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20 Best Online Library Science Masters

master's of library science

Librarians are the unsung heroes in the modern era. They play a critical role in our society by organizing and providing access to the vast knowledge and information available in books, audio-visual materials, and other formats. 

Librarians must adapt to the changing trends and develop a set of skills to manage and preserve digital artifacts. 

Want to become a professional librarian or advance your career prospects? Enrolling in  library science programs could be your gateway to success. 

Here are the 30 best online library science masters programs. These best online library science programs offer high-quality education and flexible learning options. Let’s take a closer look!

Our methodology: We studied the websites of schools that offer online Master of Science in Library Science (or similar) degree programs. 

We also looked at sources available to the public, such as:

  • U.S. News and World Report
  • the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistic
  • the iSchools consortium
  • the American Library Association accreditation database

This helped us pick the best online master of library science degrees using the following three-point criteria:

  • Affordability and accessibility-1/3 (examining average out-of-state tuition and degree to which program can be completed entirely online)
  • Accreditation and commendation-1/3 (noting program-specific accreditation and accolades and/or recognition by reputable sources such as U.S. News)
  • Student support services and specializations offered-1/3 (considering easily-procured student resources and number of specializations provided for degree customization)

See Also: Best Affordable Online Master’s in History

#1. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Online Master of Science in Information and Library Science

The flexible MS/LIS degree is offered online through the School of Information Sciences at Illinois (iSchool at Illinois). It provides students an elective-rich program.

There are two required courses in this 40-credit hour program. The remainder of the curriculum is constructed from the student’s selection of electives. 

Students choose a specialization from six suggested Professional Pathways. These include:

  • Archives and Special Collections
  • Data and Asset Management
  • K-12 Librarianship

Most students complete the program in about eighteen to twenty-four months. The “robust student support” is offered by the iSchool at Illinois. It is available from the point of admission all the way through to graduation. 

Tuition is affordable. It is charged on a per credit basis for both full time and part time students taking online classes. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

See Also: 50 Best Online English Masters Programs

#2. Rutgers University

Online Master of Information Degree


There are four designated “industry-relevant” concentrations in this next online masters library science degree. This is the Master of Information (MI) degree program through Rutgers Online. 

Students can choose:

  • Library & Information Science
  • Data Science, Technology, Information & Management
  • Archives & Preservation

They can also build their own concentration in this 36-credit hour program. There are three start dates a year. Students can take courses full or part-time. This gives students the flexibility that an online program promises. But there’s the added benefit of rigorous Rutgers academics. 

The Rutgers program trains students to be leaders in the field with a rigorous curriculum. It helps students learn to “maximize the potential of emerging information and communication technologies.” 

This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

See Also: Best & Cheapest Online Master’s in Education

#3. Syracuse University

Online Master of Science in Library and Information Science


The School of Information Studies at Syracuse (iSchool@Syracuse) offers an interdisciplinary MLIS degree program. This online library science masters is high quality. 

The 36-credit hours program can be completed in eighteen months. It “provides a thorough grounding in the knowledge, skills, and values of librarianship.” 

You must take 18 hours of foundation credits. There are fifteen credits of electives and three credits of “exit requirements.” 

Core coursework includes topics like:

  • Library Planning, Marketing, and Assessment
  • Management Principles for Information Professionals

A School Media specialization is also available for students who plan on working in elementary or secondary school libraries. 

There are four program start dates a year. This gives students the convenience of starting when the time is best for their schedules. 

Tuition is charged on a per credit basis for both full time and part time students taking online classes. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#4. University of Maryland

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

University of Maryland

There is a library services degree program all online through the College of Information Studies (iSchool) at UMD. It is structured for students from all academic and professional backgrounds.

The MLIS requires 36-credit hours. Students may pursue the degree with a thesis or non-thesis option. Students work with advisors to design their program. They can select from one of two designated specializations in “School Library” or “Youth Experience.” They can customize their degree for the “Individualized Program Plan.” 

The core curriculum is made up of eighteen required credit hours of online classes. These include:

  • Serving Information Needs
  • Achieving Organizational Excellence
  • Field Study in Library Science
  • Internship in School Library Programs

This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#5. Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis

Online Master’s Degree in Library Science

This is a 100% online Master’s of Library Science (MLS) degree program at Indiana University. This master library science online degree is for students who want to “provide creative, data-driven ideas that empower library patrons, corporations, civic groups, and our communities.” 


Students can select the generalist plan of study. Or they can choose between one of six designated specializations. There are options such as Public Librarianship/Adult Services and Technology Management. 

All plans of study require 36-credit hours to graduate. They begin with fifteen credit hours of foundational courses such as:

  • Information Sources and Services
  • Acquisitions and Management of Knowledge and Information

The master of library science online produces graduates that will be “reflective practitioners who connect people and communities with information.” A departmental blog provides writings, articles, and resources to help all students achieve that goal.  This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#6. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

University of Wisconsin-Madison

This library degree online has multiple specializations available. There are only four required courses in the 36-credit hour program. The online Master’s of Library & Information Science (MLIS) degree is offered through the School of Information Studies (SOIS) at UW–Milwaukee. It provides opportunities for individual customization. 

