2020 Top Online Master’s Programs in Library Science

Written by: Staff Writer
Last Updated: June 2020

Online master's programs in library science provide graduates with the theoretical and practical skills needed to manage private and public library and archive collections. The curriculum focuses on research methods used in libraries in universities, law firms, and schools. 

Online master's programs in library science require 40-60 credits and take students 1-2 years to complete. The best master's programs in library science are accredited by the American Library Association. 

Library science students can often personalize their experience through concentrations or electives in subjects like library administration, archival and special collections, digital services, and data and asset management. Through internships and fieldwork, students receive practical training in managing databases and collections of books and materials. During these experiences, students learn how to create and manage records, oversee online reference systems, and address organizational and access issues.

The best master's programs in library science prepare students to become librarians, archivists, information brokers, and media specialists. Graduates entering fields such as elementary schools and public libraries may need state licensure. 

In this guide, find out which schools offer the best master's programs in library science and learn more about typical courses and degree requirements. 

Top 10 Online Master's Programs in Library Science 2020

1. Texas Woman's University

2. University of North Texas

3. University of Colorado Denver

4. University of South Florida

5. Texas A&M University-Commerce

6. University of West Georgia

7. Sam Houston State University

8. Valdosta State University

9. University of Southern California

10. East Carolina University

Online Master's in Library Science Overview

The broad curriculum offered in an online master's program in library science prepares students for multiple careers. About 33% of the total 134,800 librarians employed in 2018 worked at elementary and secondary schools. Another 31% of librarians worked for local government. About 18% were employed at colleges and universities, while 7% worked in information services. 

In 2019, librarians earned a median annual salary of $59,050, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS projects jobs for librarians to grow 6% between 2018 and 2028. The highest-earning 10% of librarians make about $93,050 each year.

Earning a master's in library science online prepares graduates to work in information science or libraries. These professionals help patrons access print and digital materials at government agencies, museums, elementary and secondary schools, and colleges. Specific job duties vary depending on the employer. 

Librarians often catalog library resources and organize databases. They can work as corporate librarians, law librarians, medical librarians, and academic librarians. Librarians usually work full time, spending many hours assisting patrons at a front desk. 

Librarians stay current on the latest book releases and organize programs for the public. Librarians also handle administrative tasks such as overseeing the training and hiring of staff and volunteers. They also create and manage budgets. 

Employers usually prefer to hire librarians with master's degrees. Many graduates go on to earn state certifications or licenses, which enable them to work at school and public libraries. To work in schools, graduates might need to take the PRAXIS II Library Media Specialist examination. Prospective law librarians may need to earn a law degree.

Library science students can focus on potential careers by pursuing specializations or concentrations. 

Common Online Master's in Library Science Courses

Introduction to Archives and Records Management: This course gives students the fundamental knowledge and skills needed to work in libraries and historical societies. The curriculum prepares students to conduct effective records maintenance and management. Students leave this course knowing how to create and maintain various records, including archives and manuscripts, film and media, rare books and special collections, and digital records. 


Foundations of Library and Information Sciences: This course provides a broad overview of librarianship practices, standards, theories, ethics, and values. Coursework covers future challenges and trends facing information institutions and how technology and policies shape libraries, museums, and archives. Students leave the course with an understanding of how political, cultural, and social factors shape information infrastructures.


Research Methods in Library and Information Science: Students enrolled in this course learn strategies and techniques to conduct research in library and information sciences. The course focuses on both quantitative and qualitative analysis, preparing students to conduct surveys, investigations, and experiments. By the end of this course, students have the knowledge needed to evaluate research and to apply methods and theories in the field.


Advanced Library Administration: An advanced library administration course equips students with the management skills needed for careers as administrators in libraries and archives. This course teaches students the basic operations principles, theories, and problem-solving approaches that administrators use in libraries every day. Students also gain the knowledge needed to manage, recruit, and train library personnel. 


Indexing and Abstracting: This course covers the technical processes of information organization that allow institutions to store and retrieve information. Students learn to use indexing terms, create indexes, and translate book indexes. These skills help graduates launch careers as archivists and librarians. 

Online Master's in Library Science Program Concentrations

To hone specific skills, library science students often pursue concentrations, specializations, and electives. Concentration options often include data and information management, school media and youth services, archival studies, and public librarianship. Concentrations in most online master's programs in library science require 20-24 credits. 

Students pursuing a concentration in data and information management might complete coursework in managing digital information, linked data, records management, and digital curation. This concentration prepares graduates for careers as data managers, digital asset managers, and research analysts. 

