By BMD Staff
Posted April 2016

In this article, we feature the top-ranked and most affordable online master’s in library science degree programs for 2016.

Featured Programs

To work as a librarian in academic settings, public libraries, museums, or school facilities, a master’s in library science (MLS) or master’s in library and information science (MLIS) is a common requirement. The American Library Association (ALS) accredits programs at institutions across North America, and employers often require ALA-accredited master’s degrees from colleges and universities. Many top-ranked institutions are offering online programs in library science to accommodate the growing demand for flexible learning and distance education. Many online programs are ALA-accredited and provide quality education that leads to job opportunity and advancement.

Methodology

We reviewed the top ranked and most affordable options for an online master’s in library science. We examined 56 school rankings from major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. We then chose the 30 most affordable programs based on the graduate tuition/fees from NCES College Navigator’s most current published price. The most affordable institution earned a #1 spot on our list.

Ranking Affordable Top Master’s in Library Science Online 2016

#30 – University of Tennessee

Online Master’s in Information Science

Knoxville, Tennessee

Website
University of Tennessee - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,356

Online at UT offers various master’s degree programs that include library and information science. The American Library Association (ALA) accredits the master’s program, preparing students for careers in library science and school librarianship. Course requirements include development and management of collections, management of information organizations, and research methods for information professionals. Course studies may be aligned with student strengths or areas of interest. Categories include academic libraries, school media, or science and technology data. The University of Tennessee is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks as the 103rd best national university in the country.

#29 – Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Online Master’s in Information and Library Science

Clarion, Pennsylvania

Website
Clarion University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,222

The online MSLS degree at Clarion University was the first of its kind in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The program may be completed on a part-time or full-time basis and is designed for working students who require flexible online studies. Areas of concentration include information access, local and archival studies, management of information agencies, and reference and user services. An online master’s in school library media is also available. Class requirements include administration and management, integrated technologies in libraries, and librarianship internship or research. Clarion’s library and information studies graduate programs are ranked #43 by U.S. News and World Report.

#28 – University of Arizona

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Tucson, Arizona

Website
University of Arizona - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,048

University of Arizona’s MA in Library and Information Science is offered as a fully online program that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Eight concentration areas are available and include academic librarianship, archival studies, digital information management, law librarianship, public librarianship, and special librarianship. The programs core courses include ethics for library and information professionals, organization of information, and research methods for library and information professionals. The University of Arizona is nationally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the institution as the 121st best national university, the 100th best college for veterans, and the 58th top public school.

#27 – University of Wisconsin

Online Master’s in Library and Information Studies

Madison, Wisconsin

Website
University of Wisconsin - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,870

The University of Wisconsin offers an online master’s in library science degree program that is accredited with the ALA. Small class sizes and accessible instructors are some of the benefits the school claims to offer. The program also indicates a strong job placement rate following graduation, as reported in the Library Journal. The library of science degree is considered a generalist degree, although some specializations are available. These include archives and records administration and school library media. At this time, the specializations are not available for online study, only on-campus. The University of Wisconsin at Madison is a nationally ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 41st best national university and the 11th top public school in the nation. The library and information studies program is ranked #16.

#26 – University of Kentucky

Online Master’s in Library Science

Lexington, Kentucky

Website
University of Kentucky - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,688

The College of Communication and Information at the University of Kentucky offers an ALA-accredited master’s in library science online. In-state resident tuition rates are available for online learners, making the graduate program affordable. The program is unique in that it offers a study abroad opportunity in Ireland and Germany. Degree requirements include courses in information architecture, information in society, information representation and access, management in library science, and online information retrieval. The institution is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top national university. Rankings include #62 for top public schools, #129 for best national universities, and #22 for best graduate library and information studies schools.

#25 – Florida State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Studies

Tallahassee, Florida

Website
Florida State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,543

Florida State University offers two online master’s in library science degree programs. Students may earn an MS or MA in library and information studies entirely online. Full-time and part-time options are available, but the degree program must be completed within seven years. Course requirements include assessing information needs, foundations of the information professions, information organization, and research methods in information studies. Students have the option of completing a thesis as part of their curriculum. Florida State is ranked with major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. and World Report. In the 2016 edition of Best Colleges, U.S. News lists FSU as the 96th best national university and the 43rd top public school. The library and information studies graduate school ranks #13.

