2019 Best Master's in Library Science Online Programs

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With all of the colleges on this list charging less than $31,000 per year for an online master's in library science, distance learners who are seeking a quality education should consider the following 22 accredited schools. The #1 school, the University of Washington - Seattle, offers their MLIS degree for $25,760 annually, with a reported mid-career salary of $76,200. The most inexpensive college on this list is the University of Alabama, which is ranked #14 and offers a Master of Library Information Science degree for only $7,092 per year.

Alumni salaries were provided by PayScale. View our methodology for more details or learn more about SR Education Group.

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Rank School Annual Tuition Median Salary
#1 #1 University of Washington - Seattle $25,760 $76,200
#2 #2 San Jose State University $10,428 $72,600
#3 #3 University at Buffalo $9,990 $70,600
#4 #4 University of Maryland - College Park $29,664 $72,900
#5 #5 University of Southern Mississippi $8,218 $69,300
#6 #6 University of Illinois Urbana - Champaign $21,060 $69,100
#7 #7 LIU Post $22,050 $68,400
#8 #8 Drexel University $29,095 $65,600
#9 #9 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus $30,132 $64,600
#10 #10 University of North Texas $8,100 $59,500
#11 #11 Wayne State University $27,536 $61,000
#12 #12 University of North Carolina at Greensboro $9,569 $58,600
#13 #13 University of Missouri $8,392 $57,900
#14 #14 University of Alabama $7,092 $56,900
#15 #15 Dominican University $15,300 $56,300
#16 #16 Clarion University $10,026 $53,500
#17 #17 University of South Florida - Main Campus $15,864 $54,100
#18 #18 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee $14,400 $53,500
#19 #19 Texas Woman's University $10,792 $52,100
#20 #20 University of Kentucky $13,052 $51,900
#21 #21 Emporia State University $6,733 $50,300
#22 #22 North Carolina Central University $16,049 $41,800
Salary data provided by Payscale Logo. Updated 2018.
  • Annual Tuition: $25,760
  • Median Salary: $76,200
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: NWCCU
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The Master of Library and Information Science degree at the University of Washington is highly ranked. It's offered through UW's iSchool. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. A 3-day campus residency is required at the program start for students to meet faculty and other students in their cohort. The program can be completed in two years. Most courses are asynchronous. The usual course load is 6-9 credits per quarter. 63 quarter credits are required for completion. Courses in the program include Data Curation, Visualization Design and Knowledge Management. Online students work with on-campus advisors, and have access to the same resources as on-campus students. Tuition is $805 per credit. Online students receive PC and software discounts through the UW Bookstore.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,428
  • Median Salary: $72,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: WASC WSCUC
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San Jose State University offers a Master of Library and Information Science degree through its School of Information Science. Admission requires a bachelor's with 3.0 GPA. All students in the 43 credit program take several core courses, and construct their own program by choosing electives. Students make their selection in consultation with an academic advisor. The broad range of elective courses includes: Government Information Sources, Materials for Tweens and Intellectual Freedom. Some courses are accelerated. Degree completion requires either a thesis or an ePortfolio. Online students can participate in a virtual internship arranged with a business or organization. iSchool advisers work closely with students. Resources for online students are extensive. Tuition is $474 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,990
  • Median Salary: $70,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The University at Buffalo offers both a Master of Science in Information and Library Science and a Master of Science in School Librarianship. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, 3.0 GPA, and GRE or MAT scores. The MSILS is 36 credits and the MSSL is 39 credits. Either can be completed in four, full-time semesters. The MSILS has three core courses. Students take electives according to which of the five concentrations they choose. The MSSL is a more structured program that includes a Practicum. The MSSL focuses on K-12 school libraries. UB offers two dual degrees programs that take four years to complete: an MS/MA in Music Librarianship and MS/JD program in Law Librarianship. Online nonresident tuition is $6,655 for a semester.

  • Annual Tuition: $29,664
  • Median Salary: $72,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The University of Maryland's online Master of Library and Information Science program is administered by the College of Information Studies. There are four specializations available. These are: Individualized Program Plan, Diversity and Inclusion, School Library, and Youth Experience. Students take 18 credits of core classes and electives appropriate for their specialization. The program is highly ranked. Admissions requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA. The 36 credit programs can be completed in two years, although three years is more typical. All classes are asynchronous. Online nonresident tuition is $1,548 per credit. Advising and other services are available to online students. The proximity to Washington D.C. provides faculty with close connection to many libraries and agencies, adding to their expertise.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,218
  • Median Salary: $69,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Southern Mississippi offers affordable online Masters of Library and Information Science degrees. Online students pay the same tuition as state residents, which is $479.12 per credit. The degrees offered are the MLIS and the MLIS School Licensure Emphasis. Admission requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA, and GRE or GMAT scores. The 40 credit MLIS program includes 25 credits of required courses, 15 credits of electives, and a thesis. Students choose from four degree tracks, which include Public, Academic or Special Librarianship and Technical Services. The more structured School Licensure Emphasis has an additional 15 credits of required courses. Students obtain licensure in Mississippi and then apply for licensure in their home state. USM offers services to its online students.

  • Annual Tuition: $21,060
  • Median Salary: $69,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Illinois offers an M.S. in Library and Information Science (M.S.L.I.S.) that is one of the top-rated programs in the country. Offered through UI's iSchool, the very flexible program requires 40 credits, but only two core courses. Students choose courses in several specialty areas called "pathways." These include Archival and Special Collections, Data and Asset Management, Information Organization and Management, Knowledge Management, Research and Information Systems, and Youth and School Librarianship. The program can be completed in 18 to 24 months. Online students have full access to a strong advising program and other resources. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Non-resident online tuition is $1,053 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $22,050
  • Median Salary: $68,400
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Long Island University - Post offers both a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS) and an MSLIS in School Library Media Specialization. Both are administered through the highly respected Palmer School of Library and Information Science. MSLIS students take 18 credits in core courses, which includes a practicum. Students then choose one of six areas of study, which include General Studies and Rare Books and Special Collections. The MSLIS in School Library Media requires an additional set of core classes. Typical courses include Special Needs Students in K-12 Libraries, and Children's Sources and Services. Admission to either program requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA. Graduate tuition is $1,225 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $29,095
  • Median Salary: $65,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Philadelphia's Drexel University offers an online M.S. in Library and Information Science. The program is administered by the College of Computing and Informatics. DU's first online course was in 1996, making the school a pioneer in online education. This highly ranked program has four 10-week quarters per year, and can be completed in less than two years. Admission requires a bachelor's with a 3.2 GPA. The program is 45 credits, 18 of which are required courses. The degree has three specializations: Digital technology Services, Information and Data Services and User and Community Services. Electives can further customize a program. Tuition is $1,265 per credit, with a 25% discount for active military. Drexel offers resources including a Career Development Center to online students.

  • Annual Tuition: $30,132
  • Median Salary: $64,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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The Master of Library and Information Science degree (MLIS) at the University of Pittsburgh is 36 credits in length, with 12 credits in core courses. The 24 credits of electives enable students to design their own specialties. The program can be completed in three semesters of full time study. Classes are asynchronous. The degree has two pathways, Data Stewardship and Library and Information Services. Within these pathways are six thematic areas: Academic Information Services, Archives, Public Library Services, Children and Youth Service, School Library certification and Information technology. Out of state tuition is $1,674 per credit, and $977 for in-state tuition. Admission requirements are a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,100
  • Median Salary: $59,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of North Texas offers a Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) degree. The 36 credit program requires three core classes. Students then create their specialty by taking electives. Students are required to attend two 3-day on-campus Institutes, spread over two semesters. The institutes allow students to meet their cohort and become familiar with the core curriculum. The program has seven options including: Archival Studies, Distributed Learning Librarianship, Information Organization, Law Librarianship and Legal Informatics, Music Librarianship, Youth Librarianship and a General Program of Study. Admission requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA. Non-resident graduate tuition is $642.29 per credit. A wide range of services are available to online students, including advising, online tutoring, and other resources.

  • Annual Tuition: $27,536
  • Median Salary: $61,000
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Detroit's Wayne State University offers an online Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. Program entry requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. A valid teaching certificate is also a prerequisite. The 36 credit program is split between 18 credits of required core courses and 18 credits in areas of specialization. Core courses include Introduction to the Information Profession and Organization of Knowledge. The program stresses three "pillars" which are also program  tracks: Library Services, Information Management and Archive and Digital Content Management. The Information Management track has five specializations, including User Experience, Data Analytics, Software Tools, Health Analytics and Data Management. All online students, regardless of location, receive in-state tuition rates of $763.13 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $9,569
  • Median Salary: $58,600
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers a Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS). The 36 credit interdisciplinary program is conducted through UNCG Online. Five core courses and one technology class are required. Students take groupings of electives focusing on different aspects of the field. These are not formal specialties, but allow students to customize their degree. The electives include Archives or Special Collections, Cataloging, Children and Youth, Instruction Librarian and Public Library Certification. Classes are both synchronous and asynchronous. Program completion requires a practicum. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA and GRE or MAT scores. In-state graduate tuition is $903.63 per 3-credit class and nonresident tuition is $1,671.12 per class.

  • Annual Tuition: $8,392
  • Median Salary: $57,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Missouri offers a Master in Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree. The program is semester based, but some courses are in an 8-week format. Students usually finish in two to three years. The program requires 39 credits, of which 18 are core courses. Students may take electives from fourteen difference subject areas, including Archive Studies, Digital Humanities and Public Librarianship. A Practicum and an ePortfolio are required to graduate.  Distance learners in any Mizzou online grad program qualify for in-state tuition, which is $422.37 per credit. Admission requires a bachelor's with a 3.0 GPA. A full range of resources are available to support online students. This is the only master's program in Missouri accredited by the American Library Association.

  • Annual Tuition: $7,092
  • Median Salary: $56,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of Alabama offers a Master of Library and Information Studies. This nationally ranked program requires a mandatory 3-day on-campus orientation. The 36 credit program can be completed in less than two years by taking two classes per semester. There are 18 credits of required courses and 18 credits of electives. Students choose one area of emphasis from options including: Academic Libraries, Digital Stewardship, Public Libraries, Special Libraries, Social Justice and Inclusivity, and Youth Services. The tuition for distance learners is $394 per credit. Admission into the program requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA, and either a minimum GRE or MAT scores, a previous graduate degree, or five years of demonstrated experience in the field.

  • Annual Tuition: $15,300
  • Median Salary: $56,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Chicago's Dominican University offers a Master of Library and Information Science degree. The program is 36 credits, which includes 18 required credits and 18 elective credits. A bachelor's degree and documented capacity for graduate work are required for admission. Essential courses include Core Values, Ethics and Issues, Organizational Knowledge, and Leadership, Marketing and Strategic Communication. Students focus their programs by following suggested pathways, which are simply groups of courses and are not specializations. An ePortfolio is required in the final semester. Tuition cost is $850 per credit. Dominican's School of Information Studies offers extensive support to online students. It is the only MLIS program in Chicago accredited by the American Library Association. DU is affiliated with the Catholic church.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,026
  • Median Salary: $53,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: MSCHE
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Clarion University offers two online programs: a Master of Science in Library Studies (MSLS) and a MSLS in School Library Media. The MSLS is 36 credits, of which 18 are required credits. Students may choose a concentration in Local and Archival Studies or Reference and User Services. Students in the School Library Media program have an additional 9 credits required. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and 3.0 GPA. Online tuition is $516 per graduate credit for in-state residents and $557 per credit for out-of-state residents. The military tuition rate is discounted to $250 per credit. A wide variety of resources are available to online students, including an online writing center. The school's  MSLS is one of only three ALA accredited in the state.

  • Annual Tuition: $15,864
  • Median Salary: $54,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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The University of South Florida offers a Master of Arts in Library and Information Science (MALIS) degree online. USF's program is housed in the School of Information. The program requires 39 credits, which includes 18 credits in core courses and 21 credits in electives. An ePortfolio is also required. Students may choose either a general degree program, or a School Media/Youth Service emphasis. Students in the School Media option will be required to take relevant tests related to Florida accreditation. This emphasis is more structured and has additional required courses. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.25 GPA. Out-of-state graduate tuition is $431.43 per credit. USF is located in Tampa.

  • Annual Tuition: $14,400
  • Median Salary: $53,500
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee offers a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) that has a variety of concentrations and specializations. The 36 credit program takes 2 to 3 years to complete. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and 2.75 GPA. The program has four concentrations: Archival Studies, Information Organization, Information Technology and Public Library Administration. Concentrations are noted on the official transcript. There are also six specializations, which are not noted on the transcript, including Digital Libraries and Information Literacy. UWM also offers nine coordinated degree programs in which the MLIS portion may be taken oniline. These include a MLIS/MS History and MLIS/MS Geography. UWM online offers excellent support for distance learners. Tuition is $800 per credit.

  • Annual Tuition: $10,792
  • Median Salary: $52,100
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Texas Woman's University offers both a Master of Library Science (MLS) and a Master of Arts in Library Science (MALS) entirely online. While TWU is oriented toward women, online classes are available to anyone. The MLS is a 36 credit program with 24 required credits,12 elective credits, and an ePortfolio. The MALS, which is research-oriented, is a 39 credit program with 27 required credits, a research tool course, and a 6-credit thesis. Another option is the MLS with School Librarian Certification focus, which is a more structured program. Eight MLS tracks are available, including Academic Libraries, Health Science Libraries, and Community Informatics. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Tuition is $684.50 per credit for non-residents.

  • Annual Tuition: $13,052
  • Median Salary: $51,900
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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Through its College of Communications and Information, the University of Kentucky offers a top-ranked Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS). This 36 credit program may be completed in less than two years by full-time study and expedited courses. Admission requires a bachelor's degree, a 3.0 GPA and GRE scores. The 36 credits include 12 in core courses, a three credit IT requirement, and 21 elective credits. A practicum is also required. The MSLS offers  six concentrations, including Academic Libraries, Information Technologies and Systems, Health Information, Public Libraries, School Libraries, and Youth Services and Libraries. A School Librarian option is available. Classes are asynchronous. Online learners pay in-state tuition rates, totaling $6,363 for a semester.

  • Annual Tuition: $6,733
  • Median Salary: $50,300
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: HLC
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Kansas's Emporia State University has a Master of Library Science (MLS), administered by ESU's School of Library and Information Management. Courses are primarily online, but require two weekend face-to-face sessions at one of Emporia's regional program centers. These are in Overland Park and Emporia, KS; Orem and Salt Lake City, UT; Denver, CO; and Portland, OR. The 36 credit program includes 22 credits of required courses and 14 credits of electives. The program is interdisciplinary, and emphasizes collaboration. Four concentrations are available: Archive Studies, Informatics, Youth Services, and Leadership and Administration. Admission requires a bachelor's degree and 3.0 GPA. Tuition is $680.50 per credit. This is the only ALA accredited MLS program in Kansas. ESU is located southwest of Kansas City.

  • Annual Tuition: $16,049
  • Median Salary: $41,800
  • School Type: Non-Profit
  • Accreditation: SACS COC
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North Carolina Central University offers a 36 credit online Master of Library Science (MLS) degree. The program, coordinated through NCCU's School of Library and Information Science, requires 18 credits of core courses. The remaining credits are electives related to the five program tracks available. The tracks include Academic Librarian, Digital Librarian, Public Librarian, Special Librarian, School Media Coordinator, Archives Records Manager, and Law Librarian. Some tracks may have an on-campus requirement. Admission requires a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA. Resources available to online students include advising, tutoring, career services, and a writing studio. NCCU is a Historically Black University (HBCU) and is located in Durham.

Online Master's in Library Science Overview

While some programs require at least 40 semester hours before the degree is awarded, full-time students might be able to earn an online master’s degree in library science in two years. In addition, students who have already completed coursework at another ALA-accredited program may be entitled to transfer credits. Many programs require a capstone project or thesis as well as an internship experience or practicum before the master’s degree is awarded. There are a variety of different master’s degree programs that students can pursue, including the following:

  • Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS): Students who pursue this track gain fundamentals in information systems management as well as in librarian studies. Technical courses might include Information Architecture, Database Administration, Telecommunications, Enterprise Network Management, Data Mining, and Project Management.
  • Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) or Master of Library Science (MLS): These programs prepare students to work in environments like corporate, academic, or public libraries. In addition to core library science courses that discuss the ethics, politics, and history of bibliographic data standards and the written word, courses might include Government Documents, Classification and Cataloging, Principles of Searching, Business Reference Solutions, Conservation and Preservation, Issues in User Services, and Integrated Technologies in Libraries.
  • Master of Arts in Library Science (MA): Students pursuing a Master of Arts in Library Science focus on sharpening their analysis and research skills. Graduates of these programs are prepared to enter field-specific doctoral degrees, and possible courses of study might include Research Methods, Communications Technology, Information Services, Information Retrieval, Organization of Information, Library Collections Development, and Library Management.
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