, students have the opportunity to customize the degree through a wide variety of concentrations areas, including Archives, Public Library Administration, Information Literacy, and School Library Media, among others. Milwaukee’s flexible option allows for: earning credit for prior-learning, work experience, military training, or other learning experiences (up to 6 credits); self-paced course work; personalized academic advising through a success coach; start-and-stop degree progression, and pragmatic, professional-focused skills training. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA; students with a lower GPA may apply on a probationary status and submit GRE or Miller Analogies Test (MAT) scores.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $263
5. Kent State University
Kent State University, founded in 1910, is a public research university in Kent, Ohio, with additional campuses in Cleveland, Independence, Twinsburg, New York City, and Florence, Italy. The university also has a robust online education presence, with more than 30 undergraduate, graduate, and certificate programs available from a wide range of disciplines. (In total, the school offers 300 degrees, including 250 bachelors and 50 masters). KSU has received high academic marks from notable institutions: the Carnegie Foundation has ranked it in the top 80 public research universities in the country, and the Times Higher Education named it in the top 200 universities in the world in 2010. Further, as one of the largest higher education schools in Ohio (approximately 44,000 enrolled), Kent State boasts an alumni network of over 210,000 from all 50 states and more than 100 countries.
KSU’s online Master of Library and Information Science consists of 37-40 credits. Core requirements include The Information Landscape, Information Organization, People in the Information Ecology, Information Institutions and Professions, and Research and Assessment in Library and Information Science. From there, Kent State gives students the opportunity to tailor the degree in several ways: 14 specializations, concentrations from the MS program, or electives from Health informatics and/or Knowledge management. All students must also complete a portfolio and either internship, research project, research paper, or thesis to demonstrate mastery of course material. Graduates of the program will be prepared to: identify, assess, and implement new research methodologies; understand the changing cultural, educational, social roles, and responsibilities of librarians and information professionals; and connect individuals and communities with information that engages and empowers them. For those interested, KSU offers numerous dual degree opportunities for the MLIS. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $495
6. University of Maryland
Established in 1856, the University of Maryland is located in College Park, about 4 miles outside of Washington, D.C. The university is one of just 62 members of the Association of American Universities, offering 127 undergraduate majors and 112 graduate programs from 13 different schools. In addition to ranking high among American universities, The Academic Ranking of World Universities ranks Maryland 43rd in the world. Maryland is also among the top producers of volunteers in the world, according to the US Peace Corps, and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance ranks it 9th overall for in-state value. Notable alumni include Google co-founder Sergey Brin; The Muppets creator Jim Henson; TV-writer David Simon; comedian Larry David; the President and CEO of CNN, and the founder of Under Armor, among others. Both current faculty and alumni have been named Nobel Laureates.
Maryland’s Master of Library Science consists of 36 credits, which can be completed in as little as 2 years (or as many as 5). Core requirements include Serving Information Needs, Achieving Organizational Excellence, Creating Information Infrastructures, and Designing Principled Inquiry. The program then offers specialization opportunities in either Individualized Program Plan and School Library. (Note that on-campus students may have a wider range of specialization options.) Alternatively, students may pursue an Individualized Program Plan; for this track, Maryland suggests Knowledge Area course packages in subjects like Accessibility and Usability, Health Informatics, Planning and Evaluation, and Management and Leadership. Formerly a cohort-based program, the MLS is now asynchronous for maximum flexibility and to accommodate students balancing professional demands. For those interested, the iSchool also offers a Master of Information Management, PhD track, and Curation and Management of Digital Assets (CMDA) Certificate. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,363
7 (tied). University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private research institution in Los Angeles with an enrollment of approximately 40,000 students. Founded in 1880, USC is today considered one of the preeminent universities in the country, with five Nobel Laureates, eight Rhodes Scholars, three MacArthur Fellows, 181 Fulbright Scholars, one Turing Award winner, and three winners of the National Medal of Arts as either graduates or staff members. The Princeton Review, Forbes, U.S. News, USA Today, and the Academic Ranking of World Universities routinely place it in top 10 lists. The university is also a major contributor to the local economy, contributing $5 billion a year to the Los Angeles county area. While the school is rightly known for its ties to Hollywood, USC alumni are among the country’s most prominent business leaders: Myspace, Salesforce.com, Intuit, Qualcomm, Box, Tinder, and of course LucasFilm all boast USC graduates as founders and CEOs.
