The 20 Best Masters in Library and Information Degree Programs

The popularity of online learning has increased drastically in the past years, particularly among post-secondary students. Additionally, more working-age Americans have realized that they need to sharpen their skills and further their education in the increasingly competitive job market. The popularity of online learning in various fields of specialization, including degree library and online sciences courses, may be attributed to its affordability, convenience, effectiveness and flexibility. Statistics show that more than 4 million Americans enrolled for an online course, throughout the last fall. This is a significant improvement, bearing in mind that only 2 million Americans enrolled in these programs in 2003. Among the most popular online degree programs, online master's library and information science (MIS) are among the preferred options.

Not only do librarians manage collections, these professionals evaluate, package, analyze and present information. Additionally, librarians also train other people on the use of this information. Online library information science (LIS) exposes students to theories, research, approaches and practices of LIS. As such, this program prepares students and allows them to acquire information on organization and representation or information. Additionally, the program educates students on information architecture, uses and needs of information as well as information technology. This being the case, enrolling for online library science degree will prepare you for a vast array of career opportunities.

Career Opportunities for online MIS graduates

Base on the projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period 2009-2010, the opportunities for librarians with library science degree—outside the conventional library setting—are expected to increase significantly in years to come. With MSI degree, these professionals become part of the modern librarianship—which leads various fields as it anticipates for and responds to future challenges in information era. MSI graduates can work in a wide range of industries, including: public and university libraries, K-12 schools, special collections, government agencies, cultural institutions, consumer goods corporations, nonprofit organizations, consulting, information collection and delivery agencies and service corporations.

As such, people with MSI degrees can have various career titles, such as children's librarian, reference librarian, school media specialist, systems librarian, research analyst, information architect, and database manager, and web developer, chief information officer, cataloging supervisor, news librarian, academic librarian, curator, information analyst and systems analyst. The salary earned by these professionals is equally appealing. The following are the average salaries earned by librarians within various fields of specialization.

  • A librarian can earn between $39,772 and $95,012 a year.
  • A library director makes between $47,549 and $103,745 a year.
  • A reference librarian is paid between $38,036 and $76,103 a year.
  • Head librarians make about $58,000 every year
  • A library assistant can make about $31,747 every year.

Is A Master's Degree in Library Science Important?

An online master's degree in Library and Information Science will prepare you to contribute towards the evolution of the global information society. With this qualification, you will be in a better position to strengthen and create links between technology, information, librarians, and individuals. As mentioned earlier, the career opportunities for these professionals are also many. Enrolling for an online master's degree library and online Sciences program will make you qualified to compete for those career opportunities.

Which Are The Best Online MIS Degree Programs Today?

Online MIS programs offer students a strong foundation in both practice and research. In this regard, most of the programs offered by the lading institutions cover such subjects as digital literacy, school media, information architecture, system design, leadership, classification, reference techniques, media technologies and cataloging. All the schools included in this list have been accredited by the American Library Association to offer online master's degrees in library and information science programs. Additionally, some of the schools included in this list are also a part of the iSchools—a group comprising of information schools that are committed to improving the information field.

Selection Criteria: To find the best library science master's degree programs today, we carried out intensive research on each of the institutions offering this program in the country. Our research was based on the key attributes of a reputable, highly effective and recognized online degree program, including affordability, academic excellence, flexibility, previous ratings, types and sizes of available classes as well as faculty strength. After a careful scrutiny of the various MIS programs in the country, we identified twenty of the best library and information science programs in the country today. If you are considering enrolling for an online master's degree in MIS, the following are some of the best programs you should consider.

The University of Arizona has designed its online library and information master's degree to reflect the evolving and diverse work conditions in the industry. Additionally, the university incorporates a considerable level of flexibility in their program by allowing their online library science students to adjust their learning in accordance with their career goals and interests. In this regard, the university has more than 20 concentrations for students to choose from, including:

  • Digital Information
  • Special Librarianship
  • Law Librarianship
  • Academic Librarianship
  • Dual Degree in Journalism
  • Archives and Special Collections

Faculty members at the university also work closely with online MIS degree students to help them develop their customized studies to meet the course credit requirements. As such, students can design their courses according to their goals.

By incorporating a 120-hour field experience requirement into the coursework, the MIS degree program by the University of Texas equips online learners with relevant skills and experience to work in such industries as education, research, law, corporate and medical. The program is offered in small class sizes, which allows for one-on-one interactions between students and their online tutors. Most of the course work for this program can be completed online. However, the university requires its online library and information sciences students to check in at the campus a couple of times in a semester. The program is specifically designed to offer user-oriented education on technology. Some of the master's degree library and online Sciences course concentrations offered by the institution include:

  • General Program of Study
  • School Librarianship
  • Information Organization
  • Information Systems

The Texas Woman's University online library and information sciences mater's degree program is ideal for the students who would like to learn in an environment that is gender collaborative. The program offered by this university is not only flexible, but also very affordable. As compared to other MIS degree options in this list, this is the second most affordable option. The coursework for the program is subdivided into core courses, core courses, electives and the final examination—all of which require 36 credit hours. The degree is aimed at helping students get the appropriate work experience and fit in the library and information careers of their choices. The coursework for this MIS program also requires students to take up internships approved by their faculty advisers.

