Most Affordable Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees 2021

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Most Affordable Online Master's in Library Science Degrees Badge

Librarians and library media specialists can work in medical, school, and public libraries. Typical job duties include helping visitors locate books and digital resources, training and overseeing less experienced staff, and maintaining collections. A librarian’s employer and title impacts the professional’s overall mission and day-to-day activities.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects employment for librarians and library media specialists to increase 5% from 2019-2029. According to the BLS, librarians earn a median salary of $59,500 per year, which is approximately $20,000 higher than the median annual salary for all occupations. BLS data indicates that librarians working in the District of Columbia, California, and Maryland earn the highest salaries.

Aspiring librarians typically earn a master’s in library science from a program with accreditation from the American Library Association (ALA). Application materials often include standardized test scores, a statement of purpose, and recommendation letters. Applicants to the top library science degree programs typically need prerequisite coursework and a minimum undergraduate GPA.

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees

FAQ


  • Do I need to take the GRE for a master's in library science?

    Applicants to master’s in library science programs must typically submit GRE or GMAT scores. However, universities may waive this requirement for applicants who already possess a master’s or doctoral degree.


  • What jobs can you get with a master's in library science?

    After earning a master’s in library science online, graduates often become academic librarians, administrative services librarians, and school librarians. Other professionals in the field, such as corporate and law librarians, assist with research.


  • What is required for a library science degree?

    Most students earn their master’s in library science in 1-2 years. Curricula generally emphasize cataloging, archiving, and collection management. Learners in some library science degree programs select a concentration.


  • Can you get a library science degree online?

    Accredited online programs offer learners the same high-quality educational experience that on-campus students receive. Individuals pursuing their library science degree online typically gain hands-on training through an internship experience.


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What Are the Goals of a Library Science Degree?

Students earning a master’s in library science receive training in library and information services fundamentals, research methods, and the organization of information. Coursework helps students hone the technological skills that librarians need to help people, companies, and organizations perform online research.

Students earning a library science degree online generally hone their skills during a capstone internship and create a digital portfolio to demonstrate proficiency in the field. Learners often prepare for a specific career track by pursuing a concentration or certificate. Common specialization areas include archival studies, law librarianship, and medical and community health information. Learners can work with academic and career advisors to research concentration and career options.

Why Get a Degree in Library Science?

Earning a master’s in library science can lead to personal and professional benefits. Graduates often commit to lifelong learning and enjoy comfortable salaries and job opportunities throughout the United States.

Multiple Career Paths
Universities, K-12 schools, medical centers, and law offices employ trained librarians. The availability of positions in various sectors makes the profession appealing to people with different interests and career goals.
Higher Salary
Librarians earn a higher median salary than the median for all occupations, according to the BLS. This above-average earning potential can lead to financial stability and help professionals save for retirement.
Transferable Skills
Modern librarians need technical skills to help individuals and clients perform research online. Learners can also apply the technological skills they gain while earning a library science degree to positions in other fields.
Professional Development
Students pursuing a master’s in library science develop in-demand knowledge and skills. This foundation prepares graduates to complete professional development and continuing education courses throughout their career.
Historic Preservation
After earning a master’s in library science online, graduates can work as archivists. These professionals digitize historical documents, preserving and increasing access to knowledge.

What is Accreditation and Why Does it Matter?

Career and Salary Outlook for Library Science

After completing the core curriculum, students earning a master’s in library science often choose a concentration to prepare for a certain career. Specialized careers for graduates of library science degree programs include archivist, curator, and museum worker. These and other related positions may require a professional certification or state-issued license. Learners can use their school’s academic and career resources, such as job boards and counseling sessions, to plan their job search and career goals.

Archivists, curators, and museum workers preserve historical documents and objects for future generations. In addition to museums, typical job sites include government archives and postsecondary institutions. Responsibilities involve designing museum exhibits, digitizing materials, and leading research projects. These professionals use cataloging and archival skills to ensure that artifacts remain in good condition within secure environments.

Median Annual Salary: $49,850

Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 11%

Schools, medical offices, law firms, and corporations hire librarians to maintain documents and help individuals conduct research. These professionals often provide one-on-one assistance, teach courses, and prepare budgets. Librarians in public K-12 schools need a teaching license with a librarian endorsement. Other employers may require applicants to hold professional certification.

Median Annual Salary: $59,500

Projected Growth Rate (2019-2029): 5%

Certifications and Licensure for Library Science

More than half of all states require public library workers to hold certification. Certification requirements vary by state and may include a master’s in library science and a passing exam score. Librarians must typically earn professional development or continuing education credits to maintain their certification.

Library science degree-seekers who plan to enter a career that requires certification should choose an ALA-accredited program. ALA accreditation demonstrates that the program offers a rigorous educational experience and prepares learners to succeed in the field. ALA maintains an online list of accredited programs in the United States, Puerto Rico, and Canada.

Prospective students interested in becoming a K-12 public school librarian should research programs with accreditation from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Programs with ALA and CAEP accreditation provide learners with the training necessary to obtain a teaching license with a librarian endorsement. As with librarian certification requirements, teacher licensure requirements vary by state.

Scholarships for Library Science Students

Although pursuing a master’s in library science online can help students save money, distance learners still need assistance funding their education. Private scholarship programs, such as those below, award funding to degree-seekers who meet certain requirements. Applicants may need to demonstrate academic excellence or financial need.

Alice L. Haltom Educational Fund


Who Can Apply: This award supports library science and information management students with a minimum 3.0 undergraduate or graduate GPA. Applicants submit a 200- to 300-word essay, three recommendation letters, and official transcripts by May 1. Recipients are announced on July 1. The scholarship does not renew.

Amount: Varies

Christopher Hoy/ERT Scholarship


Who Can Apply: The American Library Association offers this annual scholarship to master’s degree-seekers in the United States and Canada. Applicants must have no more than 12 graduate credits and must submit a personal statement and three professional references. Students apply by March 1, and ALA notifies recipients by phone on June 1.

Amount: $5,000

Tom and Roberta Drewes Scholarship


Who Can Apply: Library support staff pursuing a library science degree to advance their career can apply for this scholarship. Applicants must attend an ALA-accredited program. Application materials include three recommendation letters and an essay. Interested students apply by March 1, and the scholarship committee chooses recipients in early summer.

Amount: $3,000

Most Affordable Online Master’s in Library Science Degrees 2021

  1. East Central University
    Location

    Ada, OK

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the town of Ada, in south-central Oklahoma, East Central University is a small, public, teaching university with a history as a teachers’ college. The school currently offers over seventy degrees at the undergraduate and graduate level, with small class sizes and dedicated faculty. Their online programs are extending the reach of high-quality programs to nontraditional students.

    Program Features

    East Central University offers an online, NCATE-accredited Masters of Library Media designed for students planning to become a School Library Media Specialist in grades PK-12. The program is in alignment with state and national professional standards and guidelines and covers all areas of school librarianship, including technology. Special attention is given to the development of the student as a consumer of research. Courses include:

    • School Library Administration
    • Materials Selection
    • Cataloging and Classification

    Notables

    East Central University’s Master of Library Media is a 32-credit program comprised of 18 credits of required coursework and 14 credits of specialization courses, a portfolio, and electives. The program is fully online. To become a certified media specialist in Oklahoma, you’ll need a valid standard Oklahoma teaching certificate in an approved area and pass the Oklahoma Subject Area Test (OSAT).

  2. Texas Woman's University
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in Denton, Texas, Texas Woman’s University is actually a co-ed, public university that specializes in areas like nursing, education, business, and nutrition. The school boasts a diverse student body and a high return on investment— and their Library and Information Studies programs rank in the top 35 nationally.

    Program Features

    Texas Woman’s University offers an affordable Master of Library Science degree that is accredited by the American Library Association. The program prepares students to work in a variety of information environments—from academic libraries to public and technical libraries. Students gain a foundational understanding of library and information studies as well as specialized training. Courses include:

    • Foundations of Library and Information Studies
    • Information Retrieval
    • Information and Communication Technology

    Notables

    TWU’s Master of Library Science is a 36-credit program comprised of seven required courses (21 credits), a practicum, and 12 credits of electives. Students can use their electives to focus their program on their specific career goals, creating a program track of their own choosing. This is a very affordable, high-quality program and many TWU students and graduates have been named ALA Spectrum Scholars.