USC offers an online Master of Management in Library and Information Science consists of 38 credits. Core requirements include Fundamentals of Library and Information Science, Library Leadership and Management, Collection Development and Management, Research Methods, and Strategic Information and Competition Analysis, among others. In particular, USC’s degree is unique in that it is the only library and information science degree program to be housed within a top-ranked business school, giving students a best-of-both-worlds curricular approach that is grounded in theory and practice. On graduation, students will be prepared to work in libraries, museums, businesses, government agencies, medical centers, and a wide variety of other professional settings. Courses deliver in five 15-week blocks, and students can complete the degree in as little as 20 months. Further, USC’s online school is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ busy schedules. Applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA, but GRE/GMAT scores are not required. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA), Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), and the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,733
7 (tied). University of Wisconsin — Madison
The University of Wisconsin — Madison is the oldest and flagship university of the state system, established in 1848. Made up of 20 schools and colleges, the university has a student body of over 40,000 and 136 undergraduate majors, 48 master’s degree programs, 120 doctoral degrees. Madison is also one of the most prestigious universities in the country, a founding member of the Association of American Universities and a public ivy. Its research program ranks 3rd in the country for expenditures, which total over $1 billion a year. Graduates of the school benefit from a robust and active alumni network of nearly 400,000, and the school is affiliated with 21 Nobel Prize winners and 34 Pulitzer Prize winners. Among its distinguished alumni include Frank Lloyd Wright, Charles Lindbergh, Laurel Clark, Joyce Carol Oates, Dick Cheney, Wayne Morse, John Muir, and many more.
Madison’s online Master’s in Library & Information Studies consists of 39 credits. Core requirements include Information: Perspectives and Contexts, Information: Organization and Search, Research and Assessment for Information Professionals, and a minimum of one course in each management and technology. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree through elective course work and/or one of 17 specializations, like Digital Libraries and Resources, Reference and Public Services, Law Librarianship, and Youth Services. (Some specializations are not available online or are limited.) In addition, all students must complete a 120-hour practicum and e-portfolio in order to gain practical real-world experience and demonstrate mastery of course material. Students with previous academic credit may transfer up to 6 credits into the program. Additional benefits include small class sizes, schedule flexibility, career services, academic advising, and online orientation. The degree has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,593
7 (tied). University of Buffalo
Founded in 1846 by Millard Fillmore as a private college, the University of Buffalo merged with the State University of New York System in 1962. Today, with campuses in Buffalo, Amherst, and New York City, the student body is approximately 30,000, and the school offers over 100 bachelor’s, 205 master’s, 84 doctoral, and 10 professional programs. Forbes, Washington Monthly, US News, and BusinessWeek all rank it among the top universities in the country; and Kiplinger’s Personal Finance has singled out its value for both in- and out-of-state tuition. With over 230,000 alumni across 130 countries, Buffalo’s network of graduates is extensive and diverse: Wolf Blitzer, Harvey Weinstein, Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Terry Gross, Charles Mingus, and numerous other Nobel Laureates, politicians, Pulitzer Prize winners, and Rhodes Scholars.
Buffalo’s online MS in Information and Library Science consists of 36 credits. Core requirements include Introduction to Library and Information Studies, Reference Sources and Services, Introduction to Information Technology, Organization of Information, and Management of Libraries and Information Agencies. Students then have the opportunity to customize the curriculum through 21 credits of either electives or a concentration, like Collection Development, Special libraries, and Public or academic libraries. (For those interested, there are also concentrations in Music and Law with a concurrent MA/JD.) All course work is designed to accommodate students’ schedules, and admission is rolling for maximum flexibility. Further, students who still want an on-campus component may opt to follow a hybrid track. Typical degree completion time is only 4 semesters, though part-time students may take up to 5 years. Related programs available include an MS in School Librarianship and an Advanced Graduate Certificate in Information and Library Science. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,083
10. Florida State University
Florida State University, founded in 1851, is located in Tallahassee, with a student body of approximately 40,000. Considered a top public school in the country, among FSU’s best-regarded programs include law, business, engineering, medicine, social policy, film, music, theater, dance, visual art, political science, psychology, social work, and the sciences. It has also received excellent marks for affordability: the Princeton Review and USA Today have it fourth overall in value, and the Fisk Guide to Getting into College named it a “Budget Ivy.” FSU’s faculty consists of Nobel Laureates, two Pulitzer Prize winners, 11 active Guggenheim Fellowship recipients, and over 30 Fulbright Scholars. FSU grads benefit from an active alumni network of over 340,000 from across the world, including politicians, entertainers, business executives, and leaders in academia.
