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 library science, may be attributed to its:
Statistics show that more than 6.3 million Americans enrolled for an online course, throughout last fall. This is a significant improvement, bearing in mind that only 2 million Americans enrolled in these programs in 2003. Library science degrees are among the most popular online degree programs.
Not only do librarians manage collections, these professionals:
- present information
Librarians also train other people on the use of this information. Online library information science (LIS) degree programs expose students to:
- practices of LIS
These library science degrees provide students with knowledge and training in areas like:
- information architecture
- uses and needs of information
- information technology
Enrolling in an online library science degree will prepare you for a vast array of career opportunities.
Career Opportunities for online MIS graduates
Based on projections by the Bureau of Labor Statistics the opportunities for librarians with library science degrees are expected to increase by 9% by 2030. With an 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. Library science professionals 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
- academic libraries
- information collection and delivery agencies
- service corporations
Graduates from the best MLS programs have various career titles including:
- Children’s Librarian
- Reference Librarian
- School Media Specialist
- Systems Librarian
- Research Analyst
- Information Architect
- Database Manager
- Web Developer
- Chief Information Officer
- Cataloging Supervisor
- News Librarian
- Academic Librarian
- Information Analyst
- 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 $41,000 and $69,000 a year.
- A library director makes between $42,000 and $109,000 a year.
- A reference librarian is paid between $34,000 and $62,000 a year.
- Head librarians average $49,667 a year
- An academic librarian makes about $54,539 every year.
Is A Master’s Degree in Library Science Important?
The best Masters of Library Science Programs prepare you to contribute towards the evolution of the global information society. With your MLS degree, you will be in a position to strengthen and create links between:
As mentioned earlier, the career opportunities for these professionals are robust Enrolling in one of the best library science masters programs will make you qualified to compete for those career opportunities.
What Are the Best Colleges for Library Science Online Degree Programs Today?
Top MLIS programs offer students a strong foundation in both practice and research. In this regard, most of the best library science programs cover subjects like:
- digital literacy
- school media
- information architecture
- system design
- reference techniques
- media technologies
All the schools included in our library science program rankings are accredited by the American Library Association. They offer online master’s degrees in library and information science programs. Additionally, some of these top librarian schools are part of iSchools—a group comprised of information schools committed to improving the information field.
To create our ranking of the best schools for library science, we researched 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:
- academic excellence
- previous ratings
- types and sizes of available classes
- faculty strength
After careful scrutiny of the various programs, we identified twenty of the best MLIS programs in the country today. If you are considering an online master’s degree in MLS, the following are some of the top library science programs to consider.
20. The University of Arizona
The University of Arizona designed its online library and information science 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. They allow 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. Students can design their courses according to their goals. No GRE is required for this online masters in library science.
19. University of North Texas
UNT offers both an MS in Library Science and an MS in Information Science. 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:
The masters in library science online Texas 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
UNT is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA).
18. Texas Woman’s University
The Texas Woman’s University (TWU) has one of the top schools of library and information science in the country. Their online library and information sciences master’s degree program is ideal for the students who would like to learn in an environment that is gender collaborative.
The program offered by TWU 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 low-cost MIS program also requires students to take up internships approved by their faculty advisers.
This completely online masters in library science is ALA accredited.
17. University of North Carolina
The Master of Library and information Science 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. Students can take any of the six 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
This library science degree program offers training that mirrors real life and the work environment. The faculty in the university works closely with the MIS students to encourage them to take up practicum and volunteer experiences.
16. Florida State University
The MIS program at Florida State University is offered by the School of Information, College of Communication & Information. The program focuses on:
- professional foundations
- information organization
- policy and management
With regards to diversity, the University offers three main Master’s degrees:
- Master of Arts in Information
- Master of Science in Information
- Master of Science in Information Technology
Each of these programs is delivered entirely online through preset class schedules. Students taking this program need to be available for classed for two hours every day, between Monday and Thursday. To accommodate the needs of international students and those with busy schedules, the University offers several online class times. Some of the specializations offered by Florida State University include:
- School Media
- Youth Services
- General Librarianship
- Technology and Networking
- Information Organization
15. University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
The library and information science master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin is offered through its Milwaukee Systems e-campus. The program is specifically designed to prepare students for the various technological and information changes in the work environment.
