In this article, we profile the 30 most affordable online master’s in library science degree programs at top-ranked institutions.

To become a librarian, a master’s in library science (MLS), library studies, or library and information science (MLIS) is required. Also, program accreditation by the American Library Association (ALS) is essential for a librarianship in colleges and universities, public libraries, or public schools. Some of the top-ranked public universities and private colleges offer online library science degree programs to accommodate the increasing demand for flexible graduate school options.

Methodology

We examined 47 accredited colleges and universities that offered an online master’s in library science, library studies, or closely related degree program. We then narrowed to those schools ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine, The Princeton Review, and U.S. News and World Report. We chose the 30 most affordable of these recognized schools based on recent graduate tuition rates published by NCES College Navigator. Schools are listed in order of affordability.

Below are the resulting selections for our top online master’s in library science degree programs for 2016.

#30 – University of Illinois

Online MS in Library and Information Science

Champaign, Illinois

Website

University of Illinois - online master’s in library science

The online master’s in library and information science at University of Illinois is ALA-accredited.

Graduate tuition/fees: $18,041

The University of Illinois offers an ALA-accredited online master’s in library science degree program that is ranked as one of the best programs of its kind in the United States. The program may be completed entirely online, with classes taught by the same professors who instruct on campus. Several optional degree specializations are available so that students may focus their studies on a particular area of interest. Specializations include community informatics, data curation, K-12 school librarianship, and youth services. The school is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 41st best national university. Also, the library and information studies graduate school ranks #1 in the country.

#29 – Clarion University of Pennsylvania

Online Master’s in Information and Library Science

Clarion, Pennsylvania

Website

Clarion University - online master’s in library science

Clarion’s online master’s in information and library science is a top-ranked program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,222

Clarion University of Pennsylvania offers a master’s in library science online program that is designed for those who want the flexibility to complete their graduate degree on a full-time or part-time basis. Required online courses include administration and management of libraries, information sources and services, integrated technologies in libraries, introduction to the information professions, and organization of information. Several available concentrations include information access, local and archival studies, management of information agencies, and reference and user services. Clarion is regionally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In the most recent edition of Best Colleges, the school’s library and information studies graduate school ranks #43 in the country.

#28 – University of Arizona

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Tucson, Arizona

Website

University of Arizona - online master’s in library science

The library and information studies online program at University of Arizona is accredited and ranked!

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $12,048

The University of Arizona offers an affordable online master’s in library science degree program that is accredited and ranked. The program is designed for students who wish to pursue careers in archives, government agencies, libraries, and museums. Several concentrations are available, including academic librarianship, archival studies, digital information management, law librarianship, legal information, medical, public, and special librarianship. Online courses include ethics for library and information professionals, organization of information, and research methods for library professionals. The university is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 121st best national university. Also, the graduate library and information studies school ranks #33 in the nation.

#27 – University of Wisconsin

Online MA in Library and Information Studies

Madison, Wisconsin

Website

University of Wisconsin - online master’s in library science

The master’s in library science online degree program at University of Wisconsin is perfect for busy adults.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,870

The University of Wisconsin offers a master’s in library science online degree program that is designed for busy and working students who wish to complete an online graduate degree in library studies. Online courses include organization and search, perspectives and contexts, and research and assessment for information professionals. Two tiers of additional courses include topics in management and technology. Students are also required to complete a practicum and e-portfolio that showcases additional work. The institution is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 41st best national university and 11th top public school. The library and information studies graduate program ranks #16 in the country.

#26 – University of Kentucky

Online Master’s Degree in Library Science

Lexington, Kentucky

Website

University of Kentucky - online master’s in library science

University of Kentucky’s online master’s in library science is ALA-accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,688

Finding an affordable online degree in library studies can be a challenge, but University of Kentucky offers a cheap online master’s in library science degree that is also ALA-accredited. What makes this graduate program unique among other online MLS degrees is the option to study abroad. Also, various tracks are available for students to focus their studies in a particular area of interest. Available tracks include academic libraries, health information, information systems, instructional services, public libraries, school librarian, and youth services. The University of Kentucky is a nationally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 129th best national university. The library and information studies graduate school ranks #22 in the country.

#25 – Florida State University

Online Master’s in Information

Tallahassee, Florida

Website

Florida State University - online master’s in library science

FSU’s online master’s in information degree program is designed for working and busy students.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $11,543

Florida State University offers an alternative to the online library science degree program. Students may earn an ALA-accredited master’s in information or information technology entirely online. The program is designed for those who want to gain a solid foundation in general librarianship, information technology, youth information services, and related studies. Typical online courses include assessing information needs, information organization, management of information organizations, and research methods in information studies. There are also several certificates and specializations available to meet student career goals. FSU is a nationally ranked institution by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. Also, the institution’s library and information studies graduate school is ranked #13 in the nation.

