Online Library Science Degree Programs Resource
Learning about a library science degree can help individuals who are interested in working as a school librarian get started on a career in this field. Librarians are information professionals who help patrons of public and private libraries find information from electronic and print sources, including databases, books, and articles. They teach library users how to correctly search for and evaluate sources of information. In addition to working with patrons, librarians are responsible for classifying, organizing, and cataloging texts so that they are easy to find. They also have administrative duties, such as reviewing and selecting sources to add to the library’s collections. Librarians need to have exceptional social skills, including the ability to interact professionally with many different people. Librarians also need to have organizational skills, knowledge of a wide range of information sources, competent research skills, and the ability to navigate complex information. To learn more about how to become a school librarian, see our career guide.
Library Science Degrees & Certification
People who obtain a library science degree can find jobs in both the public and private sectors. Many librarians work with children at media centers in elementary, middle, or high schools. Others obtain positions at colleges or universities or work at community libraries funded by the government. Librarians can also find jobs in specialized libraries at hospitals, churches, museums, research facilities, and other organizations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, many librarians are expected to retire in the coming years, increasing the number of job openings available.1
Top-Ranked Library Degree and Information Science Degree Programs
The following schools were ranked by US News as having the best library science graduate programs (2017).
1. University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign
2. University of Washington
3. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
4. Syracuse University
5. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (tie)
5. University of Texas-Austin (tie)
7. Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey-New Brunswick
8. University of Maryland-College Park
9. Indiana University-Bloomington
10. University of Pittsburgh
Best Value Library Science Schools with On-Campus Programs
To help you find the library science schools with the best value, we have researched the not-for-profit US colleges and universities offering library science programs. Only schools with a high graduation rate (70% or higher) and a low net price (below $20,000) made our list. A high graduation rate is typically an indicator of a school’s success and a low net price impacts students’ investment. We have also researched data like retention rate, transfer out rate, student loan default rate, percentage of tenured faculty, and US News & World Report rankings. To sort the schools by any of these data points, simply click on a column header.
|School||Grad Rate1||Retention Rate*1||Transfer Out Rate**1||Student Loan Default Rate1||% Tenured Faculty2||US News National Rank3||US News Undergrad Teaching Rank4||Net Price1|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||84%||94%||N.Av.||2.5%||51%||#59 tie||N/A||$9,443|
|University of California-Los Angeles||91%||97%||4%||1.8%||48%||#19 tie||N/A||$14,760|
|University of Iowa||74%||86%||20%||2.6%||48%||#89 tie||N/A||$14,845|
|University at Buffalo||75%||87%||16%||3.3%||35%||#89 tie||N/A||$16,120|
|University of Maryland-College Park||85%||96%||5%||2.1%||44%||#63 tie||N/A||$17,241|
*See Table Notes and References at bottom of page.
Profiles of Traditional Library Science Degree Programs
Northern Kentucky University awards the Bachelor of Science in Library Informatics to students who successfully complete its academically rigorous program in library information systems. Students learn the principles and theory of organizing, accessing, and assessing information as well as materials preservation and information behavior. The program emphasizes all forms of information, which differentiates the program from related informatics degrees. Graduates are prepared for careers in such fields as research and information management and for graduate study in library science and information systems. The curriculum includes up-to-date instruction in current trends in informatics and digital and meta information skills and practice. The program is housed within the university’s College of Informatics, which takes an interdisciplinary approach to the information sciences. Although it is a traditional degree program, select courses in the BS in Library Informatics are offered online and in hybrid online/traditional formats.
Through its Department of Library Science and Instructional Technology Kutztown University offers two bachelor’s degree programs in library science: the Bachelor of Science, a non-teaching degree, and the Bachelor of Science in Education, which can lead to library teaching certification in grades K-12. The program prepares students for careers as professional librarians with the skills needed to evaluate, collect, organize, preserve, retrieve, and share information in academic and other settings. Both degree programs include field experience components that allow students to observe school libraries in rural and urban settings across grade levels. During the junior year of study, students may undertake a supervised professional field experience, which leads to a senior clinical field experience and practicum. Select courses in the degree program are available through online distance learning, which can provide additional flexibility for students with busy schedules. The teacher education track holds current accreditation from the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE).
The University of Maine at Augusta offers a Bachelor of Science in Information and Library Services degree program that prepares students to work independently and become part of the new librarianship in the information age. The foundation of the program is the research, theories, approaches, and practice in modern library and information science, allowing students to enter the workforce or pursue graduate study. The 120 credit hour program offers several tracks to admission depending on students’ previous academic experience. A capstone project includes an on-site internship in a school setting. All courses in the major are taken online using streamed video instruction, computer conferencing, and Internet technologies. Students may also take non-library courses at the University of Maine or other accredited institutions for transfer, providing a highly flexible and personalized degree plan. Program graduates are qualified to receive the Certified Library Support Staff certification from the American Library Association-Allied Professional Association.