Learners pursuing a concentration in information technology and user experience might take courses in information ethics and policy, strategic information services, and information architecture and interaction design. This concentration provides graduates with the knowledge needed to begin careers as library technologists, systems analysts, and digital asset managers. 

Students interested in working in the public sector may opt for a specialization in diversity and inclusion. This specialization prepares students to improve access to information institutions through courses such as information ethics, information policy, literacy and inclusion, information and human rights, and advocacy and support for information services. Graduates often find work in public and school libraries. 

A youth services specialization prepares students to work with children to promote literacy. This specialization often consists of courses in literature and related resources for children and popular culture and young adults. Graduates who earn a youth services specialization begin careers as librarians and library coordinators. 

Online Master's in Library Science Program Requirements

Students enroll in online master's programs in library science with different levels of career and educational experience. All prospective students need a bachelor's degree from an accredited college. Many applicants hold bachelor's degrees in library science. However, library science programs also accept learners with degrees in other undergraduate fields. 

Online applications typically require a resume with each student's employment history. Some management or executive programs may require up to six years of work experience. Prospective students must also submit supplemental materials like transcripts and letters of recommendation. 

Many library science programs require a 3.0 undergraduate GPA for admission. Depending on the program, prospective students may also need to submit GMAT or GRE scores. 

Applicants must often submit personal statements, which ask students to explain their career ambitions and why they want to earn a master's in library science online. These statements are often 2-3 pages. 

Many programs also require an application fee. In some cases, active-duty services members, veterans, and low-income students may apply for fee waivers. Programs often maintain fixed application deadlines for prospective graduate students. However, some online programs offer rolling admissions, accepting applications throughout the year.

Steps to Earn a Library Science Degree

1. Complete a Bachelor's Degree: Prospective librarians must earn a bachelor's degree from an accredited college, which usually takes four years. Accelerated online programs often allow students to graduate sooner through eight-week and 10-week terms. Most bachelor's programs require 120 credits. Incoming students can occasionally earn college credits for professional or military experience. 


2. Enroll in a Master's Program: Undergraduate students should meet with their academic advisors during their junior or senior year to receive guidance on how to get into graduate school. After choosing a program, prospective students should review admission requirements and prepare to take the GMAT or GRE if necessary. Learners should also begin asking professors, advisors, or supervisors to write letters of recommendation.


3. Complete Required Coursework: Most online master's programs in library science take two years to complete and require 30-40 credits. Accelerated formats allow students to graduate in 16-18 months. Transfer students with previous college credits may also earn their degree in less time. Students can tailor their studies to their career interests by pursuing concentrations or specializations. 


4. Complete Any Internship or Thesis Requirements: Graduate students earning a master's in library science online must often complete a final project, internship, thesis, or portfolio. Students also gain practical experience through fieldwork placements at libraries, archives, or museums. During their final semester, students should also prepare a resume, work samples, or a digital portfolio. 

 

2020 Best Online Master's in Library Science Programs

1. Texas Woman's University

Founded in 1901, Texas Woman's University is the largest university that primarily serves women, hosting more than 15,000 students each year. The school's online master's degree in library science combines asynchronous and synchronous delivery methods. 

One of the best master's programs in library science, the 36-credit program covers topics like information retrieval, collection development, and library management. The major also includes a practicum. Students can use electives to specialize in academic, public, or special libraries. To graduate, students must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete a final exam portfolio. TWU also offers online school librarian certification. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Applicants with lower grades may need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. Students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer. The library science program is accredited by the American Library Association.


2. University of North Texas

Founded in 1890, the University of North Texas enrolls more than 38,000 students through over 200 programs each year. The school offers an online MS in library science that provides training in archival studies, law librarianship, and music librarianship. 

The 36-credit master's in library science online allows students to choose from a 120-hour practicum or six months of professional experience. UNT also offers school library certification. Online library science students must attend three, two-day sessions on campus. Online courses combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery. 

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The library science program is accredited by the American Library Association.


3. University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus

The University of Colorado Denver Anschutz Medical Campus hosts 18,000 students through over 140 programs. The school offers more than 20 online master's programs, including an online MA in learning design and technology

The 30-credit program offers specializations in e-learning design and implementation, teacher librarian leadership, instructional design and adult learning, and digital media for K-12 teachers. Some pathways provide professional endorsements. 

Online courses run primarily asynchronously and span 15 weeks. Applicants to the online master's program in library science must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores.


4. University of South Florida

Founded in 1956, the University of South Florida enrolls more than 50,000 students through over 180 programs each year. The online MA in library and information science offers specializations in youth services, school media specialist, and school librarianship. Graduates qualify to sit for professional certification exams with the Florida Department of Education. 