The school’s MS in Information consists of 36 hours, which students have up to 7 years to complete. Core requirements include Research Methods in Information Studies, Assessing Information Needs, Introduction to Information Policy, Foundations of the Information Professions, Management of Information Organizations, and Information Organization. Students then have the option to tailor the degree through 24 credits of free electives (many of which are also available as certificate programs) or follow one of 10 concentration tracks, like Technology & Networking, Leadership & Management, Health Informatics, and General Librarianship. Additional tracks offered are: a thesis option, which totals 6 credits; an MA track, which requires proficiency in a foreign language and course work in the liberal arts; and a joint JD/MS degree, totaling 106 hours. All online course work is designed to accommodate students’ schedules, and the Blackboard learning platform encourages a collaborative, intimate learning environment through group discussion threads, live chat rooms, and virtual classrooms. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,210
11 (tied). University of Illinois
The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, founded in 1867, is the state’s second oldest university, with 150 undergraduate and 100 graduate and professional programs. It is widely regarded as one of the top public universities in the country, appearing on rankings in U.S. News & World Report, Times Higher Education World University Rankings, Academic Ranking of World Universities, QS World University Rankings, and more. It has also been listed as a “public ivy,” and is considered one of the top research universities in the US, according to the Carnegie Foundation and The Center for Measuring University Performance. Among its distinguished alumni and faculty include 21 Nobel laureates and 20 Pulitzer Prize-winners, and Illinois graduates have gone onto found or lead such organizations as Netscape Communications, PayPal, the NFL, YouTube, THX, Yelp!, and more.
U of I’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science consists of 40 credits, only two of which are required – Information Organization and Access and Libraries, Information, and Society. After that, students are given the freedom to build a highly tailored degree with their academic advisor that fits their professional needs and interests. Through professional curriculum tracks and/or degree specializations, Illinois helps lay down a road map for studies in Archival Information Services, Data Management and Data Curation, Research and Information Services, Information Organization and Management, Socio-technical Data Analytics, and Digital Libraries and Asset Management, among others. (Certificate programs are also available.) Though not required, many students choose to complete a thesis or practicum to gain valuable real-world experience and demonstrate mastery of study material. Additional online resources include robust career services and networking availability, e-library access, and several entry dates throughout the year to accommodate students’ schedules. For those interested, the on-campus track features several online courses, as well. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $802
11 (tied). Syracuse University
Syracuse University in New York is a private research school with a total student enrollment of just over 20,000. Founded in 1831, Syracuse offers more than 200 undergraduate degrees, plus master’s, doctorate, and 24 Certificate of Advanced Study Programs. Among the school’s most prestigious degrees are in information studies and library science, architecture, communications, business administration, inclusive education and wellness, sport management, public administration, engineering, and the liberal arts. Overall, Syracuse has appeared on top lists in The Princeton Review, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Forbes, Washington Monthly, and U.S. News & World Report. Almost 90% of faculty hold terminal degrees, and many are considered leading experts in their discipline. Distinguished alumni include Vice President Joe Biden, Stephen Crane, Dick Clark, Samuel Irving Newhouse, Jr., Lou Reed, Megyn Kelly, and numerous others.