The program is even ideal for individuals who want to study library science as well as another complementary field, UW-Milwaukee allows students to pursue other degrees along with the MLIS. Foundation courses are online during all terms. Most students complete the program in two to three years. 

Tuition is charged on a per credit basis for both full time and part time students taking online classes. 

#7. University of Missouri

Master’s of Library and Information Science

This online masters library science degree is on-site at five different University of Missouri campuses. The master’s degree in library services is based in the College of Education’s School of Information Science and Learning Technologies. 

Students must complete 39-credit hours. These are comprised of eighteen credits of foundation courses and electives. There’s also a School Library Practicum or a Practicum in Information Agencies. 

The core curriculum coursework covers:

  • Principles of Cataloging and Classification
  • Reference Sources and Services

Electives make up nineteen to twenty credits. 

Elective concentrations are also available. These include options like Archival Studies and Youth Services. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#8. Valdosta State University

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science


The next school on our list of the best MLIS programs online is offered by Valdosta State. Valdosta State has a non-thesis library services degree program. It’s all online. It “capitalizes on the latest developments in distance education and collaborative education.” 

The program has 39-credits of coursework. It takes about two and a half to three years part-time. 

There are twenty-one credit hours devoted to the core and elective courses. Within that requirement are both a “Foundations of Library and Information Science” course and a “Capstone Course”. In these, students begin to prepare their required portfolio. 

There are then eighteen credit hours of electives. Students can choose optional tracks in:

  • Youth Services
  • Cataloging & Classification
  • Library Management
  • Reference Sources & Services, and Technology

This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#9. University of Southern Mississippi

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

University of Southern Mississippi

The master in library science online degree at the University of Southern Mississippi is another one of the best. Students may pursue a licensure track if they want to work in school libraries. They also have the option of combining the MLIS with another degree. This is through the Online at Southern Miss dual degree offerings. 

Dual degree choices include:

  • Instructional Technology
  • History, Anthropology
  • Political Science

The singular, non-licensure degree program has twenty-two credits of core coursework. It covers topics such as:

  • Foundations of Librarianship
  • Collection Development and Management
  • Fundamentals of Information Science

Students then choose fifteen credits of electives. They complete a final master’s project to graduate. Online at Southern Miss provides an Office of Online Learning. This is to make sure students have a positive and fruitful experience. Through that Office, students can access around-the-clock support and information on online learning at Southern Miss. There are also articles written by fellow students. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#10. San José State University

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

The information science program at San José State University is through the School of Information. This library degree online includes “courses, internships, academic advising, faculty office hours, guest speaker presentations, research assistant opportunities.” There’s also lots of fellow student interaction and collaboration.

Students begin the 43-unit program in the fall or the spring. They attend the asynchronous online classes whenever is most convenient for them. There are a few synchronous courses do have set login times for participatory online classes. 

There are six required courses. Students can tailor the degree to their specific academic goals. There are twenty-seven units of electives. Topics include:

  • School Library Media Materials
  • Preservation Management

#11. University of Kentucky

Online Master’s Degree in Library Science

University of kentucky

Another top library science masters online is at the University of Kentucky.

There’s a great deal of customization available. Students can opt for a general studies track. They can also choose from one of six concentration areas: 

  • Academic Libraries, Health Information
  • Information Technology & Systems
  • School Libraries
  • Youth Services and Literature

The School Librarian certification is an option. Students may also choose the School Libraries concentration, as long as they hold teacher certification. 

All tracks have 36-credit hours. All concentrations (aside from School Libraries) require four core courses. The remainder of the credits are made up of concentration electives. A culminating Exit Assessment “provides the opportunity for students to reflect on and evaluate what they have learned and gained from the program.” 

This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#12. Wayne State University

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

Wayne State

The MLIS degree program at Wayne State University School of Information Sciences (SIS) is another top online master’s of library science. It prepares “professionals for leadership roles in libraries and other information organizations.” 

The 36-credit hour program has a common core of online classes. It then offers three emphasis areas, or “pillars.” 

The pillars are:

  • Library Services
  • Information Management
  • Archives & Digital Content Management

Each prepares students for differing careers with a different set of coursework. 

Advisors help students discern the best pillar to choose for the academic path that will best help them reach their career goals. There are many other support services. These include the: 

  • MLIS Orientation
  • Information Meetings
  • Career Advising
  • SIS Tech Help Desk

These are available throughout the duration of the program. 

Tuition is charged on a per credit basis for both full time and part-time students taking online classes. Financial aid is available for students who qualify. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#13. Kent State University

Online Master’s of Library and Information Science

Kent State

The MLIS degree program through Kent State University’s School of Information (iSchool) is another top librarian master’s degree online. 

This program provides fourteen predetermined specializations. Students can also develop their own track in this individualized degree. 

They may even change their specialization during their course of study if they determine another one better suits their needs and career goals. 

Kent State MLIS students design this 37-40 credit hour program on their own. Electives make up the largest part. There are twelve core credits and between four and seven final requirement credits. These flank the twenty-one credits of electives. 

