Search Programs

2023 Best Online Master's in Library Science Degrees

By OnlineU Staff Writers | Updated 6/27/2023
2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Library Science Badge

Our rankings list below shows the best online master's in library science degrees based on the highest alumni earnings one year after graduation. Students generally pursue this degree to better understand information and how it relates to people and technology. Coursework for a Master of Library Science (MLS) may focus on the latest research and strategies used in modern school libraries, including lessons on the information life cycle and various research methods. Importantly, an MLS is typically required to become a librarian. 

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Library Science Badge
Find an Online Degree:

Online Library Science Master's Degrees You May Be Interested In

2023 Best Online Master's in Library Science Degrees

RankSchool Salary Score Median Starting Salary
# 1 #1 Sam Houston State University 95 95 $51,622
# 2 #2 Rutgers University 93 $50,890
# 3 #3 University of Maryland - College Park 89 $49,873
# 4 #4 Texas A&M University - Commerce 87 $49,242
# 5 #5 San Jose State University 84 $48,739
# 6 #6 St. John's University 77 $47,517
# 7 #7 Appalachian State University 71 $46,613
# 8 #8 University of Central Arkansas 67 $46,140
# 9 #9 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 66 $46,077
# 10 #10 Syracuse University 65 $45,905

#1 Sam Houston State University

  • Salary Score: 95
  • Median Starting Salary: $51,622
  • Locations: Huntsville (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Sam Houston State University (SHSU) is a large, public institution offering a 36-credit MLS. Coursework focuses on building professional school library skills, particularly information literacy and the use of advanced library technology. Students receive training in managing collections and working collaboratively with teachers and students. Graduation requirements include a one-semester internship.

At SHSU, students use Blackboard to access primarily asynchronous courses, complete homework assignments, and engage with classmates. As they near graduation, students may want to take advantage of the school's career development services.

#2 Rutgers University

  • Salary Score: 93
  • Median Starting Salary: $50,890
  • Locations: New Brunswick (NJ)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

At the large, public institution, Rutgers University, prospective librarians may enroll in a 36-credit Master of Information. Coursework is designed to teach students how they can use library systems, programs, and services to address informational needs. Graduate students may map out their own programs based on career goals or select one of five standardized concentrations: (1) archives and preservation; (2) data science; (3) library and information science; (4) school librarianship; (5) or technology, information, and management.

Rutgers students use the digital platform, Canvas, to access course materials asynchronously, interact with peers, and submit assignments.

#3 University of Maryland - College Park

  • Salary Score: 89
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,873
  • Locations: College Park (MD)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

A large, public institution, the University of Maryland - College Park offers a 36-credit Master of Library and Information Science. The program is designed to give students a solid foundation in two important aspects of library science: research and practice. Enrollees may design their own programs based on personal career goals, or they can select from six other concentrations: (1) archives and digital curation, (2) diversity and inclusion, (3) intelligence analytics, (4) legal informatics, (5) school library, or (6) youth experience. Full-time students often complete the degree requirements, including writing a thesis or completing a field study, in two years, while part-time students may need longer.

At the University of Maryland, students use Canvas to access their online course materials, submit assignments digitally, and engage with classmates through discussion forums.

#4 Texas A&M University - Commerce

  • Salary Score: 87
  • Median Starting Salary: $49,242
  • Locations: Commerce (TX)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

Texas A&M University - Commerce, which is a medium-sized, public university, offers a dual Master of Education/Master of Science in Educational Technology Library Science. Coursework explores how technology is redefining the school librarian's role and the delivery of instructional information. Most students complete the 36-credit program in two years. Upon graduating, students are certified to serve as School Librarians or Library Media Specialists in the state of Texas.

Library science students use the myLeo Online platform to access course materials, complete homework assignments, and participate in class discussions. Texas A&M provides academic advising and career development services to online students.

#5 San Jose State University

  • Salary Score: 84
  • Median Starting Salary: $48,739
  • Locations: San Jose (CA)
  • Accreditation: WSCUC

San Jose State University (SJSU) is a large, public institution offering a Master of Library and Information Science degree. The program is designed to prepare graduates to work in various library environments, and students can customize their degrees by selecting from a wide range of electives. To graduate, students must complete 43 credit hours, which include an internship and either a thesis or e-portfolio project. Full-time students typically complete the program in 18-24 months, while part-time students may need up to three years.

SJSU uses the Canvas learning platform to deliver primarily asynchronous courses, although some courses include live streaming class sessions. Tech support, career counselors, and academic advisors are among the resources available to online graduate students.