The 39-credit program features primarily asynchronous courses. In addition to coursework, learners must complete supervised fieldwork and an eportfolio final assessment. Applicants to the online master's program in library science need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.25 GPA. Transfer applicants need a minimum 3.5 GPA. Applicants with lower GPAs may need to submit GRE scores.


5. Texas A&M University-Commerce

Founded in 1889, Texas A&M University-Commerce offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate programs, including online M.Ed. and MS in educational technology and library science programs. Core courses in both programs cover topics like library administration, web tools, and cataloging and classification. Students in both programs can also pursue school librarian and technology applications certifications. 

In addition to coursework, the 36-credit programs include school library practicums, giving students hands-on experience in the field. The accelerated programs typically start in the summer and run through the following summer. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. Transfer applicants typically need a minimum 3.0 GPA.


6. University of West Georgia

Founded in 1906, the University of West Georgia enrolls more than 13,000 students through over 85 programs each year. The online M.Ed. in school library media examines topics in media and instructional technology, education, and psychology. 

The 36-credit program includes courses such as instructional design and online reference sources. Learners also complete a practicum during the program. Graduates qualify to sit for professional certification exams. UWG also offers a major in instructional technology and a non-certification major in school library media. 

Enrollees can start in the fall, spring, or summer. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.7 GPA. They must also submit SAT or ACT scores or complete an assessment test.


7. Sam Houston State University

Founded in 1879, Sam Houston State University enrolls more than 21,000 students through over 150 programs, including 60 at the master's level. The online master's degree in library science comprises 36 credits that cover topics like literature for children, school librarianship, and digital technology for school librarians. The program also includes a school library internship and a final eportfolio. Graduates qualify to sit for the school librarian certification examination. 

In addition to the online master's program in library science, SHSU offers post-master's school librarian certification. Enrollees can start in the spring, summer, or fall. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency.


8. Valdosta State University

Established in 1913, Valdosta State University hosts more than 11,000 students each year. The online master's degree in library and information science emphasizes information retrieval and management. Learners can choose from concentrations in library management, technology, cataloging and classification, and reference sources and services.

To graduate, students need to maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA and complete an eportfolio. The 39-credit online master's program in library science begins in the spring and fall. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA.


9. University of Southern California

Established in 1880, the University of Southern California now enrolls more than 48,000 students each year. The 40-credit online master of management in library and information science includes foundations, information technology, research, and collection development coursework. 

Learners take courses on topics like management communication for leaders, fundamentals of library leadership and management, and library and information technologies. Students also complete an internship and a capstone course.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores. The program holds accreditation by the American Library Association.


10. East Carolina University

Founded in 1907, East Carolina University offers an online master's degree in library science that comprises 39 credits. The program offers school library media, public library, and academic library specializations. All students must complete an internship and a portfolio capstone course. Graduates of the online master's program in library science qualify to sit for certification examinations. 

Enrollees can study part time or full time, graduating in seven terms or five terms, respectively. Courses run throughout the spring, fall, and summer semesters. Applicants need a bachelor's degree. They may also need to submit GRE or GMAT scores. The library science program is accredited by the American Library Association.


11. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

One of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina system, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro was established in 1871 and enrolls more than 20,000 students each year. The school's online master's degree in library and information studies comprises 36 credits and includes instructional technology and school library media coordinator concentrations. 

Classes feature a mostly synchronous format. In-state students receive a discounted tuition rate. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


12. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign enrolls more than 47,000 students through over 250 programs each year. The 40-credit online MS in library and information science includes concentrations in special collections, data management, information organization, knowledge management, information services, and school librarianship. 

Regardless of their concentration, all students take courses in information organization and libraries, information, and society. Online courses feature a synchronous format. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


13. University of Houston-Clear Lake

A member of the University of Houston System since 1974, the University of Houston-Clear Lake offers more than 90 programs, including a 33-credit online MS in school library and information science. Courses cover topics like selecting literature, librarians as instructional partners, and media and technology selection. The program also offers an optional practicum. Students may add certification to the program.

Online courses combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and a valid teaching license. Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation.


14. San Jose State University

Founded in 1857, San Jose State University hosts more than 36,000 students each year. The 43-unit online master's degree in library and information science examines topics like big data analytics, cybersecurity, and digital asset management. In addition to coursework, students complete an internship to gain hands-on experience. Learners culminate the degree with a thesis or eportfolio. 