  3. Texas A&M University-Commerce
    Location

    Commerce, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Texas A&M-Commerce is a nationally ranked public university and the second largest school in the Texas A&M University System. Since the late nineteenth century, Texas A&M-Commerce has been providing high-quality education programs for the people of Texas. And their strong online presence is extending the reach of their “personal, accessible, and affordable” programs to off-campus students.

    Program Features

    Texas A&M-Commerce offers a Master of Science and Master of Education in Educational Technology. The degrees are in Educational Technology-Leadership and in Educational Technology-Library Science. Students can also choose coursework in two certification areas to prepare educators for teaching Technology Applications and for becoming school librarians. Courses include:

    • Information Reference and Mediagraphic Services.
    • Cataloging and Classification
    • Developing General and Specialized Collections

    Notables

    Texas A&M’s online Master of Educational Technology degrees are both available 100% online, with no face-to-face requirements. The program is comprised of 36 credits of required coursework, which includes a practicum and one elective. And for those interested in the M.Ed. program, school librarian certification is approved by the State Board for Educator Certification for the state of Texas only.

  4. University of Washington
    Location

    Seattle, WA

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the rainy seaport city of Seattle, Washington, the University of Washington is a public research university that ranks among the top public schools in the US. The school is home to many prestigious graduate programs, and their Library and Information Science program currently ranks as second-best in the country (U.S. News and World Report).

    Program Features

    The Information School at UW offers an affordable, online Master of Library and Information Science that promises the practical skills you need to advance your career. UW’s program prepares students to be leaders in any knowledge-intensive industry, from digital libraries to special collections or school libraries. Options within the program include:

    • Law Librarianship (ranked best in the U.S.)
    • School Library Media Endorsement

    Notables

    UW’s Master of Library and Information Science is a 63 quarter-credit program. The online program is designed as a three-year, part-time program, with students enrolling in 6-8 credits per quarter. Students who wish to take additional courses, may do so. The curriculum is based on a set of core courses giving foundational knowledge, with enough electives that students can tailor the program to their own career aspirations.

  5. Appalachian State University
    Location

    Boone, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina, Appalachian State University is a public comprehensive university that ranks among the top ten regional universities in the South. The school was originally founded as a teacher’s college in 1899, and currently offers over 150 undergraduate and graduate majors on campus or through their robust online system.

    Program Features

    Appalachian State University offers an online Master of Library Science for students interested in careers in school librarianship or public librarianship. The program is nationally recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and is also accredited by CAEP. Online students work in small classes in a fully immersive and collaborative educational environment. Courses include:

    • Collection Development and Management
    • Information Sources and Services
    • Technology and Libraries: Tools, Resources, and Issues

    Notables

    Appalachian State’s online Master of Library Science is a 36-credit program comprised of 11 required courses and an internship. Completion of the Master of Library Science program entitles the graduate to apply for licensure from the State of North Carolina as well as Public Librarian Certification from the North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Commission.

  6. University of North Carolina at Greensboro
    Location

    Greensboro, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Commonly known as UNC Greensboro, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a nationally ranked, public liberal arts research university and a member of the University of North Carolina System. The school has invested heavily in online learning and their graduate Library Information Studies program ranks in the top 25 nationally (U.S. News and World Report).

    Program Features

    UNC Greensboro offers an affordable, online Master of Library and Information Studies that promises to prepare you for an exciting and rewarding career in a field that is broad and deep in its vocational variety. Accredited by the American Library Association, the program provides an intellectually rich, community-centered, and hands-on curriculum for library and information education, innovation and service. Courses include:

    • Researching Opportunities in Entrepreneurship and Economic Development
    • Foundations of Library and Information Studies
    • Collection Management

    Notables

    UNC Greensboro’s online Master of Library and Information Science is a 36-credit program designed for either working or full-time students—the average completion rate is 2.5 years for part-time study. The curriculum is very flexible and comprised of four required courses, supplemented by a full complement of elective courses in specialized information resources, archival management, and computer applications.

  7. University of North Texas
    Location

    Denton, TX

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located near Dallas in the city of Denton, TX, the University of North Texas is a large public research university that frequently appears on college rankings. The flagship university of the University of North Texas system, UNT houses ten colleges and two schools, including a highly ranked Library and Information Science department.

    Program Features

    UNT’s Department of Information Science offers an online Master of Science in Library Science which provides students with the skills to be successful professionals in a variety of library, archival, and information settings. The department is ALA-accredited and a member of iSchools— a consortium of Information Schools that shares a fundamental interest in the relationship between information, people, and technology. Courses include:

    • Information and Knowledge Professions
    • Information Organization
    • Information Access and Knowledge Inquiry

    Notables

    UNT’s online MS in Library Science is a 36-credit program comprised of 9 credits of required courses and 27 credits of guided and general electives. The program offers a significant amount of flexibility for students to tailor their degree to their professional interests. Students can complete the program on a full-time or part-time basis with only six days of in-person classroom attendance required.

  8. Murray State University
    Location

    Murray, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Located in the town of Murray, Kentucky, Murray State University is a primarily 4-year public university which emphasizes experiential learning and a personalized approach to education. The school ranks among the top 35 regional schools in the South and is home to many highly regarded graduate programs, like their M.Ed. in Library Media.

    Program Features

    Murray State’s College of Education and Human Services offers a CAEP-accredited, online Master of Education in Library Media for both initial certification and certification in Library Media. The school provides training for future school librarians, with a focus on learning, leadership, and literacy. The curriculum covers information in all its forms, from paper-based to digital. Courses include:

    • Integrating Educational Technology
    • Curriculum Development
    • Research to Improve Student Learning

    Notables

    Murray State University’s online M.Ed. in Library Media is a 33-credit program, comprised of 7 required courses, plus electives and practicums. All students take part in 3 practicum classes in which they work in a school library under the supervision of an experienced and certified school media librarian. Students seeking initial certification in education must meet all requirements for admission to Teacher Education, including completing 200 hours of field experience.

  9. North Carolina Central University
    Location

    Durham, NC

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    Originally founded as the first public liberal arts institution for African Americans, North Carolina Central University is now a highly-ranked master’s comprehensive university in Durham, NC. Their graduate programs—like Library and Information Studies (which U.S. News and World Report ranks at #27 nationally)—continue to garner national acclaim.

    Program Features

    NCCU’s School of Library and Information Sciences offers an online Master of Library Science program with several concentrations. The program is accredited by the American Library Association, and prepares students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in a wide range of Library and Information careers. There are seven possible tracks which include:

    • Academic Librarian
    • Archives and Records Manager
    • Digital Librarian
    • Law Librarian

    Notables

    North Carolina Central University’s online MLS program is comprised of 36 credits (the School Media concentration requires 39 credits). All concentrations share six core courses which provide a foundational knowledge. Other requirements vary in terms of resources and services courses, a librarian specialization course, and recommended electives. All students have the chance to experience libraries as information centers for collaboration and investigation.

  10. Western Kentucky University
    Location

    Bowling Green, KY

    Tuition

    $$$$$

    Overview

    A public university located in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Western Kentucky University ranks among the top public universities in the country. The school, which was originally founded in 1906, has gone through a significant transformation in recent decades, leading to high rankings for both their on-campus and their acclaimed online programs (US News and World Report).

    Program Features

    Western Kentucky University offers a Master of Science in Library Media Education which is a dual concentration program in information services (LMS) and educational technology (EDTECH). This is a broad-based degree which prepares students as library media specialists, training development specialists, educational technology specialists, and information service specialists. Students choose from two concentrations:

    • Library Media Specialist Concentration
    • Educational Technology Specialist

    Notables

    WKU’s MS in Library Media Education- Library Media Concentration is a 33-credit program which prepares students for certification as a P-12 School Media Librarian in Kentucky. And if you are already a teacher in Kentucky then you can take advantage of the Kentucky P-12 Professional Educator Rate—a special tuition rate ($395 per credit hour) for Kentucky teachers in specific master degree programs.

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