The Master of Library and information degree program at the University of North Carolina is one of the popular MIS degree options today. The university offers this online degree through its School of Education, Department of Library and Information Studies, in the school of education. The students taking this program have the opportunity to take any of the 6 library and information sciences specializations offered by the university, including:

  • Information Organization and Access
  • Library Administration and Management
  • Media Production Services for Library Programs
  • Foundations of Library and Information Studies
  • Information Sources and Services

The program offers training that mirrors real life, work environment. In this regard, the faculty in the university works closely with the MIS students so as to encourage them to take up various internships in media production projects, libraries and undertaking research fieldwork.

Currently being offered at the School of Information, College of Communication & Information, this MIS program focuses on professional foundations, information organization, policy and management and research. With regards to diversity, the University has three main Master's degrees on offer—Master of Arts, Master of library and information studies as well as Master of Science in information technology. Each of these programs is delivered entirely online through preset class schedules. As such, students taking this program need to be available for classed for two hours everyday, between Monday and Thursday. In order to accommodate international students and those with busy schedules, the University offers several online class times. Some of the specializations provided by this University in library and information sciences include:

  • School Media
  • Youth Services
  • General Librarianship
  • Technology and Networking
  • Information Organization

The library and information science master's degree at the University of Wisconsin is offered through its Milwaukee Systems e-campus. Basically, this program is specifically designed to prepare students for the various technological and information changes in the work environment. The course is administered in four main parts, including the core courses, practicum, concentrations and practicum. The degree program comprises of 36 credits and allows its students to pursue a wide range of career goals and interests within a single program. In this regard, the university offers nine dual-degree tracks—both master of science and master of art options. If you are looking for an opportunity to further your education in library and information sciences, but do not want to branch to other fields, this is the right program. To meet this need, the University of Wisconsin offers a total of 11 specializations.

Through its College of information studies, the University of Maryland offers one of the best online masters of library and information sciences degree program. The coursework is split into specialization classes, knowledge areas and thesis/study work. In total, the students are required to take 36 credit hours. As a member of the iSchool Foundation, the University strives to establish a strong basis for future information and technological advancements with its MIS program. With regards to flexibility, students can choose to study entirely online or use the hybrid learning program offered by the University. With the hybrid MIS program, you will choose which hours to learn online and when to attend classes physically at the campus. The MIS program offered by the University is one of the most expensive one in this list, but the cost may be justified by its success rate.

Flexibility is among the desirable aspects of the MIS program offered by the Wayne State University. In this regard, the 36 credit hours required by the program are split into 18 credit-hour sections. One of the sections is allotted to the student's area of specialization and the other one to common core education. The flexibility offered by the program is further enhanced by the fact that students can choose their preferred specialty from the several specializations offered by the school. Some of the specializations you can opt for with this MIS program are:

  • Information management
  • Archives and digital content
  • Library services

The MIS degree program at the University of Alabama is offered through the school of library and information studies. The skills instilled by this program prepare students for leadership positions in various library and intelligence careers. The MIS program applies a synchronous schedule and requires students to attend 36 credit hours. While the program does not offer much flexibility, it enhances increased peer interactions among students and between students and tutors. In this regard, students meet virtually during the preset class hours, interact with each other and get the opportunity to ask their tutors questions at the same time.

The online master of library and information sciences program offered by Draxel University instills a unique skill set in almost all areas of information management. The school was previously rated as the America's Best Graduate Schools by the U.S. News & World Report. To achieve optimal results, the program focuses on 6 main specializations, including:

  • Digital Libraries
  • Archival Studies
  • School Library Media
  • Library & Information Services
  • Knowledge Management and Competitive Intelligence
  • Youth Services

Regardless of the specialization, you opt for; this program guarantees impressive career outcome. To help students remain focused on career outcome objectives, the school facilitates exceptional student-adviser interactions. The students who are more experienced in this field may also get credit for previous work experience and schooling while taking this program.

The masters of library and information sciences degree by the University of Maryland are offered through the University's College of Information Studies. The coursework focuses on practices and research. As such, graduates find perfect jobs within government agencies, museums, archives and start-ups—after a successful completion of this online program. The coursework, in this case, requires 36 credit hours to complete—which may be completed using customized schedules. Currently, it is possible for students to dictate and follow their preferred schedule and pace. Students taking this program benefit by the many career advisers offered by the school to help them make informed career choices. Some of the MIS specializations provided by this program include community analytics and policy, school library, individualized program plan, information and diverse populations and information and diverse communities.

The master's degree offered by the University of Southern California is probably the most popular of all the Master of Library and information sciences programs included in this list—with regards to cultural and academic considerations. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most expensive options in this list, hence not ideal for those looking for an affordable program. The MIS program at this University is offered through its USC Marshall situated business school. This school is reputed as one of the most innovative schools in library and information sciences in the region. As such, the MIS program offered by the school is specifically designed to instill the required skills to help students fit into the modern era of library and information. The program offers several fields of specialization, which may be completed in 20 months.

The coursework offered by the Masters degree in library and information sciences by the Kent State University is ideal for people looking forward to working with museums, information agencies, companies and agencies as well as in cultural organizations. This may be attributed to the exceptional set of skills and pedagogy instilled by their coursework. The program is also one of the most popular MIS programs in the country, having been included in a top 20 list by the U.S. News & World Report. In addition to being offered by a popular institution, the online MIS program offers more than 13 specializations. This makes it one of the most flexible online MIS programs in the country. The success rate associated with the MIS program offered online by the Kent State University is also desirable; most graduates from this school are able to get jobs within six months after completion.

Undertaking the library science degree offered by the University of Kentucky you will get a solid foundation of skills and education that are relevant to the library and information work environment. The program is desired by many as a result of its study abroad and in-state tuition programs for the online students. Additionally, the program offers unique practicum opportunities for its online master's of library and information science students. Featuring online asynchronous coursework, the program offers a considerable amount of flexibility and highly effective. In this regard, the schedules can be individualized and students may choose to take full time or part time programs.

With this Masters of library and information science degree program, students can take the course entirely online or combine online and on-campus formats of the program. With the Fast Track option provided by the University of South Carolina, students can complete the entire course in just 18 months. As such, the program is specifically designed for students with busy lives. Although the program may be fast-tracked, it focuses on the outcome of its students. As such, students are assigned to faculty advisers to help them with career choices. Again, the program also lays emphasis on the use of modern technology. Students taking this MIS program can choose to specialize on any of the three main areas of specialization offered by the program. The specializations are:

  • Information Services
  • Library Services to Children and Young Adults
  • Cultural Heritage Institutions

The school of communication and information at the Rutgers University equips its online students with the necessary pedagogy and education to succeed in the competitive job market. The course is designed to help students be more proficient in the formulation and implementation of organizational structures that allow for the access of information. Basically, this program is a part-time asynchronous degree program and may be completed in three years. With regards to flexibility, the program offers several specializations, including:

  • Digital Libraries
  • School Library Media Study
  • Public Libraries
  • General Study 

Additionally, the program offers several starting dates for their students to choose as well as a highly customizable schedule.​

The MIS degree program offered by the University of Washington is aimed at connecting the students to information. The master's degree in library and information science offered by this school provides a solid foundation in the field through a strong curriculum—emphasizing on organization, research, retrieval and storage of information. As a result the information studies courses offered by this institution are well renowned across the globe. The curriculum provided by the program features core courses, culminating experience projects and electives to adequately prepare the students for the job market. The online MIS degree program comprises of 63 credits.

The master of library and information sciences offered by Valdosta State University is actually one of the most flexible and affordable programs in this list. According to a similar ranking this MIS program was ranked the 'Best Buy' MIS program today. While the program is very affordable, it is still of high quality—with regards to faculty strength and a sufficient coursework. The 39 credit hours required by the program may be completed through their highly flexible coursework. In addition to this enhanced flexibility, the program also allows individuals to further their studies in order to specialize in the various online library science degree specializations offered by the school, including:

  • Reference Sources & Services
  • Cataloging Classification
  • Youth Services
  • Library Management

Other than the once-a-semester visit to the campus required by the Master of Science in Library and Information Science degree offered by the University of Illinois, most of the course work is completed online. The program requires 40 semester hours and applies a synchronous format, which features Web-Based Information Science Education (WISE). This technology allows for a seamless and interactive connection between colleges, students and the faculty. This MIS program features a strong curriculum and offered several courses, including:

  • Information Organization and Access
  • Use and Users of Information
  • Youth Services Community Engagement
  • Libraries, Information and Society
  • Information Modeling
  • Introduction to Technology in LIS
  • Reference and Information Services

The MIS program at this university is a clear manifestation of the school's stellar reputation. The program is not only preferred for high quality education, but also post-education assistance. After graduation, students are offered career advisement—best on their specializations—to help them find good jobs.

Based on our ranking criteria the School of Library and Information Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison takes the top position in this list of the best MIS program providers. This decision was arrived at after analyzing the various attributes of the program, including flexibility, class size, fields of specialization and strength of curriculum. Not only is the Madison school a member of the iSchools, but also offers a flexible MIS program. In this regard,Students may choose any of the four specializations offered by the course.

The program wavers its GRE admission requirementsIt offers a vast array of schedules for students to choose from.

In addition to its flexibility, the MIS program offered by the Madison school features a strong curriculum that comprises of three tiers. The curriculum offered by this program offers such courses as cataloging, foundations of reference, information ethics, and policy, collection management and archives administration. Additionally, the program offers small class sizes; thus making it more convenient for students to interact directly with their tutors. The program allows students to practice information and librarianship services at a professional level through their e-Portfolio, core courses, electives and a 120-hour practicum. The North Central Association of Colleges and Schools has also accredited this MIS program regionally.