#6 St. John's University

  • Salary Score: 77
  • Median Starting Salary: $47,517
  • Locations: Queens (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Affiliated with the Catholic church, St. John's University is a medium-sized, private non-profit with the distinction of being an Asian American-serving institution. Its Master of Science in Library and Information Science requires 36 credit hours and can be completed in two years. Enrollees can work toward specific career goals by selecting one of five areas of specialization: (1) academic librarianship, (2) archival studies, (3) management, (4) public librarianship, or (5) youth services.

St. John students use Blackboard to view course materials, complete assignments, and interact online with classmates and instructors. Graduate students have access to the school's student services, such as library collections, mentors, and academic resources.

#7 Appalachian State University

  • Salary Score: 71
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,613
  • Locations: Boone (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

An online Master of Library Science is available at Appalachian State University, a large public institution. This flexible program is suitable for students pursuing high-level positions in schools and libraries. Thirty-six credit hours are required to complete the program, which lasts for approximately two years at a part-time pace. Students will need to attend class meetings at a set time but can complete coursework at any time.

After graduation, North Carolina students can apply for a Media Coordinator License and Public Librarian Certification from the North Carolina Public Certification Commission. Eligible applicants must have a bachelor’s degree and meet the institution’s graduate school admission requirements.

#8 University of Central Arkansas

  • Salary Score: 67
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,140
  • Locations: Conway (AR)
  • Accreditation: HLC

The University of Central Arkansas is a public institution with a medium-sized student population offering an online Master of Science in Library Media and Information Technologies. This program — which is recognized by the American Association of School Librarians — prepares students to pursue a career as a K-12 librarian media specialist. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, which includes courses such as Collection Development, Global Information Services, Introduction to Library Science and Information/Recreational Programming, and Research Methods.

Students can enroll in the program during the fall, spring, or summer semesters. The program requires students to attend classes at a set time, but they can complete coursework asynchronously.

#9 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • Salary Score: 66
  • Median Starting Salary: $46,077
  • Locations: Chapel Hill (NC)
  • Accreditation: SACS COC

The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill is a large, public institution that offers a Professional Science Master's in Digital Curation and Management. With courses on digital curation, metadata architecture, and information assurance, this program focuses on the selection and preservation of digital assets. Graduates may find employment in a variety of public and private organizations. The program requires the completion of 30 credit hours, including a one-semester internship.

At UNC, online course materials, assignments, and class discussions are delivered through Canvas. Students may take advantage of various resources, such as academic advising, mental health support, and the LGBTQ+ Center.

#10 Syracuse University

  • Salary Score: 65
  • Median Starting Salary: $45,905
  • Locations: Syracuse (NY)
  • Accreditation: MSCHE

Syracuse University is a medium-sized, private non-profit. Its Master of Library and Information Science is focused on equal access to technology and helping underserved populations. Students can choose among six professional pathways: (1) data curation and services, (2) organization and management of information and knowledge, (3) user services and community engagement, (4) digital information systems, (5) children and youth services, or (6) information research and analytics. Syracuse also offers a Master of Science in Library and Information Science: School Media for aspiring K-12 school librarians. Full-time students often complete either 36-credit program in 18 months.

At Syracuse, students use the Blackboard digital platform to access course materials, submit assignments, and engage with instructors and peers in an online environment.

Find an Online Degree:

Online Master's in Library Science

Earning an online master's in library science is a fast and efficient way to qualify for a job as a librarian. Whether you want to work in K-12 schools, public libraries, museums, or the nonprofit world, a master's in library science is one of the most important steps to becoming a librarian or advancing your career in information science.

Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degrees are often designed for students who want to work in public libraries, the K-12 school system, or colleges and universities. However, many programs offer specializations, including archival studies, youth services, data science, research and analytics, digital information systems, library management, or community engagement. 

While some students earn their bachelor's in library science before pursuing graduate school, a bachelor's degree in any subject will usually meet previous education requirements for an MLIS degree. Students who aren't sure what they want to study in graduate school might also consider a master's in English or an online Master of Fine Arts program.

Library Science Program Requirements

Most online master's in library science programs require 30-40 credit hours and usually take between one to two years of full-time study. Students might also need to complete fieldwork in a local library as well as a supervised practicum to qualify for some licenses such as teaching certification for public schools. Some programs require a thesis or portfolio instead of supervised work experience in the field.

Master's in Library Science Courses

Graduate students will take online classes in core areas of library science that cover how to assess community needs, stock and organize the library effectively, and how to conduct and teach research methods. Depending on their specialization, students might take electives focused on working with children in schools, research, diversity and inclusion, or digital media.

Some common online courses in library science include the following:

Information Organization and Access

This class covers how to organize print and digital information in a way that is accessible for library users.

Library Planning, Marketing and Assessment

Students will learn how to assess the needs of their community, plan collections and other services that meet those needs, and how to market those resources to make sure community members can access them.

Youth Services

Future librarians will learn how to curate special collections for children and teens based on their literary and information needs at different stages in their lives. This class might also cover different digital tools and media for children and teenagers.

Research and Evaluation Methods

Libraries serve as a research hub for the community, and research is an essential part of a librarian's job. Some librarians even specialize in research. This class covers different methods of research, information sources, and evaluation methods.

Our guide to getting started in online school can answer questions about what online classes are like, how to choose an online college, and what student resources to look for.

What Can You Do With a Library Science Degree?

Most graduate students studying library science do so with the intention of becoming a librarian, because a master's degree in library science is a requirement for most librarian jobs. However, there are many different types of library jobs that a master's degree can open the door to.

Librarians and Library Media Specialists

Median Annual Salary: $61,190
Job Growth: 6%

The majority of librarians and media specialists work in K-12 schools, local government jobs like public libraries, or colleges and universities. However, librarians are also needed in other government agencies, market research companies, corporate libraries, research organizations, and nonprofits. The BLS projects that an average of nearly 15,000 librarian and library media specialist jobs will need filling per year over the next decade.


Median Annual Salary: $60,050
Job Growth: 9%

A master's in library science can also prepare students for a career working in museums and archives. Archivists are experts when it comes to organizing, preserving, and authenticating historical documents and information and helping the public access that information. Some master's in library science degrees offer an archives specialization. Students who are interested in a particular segment of history can specialize in that time period. These professionals usually work for museums or historical sites, government agencies, or in education. The median salary for archivists is $60,050 per year, and the demand for archivists is projected to grow by 9% through 2031.

Choosing an Online Master’s Program in Library Science: What to Consider

Students should look for online master's in library science degrees accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) because it's a requirement for most librarian jobs, especially those at public schools and libraries. 

Most schools will say if their program is ALA-accredited, but it's best to double check to make sure your master's program will help you reach your career goals. The ALA website offers a searchable database where you can search for your program and school to see if it has ALA accreditation.

Students who want to work in elementary and secondary schools should make sure their program is recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

Many states also require that school librarians have a teaching certification to work in public schools. Students should make sure they know what the requirements in their state are and that their program will qualify them for teaching licensure if necessary.

Looking to save money on your degree? Check out our list of the most affordable online master's degrees.

FAQs About Library Science Degrees

Can You Get a Master's in Library Science?

Yes, you can get a master's in library science. This degree is a requirement for most librarian jobs, and usually takes one to two years to complete.

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

The cost of a master's in library science depends on where you go to school and how much financial aid you qualify for. Students can save on tuition by opting for one of the most affordable online master's in library science, by applying for financial aid, and by applying for additional scholarships to cover the cost of school.

Is a Master's Degree in Library Science Worth It?

A master's degree in library science is worth it for many graduates because it's a requirement for becoming a librarian in most cases. For students who don't want to become a librarian or work in a library, the degree may be less useful. 

Students should consider whether a career as a librarian offers enough of a salary boost to make their investment worth it. If not, it can still be worth it to students who will be happy in their career and are passionate about helping others access learning materials and information.

What Bachelor's Degree Do I Need to Get a Master's in Library Science?

Any bachelor's degree will usually satisfy the requirements to get into a master's in library science program. Students who are interested in working in a specific type of library, such as an elementary school or law library, might pursue a bachelor's degree that will help build diverse skills and knowledge for that job. Students might also consider degrees in marketing, communications, journalism, or history that can connect with future librarian careers down the road.

Why Trust Us?

27 Data

60,000 Degrees Researched Annually

20,000 Hours Spent on Research Annually

Launching Rankings Since 2009

Meet our team

Related Articles

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees in Education

Are you interested in earning an online master's degree in education? Find the best master's degrees in education from our 2023 list of accredited online schools.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 6/12/2023

2023 Best Online Library Science Degrees

Explore the best library science degrees in 2023 at popular online schools across the country. Learn about ALA accreditation and library science careers.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 5/5/2023

2023 Best Online Master's Degrees

A master's program can expand your employment options and earning power. Explore our list of the best online master's programs based on alumni salaries.

By OnlineU Staff Writers | 3/22/2023


Start Your Online College Search:

Review schools that align with your career aspirations.