Best Online Master's in Library Science Degrees

Online library science degrees prepare learners for information-focused careers. Explore career paths, typical costs, and tips for choosing a program.
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Updated February 20, 2024

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Library science fuses research skills with data management, leadership, and organizational administration. Online library science degrees offer a potentially easy, flexible way to study this niche subject.

Graduates often go on to become librarians but as you'll see, library science supports many other career paths.

Popular Online Programs

Learn about start dates, transferring credits, availability of financial aid, and more by contacting the universities below.

Library Science Rankings Summary

Jump to a school below using the links in the "School" column.

Rank School In-State Tuition Out-of-State Tuition Acceptance Rate
#1 University of South Florida
Tampa, FL
$8,350 $19,048 49%
#2 University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA
$60,446 $60,446 13%
#3 University of Washington-Seattle Campus
Seattle, WA
$16,605 $29,763 53%
#4 San Jose State University
San Jose, CA
$7,176 $16,680 84%
#5 University of North Texas
Denton, TX
$6,350 $13,694 81%
#6 University of Missouri-Columbia
Columbia, MO
$9,950 $27,245 77%
#7 University of Arizona
Tucson, AZ
$12,106 $32,290 87%
#8 University of Maryland-College Park
College Park, MD
$15,360 $34,120 52%
#9 University of South Carolina-Columbia
Columbia, SC
$13,734 $29,760 62%
#10 East Carolina University
Greenville, NC
$4,749 $17,898 94%

Top 10 Library Science Degrees

#1 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of South Florida

  • Tampa, FL
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $348
Out-of-State | $348

Credits to Graduate: 39

The University of South Florida's MA in library and information science has held continuous ALA accreditation since 1974. The program's six core courses examine foundational aspects of library science, including research methods, library administration, collection development, and information organization. Learners supplement core coursework with technology and library science electives covering a combined 21 credits.

With 100% online, asynchronous delivery, the program optimizes flexibility and convenience. The degree culminates with a portfolio presentation, which replaces the need for a comprehensive final examination. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,559
Out-of-state
$15,473
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$8,350
Out-of-state
$19,048
Retention Rate
90%
Acceptance Rate
49%
Students Enrolled
49,708
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
66% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#2 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of Southern California

  • Los Angeles, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $2,197
Out-of-State | $2,197

Credits to Graduate: 31

The University of Southern California's online master of management in library and information science is hosted through the institution's Marshall School of Business, which holds accreditation from AACSB International.

The online program's curriculum is asynchronous. In addition to a survey of library science essentials, coursework covers business concepts including marketing, accounting, and strategic management. Independent research, internship, and capstone requirements round out the program.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$60,446
Out-of-state
$60,446
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$60,446
Out-of-state
$60,446
Retention Rate
96%
Acceptance Rate
13%
Students Enrolled
49,318
Institution Type
Private
Percent Online Enrollment
46% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#3 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of Washington-Seattle Campus

  • Seattle, WA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $889
Out-of-State | $889

Credits to Graduate: 63 quarter credits

The University of Washington's online master of library and information science program emphasizes applied information organization and design theory. Coursework guides students to approach library science through a user-focused lens, including ethics of information and libraries' social impacts.

Students primarily engage in asynchronous learning, though some courses and components may require real-time participation. UW also developed the online program for part-time students. Most learners graduate in three years.

According to the program, recent cohorts of students — which began their coursework in 2018, 2019, or 2020 — boast graduation rates between 84% and 90%. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,927
Out-of-state
$38,757
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$16,605
Out-of-state
$29,763
Retention Rate
93%
Acceptance Rate
53%
Students Enrolled
52,434
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
19% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities

#4 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

San Jose State University

  • San Jose, CA
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
San Jose Area | $1,069
In-State | $525
Out-of-State | $525

Credits to Graduate: 43

San Jose State University's online master of library and information science program began in 1928. In 2009, the degree shifted to a 100% online delivery model. Courses are mainly asynchronous with occasional synchronous elements.

The curriculum covers 16 required units and 27 elective units. Both core and elective coursework maintains a technological focus, teaching students best practices for contemporary libraries.

According to the school, employment rates for library science students who graduated between fall 2021 and spring 2023 range from 83% to 89%.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$5,742
Out-of-state
$17,622
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$7,176
Out-of-state
$16,680
Retention Rate
89%
Acceptance Rate
84%
Students Enrolled
37,133
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
85% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior Colleges and University Commission

#5 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of North Texas

  • Denton, TX
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $455
Out-of-State | $658

Credits to Graduate: 36

The University of North Texas' online library science master's program holds particular appeal for emerging specialists. Students can choose from six concentrations: archival studies and imaging technology; information organization; knowledge management; and law, music, or youth librarianship. These targeted concentrations enhance the acquisition of specific skills and prepare learners for focused career paths.

Online sessions maximize flexibility for learners balancing studies with part- or full-time employment. Degree-seekers who study full time can graduate in just one year. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$8,295
Out-of-state
$18,111
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$6,350
Out-of-state
$13,694
Retention Rate
79%
Acceptance Rate
81%
Students Enrolled
42,441
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
62% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#6 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of Missouri-Columbia

  • Columbia, MO
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $535
Out-of-State | $535

Credits to Graduate: 39

The University of Missouri's online master of library and information science program views library and information science as a dynamic field undergoing profound change in the technological age. This philosophy informs the program's design.

Students can take coursework in a variety of emphasis areas, including youth services, archival studies, digital humanities, and public librarianship. For students who already hold Missouri teaching certification, the program also offers a school library media concentration that meets state requirements for an add-on certificate in this subfield.

The 100% online coursework combines asynchronous and synchronous modalities. However, the degree also requires an in-person practicum experience.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,017
Out-of-state
$28,992
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$9,950
Out-of-state
$27,245
Retention Rate
88%
Acceptance Rate
77%
Students Enrolled
31,401
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
63% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#7 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of Arizona

  • Tucson, AZ
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $900
Out-of-State | $900

Credits to Graduate: 37

The University of Arizona's online master of arts in library and information science features an interdisciplinary curriculum emphasizing foundational principles, information architecture, and advanced research methods. Learners can specialize their degree with five concentrations: academic librarianship, archives and special collections, digital curation, law librarianship and legal information, and public librarianship. 

The online program culminates in a capstone experience — which includes an in-person internship — and an electronic portfolio. Students usually complete the program in two years of full-time study. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$10,990
Out-of-state
$33,739
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$12,106
Out-of-state
$32,290
Retention Rate
84%
Acceptance Rate
87%
Students Enrolled
48,274
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Higher Learning Commission

#8 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of Maryland-College Park

  • College Park, MD
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $828
Out-of-State | $1,805

Credits to Graduate: 36

The University of Maryland's online master of library and information science program differentiates itself with unique specialization opportunities. The degree's six concentration options include archives and digital curation, diversity and inclusion, intelligence and analytics, legal informatics, school library, and youth experience. Learners can also design their own specialization through an individualized program plan.

Coursework flexibility supports learners working part time or full time. Required application materials include a statement of purpose, academic transcripts, a resume or CV, three letters of recommendation, and a personal essay. GMAT/GRE scores are optional.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$9,000
Out-of-state
$36,683
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$15,360
Out-of-state
$34,120
Retention Rate
95%
Acceptance Rate
52%
Students Enrolled
41,272
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
33% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Middle States Commission on Higher Education

#9 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

University of South Carolina-Columbia

  • Columbia, SC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $572
Out-of-State | $692

Credits to Graduate: 36

The University of South Carolina's online master of library and information science program includes a six-course core covering library science fundamentals and technological proficiencies. Core coursework develops advanced understandings of information organization and access, community engagement, and research skills. The remaining six courses are electives, allowing learners to customize the degree to their interests. Previous elective options have included classes about storytelling, diversity, archiving, and library planning.

Students can also pursue school library certification within the program. This option requires an in-person library practicum. Enrollees with no teacher certification must complete an additional 15 credits in education and a second internship. 

According to an alumni survey, respondents who graduated during the 2020-21 school year reported 92% full-time employment rates, including 80% in the library and information sciences field. 

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$12,288
Out-of-state
$33,528
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$13,734
Out-of-state
$29,760
Retention Rate
87%
Acceptance Rate
62%
Students Enrolled
35,471
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
56% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

#10 Best Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

East Carolina University

  • Greenville, NC
  • 4 years
  • Online + Campus

Programmatic Accreditation: American Library Association

Cost per Credit:
In-State | $264
Out-of-State | $994

Credits to Graduate: 36

Eastern Carolina University's online master of library science degree features ALA accreditation, along with official endorsements from the American Association of School Librarians and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation. The program offers asynchronous, self-paced, 100% online delivery.

Learners can select specializations in three areas: academic library, public library, and school library media. All three concentrations emphasize practical, hands-on learning with a focus on contemporary library and information services technologies.

Average Undergrad Tuition
In-state
$4,452
Out-of-state
$20,729
Average Graduate Tuition
In-state
$4,749
Out-of-state
$17,898
Retention Rate
81%
Acceptance Rate
94%
Students Enrolled
28,021
Institution Type
Public
Percent Online Enrollment
74% Percentage of all students who are enrolled online.
Accreditation
Yes Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges

How We Chose These Schools

At CollegeChoice, we use reliable data to rank schools based on their academic quality, affordability, and return on investment. When determining a program's value, we consider metrics such as median student debt, graduation rate, and average student earnings after enrolling.

Still curious about how we rank schools? You can learn more about our ranking methodology here.

Why Get an Online Master's in Library Science?

What Can You Do With a Master's in Library Science?

Online library science degrees most readily lead to careers in information services. However, the discipline is versatile. Library science programs build valuable and transferable skills with relevance in any field involving data organization.

Programs frequently include internships, which students normally complete in person. Learners can use their internships strategically to gain experience in adjacent areas or non-library work settings.

The following table introduces careers commonly pursued by professionals with library science degrees. You can also pair library science training with other degrees or certifications to access career paths not listed here.

Note that some positions may require additional degrees or specialized training.

Library Science Careers and Wages
Library Science Career Median Annual Wage (2023)
Business Intelligence Developer $103,500
Instructional Designer $66,490
Librarian $61,660
Archivist $53,420
Information Clerk $38,710
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Since library science careers span the earnings spectrum, students are often extra conscious of managing their learning costs.

How Much Does an Online Master's in Library Science Degree Cost?

If you choose to pursue an online master's in library science, you may pay a per-credit, per-class, or per-program tuition rate.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), the average cost of a graduate degree was $20,513 in 2021-2022. In-state public schools typically offer the lowest tuition rates.

Online graduate degree programs can be less expensive than on-campus programs, as you won't have the expense of moving. However, online programs still incur expenses.

Your program may have additional technology fees to cover IT and online resources. And if you don't have home internet, online courses may involve the cost of parking and purchasing food items to use the internet at a different location.

Your school may offer financial aid and scholarships for online degree students, and you may be eligible for private scholarships.

3 Tips for Choosing an Online Master's in Library Science

If you've decided to apply for an online master's in library science, the next step is choosing your program. Here are a few tips to help you narrow down your decision.

1. Define Your Goals

Why are you getting your master's in library science? How do you hope this program will impact you and your career? Asking yourself what you hope to achieve can help point you toward specific program specialties, particular institutions, and more.

2. Determine Your Budget

The cost of a degree can vary widely from program to program, so it's helpful to know your budget in advance. In addition to comparing tuition costs, consider what different programs' financial aid opportunities are, as well as your loan eligibility. Online programs are often more affordable than on-campus ones, and many offer financial aid.

3. Compare Online Programs

Not all online programs are the same. Be sure to compare program offerings, including fully online versus hybrid degree programs, the merits of synchronous and asynchronous classes, and different course offerings.

You should also consider other nonacademic factors like networking opportunities, alumni communities, and post-graduation employment rates.

Frequently Asked Questions About Library Science

How do you become a librarian?

To become a librarian, you'll need to earn a master's in library science before you can apply for most positions in a library.

While you're studying for your master's, it can be a good idea to gain work experience by volunteering or interning at a library or archive. This will help develop your on-the-job skills in addition to your academic ones.

Is getting a master’s in library science worth it?

If your career aspirations involve librarianship, information architecture, or other research-intensive roles, a library science degree will likely deliver value.

Library science students develop advanced abilities to find, analyze, and evaluate information. In a world increasingly driven by data and information, these skills have increasing economic importance.

Do librarians need a master’s?

Employers increasingly require librarians to hold a master's degree in library and information science. Some librarian positions additionally require teaching certification or licensure. Without a master's, your advancement opportunities and earning potential may both be limited.

How long does it take to get an MLIS degree?

MLIS programs typically cover about 30-43 credits, which represents about 2-2.5 years of full-time study. If you study part-time, it could take you 3-5 years to complete all academic requirements.

Are librarians in high demand?

According to the BLS, librarians and library media specialists are in demand. Jobs for librarians are projected to grow at a rate of 3% from 2022-2032. Plus, other professions for graduates with a master's in library science, like archivists and curators, are projected to grow at a 10% rate.

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