Master’s degrees in Library Science (MLS or Master of Science in Library Science) are offered at many schools, and there are a wide selection of programs available. The choices are so vast that it can be overwhelming. What are the factors that really matter? Where should your focus lie? What elements constitute a solid program? The good news is, it doesn’t have to stress you out to find a good program. Knowing what you want to do with the degree should be your driving force, and once you find the right program to help you meet your specific professional goals, everything should fall into place from there. One thing to consider, pursuing the degree online can offer many benefits and few drawbacks, and since many of the best schools offer their MLS programs online, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for convenience.
Program accreditation is one way to narrow your search down. Accrediting agencies give official, unbiased recognition and authorization to programs that meet a determined set of criteria of excellence. In addition, curriculum requirements must be met in order for accreditation to be renewed. There are several different accreditation agencies that library science programs may use, but the American Library Association (ALA) is the one particularly devoted to library science and librarianship. Some schools, especially those whose program focuses more on school librarianship, may be also or only accredited by education accrediting bodies, such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE) or the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). These accreditation distinctions could be important if your goal is to work in a public or private library versus a school, so make sure to check that the school you choose is accredited appropriately for your career trajectory.
Several other things to consider–certification. Some schools have a school media-only focus, which would only allow graduates to be certified for employment in media centers in K-12 schools (this often goes hand-in-hand with the accreditation consideration). Other schools may offer a broader scope that includes concentrations in school media and other areas for more options both academically and career-wise. And pay attention too to the reach of your program–even with schools offering an online program, some only lead toward certification in the state in which the school’s physical address resides. It’s true that there are a lot of things to consider when looking at a master’s degree in library science, but it doesn’t have to be a stressful process. A good place to start your search is by looking over this list of some of the best online master of library science degree programs. Wherever you go, rest assured you are entering an exciting and well-established profession–you can, among other things, help mold young minds to become book-lovers, help college students find the research materials they need to complete their big project, or help companies and government entities organize their collections. With the right education, the choice is yours!