#24 – Louisiana State University

Online Master of Library and Information Science

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Website
Louisiana State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,954

The online master’s in library and information science at Louisiana State University is the only accredited LIS degree in the state of Louisiana. The program is offered entirely online to give students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience while attending graduate school. Courses include information needs and information seeking, information and society, information services, management of information organizations, and organization of information. Louisiana State is a nationally ranked institution, according to U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 129th best national university and the 450th best global university. The school’s graduate library and information studies programs are ranked #27 in the country.

#23 – Kent State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Kent, Ohio

Website
Kent State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,864

Kent State University offers a master’s in library science that is available entirely online. Kent’s MLIS program is the only American Library Association-accredited master’s degree in the state of Ohio. A variety of specializations are available, including academic librarianship, digital preservation, information technology, K-12 school librarianship, library management, museum studies, public librarianship, youth services. Kent State is ranked with major publications. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 175th best national university and the 98th top public school in the country. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #18, and the library services for children and youth program is ranked #10.

#22 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master’s in Library Media Education

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Website
Western Kentucky University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,860

Western Kentucky University offers an online master’s in library media education with dual concentration in information services and educational technology. The program is taught entirely online and accredited by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education and the Association for Educational Communication Technology. Course requirements include creative media experiences for children, integration of educational technology, investigations in educational technology, and issues in library media education. Western Kentucky University is a regionally ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 31st best regional university in the South, the 12th top public school, and the 26th best college for veterans.

#21 – Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Online Master’s in School Library and Information Technologies

Mansfield, Pennsylvania

Website
Mansfield University of Pennsylvania - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,504

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania offers an accredited online master’s in library science degree program designed for education professionals who want to work in a school library. Operating under the education department, the online library science degree program is approved by the American Library Association. While most candidates complete the program within two or three years, a one-year completion time is possible but not recommended for those holding a job. Students may take up to seven years to complete the program. In the 2016 edition of Best Colleges, Mansfield is ranked #131 among the best regional universities in the North. Additional rankings include 45th for top public schools and 90th for best colleges for veterans.

#20 – The University of Alabama

Online Master’s in Library and Information Studies

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Website
University of Alabama - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,170

The School of Library Information Studies at the University of Alabama offers an online master’s in library and information studies degree program that is designed for working students juggling life obligations and schooling. Online students enroll in two courses each semester to complete the degree in as few as six semesters. The program is accredited by the ALA and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Course requirements include information sources and services, information technologies, organization of information, and research methods. The University of Alabama is a nationally ranked institution: in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 96th best national university, the 43rd top public school, and the 422nd best global university. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #18.

#19 – University of Northern Iowa

Online Master’s in School Library Studies

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Website
University of Northern Iowa - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,219

The University of Northern Iowa offers an affordable online master’s in school library studies degree program for those who aspire to become school or teacher librarians for K-12 libraries. Program curriculum aligns with the ALA standards. Course requirements include introduction to the school library program, library resources for young adults, school library curriculum development, and technologies for libraries. The University of Northern Iowa has earned recognition from major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges ranks the university as the 18th best regional university in the Midwest and the 2nd top public school.

#18 – Indiana University – Purdue

Online Master’s in Library Science

Indianapolis, Indiana

Website
Indiana University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,183

The School of Informatics and Computing at Indiana University – Purdue University offers an ALA-accredited online master’s in library science degree program that is designed to prepare students to work as professional librarians in academic or public libraries. In addition to the generalist degree, the program offers six specializations. These include academic librarianship, public librarianship, school library, technical services, technology management, and youth services specializations. Dual degree options are also available in areas such as history, law, or public management. The university is ranked with U.S. News and World Report as the 199th best national university, the 157th best college for veterans, and the 116th top public school.

#17 – San Jose State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

San Jose, California

Website
San Jose State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,644

San Jose State University is a regionally ranked institution that offers an online master’s in library and information science. The program is designed to prepare graduate students for careers as information specialists working in libraries. The MLIS program offers unique internship opportunities for participants. Many of the internships are offered virtually, which means there is no travel required while interning at high-tech Silicon Valley companies. Core courses required include information communities, information professions, information retrieval system design, and research methods in library and information science. San Jose State is ranked with U.S. News and World Report as the 39th best regional university in the West. The graduate library and information studies school ranks #33 and the school library media program ranks #13.

#16 – University of Maryland

Online Master’s in Library Science

College Park, Maryland

Website
University of Maryland - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,514

The University of Maryland offers an affordable online master’s in library science that is accredited by the American Library Association. Six specializations are offered and include archives and digital curation, community analytics, diversity and inclusion, individualized program plan, school library, and youth experience. In order to graduate from the program, students must complete either a 9-credit thesis or field study. Required courses include achieving organizational excellence, creating information infrastructures, designing principled inquiry, and serving information needs. The university is ranked as the 57th best national university by U.S. News and World Report. The library and information studies graduate school ranks #10.

#15 – Chicago State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Chicago, Illinois

Website
Chicago State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,320

Chicago State University offers a hybrid master’s in library and information science degree programs that is designed to prepare future librarians, archivists, and information professionals to work in various settings. The program reflects an urban focus and offers specializations in: academic libraries, archives and records management, public libraries, and school libraries. Required courses include foundations of the information professions, introduction to reference services, organization of information, and research methods in library and information science. Chicago State is recognized in the 2016 edition of Best Colleges published by U.S. News and World Report as a best regional university.

#14 – University of Colorado

Online Master’s in Information and Learning Technologies – School Library

Denver, Colorado

Website
University of Colorado - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,804

The University of Colorado offers an online master’s in information and learning technologies that focuses on school libraries. The school library degree at UC is the only Colorado library program that is endorsed by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Students take courses in collection development, managing school library programs, and research in information and learning technologies. The university is ranked with major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the institution as the 199th best national university and the 116th top public school. University of Colorado is also ranked as the 194th best global university in the world.

#13 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s School of Library and Information Studies

Norman, Oklahoma

Website
University of Oklahoma - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,637

Designed for both traditional students and working adults, the University of Oklahoma’s master’s in school library and information studies degree program offers unique course delivery. Students have the option of taking classes through interactive digital videoconferencing, on-campus on nights and weekends, or through online delivery. Course requirements include information and knowledge society, management of information and knowledge organizations, organization of information and knowledge resources, and research or evaluation methods. The University of Oklahoma is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. U.S. News lists the school as the 108th best national university. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #24 in the country.

#12 – University of North Carolina Greensboro

Online Master’s of Library and Information Studies

Greensboro, North Carolina

Website
UNC Greensboro - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,489

The online master’s of library and information studies is ALA-accredited and designed to prepare students to work in academic, public, school, and special libraries. The program is delivered 100% online and offers a generalist degree and two specializations – the MLIS with instructional technology licensure and the MLIS with school library licensure. The library science program is considered one of the most affordable of its kind in the state of North Carolina. U.S. News and World Report ranks UNC-Greensboro as the 187th best national university and the 105th top public school. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #22.

#11 – Emporia State University

Master’s in Library Science Online

Emporia, Kansas

Website
Emporia State University - 30 online master's library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,488

Emporia State University offers an affordable online master’s in library science with three areas of specialization. Students may earn a concentration along with their degree in areas such as archive studies, leadership and administration, or librarianship for children and young adults. Required courses include 22 hours of core classes and 14 hours of electives. Students have access to clubs and organizations including Beta Phi Mu, Special Libraries Association (SLA), and Student Chapter of the American Library Association (SCALA). Emporia State is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 104th best regional university in the Midwest and the 37th top public school.

#10 – Appalachian State University

Master’s in Library Science Online

Boone, North Carolina

Website
Appalachian State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,409

The Distance Education division at Appalachian State University offers an online master’s in library science (MLS). The program is nationally recognized by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Courses are delivered entirely online and designed to offer flexibility by offering synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Required courses include collection development and management, information sources and services, organization of information, and technology and libraries. Appalachian State is recognized and ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. The 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 10th best regional university in the South and the 3rd top public school.

#9 – University of Central Missouri

Online Master’s in Library Science and Information Services

Warrensburg, Missouri

Website
University of Central Missouri - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,384

Making it into our top 10 list of the most affordable master’s in library science online degree programs is the University of Central Missouri. Online courses have been offered at the University of Central Missouri since the 90s, but in 2011 all courses went online. Now, students can earn a graduate degree in library science without campus visitations. Course requirements include curriculum and the media center, foundations of librarianship, library media administration, library systems and information technology, and organizing information. The institution is a regionally ranked school. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges ranks University of Central Missouri as the 75th best regional university in the Midwest.