For the culminating requirements, all students complete a one-credit hour Master’s Portfolio. They can choose from four options: 

  • a practicum experience
  • a final Master’s project
  • a final Master’s paper
  •  a thesis, which must be defended

All online students get full advising support through the online advisory center called “Blackboard Learn.” 

#14. University of Arizona

Online Master of  Arts in Library and Information Science

University of Arizona

Next up on our list of the best library science masters online is this program at the University of Arizona.

UA Online offers an online Master of Arts in Library and Information Science (MA-LIS). This is  through the School of Information (iSchool) at the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. 

The MA-LIS degree program has 37-credit hours. Students take core and elective courses in topics like: 

  • Organization of Information
  • Ethics for Library and Information Professionals

The remainder of the program is made up of the student’s choice of electives. There’s also a 1-credit hour ePortfolio. The online student experience at the University of Arizona reaps all the benefits of a reputable education. It has the added bonus of flexibility and convenience. 

Tutorials and sample online classes, dedicated enrollment teams, student academic success specialists. These are just some of the resources available to UA Online students. 

Financial aid is available for students enrolled online. This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 

#15. Long Island University

Master of Science in Library and Information Science with a School Library Media Specialization

Long Island University

The MSLIS degree program with a School Library Media specialization is another one of the best online library masters programs. 

It has 36-credit hours required to graduate. School Library Media Specialist students must also take courses such as:

  • Instructional Design & Leadership
  • Management of the School Media Center
  • Teaching Methodologies K-16 Librarians

 LIU Post also offers an online eighteen-credit hour Certificate of Advanced Study in Archives and Records Management. There are three required courses. These are supplemented by a student’s selection of three electives. Class choices include: 

  • Film and Media Collections
  • Digital Preservation
  • Appraisal of Archives and Manuscripts

This program is accredited by the American Library Association. 


#16. St. John’s University

#17. North Carolina Central University

#18. University of Washington

#19. University of Wisconsin-Madison

#20. University of Alabama


What is a Library Science Program?

Library science master’s programs are often one to two year full time library science programs. They allow students to specialize in areas such as:

  • archives
  • digital libraries
  • medical libraries 
  • public libraries
  • school media

What Courses Will I Take as Part of an MLS Program?

A library and information science program will often include classes that extend beyond your bachelor’s degree. These might cover:

  • Library science in law firms
  • Managing libraries in government agencies
  • Information resources for library professionals
  • School librarianship
  • Managing reference services
  • Support services for academic librarianship
  • Digital curation and records management
  • Information services/information theory
  • Managing digital information
  • How to manage libraries at a public or private university
  • Research methods for library services and academic librarians

Many Library Science master’s programs allow individuals to specialize in areas that align with their interests. This prepares them for very specific library or information science careers.

Many Library Science master’s programs even offer the opportunity to obtain a teaching certificate. This certificate may be useful when seeking employment. It makes an individual a more attractive candidate by adding valuable skills. Most librarians are often involved in teaching and training. It will also prepare you for a future of teaching library science courses if that’s your goal. 

So is a degree in library science worth it? Absolutely. 

What Career Opportunities Exist After Completing a Graduate Degree in Library Science?

Completing a graduate degree in library science, also known as library and information science, opens up a vast array of career opportunities.

It has a strong focus on information management, collection, preservation, and dissemination. A degree in library science prepares students for a wide range of career paths. These might be in record management, higher education, digital curation, and even law firms.

One popular career path for library science graduates is record management. Records manage records databases in an efficient and organized manner. You’ll learn how to conduct research in all kinds of information organizations. 

For many graduates, pursuing a career in higher education is a natural choice. Academic librarians play a crucial role in supporting research activities in colleges and universities.

Digital curation is an emerging field that involves the collection, preservation, and dissemination of digital assets. There has been an increase in digital information in today’s modern world. There is a growing demand for professionals who can curate and manage digital content. 

Law firms require professionals to manage their vast libraries of legal information. Law librarians must have excellent research skills and knowledge of legal databases and be able to organize and catalog information to meet the needs of lawyers.

Finally, organizations are realizing the importance of information management. Information managers are responsible for creating policies and procedures for managing and organizing data within an organization. Library science graduates are well-equipped to take on this role. They have the necessary skills in database management, data analysis, and information architecture.

Other options include:

  • School librarians
  • Reference librarian
  • Library media specialist in information organizations
  • Library and information resources professionals in government agencies

What Do I Need to Submit an Online Application for a Library Science Program?

First, you’ll need to submit a bachelor’s degree with official transcripts. This should be from a regionally accredited institution. Agencies that provide accreditation include the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges and the Higher Learning Commission. 

You will also need to provide a personal statement and letters of recommendation in most cases. Some schools require the GRE. 

In some cases, you may have to commit to the program on a full-time basis. Tuition is often charged on a per credit hour basis. You should be prepared to pay but know that financial aid is often available. 

International students are also welcome to submit an application for the Library Science program. Most schools require the TOEFL in addition to the above requirements.

Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor