20 Best Master’s in Library Science Online and In-Person Programs

August 21, 2023

master's in library science online and in-person

American media theorist Neil Postman once gave a presentation titled “Informing Ourselves to Death” at an IBM-sponsored event in Stuttgart, Germany. Postman’s thesis was that modern tech creates a crisis of information-overload. “Information glut,” is what he called it: “[Information] comes indiscriminately, directed at no one in particular, disconnected from usefulness; we are glutted with information, drowning in information, have no control over it, don’t know what to do with it.” Postman gave this talk in 1990. He was sounding the alarm about a problem that, since then, has only gotten worse. That’s why, were he alive today, I think he’d agree that librarians perform a critical role in our information-saturated lives. In the age of infinite-scroll apps, information abounds. Making sense of it is what matters. Master’s in library science programs online and in-person train future librarians to do exactly that.

 

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What is library science?

Library science is a discipline centered on how to classify and preserve information and knowledge. Those trained in library science are handlers of information—books, audiovisual material, records, objects—in both digital and analog form. They collect, preserve, and organize information, and act as liaisons on behalf of that information.

Library science also deals with how to oversee and run different types of libraries. However, not everyone who gets a master’s in library science will end up working in a library. Graduates of master’s of library science programs work wherever information is collected and organized—public libraries, school libraries, law libraries, historical societies, museums, non-profits, even corporations. Regardless of a student’s specialization, they will, broadly speaking, study how humans seek out information and how best to support the learning.

A few important numbers: master’s in library science programs typically take two years to complete. The median annual salary of US librarians in 2020 was $60,820. And the US Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts the number of librarian positions to increase by 6% over the coming decade.

Best Master’s in Library Science – Online Programs

1) University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

The MS in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is consistently ranked as the best library science program in the country. Interestingly, there are only two required courses in the program’s course of study. Then students are free to customize the curriculum based on their interests and preferred career pathways. The course catalog is impressively diverse, with class offerings like “Social Network Analysis,” “Computers and Culture,” and “Race, Gender, and Information Technology,” to name a few.

2) University of Washington

In 2021, the University of Washington in Seattle was ranked the second best master’s of library science program in the country. A part of the University of Washington’s Information School, the program emphasizes an extensive core curriculum to prepare students for careers at a broad array of organizations and companies. The online program is designed to be completed in three years, with students taking six to eight credits per term.

3) Rutgers University

The master’s of library science program at Rutgers University was ranked within the top ten programs in the US as recently as 2021. The program is offered in both online and hybrid formats, and offers concentrations in archives and preservation, data science, library and information science, and school librarianship, among others. Students can also “design their own pathway” by foregoing a concentration and selecting courses that best align with their goals.

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4) Drexel University

Drexel’s online Master’s in Library and Information Science is one of the best library science programs in the country. It places a particular emphasis on the technological side of information management, with a core curriculum that includes courses like “Foundations of Data and Information,” “Data and Digital Stewardship,” and “Metadata and Resource Description.”

5) University of Maryland College Park

Students can complete a master’s of library science from University of Maryland’s College of Information Studies entirely online. But a nice perk is that online students have the option to take classes on campus as well. The program earned a top-five ranking from US News and World Report, and its proximity to Washington, DC makes it a great springboard for careers in government information agencies and organizations. Plus, students pursuing a school library specialization earn a state certification as a part of the curriculum.

6) Syracuse University

Graduates of Syracuse’s library and information science program enjoy a 96% placement rate within six months of graduation and an average starting salary of $59,671. The program emphasizes equity and community, with courses on information justice, community management, and the preservation of cultural heritage. Online students take live classes, and they learn from the same faculty as the on-campus program.

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7) University of South Carolina

The University of South Carolina’s library science program is ranked within the top 20 American Library Association-accredited schools in the country. The program is entirely online, but students do have the option to apply for in-person school library internships. A few other benefits of the program: applicants don’t have to submit GRE scores, 18 of the 36 hours of coursework are elective, and students can get certified to be a school librarian as they complete their degree.

8) University of Kentucky

The University of Kentucky offers a master’s in library science fully online. It’s a top-ranked, ALA-accredited program with all the advantages of an elite school: practicum opportunities, a school librarian certification program, and access to internships at institutions like the Library of Congress and Smithsonian Library.

9) Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis

The master’s in library science at IUPUI focuses on information literacy and metadata management. It’s completely online, and students have access to the full scope of courses offered by the Luddy School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering. IUPUI graduate students also have access to the school librarian certification program.

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10) Wayne State University

The School of Information at Wayne State University offers a fully online Master of Library and Information Science. The program is ranked among the best in the country for good reason. Students take 18 core course credits followed by 18 course credits in the student’s specialization. Wayne State University also offers a School Library Media Specialist Endorsement. This endoresement enables graduates to obtain the full K-12 endorsement for school librarians in the state of Michigan. Plus, students can pursue joint master’s degrees in history and public history.

Best master’s in library science – in-person programs

1) University of North Carolina

In 2018, the master’s in library science program at UNC was ranked the best in the world by QS World University Rankings. This intensive program requires 48 semester-hours of graduate-level coursework. Students take 6 core classes, then choose one of several specializations. Students also have the option of earning course credit through the school’s Field Experience Program.

2) University of Arizona

The University of Arizona’s M.A. in Library and Information Science is the only ALA-accredited program in the state. The program requires students to take 37 credits to graduate, with a core curriculum of 3 courses. The curriculum is broad, and it covers a wide variety of subject areas and disciplines. Students can choose a concentration in Archival Studies, Digital Curation, Legal Information, Medical Health Information, Public Librarianship, or Special Librarianship.

3) Long Island University

The Palmer School at LIU offers a master’s degree in Library and Information Science and a School Library Media Specialist master’s in Library and Information Science. There’s also the Dual Master’s program in collaboration with NYU, wherein students also receive a master’s from either NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science or their Steinhardt School. On top of that, LIU offers certification programs—in Archives and Record Management and Public Library Administration—which students can take as part of the coursework for their master’s.

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4) Florida State University

FSU’s Master of Science in Information program provides students with foundational knowledge in general librarianship, information architecture and technology, and youth information needs and services. The program distinguishes itself in its emphasis on academic advising. Faculty advisors provide students with important guidance regarding class selection, area of concentration, and career opportunities. The Master of Science in Information at FSI requires 36 semester hours, which includes five required courses.

5) Queens College

The only CUNY (City University of New York) school with an ALA accreditation, Queens College provides future librarians and information service professionals with a comprehensive education in library and information studies. The program consists of five core classes plus electives as students choose a specialization. Lastly, the program concludes with a capstone project. The school’s location in New York City gives graduates a swath of opportunities to serve the city’s multicultural and multilingual population.

6) UCLA

The Master of Library and Information Science at UCLA combines theoretical knowledge with practical application. A calling card of the school is its internship program, which involves over 250 organizations throughout the Southern California region. Students have access to internships at organizations such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Los Angeles Public Library, and the Getty, among many others. Here, students apply their developing skills in a structured, professional environment under the supervision of a mentor. Graduates of UCLA’s Master of Library and Information Science enjoy an almost 100% work placement rate within six months of graduation.

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7) University of Michigan

The Master of Science in Information at the University of Michigan’s School of Information is the sixth best in the country, according to US News and World Report. Why? The program maintains a focus on the areas of digital archives and library science, human computer interaction, and user experience, but it also allows students to customize their coursework to reflect their interests. Students enjoy access to curricular and career-advising resources, as well as several dual degree programs. The average time to degree completion is just over 1.5 years. Additionally, according to data gathered in 2022, 93% of the program’s graduates are employed in the field of their choice.

8) Kent State University

Ohio’s Kent State University has one of the top ranked library and information science programs in the country. The program is known for its diverse course offerings and students’ ability to tailor their coursework to their career pathway. In fact, students can choose areas of study, known as cluster areas. Examples include Cultural Heritage Informatics, Digital Humanities, Medical Librarianship, and Youth Engagement. Kent State also offers dual degrees in education and business.

9) Simmons University

The Master of Library and Information Science at Simmons University is one of the top ranked programs in the country. The program requires students to take three core courses; from there, students choose one of many specializations or “tracks.” Aside from picking a specific concentration, students are also eligible to design their own concentration. Simmons offers two dual degree programs in combination with the master’s in library science: a master’s in archives management and history, and a master’s in library and information science and children’s literature.

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10) The University of Oklahoma

This on-campus program focuses on librarianship—school, public, and academic—archives, and data science. Students work with their academic advisors to find internships which count towards their degrees and bolster their resumes, and are empowered to take independent courses of study. The program offers an array of electives in addition to the core curriculum, as well as a school librarianship track, which certifies graduates to work as school librarians.

Best Master’s in Library Science Programs – Final Thoughts

In conclusion, we hope you have found of list of the best master’s library science programs helpful. You may also wish to explore the following relevant blogs: