A master in library science online program provides the education needed to work in library and information science, particularly as a head librarian or manager. A master’s in library science online from an accredited university is acceptable for positions within public and academic libraries. Most entry-level librarian positions require a graduate-level degree. Sometimes, a clerk or assistant chooses to get an online master’s in library science as a way to advance to a higher position. It may also help trained educators move into library science.

A master’s degree in library science online prepares a student to learn what’s required to work as a librarian in different specialties. An online master’s in library and information science will usually allow for the option to choose a specialty. Specialties permit the student to focus on what type of library science he or she wishes to learn about and eventually pursue a career in. All masters in library science online programs are likely to allow for specializations such as school librarianship, art librarianship, archival studies, and law librarianship.

Methodology: Ranking the Best Online Master’s in Library Science

To point prospective students and busy working adults to the best online library and information science programs, Best Master’s Programs editors searched for online and hybrid programs from accredited, reputable institutions known for the quality of their library and information program. From there, we ranked programs according to their Alumni Salary, Student Satisfaction, and Tuition Cost, with data from Niche, IPEDS, and College Scorecard.

1. University of Maryland

The College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland offers a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) that is one of the best online masters in library science in the world. Students who complete the program learn to engage with the community and use technology to educate, create, and innovate. The program teaches students about digital curation and archives, school libraries, programs for youth, and legal informatics. Students can attend classes online, on campus, or both.

The University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies is a leader in information science research. The school is helping to make information more accessible all over the world through technology. The College of Information Studies seeks to use information to promote the common good, especially regarding diversity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Highlight: 97.2% of the program’s 2017 graduates had a job offer within two months after graduating, and more than 90% had jobs lined up before they graduated.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

2. University of Wisconsin Madison

The Information School at the University of Wisconsin—Madison offers a Master of Arts in Library and Information Studies that can be completed either on campus or online. If the best programs are identified by accreditation, the LIS program at the University of Wisconsin must truly be one of the best online masters in library science, because the program has been accredited since the beginning of accreditation in 1924. There are five areas of concentration available: data/information management and analytics, digital archives, librarianship, organization of information, and UX and information technology.

The Information School seeks to train innovators and creative speakers who will be responsible leaders in the information field. Graduates are able to use, retrieve, and create all kinds of information and help people find the information they need for work, school, or personal use.

Highlight: The classes are small, so students can get individualized attention from their instructors.

Degree: MA in Library and Information Science

3. University at Buffalo (SUNY)

The Department of Information Science at the University at Buffalo offers a Master’s in Information and Library Science that is one of the best online masters in library science. This program prepares students for employment by providing real-world experiences that bridge the gap between education and a career. Students can enroll full- or part-time, and the program is available 100% online.

The Department of Information Science has programs that entice students to learn about what information is and how it is used and organized. Students learn how to meet the needs of various individuals who require the use of information and how to use the latest technology to manage information. Graduates are prepared for careers as librarians and other information specialists.

Highlight: Library science students can also enroll in a dual degree for an MA in music librarianship or a JD in legal information management and analysis.

Degree: MS in Information and Library Science

4. Rutgers University

Next on the list of the best online masters in library science is the Master of Information (MI) from the Rutgers School of Communication and Information. This program builds on the success of the previous Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program to create a program that encompasses all kinds of information. Graduates pursue careers such as archivist, librarian, technologist, data scientist, knowledge manager, or designer. The program provides students with opportunities to work together with other students with a variety of academic backgrounds, helping them expand their knowledge base and ability to solve complex information problems.

The School of Communication and Information prepares students to be successful in the information, communication, and media worlds. Students learn about information technology, library and information science, social media, and communication within organizations.

Highlight: There are concentrations available in archives and preservation, data science, information and management, interaction design and informatics, library and information science, school library media, and technology.

Degree: Master of Information

5. University of Washington

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) at the University of Washington Informtion School is clearly one of the best online masters in library science in the US, since it’s ranked #2 by US News & World Report. The program is available both online and off. Students take the same classes regardless of which format they choose. The MLIS program prepares students for careers as information architects, librarians, web content managers, metadata specialists, taxonomists, and more.

The University of Washington Information School educates future leaders in the world of information and library science. The iSchool strives to determine the best ways to deal with the overwhelming amount of information that is created every second of every day. The school seeks to teach students how to determine what is important and organize and store it in a useful way.