Profiles of Hybrid and Online Library Science Degree Programs
The San José State University School of Information’s exclusively online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program affords graduate students the unique opportunity to tailor their master’s degrees to their individual career goals. They can prepare for a variety of future roles in school libraries and academic libraries, such as information literacy or digital literacy instruction, collection development, website development, and library technology management. MLIS students complete all aspects of their degree online, including courses and field experiences. Periodic live online class sessions via web conferencing give students opportunities to engage in live discussions with instructors and classmates. Students also interact frequently via online discussion boards, where they can log in and participate at their convenience. Full-time students can finish the 43-unit MLIS program in as little as a year, although students have seven years to fulfill degree requirements. Students must complete six required courses, including a thesis or e-portfolio, and nine electives. The MLIS program has been continuously accredited by the American Library Association since 1969.
Louisiana State University (LSU) offers a fully online Master’s in Library and Information Science (MLIS) program with multiple optional specializations, including School Librarianship and Academic Librarianship, that can prepare graduates to work in public and private school libraries. The core courses for all specializations include Management of Information Organizations, Understanding Research, and Information Needs and Information Seeking. In total, 36 credit hours are required to earn the degree. The program is competitive and requires students to maintain a 3.0 GPA across all MLIS courses. Students must also earn at least a B- in each course in the MLIS core curriculum. Financial aid, including a limited number of graduate assistantships, is available to qualifying students. The School of Library & Information Science at LSU has offered the online MLIS for over ten years, and also offers a graduate certificate in Records and Information Management as well as a graduate certificate in School Librarianship, which is designed for add-on certification for currently licensed teachers.
The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Information Sciences maintains an online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) program that closely mirrors the curriculum for its long-standing on-campus MLIS program. The program offers three specializations: Archives and Information Science; Data Stewardship; and Library and Information Services. Admission is competitive and requires students to hold a bachelor’s degree with a cumulative GPA of at least 3.0. Students have four years from the start of the program to complete all degree requirements. Typically, students take six credit hours per term, which allows degree completion within three years. Online students are supported by academic advisors and 24/7 technology assistance, as well as remote access to the university’s library system. The MLIS program at the University of Pittsburg is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). The School of Information Sciences also offers a certificate of advanced study in Library and Information Science and a PhD program in library science.
Library Science Degree Requirements and Coursework
A library science degree is a good fit for those who wish to work in information collection and management in an academic setting. An undergraduate degree in library science can prepare students for entry-level careers in teaching and library management or for further study at the graduate level.
Students who enroll in a school with a library and information science degree program will take courses in the history of library science and the evolution of literature. In addition, prospective librarians take classes in research strategies, the collection and organization of materials, information technology systems, and library management. Students can also choose to take additional classes that address specific interests, such as how to find age-appropriate resources for children. All library science degree programs take one to two years to complete.
Some examples of classes a student would take to obtain a library sciences degree include:
- Computer-Based Information Tools
- Resources for Children
- Library Services for Early Childhood
- Curriculum Resources and Services in the School Library Media Center
- History of Children’s Literature
- Collection Development and Management
- Academic Library Management
- Evaluation of Resources and Services
- Evaluation of Information Systems
Top School Library Blogs
See our list of the top 50 school library blogs which features blogs that provide great insights and informative articles about working as a school librarian.
Library Science Career Interviews
- Lecturer, San José State University School of Information, Dr. Mary Ann Harlan
- Professor and Director, San José State University School of Information, Dr. Sandra Hirsh
Teaching and Education Programs
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Does a library science degree lead to teaching certification?
Answer: Many library science degree programs offer curriculum tracks that lead to teaching certification in the library sciences. You can check with schools in your area and State Board of Education for certification requirements.
Question: Are library science degree programs available online?
Answer: Yes! Many library science degree programs are offered online or in hybrid formats.
Question: What prerequisites are required to apply to a library science degree program?
Answer: At the bachelor’s degree level, prerequisites typically include the ACT and/or SAT exams. Master’s level library science programs generally look for applicants who have an undergraduate degree in library or information sciences and related fields.
Question: What is the difference between an information science and library science degree?
Answer: Library science is a branch of the information sciences, which specifically focuses on information collection and retrieval in academic or scholarly settings. As a result, an information science degree can be broader without a specialization in library sciences, which many programs do offer.
1. US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Librarians: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/education-training-and-library/librarians.htm
Table Notes and References:
All data is based on undergraduate statistics.
*The retention rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who continued to a second year of study at the same institution.
**The transfer out rate is the percentage of first-time, full-time students who transferred their credits to another institution within 150% of the normal time to complete their degree.
1. National Center for Education Statistics: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. College Factual: https://www.collegefactual.com/
3. US News & World Report National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities
4. US News & World Report Best Undergraduate Teaching National University Rankings: https://www.usnews.com/best-colleges/rankings/national-universities/undergraduate-teaching