The program is administered in three main parts, including:
- core courses
- concentration courses
The degree is comprised of 36 credits. Students can pursue a wide range of career goals and interests within a single program. The university offers nine dual-degree tracks—both master of science and master of arts options. If you want 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.
14. University of Maryland, College Park
Through its College of information studies, the University of Maryland offers one of the best online masters in library and information science. The coursework is split into:
- specialization classes
- knowledge areas
- thesis/study work
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 MLIS 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 MLIS program, you will choose which hours to learn online and when to attend classes physically at the campus.
This masters in library science degree program is one of the most expensive in our ranking, but the cost may be justified by its success rate. Before graduation 91.2% of students had jobs. Within 2 months, 97.2% of graduates were employed. University of Maryland was ranked #8 for overall Best Library and Information Studies Degree Program by U.S. News and World Report.
No GRE or GMAT is required for this masters in library science if this U.S. applicant has a cumulative GPA of 3.25 or above, or has completed a previous graduate program.
13. Wayne State University
Flexibility is among the desirable aspects of the library and information science program offered by the Wayne State University. 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 this online masters in library and information science degree 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 MLIS program are:
- Information management
- Archives and digital content
- Library services
12. The University of Alabama
The MLIS 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 MLIS program applies a synchronous schedule and requires students to complete 36 credit hours.
This Master’s in Library and Information Science degree program is offered online through Bama By Distance. The program follows a cohort model which promotes enhanced peer interactions. Students meet virtually during preset class hours. They interact with each other and ask their tutors questions at the same time.
11. Drexel University Online
The online Master’s in Library and Information Science program offered by Drexel 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 six 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 choose, this ALA accredited library science program guarantees an impressive career outcome. To help students remain focused on career outcome objectives, the school facilitates exceptional student-adviser interactions. Students with industry experience may also get credit for previous work experience and schooling.
There is no GRE or GMAT requirement for this MLIS at the University of Maryland for students with a GPA of 3.2 and above.
10. University of Texas- Austin
This top ranked MSIS at the University of Texas-Austin’s School of Information is a two-year program which prepares graduates for careers in:
The University of Texas-Austin is one of the founding members of iSchools, an organization that focuses on advancing the information field. iSchool offers research labs in:
- user experience
- digital archives
- information retrieval
Students in this best master’s in library and information science must complete a capstone project and an electronic portfolio. Faculty and staff are committed to supporting students in their career search and placement.
9. University of Southern California
The Master of Management in Library and Information Science (MMLIS) offered by the University of Southern California is probably the most popular programs included in this list—with regards to cultural and academic considerations. While it is one of the most expensive options in this list, graduates are prepared for high level positions.
The program is offered through the USC Marshall School of Business. This school is reputed as one of the most innovative schools in library and information sciences in the region. Their top MMLIS program is specifically designed to instill the required skills to help students fit into the modern era of library and information. Course offerings include:
- Management Communication for Leaders
- Collection Development and Management
- Information Description, Organization and Retrieval
Students can complete their library science degree in just 20 months. University of Southern California is ranked #22 top college in the country by U.S. News and World Report.
8. Kent State University
The top library science degree program at Kent State University is a great choice for students planning to work in settings like:
- information agencies
- companies and agencies
- cultural organizations
Their course offerings provide students with an exceptional skill set in demand by top employers. Pathways of study include:
- Applied Data Science
- Information and Knowledge Organization
- Information Access and Discovery
- Data Information Technology
Students interested in K-12 School Librarianship can complete the School Library Media K-12 major. Dual degree options include:
- Master of Library and Information Science and Master of Business Administration
- Master of Library and Information Science in School Library Media K-12 and Master of Education in Educational Technology
This American Library Association accredited 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. 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.
7. University of Kentucky
The Master of Science in Library Science offered by the University of Kentucky is an ALA accredited program. Students will develop a solid foundation with skills and education that are relevant to the library and information work environment. Students have the opportunity to study abroad and gain international experience. The program offers unique practicum opportunities for its online Master of Library and Information Science students.