Syracuse’s MS in Library and Information Science consists of 36 credits and can be completed in as little as 18 months. Core requirements include 18 credits in Introduction to the Library and Information Profession, Reference and Information Literacy Services, Information Resources: Organization and Access, Management Principles for Information Professionals, Information Policy, and Library Planning, Marketing, and Assessment. The second half of the curriculum is customizable through free electives or a School Media specialization for students teaching K-12. Finally, all students must complete a a three-credit internship or independent study as a capstone experience. (A non-credit, biannual immersion course is available to encourage peer-to-peer learning and expose students to potential career paths.) Course work delivers though synchronous, virtual class meetings each week, and an innovative learning platform promotes collaborative, intimate learning. Related programs offered include an MS in Information Management and a CAS that can be completed concurrently. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,443
11 (tied). Drexel University
Drexel University is a private research university in Philadelphia, with a satellite campus in Sacramento. Founded in 1891, the school has a total enrollment over 26,000 and offers 70 bachelor’s degrees, 100 master’s degrees, and doctoral and professional programs. There are more than a dozen schools and colleges in business, the liberal arts, medicine, law, education, entrepreneurship, hospitality and sports management, nursing and health, engineering, and technology. The school’s unique co-op programs is one of the oldest in the country; in exchange for traditional classroom credits, students complete an 18-month, full-time paid internship in a field relevant to their academic focus. The school has also developed a large online education program, launched in 1996. Since its inception, Drexel has become a leader in distance education and founded National Distance Learning Week in 2007, which recognizes schools for excellence and innovation in online education. Today nearly 10,000 students are enrolled in Drexel online classes.
The school’s online MS in Library Science and Information Science consists of 45 credits. Core requirements include Introduction to Research in Information Organizations, Social Context of Information Professions, Information Users and Services, Information Access & Resources, Foundations of Information Systems, and Managing Information Organizations. With an emphasis on customization, students can tailor the remainder of the degree (27 credits) to fit professional needs and interests through free electives and a concentration in one of five areas: Archival Studies, Digital Curation, Digital Libraries, Library and Information Services, and Youth Services. Course scheduling is designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate working professionals, and classes use interactive technologies to keep students engaged, challenged, and interested. All students also receive academic advisors, career services, 24/7 tech support, e-library services, and study abroad opportunities. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,192
14. University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh is among the oldest universities in the country, founded in 1787 as Pittsburgh Academy. As a member of the Association of American Universities, Pitt is among the most prestigious public universities in the country, with well-respected programs in the sciences, medicine, business, and law, among others. Further, Pitt has been recognized for affordability and value by Kiplinger’s, the Princeton Review, and several other publications. It is also in the top ten recipients of federally sponsored research funding and has nearly $1 billion in research and development expenditures per year. It has produced numerous scholarship and award winners, and ranks in the top 20 for Fulbright scholars. Distinguished alumni and faculty include Michael Chabon, Wangari Maathai, Andrew W. Mellon, Nobel Laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners, and numerous other politicians, professional athletes, and academics.
Pitt’s online Master of Library and Information Science consists of 36 credits. Core requirements include Understanding Information, Organizing and Retrieving Information, Introduction to Information Technologies, and Managing & Leading Libraries & Information Services. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor course work to their professional interests through free electives or one of nine concentrations: Academic Libraries, Information Technology, Public Libraries, Resources & Services (3 variants), and a School Library Certification Program, among others. Courses are designed to accommodate students’ schedules and deliver asynchronously to allow for self-paced study. Full-time students on an accelerated track are able to complete the degree in as little as three consecutive semesters; otherwise, part-time students may take up to four years. All students receive an academic advisor to plan a curriculum, full career services, e-library access, and more. For those interested, hybrid delivery tracks may be available, as well. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,512
15. University of South Carolina
The University of South Carolina is located in Columbia, with seven satellite campuses. Founded in 1801, USC is the state’s flagship university and has a total student body of nearly 50,000. There are more than 350 programs are offered – bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, and professional – across 15 schools, covering liberal arts, business, education, health sciences, social work, medicine, and more. Of particular note are South Carolina’s undergraduate and graduate programs in International Business, which have been ranked in the top 2 program nationwide for more than a decade. Other highlighted programs include psychology, exercise science, pediatrics, and electrical engineering. With 250,000 alumni, graduates benefit from an active alumni network, which includes politicians, CEOs, business executives, education leaders, and professional athletes.