Highlight: The iSchool at the University of Washington has a low student-to-faculty ratio, so students can get the attention they deserve.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

6. University of Southern California

The Marshall School of Business offers the University of Southern California’s Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) that is one of the best online masters in library science for students who want to pursue a career in library management. The program provides the leadership skills necessary to properly manage college, university, and other school libraries as well as libraries and information within businesses and other organizations. Students participate in experiential learning that involves teamwork, creativity, and critical thinking to prepare them for the types of situations they will encounter in the real world.

The Marshall School of Business focuses on innovation, social responsibility, research, and entrepreneurship. The school’s underlying philosophy is that we must have a thorough understanding of global business to survive and succeed in today’s business world.

Highlight: Graduates are prepared for positions as librarians, literacy coordinators, electronic resource specialists, neighborhood services managers, and more.

Degree: Master of Management in Library and Information Science

7. Louisiana State University

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) offered by the Louisiana State University College of Human Sciences and Education is another of the best online masters in library science. This program has been accredited by the American Library Association since 1931. Students can choose from nine specialties: adult services in public libraries, academic librarianship, cultural heritage resource management, archival studies, knowledge management, digital content management, school librarianship, public librarianship, and youth services librarianship.

The College of Human Sciences and Education focuses on the success of its students. The school’s mission is to graduate students with a strong desire to make life better for humankind. The College of Human Sciences and Education uses research, teaching, and service to address the challenges facing society. The school is working to create positive change across Louisiana, the United States, and around the world.

Highlight: There is no thesis required for completion of the program.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

8. University of Missouri

The University of Missouri’s School of Information Science and Learning Technologies offers a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) that can be completed 100% online. As one of the best online masters in library science, the program prepares students to be experts in the world of information. Students learn how to provide users with the information they need, so they can be effective library employees. Graduates have gotten jobs as children’s librarians, archives specialists, library acquisition specialists, electronic resource coordinators, research analysts, and more.

The School of Information Science and Learning Technologies (SISLT) is dedicated to training librarians, archivists, educators, and anyone else who wants to learn to use information more effectively. SISLT’s mission is to make improvements to the way information is handled and perform research on learning and information. The school offers education on UX design, online course design, librarianship, and more.

Highlight: For full-time students, the program can be completed in two years.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

9. University of North Texas

The College of Information at the University of North Texas offers two of the best online masters in library science. Well, technically, one is a Master of Science in Library Science (MS-LS) and the other is a Master of Science in Information Science (MS-IS). The MS-LS degree prepares students specifically for careers as librarians, whether that’s a law librarian, archivist, technical services librarian, reference librarian, or children’s librarian. The MS-IS degree prepares students for careers in other segments of the information field, such as health informatics, information architect, or database analyst.

The College of Information believes that information is the basis for all knowledge and every human undertaking relies on having the right information available at the right time. The school’s vision is to attract high-quality students and give them the schools and tools they need to become leaders in the information field.

Highlight: Both programs require 12 classes for a total of 36 credit hours and can be taken 100% online.

Degree: MS in Information Science or MS in Library Science

10. University of Alabama

The Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS) offered by the University of Alabama is specially designed to meet the needs of busy professionals preparing to enter the library sciences field. Students learn the skills they need to be able to take on leadership positions in libraries and other information centers. As one of the best online masters in library science, the program teaches students how to organize, use, and manage information responsibly. Students learn why information is important and how it is used in various contexts.

Bama by Distance is the online learning arm of the University of Alabama. Students who take classes through Bama by Distance complete the same curriculum as on-campus students and earn the same degrees.

Highlight: Students progress through the program with a cohort that involves a once-per-week virtual session where students can interact with their instructors and peers.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Studies

11. San Jose State University

The Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) from the San José State University School of Information is next on the list of the best online masters in library science. The program readies students for a variety of information-oriented careers. Students can customize the curriculum to learn more about the areas that interest them most. The MLIS program is 100% online, including internships, research assistant opportunities, and even graduation. Students can access the course material whenever it is most convenient for them. A thesis or e-portfolio is required at the end of the program.

The San José State University School of Information prepares students for careers in librarianship, digital asset management, user experience design, electronic records management, information architecture, digital preservation, and information governance.

Highlight: The school maintains a database of more than 200 internship programs that library and information science students can take advantage of.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

12. University of Pittsburgh

The School of Computing and Information at the University of Pittsburgh offers a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) online that follows the same curriculum as the campus-based MLIS program. This program is one of the best online masters in library science, with accreditation by the American Library Association. The program is designed so that classes can be accessed at any time, allowing students to set their own schedules. However, there are due dates that must be met for certain assignments and activities.

The School of Computing and Information encourages cross-disciplinary thinking between information scientists, computer scientists, domain experts, and social scientists. The school trains leaders in information and computer sciences who will take the pursuit of knowledge to the next level. The School of Computing and Information aims to support innovation and discover in the areas of technology and information.

Highlight: Students can take up to four years to complete the program.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

13. University of Arizona

The Master of Arts in Library and Information Science (MA LIS) from the University of Arizona College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is next on the list of the best online masters in library science. This program gives students the skills and knowledge they need to be successful in library and information positions. Students receive an interdisciplinary look at the way knowledge and information are handled across various disciplines. Students can customize their degrees by concentrating on a specific area, such as academic, public, special, and law librarianship; archival studies; legal information and scholarly communication; digital information management; or medical and community health information.

The College of Social and Behavioral Sciences is the people college. The school’s mission is to engage in research on people, interact with young scholars, and communicate its discoveries to the community.

Highlight: The MA LIS program gives students the practical knowledge they will need to serve as information agents in a data-driven world.

Degree: MA in Library and Information Science

14. University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky’s College of Communication and Information/School of Information Science offers an online Master of Science (MS) degree program that has been recognized by US News among the best online masters in library science in the country. Additionally, UK’s library science-graduate degree program has received accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). Program graduates must complete 36 credit units and an internship (available at the Library of Congress or Smithsonian Libraries, etc.) to graduate. UK’s distance learning platform offers a flexible scheduling program (with asynchronous classes) for working learners or busy parents reaching for their graduate degree in library science.

The University of Kentucky was established in 1865 under the Morrill Land Grant Act before Kentucky was granted statehood. UK operates with seventeen colleges/schools that offer more than 250-degree programs from undergraduate to doctoral level.

Highlight: The University of Kentucky is home to more than 14 libraries on campus.

Degree: MS in Library Science

15. University of Tennessee Knoxville

The University of Tennessee’s School of Information Sciences offers a Master of Science (MS) degree program in Information Sciences that can be completed 100% online. UT Knoxville’s 36 credit unit graduate program is recognized among the best online masters in library science degree program available. UT Knoxville’s library science graduate degree is also an excellent degree for those students interested in becoming a certified library media expert. The University of Tennessee’s MS degree in Information Sciences, at the student’s option, can be completed with or without a traditional senior thesis project.

The University of Tennessee was established several years before Tennessee was adopted as a state in 1794. UT Knoxville’s 550+ acre campus is home to nearly 29,000 students.

Highlight: The University of Tennessee is organized into 21 undergraduate and graduate colleges/schools and is home to documents from three presidents, A. Jackson, J. Polk, and A. Johnson.

Degree: MS in Information Sciences

16. Sam Houston State University

Sam Houston State University offers a distance learning Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program that can be completed entirely online. Degree candidates studying from one of the best online masters in library science must complete 36 credit hours to earn the graduate library science degree. Coursework includes Information Services, Literature for Children, Digital Technology for the School Librarian, and Research Methodology, to name a few, plus techniques to collaborate with school staff, students, and multi-media vendors in creating (and maintaining) a successful school library.

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) was established in 1879 as Austin College, a teacher training institute. The school’s campus is located in a college town and home to more than 20,000 students.

Highlight: Sam Houston State University holds the distinction of being one of the three largest public schools in Texas and the third oldest public institution of higher education in the state.

Degree: Master of Library Science

17. Appalachian State University

Appalachian State University offers a distance learning Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program that can be completed part-time. Appalachian State University’s library science program is recognized as one of the best online masters in library science in North Carolina and neighboring states. Coursework (both asynchronous and synchronous) includes 36 credit hours of courses in Information Sources, Library Tools & Technology, Integrating Literature, Research Methods, and Media Program Planning, to name a few. Additionally, App State’s library science graduate degree program includes a practicum, but not a thesis to graduate.

Appalachian State University was established as a public institution of higher education d in 1899. Appalachian State University’s college town campus is home to nearly 20,000 students studying for more than 200-degree programs.

Highlight: In the early 1970s, App State became a member school (the sixth-largest) of the University of North Carolina system.

Degree: Master of Library Science

18. Syracuse University

Syracuse University’s iSCHOOL offers a Master of Library & Information Science (LIS) degree program that can be completed 100% online. Syracuse University has received accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA) and is recognized among the best online masters in library science in the Northeastern United States. SU’s library science graduate degree requires the completion of 36 credit units and the attendance at a senior milestone event. Coursework for Syracuse University’s library graduate degree includes Library Assessments, Literacy, Data Analytics, Archival Collections, Information Science Management, and Information Policy, among others.

Syracuse University was established in 1870 that was once known as Genesee Wesleyan Seminary. Syracuse University’s urban campus covers more than 600 acres and is home to nearly 23,000 students. The student to faculty ratio at Syracuse University is 15 to 1.

Highlight: SU is located south and west of downtown Syracuse.

Degree: MS in Library and Information Science

19. University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina’s College of Information and Communications offers a Master of Library & Information Science (LIS) degree program that can be completed entirely online, except for the required practicum near the end of the program. As one of the best online masters in library science in the southeast US, USC’s library science degree has received accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). Coursework covers the critical areas of research, technology, leadership, information services, and professional development.

The University of South Carolina was established in 1801. USC’s urban campus covers more than 300 acres and is home to more than 50,000 students across the entire USC system. The Columbia campus is home to more than 34,000 students.

Highlight: The University of South Carolina is the state’s flagship institution of higher education, with another seven campuses situated through the state.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

20. Texas Woman’s University

Texas Woman’s University offers a Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program that can be completed entirely online. TWU’s best online masters in library science degree program provide degree candidates several academic tracks from which to choose – School Libraries, Public Libraries, Health Science Libraries, and Community Informatics, to name just a few. Coursework for TWU’s graduate library science degree includes 36 credit hours in classes as follows – Library Management, Information Retrieval, Collection Development, etc., plus a required internship and the submission of a final portfolio for review.

Texas Woman’s University was established in 1901. Texas Woman’s University’s campus is located only 35+ miles from downtown Dallas and is on nearly 275 suburban acres. TWU serves more than 10,300 students studying from the university’s six colleges/schools.

Highlight: Texas Woman’s University has been a co-educational institution of higher learning since 1994.

Degree: Master of Library Science

21. East Carolina University

The Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers East Carolina University’s Master of Library Science (MLS) degree program that is available through the school’s distance learning platform. ECU’s best online masters in library science degree program is recognized by the AAS: – the American Association of School Librarians. Students graduate from ECU’s graduate library science degree program prepared for careers in education, training, a librarian, a librarian administrator, and library science educators. East Carolina University’s online degree program seeks to serve underserved and rural students in North Carolina.

East Carolina University was established in 1907. The school’s campus covers six properties and is home t nearly 30,000 students studying from the ten colleges/schools organized as ECU. East Carolina University is a sea-grant university.

Highlight: ECU holds the distinction of being the fourth largest institution of higher learning in the state.

Degree: Master of Library Science

22. University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee’s School of Information Studies offers a Master of Library and Information Science (LIS) that can be completed entirely through the university’s distance learning platform. The American Library Association (ALA) accredits UW Milwaukee’s best online masters in library science degree program. UW Milwaukee’s LIS online program offers areas of concentration that include special libraries, public libraries, information ethics/law, digital libraries, information literacy, and academic libraries. The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee requires LIS degree graduates to complete 36 credit units to graduate, which typically takes two years, on average, to complete.

The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, was established in 1956. UW Milwaukee’s urban campus covers more than 100 acres and serves more than 25,000 students studying for the 200+ degree programs offered.

Highlight: The University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, holds the distinctions of being the largest institution of higher education in the greater Milwaukee metropolitan area.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

23. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis’ (IUPUI) Department of Library & Information Science offers IUPUI’s Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program entirely online. IUPUI’s MLIS degree program has received accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). IUPUI’s graduate Master of Library Science degree is recognized among the best online masters in library science degree program in the Midwestern United States. Students graduate prepared for careers as media specialists, library directors, curators, information architects, or data librarians, to name a few.

Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis was established in 1969 through a merger of the Purdue Extension and the Indianapolis campus of Indiana University. IUPUI is a primary campus of Indiana University with authority to grant Purdue University degrees. The school’s campus is located alongside downtown Indianapolis and home to more than 30,000 students.

Highlight: IUPUI is within walking distance of the Indiana state capitol building.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

24. St John’s University

St John’s University offers a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program that is available 1005 online. St. John’s best online masters in library science degree program has received accreditation from the ALA – the American Library Association. The MLIS online degree program offers six academic specializations– Archival Studies, Youth Services, Special Librarianship, Public Librarianship, Academic Librarianship, and Management for Information Professionals. St John’s University’s graduate library degree program requires the completion of 36 online credits. Students graduate prepared for rewarding careers as web developers, systems analysts, reference librarian, or research analyst, to name a few.

The Congregation of the Mission founded St John’s University as a private institution of higher learning in 1870. The school operates campuses in the boroughs of Queens, Manhattan, and Staten Island, plus facilities in Italy, Paris, France, and Ireland. St. John’s University is home to more than 20,000 students.

Highlight: St John’s University is affiliated with the Vincentian Catholic Church.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

25. University of North Carolina at Greensboro

The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers a distance learning degree program to earn a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. UNC Greensboro’s best online masters in library science degree program has received accreditation (the oldest in North Carolina) from the American Library Association (ALA). Degree candidates are required to complete 36 credit hours, plus a culminating capstone project as they learn from the same quality, experienced faculty that teaches on campus.

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Greensboro was established in 1891 as a state-run normal teacher’s college. UNC Greensboro’s 200+-acre campus serves more than 20,000 students and is home to one of the finest collections of modern art, held in the Weatherspoon Art Museum.

Highlight: UNC Greensboro is considered a stand-alone institution but a part of the University of North Carolina System.

Degree: Master of Library and Information Science

Why Get an Online Master’s in Library Science?

Attending library science programs online in lieu of on campus has distinct advantages. Online degree tracks allow for the student to schedule coursework at convenient times. He or she can continue working or meeting family obligations while earning credits toward graduation. Overall cost to attend online degree programs is reduced since no commuting costs or room and board applies.

In addition to general library science courses, a specialization will include classes relevant to that particular subject. As an example an online masters degree in library science with a specialization in law librarianship will include topics such as management skills in law libraries, research and writing for law librarianship, and legal information instructional strategies. Core classes will most likely cover the following subjects: library technology systems, information resources, library collections, and library business operations.

What Can I Do with a Master’s in Library Science?

Master of library and information science jobs are available at schools, law firms, government offices, public libraries, and museums. A few examples of the top master of library science jobs are public librarianship, law librarianship, academic librarianship, digital librarianship, archival management, and data curation. The duties of the librarian change depending on what field the person enters. Most librarian positions are tenured and the individual has long-term job security with benefits.

For public librarianship, the librarian assists patrons with finding books and research materials. The public librarian is able to customize the services made available by assessing the needs of the patrons. Books and other types of media offered by librarians are funded by taxpayers and used to benefit community members.

Master of library science jobs for law librarianship are available at law firms, courthouses, and law libraries. The job of the law librarian is to preserve legal materials and assist paralegals and attorneys with research tasks.

An academic librarian and school librarians take different library science courses. School librarians work with school-age children and may need a special state license to work in a public school setting. Academic librarians are employed by colleges and universities and may specialize in a specific field such as history, philosophy, or science.

Archival and data collection jobs for librarians will involve managing both electronic and paper records for archival purposes. Digital librarianship involves digitizing records of library materials and finding ways to improve accessibility of digital services.

Master of library and information science jobs are available in other areas too. Many private companies look for librarians to assist with specific tasks like gathering collections. Niche library jobs may include gathering items for a special toy collection.

How Much Can I Make with a Master’s in Library and Information Science?

The mean master of library and information science salary is $59,050, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. However, a master of library science salary is determined by what type of career the individual pursues. Top earners in the field work in academic settings such as colleges, universities, and research laboratories. The average salary among those placed at these sites is more than $64,000 a year. Elementary and secondary schools pay librarians a slightly reduced wage around $60,000 per year. Taxpayers fund local libraries with salaries of the librarians differing between municipalities. Federal and state governments also manage librarian salaries for museums. However, the average masters in library science salary for public librarians is $53,000.

Location of the librarian also greatly factors into how much the master degree holder will earn. Top paying states for librarians include the following: Washington DC, California, Alaska, Maryland, and Washington State. Washington DC has a very high annual wage average for librarians of $85,330. Librarians are needed throughout the nation’s capitol to work in many of the federally funded museums located throughout the area. Also, cities often pay more to librarians due to higher overall cost of living.

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