The curriculum features flexible asynchronous coursework, making this a great choice for working professionals. Schedules can be individualized, and students may choose to complete a full time or part time program. Concentration areas include:
- academic libraries
- school librarian
- youth services and literature
- health information
- information systems
Online students benefit from the UK’s great low in-state tuition rates. U.S. News and World Report ranked University of Kentucky in the top 5 for Health Librarianship.
6. University of South Carolina
The College of Information and Communications at the University of South Carolina features a high-quality online Master of Library and Information Science. Students can take the program entirely online or combine online and on-campus coursework.
Students can complete their degree in just 18 months using the Fast Track option. This accelerated Master of Library and Information Science degree program is specifically designed for students with busy lives. Although the program may be fast-tracked, it focuses on the outcome of its students. To ensure a positive academic experience, students are assigned to faculty advisers to help them with career choices.
Students taking this MLIS program can choose from three unique areas of specialization including:
- Information Services
- Library Services to Children and Young Adults
- Cultural Heritage Institutions
Based on a student survey, almost 67% of graduates received a promotion or raise upon completion of the degree. MLIS graduates are working in:
5. Rutgers University- School of Communication and Information
The School of Communication and Information at Rutgers University equips its online students with the necessary pedagogy and education to succeed in the competitive job market. The program 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 ALA accredited 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:
- Interaction Design and Informatics
- Archives and Preservation
- School Library Media
- Information and Management
- Data Science
- Library and Information Science
Additionally, the program offers several starting dates for their students to choose as well as a highly customizable schedule. There is no GRE or GMAT requirement for this Master of Information degree for student who meet the criteria for strong academic records. U.S. News and World Report ranked Rutgers 7th in School Library Media.
4. University of Washington- Information School
The Master of Library and Information Science program offered by the University of Washington is aimed at connecting the students to information. This MLIS degree provides a solid foundation for a variety of career paths due to its strong curriculum. Course offerings include:
- Research, Assessment and Design
- Organization of Information and Resoures
- Concepts, Services, and Issues for Information Professionals
- Information Behavior
The flexible curriculum allows students to choose electives like directed fieldwork or independent study. Courses are delivered in a convenient asynchronous format that is ideal for working professionals. While courses are offered online, students are required to come to campus for a three-day mandatory orientation. During this time, students will meet their peers and instructors and get a feel for the program.
3. Valdosta State University
The Department of Library and Information Studies at Valdosta State University offers a Master of Library and Information Science. Their program is one of the most flexible and affordable on our list. According to a similar ranking, this MLIS was ranked a ‘Best Buy’ MLIS program. Students complete 39 credit hours to earn their degree. The core curriculum allows students to gain expertise in four key areas including:
- Resources for Clients
- Services in the Knowledge Society
- Technical Knowledge
In addition to the enhanced flexibility of online courses, the program allows individuals to further their studies by specializing in a specific area of library and information science. Specializations include:
- Reference Sources & Services
- Cataloging and Classification
- Library Management
2. University of Illinois
The School of Information Sciences at the University of Illinois Other offers a MS in Library and Information Science. Other than the once-a-semester visit campus, students can complete most of their coursework online. The program requires 40 semester hours delivered in a flexible synchronous format featuring 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 with unique course offerings that include:
- 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 ALA accredited MIS program at the U of I is a clear manifestation of the school’s stellar reputation. The program is preferred for high quality education and post-education assistance. After graduation, students are offered career advisement to help them find good jobs. U.S. News and World Report ranks this MS in library and information science at U of I as the best of its kind.
1. University of Wisconsin- Madison
University of Wisconsin—Madison
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. We arrived at this decision after analyzing the various attributes of the program, including:
- class size
- fields of specialization
- strength of curriculum
Not only is the Madison school a member of the iSchools, but they also offer a flexible MIS program. Students may choose any of the five specializations offered by this program including:
- Archives in a Digital Age
- Data/Information Management and Analytics
- Information Technology and UX
- Information Organization
In addition to its flexibility, this best 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:
- Foundations of Reference
- Information Ethics and Policy
- Collection Management
- Archives Administration
Additionally, the program offers small class sizes. This makes it more convenient for students to interact directly with their peers and instructors. The program allows students to practice information and librarianship services at a professional level through:
- core courses
- a 120-hour practicum
This MA in library science and information studies program waives its GRE admission requirements.
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