#8 – Sam Houston State University

Online Master’s in Library Science

Huntsville, Texas

Website
Sam Houston State - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,213

The online master’s in library science program offered at Sam Houston State University is designed to prepare students to become professionals for school librarianship. Program requirements include classes in collection development, literature for children, literature for young adults, and school library administration. Students are required to complete a library internship that provides supervised practice in a school library. Sam Houston is a nationally ranked institution. U.S. News and World Report has listed the school’s many graduate programs as among the top 100. Many of the school’s online graduate programs are among the top 50.

#7 – University of North Texas

Online Master’s in Library Science

Denton, Texas

Website
University of North Texas - 30 Online Master's Library Science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,165

The ALA-accredited online master’s in library science program from the University of North Texas is designed to prepare students with the skills needed to work as information specialists and librarian professionals in various settings. Students may earn a generalist MS-LS degree or specialize in six areas of concentration. Specializations include archival studies, distributed learning librarianship, information organization, law librarianship and legal informatics, music librarianship, and youth librarianship. Required courses include information access and knowledge inquiry, information and knowledge professions, and information organization. The university’s graduate school of library and information studies school is ranked with U.S. News and World Report as #21. The school library media program ranks #8.

#6 – University of Southern Mississippi

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Website
University of Southern Mississippi - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,090

The University of Southern Mississippi’s School of Library and Information Science offers an online MLIS degree program that is both flexible and affordable. Students may specialize in various areas of interest including academic, public, special, and technical librarianships. Certifications are also available and include archives and special collections and youth services and literature. Required core courses include cataloging and classification, foundations of librarianship, and library management. Major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the University of Southern Mississippi as a top national university.

#5 – East Carolina University

Online Master’s in Library Science

Greenville, North Carolina

Website
East Carolina University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,857

East Carolina University offers an affordable online master’s in library science that is ALA-accredited. The program is designed for students seeking employment as librarians in Pre-K – 12 schools, universities, public libraries, and various related settings. Students may choose from three areas of concentration depending on their interest. These professional pathways include academic library, public library, or school library. Required courses include topics in library administration and management, materials for young adults, and organization of information in libraries. East Carolina University is nationally ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 194th best national university. Additional rankings include #111 for top public schools and #154 for best colleges for veterans.

#4 – Texas Woman’s University

Online Master of Library Science

Denton, Texas

Website
Texas Womans University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,667

Texas Woman’s University offer an online master’s in library science degree program that is designed to prepare professionals to work in various library settings. Core courses include 21 hours, including a library practicum. Library science electives make up an additional 15 hours. Core requirements include collection development, foundations of library and information studies, information and communication technology, and library management. Texas Woman’s University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #38 in the country.

#3 – North Carolina Central University

Online Master of Library Science

Durham, North Carolina

Website
North Carolina Central University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,627

North Carolina Central University’s School of Library and Information Sciences offers an ALA-accredited online master’s of library science degree program with six areas of concentration. These tracks include academic librarian, archives and records manager, law librarian, public librarian, school media coordinator, and special librarian. Course requirements include foundations of librarianship and information services, organization of information, and research methods. NCCU is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the college as the 65th best regional university in the South and the 27th top public school. The graduate library and information studies school ranks #41.

#2 – Valdosta State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Valdosta, Georgia

Website
Valdosta State University - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,490

Valdosta State University offers an online master’s in library and information science degree that is ALA-accredited. The school boasts affordable tuition rates, professors dedicated to distance education instruction, and a non-thesis MLIS program. The program offers optional tracks for students with a special interest in a particular area of library science. Concentration areas include cataloging and classification, library management, reference sources and services, technology, and youth services. Core courses include foundations of library and information science, information sources and services, and management of libraries and information centers. Valdosta is ranked as the 76th best regional university in the South, according to U.S. News and World Report. Additional rankings include #35 for top public schools and #54 for best colleges for veterans.

#1 – Texas A&M University Commerce

Online Master’s in Educational Technology and Library Science

Commerce, Texas

Website
Texas A&M Commerce - 30 online master’s in library science
Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,500

The most affordable online master’s in library science degree program is offered at Texas A&M University. The program is designed to prepare students for leadership roles as school librarians. Core requirements include administration of the school library, cataloging and classification, developing general and specialized collections, and technologies for instruction. An optional school librarian certification is also available. Texas A&M is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 70th best national university in the country. Additional rankings include #21 for best value colleges, #26 for top public schools, and #44 for best online graduate education programs. The school is also the 88th best global university in the world.

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