The USC online Master of Library and Information Science consists of 36 hours, only 9 of which are required. The majority of the degree can be tailored according to individual students’ professional interests. All students must also complete a portfolio composed of a resume, vision statement, and work samples. In particular, the six curricular pillars are information and organization, information services, leadership and management, research, technology, and professional development. Eligible students with previous academic credit may transfer up to 6 credits, and hybrid delivery formats are available for students interested in some on-campus courses. For K-12 teachers, USC also offers a School Library Certification, which can be completed in as little as 2.5-3 years. Applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA and must submit either GRE or MAT scores. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,245
16. Clarion University of Pennsylvania
Founded in 1867, Clarion University of Pennsylvania is one of fourteen universities in the state system, offering associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and professional certificate programs. Among the school’s 100 degrees include studies in Nursing, Human Services, Finance, Management and Marketing, Accountancy, Psychology, Communication, and Visual and Performing Arts. Enrollment is approximately 5,500, and students come from 48 states and 18 countries. In addition to the flagship campus and satellite in Oil City, Clarion has a growing online presence with award-winning programs, expert faculty, and a low student-to-faculty ratio to keep class sizes small. Among Clarion’s 60,000 distinguished alumni include politicians, professional athletes, business executives, and more.
Clarion’s online MS in Information and Library Science consists of 36 credits. The 12 core credits include Informational Sources and Services, Organization of Information, Introduction to the Information Professions, and Integrated Technologies in Libraries. Students then complete one management course, an internship or research project in librarianship, and 18 credits of electives to tailor the degree to professional needs and interests. Graduates of the program will be prepared to: create, select, acquire, manage, and maintain the information environment through user analysis; provide information services to a diverse community; evaluate both current and emerging information technologies in libraries and information centers; and participate in local, regional, and national professional development opportunities. All online students have access to career services, tutoring, a writing center, orientation, and additional services. Note that eligible students with previous academic credits may transfer up to 6 credits into the program. Further, K-12 students may consider adding a concentration in School Library Media.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $508
17 (tied). University of North Carolina – Greensboro
The University of North Carolina – Greensboro, or UNCG, is a public liberal arts and research university offering more than 100 undergraduate, 61 master’s, and 26 doctoral programs across 8 schools. Founded in 1891, the school has an on-campus enrollment of 17,200, with another 2,200 enrolled in online classes. UNCG maintains a 18:1 student-to-faculty ratio to keep classes small and encourage collaborative, intimate learning. 55% of full-time faculty are tenured and 81% hold a doctorate or terminal degree in their field. The school has received high marks from several publications, including the Princeton Review and US News, for excellent value, military benefits, and its online school. Among its distinguished alumni include the CEO of the American Psychological Association, musician Emmylou Harris, Pulitzer Prize winner Claudia Emerson, poet Kathryn Stripling Byer, and many other professional athletes, politicians, and business leaders.
UNCG’s online Master of Library and Information Studies (36 credits) prepares graduates for leadership positions in academic, public, school, and special libraries, as well as roles in both public and private agencies and cultural organizations as information specialists. Core requirements include Foundations of Library and Information Studies, Information Sources and Services, Information Organization and Access, Library Administration and Management, a capstone experience in Library and Information Studies, and one course in an elected technology skill. Students then have the opportunity to tailor the degree with advisors through 19 electives from other graduate courses in Library and Information Studies or cognate fields. In-state students teaching K-12 should note that UNCG also offers several licensures and certificates in School Library, School Library Supervisor, Computer Education, and Instructional Technology. (Tracks with a teaching component are accredited by the NCATE.) Applicants should have earned a 3.5 undergraduate GPA; otherwise, GRE or MAT scores may be submitted. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $438
17 (tied). University of Colorado – Denver
The University of Colorado – Denver has campuses downtown and in nearby Aurora, which houses the Anschutz Medical Center. Bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and certificate programs are available across a wide spectrum of study areas, from Architecture & Design, to Education & Counseling, to Social & Behavioral Sciences. As the largest research institution in the state, UC Denver receives more than $400 million per year in research grants. The school has received high rankings from publications like Forbes, the Princeton Review, and US News, with its graduate school particularly well-regarded. Further, the Faculty Scholarly Productivity Index ranks Denver in the top 10 for biomedical sciences, developmental biology, human and medical genetics, oncology and cancer biology, structural biology and toxicology. The school’s online programs have rapidly expanded in recent years, and there are now more than 450 offered. There are nearly 100,000 alumni worldwide.
UC Denver offers an online MA in Information and Learning Technologies with a concentration in School Library that consists of 30 credits, covering information and learning strategies, school library management, collection development, collaborative planning, instructional design, and instructional leadership topics. All students must also complete a professional portfolio as a capstone in order to demonstrate mastery of material. The curriculum is designed in structured units so each term’s courses are complementary and build toward the next unit. All online courses at Denver are designed for maximum flexibility to accommodate students’ schedules, and the Canvas learning platform encourages an engaging, collaborative, and interactive learning environment that simulates a traditional classroom experience. Students also have the opportunity to take sample online courses to determine if distance learning fits their learning style, and hybrid deliver options are available. This degree is accredited by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $427
17 (tied). Rutgers University
Rutgers University is the largest institution for higher education in New Jersey, with campuses in New Brunswick, Piscataway, Newark, and Camden. The eighth-oldest college in the United States, Rutgers was originally chartered in 1766 as Queen’s College. Today the school has 9,000 faculty members in 175 academic departments teaching 67,000 students – 48,000 undergraduate and 19,000 graduate. THe school has received high marks for a number of areas, and its graduate programs in Library Science, English, History (particularly Women’s and African American History), and Mathematics are considered among the best in the nation. Notable alumni and faculty include Milton Friedman, Robert Pinsky, Bernard Marcus, Louis Gluck, James Gandolfini, David Stern, Mario Batali, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The school is a member of he Committee on Institutional Cooperation, the Association of American Universities, and the Universities Research Association.
Rutgers offers an online Master of Information that consists of 36 credits. Some core classes include Human Information Behavior, Organizing Information, Management Principles for the Information Professions, Information and Society, and Information technologies for Library & Information Service Agencies. The bulk of the curriculum is determined through elective course work and/or a concentration in Library and Information Science, Data Science, Informatics & Design, or Technology, Information, and Management. On a full-time track, students are able to complete the degree in as little as 1.5 years, though have up to 3 years. (Eligible students with previous academic credit may transfer up to 6 credits into the program.) For those interested, Rutgers also offers New Jersey certification tracks for School Library and Public Library. Courses are designed for maximum flexibility and deliver asynchronously to allow self-paced study. Further, the average class size is 14 to encourage an intimate, collaborative learning environment. The online program was built with funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services; it is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,000
20. University of Central Missouri
The University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg is about 50 miles southeast of Kansas City, home to approximately 14,000 students from 42 states and 61 countries. At 16:1, the student-to-faculty ratio is excellent, meaning more one-on-one instruction and small classes; and of the nearly 500 faculty members on staff, over 70% hold a PhD or terminal degree in their field. There are 150 programs available – from bachelor’s and master’s degrees, education specialist options, and/or a cooperative doctorate; these include 10 pre-professional programs, 27 teacher certifications, and 37 graduate programs. UCM also prides itself on having the lowest tuition in the state, and 92% of students receive some form of financial aid or merit-based scholarships, which total more than $5 million per year.
Central Missouri’s Master of Science Library Science and Information Services consists of 35 credits and is designed to prepare graduates to become school librarians. Core requirements include Foundations of Librarianship, Library Media Administration, Developing & Managing Collections, Library Systems & Information Technology, Organizing Information, Curriculum & the Media Center, and Children’s, Adolescent & Young Adult Literature, among others. (Students interested in pursuing a Missouri School Library Media Specialist PK-12 certification should consult with their advisor.) Courses deliver asynchronously through the Blackboard learning platform, allowing for self-paced study and encouraging a collaborative learning approach through group discussion threads, live chat rooms, and virtual classroom work. Online students receive personal academic advisors, career services, online orientation, 24/7 tech support, writing center, student success center, and e-library access. Applicants should have earned at least a 2.75 undergraduate GPA. The degree is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $324
21 (tied). University of North Texas
The University of North Texas in Denton dates back to 1890. Originally a teaching college, the school went through several incarnations throughout the 20th century – alternatively North Texas State Teachers College, North Texas State College, and North Texas State University – until becoming UNT in 1989. The university is sub-divided into 10 colleges, two graduate schools, and an academy, covering the sciences, engineering fields, liberal arts, fine arts, performing arts, humanities, public policy, and more. (There are an additional 34 doctorate programs.) UNT’s enrollment is around 38,000, and its 326,000 alumni can be found in a wide range of careers; over 200,000 live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Some notable graduates include the musicians Roy Orbison and Michael Lee Aday (better known as “Meat Loaf”); Adel al-Jubeir, Saudi ambassador to the United States and former adviser to the Royal Court of Saudi Arabia; NASA professional James Pawelczyk; architect O’Neil Ford; and Bishop Leontine T. Kelly, among others.
UNT’s MS in Library Services is designed to prepare students to work in public libraries, academic libraries, and/or special libraries maintained by government agencies, corporations, law firms, medical centers, or museums. Core requirements include Information and Knowledge Professions, Information Organization, and Information Access and Knowledge Inquiry. From there, students have the opportunity to tailor the degree through a variety of either guided or general electives, such as Management of Information Agencies, Information Resources Development, and Health Informatics Specialist. Alternatively, students can concentrate in one of the following six areas: Archival Studies & Imaging Technology, Distributed Learning Librarianship, Information Organization, Law Librarianship and Legal Informatics, Music Librarianship, and Youth Librarianship. (Note that an on-campus MS in Information Science is offered, as well.) Courses deliver through the Blackboard learning platform to create a peer-to-peer learning model with group discussion boards, live chat rooms, and more. Students typically complete the degree in as little as 4-5 semesters on a full-time schedule. Applicants should have earned a 3.0 undergraduate GPA or must submit GRE, MAT, or GMAT scores. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $635
21 (tied). San Jose State University
San Jose State University is the founding school of California’s 23-campus public system. Offering 134 bachelor’s and master’s degrees in addition to professional programs, among the most popular areas of study are in software engineering, electrical engineering, library and information sciences, social work, and occupational therapy; in particular, engineering-related programs are the largest and highest-ranked discipline at SJSU, perhaps unsurprising given the school’s proximity to Silicon Valley. (SJSU alumni ere hired by Silicon Valley firms than graduates of any other university.) For prestige, affordability, value, and ROI, SJSU is featured in rankings by BusinessWeek, the Princeton Review, PayScale, Business Insider, and Money Magazine. 60% of the school’s 220,000 alumni live the San Francisco Bay Area, and distinguished graduates include Gordon Moore, founder of Intel Corporation and author of Moore’s Law; Ray Dolby, engineer and founder of Dolby Laboratories; and 200 other alumni who have founded, co-founded, or serve(d) as senior executives at companies reporting annual sales between $40 million and $26 billion.
SJSU’s Master of Library and Information Science consists of 43 credits (6 required courses and 9 electives). Core requirements include Information Communities, Information Retrieval System Design, Information Professions, Online Learning: Tools and Strategies for Success, Research Methods in Library and Information Science, and either an e-portfolio or thesis to demonstrate mastery of material. Students then have the opportunity to customize the degree according to professional areas of interest through free electives or a track in Teacher Librarian, Big Data, Digital Assets, or Post-Master’s, each of which includes a credential or certificate. (For interested students, SJSU offers a related MS in Archives and Records Administration.) All courses have a technology focus and are designed for maximum flexibility, including select 7-week accelerated options. On a full-time, max course load, students can complete the degree in as little as 4 consecutive semesters, creating a career fast-track; otherwise, traditional completion time is 2 years. The degree is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $474
23. Texas Woman’s University
Texas Woman’s University is a co-educational university in Denton, just north of the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, with satellite campuses in Dallas and Houston. With an enrollment of approximately 15,000 students, TWU offers programs in the liberal arts, nursing, health sciences, the sciences, business, and education across five colleges and schools. The university has a particular emphasis on the sciences and graduates more new health care professionals than any other university in the state. TWU also has a robust online school and offers bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional programs across a wide spectrum of fields, from Special Education and Family Studies, to Management and Marketing. Among its distinguished alumni include politicians, academics, business leaders, athletes, and artists.
TWU’s online Master of Library Science Degree consists of 36 credits and prepares students for work in academic, public, private, and specialized libraries. (An MA is also available.) Core requirements include Foundations of Library and Information Studies, Information Organization and Retrieval, Information and Communication Technology, Collection Development, Information Sources and Services, Library Management, and a practicum to gain real-world experience, which includes 280 hours of professionally supervised internships. (Note that current professional librarians may waive this requirement.) Students then have the opportunity to take 15 credits of electives to tailor the degree according to professional interests, or complete various tracks for School Librarian certification. All students must also complete a non-credit Final Exam Portfolio to graduate. All courses are flexible to accommodate students’ schedules, and capped classes guarantee an intimate educational experience. TWU’s LIS program is the oldest in the state and has been accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) since 1938.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $659
24. St. John’s University
Founded in 1870, St. John’s University is a private, Roman Catholic in New York City, with international campuses in Rome, Italy, and Paris; and study abroad locations in Seville, Spain, and around the world. The school offers more than 100 bachelor’s, master’s, doctoral, and professional programs, and has been highlighted by the Wall Street Journal, Princeton Review, Forbes, and Business Insider. With an enrollment of over 20,000, St. John’s diverse student body comes from all 50 states and nearly 120 countries worldwide. 92% of faculty hold a doctorate or terminal degree, and many are considered leading experts in their field. Among the school’s 170,000 alumni, notable graduates include former New York Governors Hugh L. Carey and Mario M. Cuomo, former California Governor George Deukmejian, U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, and former Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce Ronald H. Brown. As a Catholic university with Vincentian roots, SJU also places a special emphasis on service, social justice, and charity.
The university’s online MS in Library and Information Science consists of 36 credits and designed to prepare students for a wide variety of professions, from public libraries, to risk management, to financial services. Core requirements include Information Organization, Introduction to Library and Information Science, Information Sources and Services, and Research and Evaluation Methods. With assistance from an advisor, students then tailor the degree through electives and specialization tracks, which include Academic Librarianship, Archival Studies, Law Librarianship, Public Librarianship, Special Librarianship, and Youth Services. Finally, students complete an e-portfolio to demonstrate mastery of course material and showcase work to potential employers. Courses are available in 100% online and hybrid formats to maximize flexibility. Applicants should have earned at least a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. The degree is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,170
25. University of Kentucky
The University of Kentucky in Lexington was founded in 1865. As one of the oldest universities in the state, Kentucky is also the largest, with a total enrollment of nearly 30,000 and 93 undergraduate programs, 99 master’s, 66 doctorates, and four professional programs. The sixteen schools on campus cover a wide range of arts and sciences, including business, medicine, public policy, engineering, education, law, and many more, which have been ranked by the Faculty Scholarly Activity Index, Princeton Review, US News, and other publications. Among the 220,000 UK alumni (140,000 of which live in the state), distinguished graduates include Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, actress Ashley Judd, several Nobel Prize winners, and seven former governors.
Kentucky’s online MS in Library Science that prepares students to work in public, private, academic, or special library settings and consists of 36 credits. Core requirements include Information in Society; Information Seeking, Retrieval & Services; Management in LIS; Information Representation & Access; two IT courses, and a foundational requirement, which includes a practicum option. From there, students add 4 credits of elective course work to tailor the degree to areas of professional interest. In consultation with an advisor, students may opt to concentrate in one of nine tracks: Academic Libraries; Generalist; Health Information; Information Organization/Knowledge Representation; Information Systems; Instructional Services; Public Libraries; School Librarian Program; and Youth Services and Literature. Courses deliver in asynchronous blocks, allowing for self-paced study and maximum flexibility to accommodate schedules, and students on a traditional track are able to complete the degree in as little as two years; UK also offers an accelerated track which can be completed in 18 months. Note that, as an added benefit, online tuition matches state tuition. This degree is accredited by the American Library Association.
- Estimated Cost Per Credit Hour: $1,423