Most courses run asynchronously. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


15. University at Buffalo

The flagship institution of the State University of New York system, the University at Buffalo was founded in 1846. The 36-credit online MS in information and library science includes core courses on topics like information lifecycle, research methods, and information uses and users. Students choose from concentrations in information organization, music librarianship, and academic libraries. Regardless of their concentration, all students complete a practicum to gain hands-on experience in the field.

The program begins in the fall and spring. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores. Applicants with a GPA of 3.5 or higher need not submit GRE or GMAT scores. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


16. Rutgers University-New Brunswick

Founded in 1766, Rutgers University-New Brunswick is one of the oldest universities in the country. Today, the school offers more than 350 programs, including a 36-credit online master of information with concentrations in data science, school librarianship, and library and information science. All students take courses on topics like interaction design, emerging literacies, and classification. 

Classes feature a mostly asynchronous format. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores. Students can transfer up to 12 credits toward the degree. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


17. Drexel University

Established in 1891, Drexel University hosts more than 24,000 students through over 200 programs. The school's online master's degree in library information science includes foundation, core, elective, and research coursework. Graduates may qualify to sit for certification and licensure examinations.

Courses span 10 weeks, and learners can graduate within two years. Online classes combine asynchronous and synchronous formats. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Students can transfer up to 15 credits toward the degree. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


18. Wayne State University

Founded in 1868, Wayne State University is one of the largest public universities in the country, hosting over 25,000 students each year. The school offers an online master's degree in library and information science with specializations in library services, information management, and digital content management. 

The program features mostly asynchronous courses. Students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


19. University of Southern Mississippi

Founded in 1910, the University of Southern Mississippi enrolls nearly 15,000 students each year. The 40-credit online master's degree in library and information science includes core courses, electives, and a master's project course. Core courses include collection development and reference and information sources. Learners can optionally pursue a library-media specialist path, which leads to licensure. 

USM also offers archives and special collection certification. Online courses feature a mostly asynchronous format. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.75 GPA. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


20. Emporia State University

Founded in 1893, Emporia State University enrolls nearly 6,000 students through over 200 programs each year. The 36-credit online master's degree in library science includes courses in areas like information-seeking behavior and management. Students can use electives to develop a concentration tailored to their interests and goals. All learners culminate the degree with a capstone course. 

Some online courses may include in-person requirements. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Enrollees enjoy access to resources from the oldest library and information studies school in the western United States. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


21. St. John's University-New York

Founded in 1870, St. John's University enrolls more than 21,000 students in over 100 programs each year. The 36-credit online MS in library and information science includes core, management, and elective courses. Core courses cover topics like research and evaluation methods and information sources. Learners can use electives to pursue specializations in academic librarianship, archival studies, or youth services. 

Online courses feature a mostly asynchronous format. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


22. University of South Alabama

The University of South Alabama was founded in 1963 and now enrolls 14,000 students each year. The school's online M.Ed. in educational media with a certificate in library media covers topics like information literacy, media center management, and library media programs. Learners also complete diversity and support courses, research training, and an internship. 

The 30-credit online master's program in library science offers start dates in the fall, spring, and summer. Enrollees with a Class A teaching certificate may choose a professional endorsement pathway. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 2.5 GPA and a valid teaching certificate. Some applicants may need to submit GRE or GMAT scores.


23. Northeastern State University

Northeastern State University hosts more than 7,000 students through over 75 programs each year. The 33-credit online MS in library media and information technology trains students in program administration, information access, and learning and teaching. Courses cover topics like professional education, reading, technology, and specialized library media. Graduates qualify to sit for professional certification examinations. 

Online classes typically combine asynchronous and synchronous delivery formats. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE or GMAT scores. The online master's program in library science is accredited by American Association of School Librarians.


24. Chicago State University

Founded in 1867, Chicago State University offers graduate programs in more than 10 areas of study. The online MS in library and information science comprises 37-40 credits and includes specializations in school libraries, academic libraries, public libraries, and archives and records management. Some pathways provide graduates with endorsements. 

Online courses run primarily asynchronously throughout the fall, spring, and summer. Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Depending on their specialization, some applicants may need a teaching license. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


25. University of Arizona

Founded in 1885, the University of Arizona enrolls more than 40,000 students each year. The 37-credit online MA in library and information science includes concentrations in archival studies, digital information management, and scholarly communication. Students culminate the degree with an internship, gaining hands-on experience in the field. 

Some concentrations qualify graduates to sit for certification examinations. Students can begin in the fall, spring, or summer. Most learners graduate within two years. Applicants must hold a bachelor's degree with a minimum 3.0 GPA and submit GRE scores. All online students pay the same tuition rate regardless of residency. The online master's program in library science is accredited by the American Library Association.


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