#24 – Louisiana State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Website

Louisiana State University - online master’s in library science

Louisiana State’s online master’s in library science offers 8 specialization areas.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,954

The online master’s in library science from Louisiana State University is entirely online and includes eight available specializations. These specializations include academic librarianship, adult services in public libraries, archival studies, cultural heritage resource management, digital content management, health science and STEM librarianship, knowledge management, school librarianship, and youth services librarianship. Required courses that everyone must take, regardless of specialization choice, include information and society, information technologies and systems, management of information organizations, and understanding research. Louisiana State has earned rankings from major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a best national university. Also, the library and information graduate school is ranked #27 in the country.

#23 – Kent State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Kent, Ohio

Website

Kent State University - online master’s in library science

Kent State’s online library science master’s degree emphasizes library studies and information science.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,864

Kent State University’s online master of library science program focuses on both library and information studies. The program is entirely online and offers 14 specializations, which include academic librarianship, K-12 librarianship, public librarianship, reference librarianship, and youth services – children’s and teen librarianship. Online courses include health informatics, knowledge management, and user experience design. Also, if the student is interested in business or education, a dual or multiple degree option is available. Kent State is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 175th best national university and the 98th top public school. Also, the library and information studies school is ranked #18, and the services for children and youth programs rank #10 in the country.

#22 – Western Kentucky University

Online Master of Science in Library Media Education

Bowling Green, Kentucky

Website

Western Kentucky University - online master’s in library science

Accredited and affordable: Western Kentucky University offers an online MS in library media education.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,860

The online degree in library studies from Western Kentucky University includes the master’s in library media education. This program is designed as a dual concentration program that combines educational technology and information services. Students are prepared to serve as library media specialists, educational technology specialists, training development leaders, and information service specialists in all librarianship areas. Required courses include issues in library media education, program organization and administration, and survey of educational technology practices. Western Kentucky is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the 2016 edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 31st best regional university in the South and the 12th top public school.

#21 – Mansfield University of Pennsylvania

Online Master’s in School Library and Information Technologies

Mansfield, Pennsylvania

Website

Mansfield University - online master’s in library science

Concentrations like school library and information technologies are available in Mansfield’s online master’s in library science program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,504

Mansfield University of Pennsylvania’s online master of library science degree program is offered through the school’s education department. Students earn an M.Ed. in library and information technologies upon completion of the program. The online degree is typically completed in two to three years, but a one-year completion time is possible. The department recommends that students with a full-time job do not attempt to complete the program in one year. Two concentrations are available and include the school library and information technologies certification and non-certification pathway. Mansfield is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 131st best regional university in the North.

#20 – The University of Alabama

Online Master’s in Library and Information Studies

Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Website

University of Alabama - online master’s in library science

University of Alabama offers an accredited online master’s in library and information studies that is top ranked.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $10,170

The School of Library and Information Studies at University of Alabama offers an online master’s in library science degree program that is designed for busy and self-disciplined students who want to enter the information studies professions. Online classes meet synchronously at an allotted time each week. Required courses include information sources and services, information technologies, introduction to library and information studies, organization of information, and research methods. The University of Alabama is a nationally ranked institution. According to U.S. News and World Report, the school ranks #96 among the best national universities in the country. Also, the library and information studies graduate school ranks #18.

#19 – University of Northern Iowa

Online Master’s in School Library Studies

Cedar Falls, Iowa

Website

University of Northern Iowa - online master’s in library science

Interested in becoming a school librarian? The online master’s degree in school library studies at University of Northern Iowa may be the perfect program for you.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,219

For those interested in a master’s in library science online program that emphasizes school librarian studies, the University of Northern Iowa offers an affordable and accredited option. All courses are delivered online and include topics in library resources for children and young adults, organization of information, reference services and information retrieval, school library curriculum development, and technologies for libraries. Also, acceleration options are available. Students may speed up their progress by taking more than six units per term. The University of Northern Iowa is ranked by U.S. News and World Report as the 18th best regional university in the Midwest and the #2 ranked top public school.

#18 – Indiana University – Purdue

Master of Library Science Online

Indianapolis, Indiana

Website

Indiana University Purdue - online master’s in library science

Indiana University Purdue offers an online MLS degree that is ALA-accredited.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $9,183

Students interested in pursuing an online degree in library studies may find a suitable graduate program at Indiana University – Purdue. Not only is the program accredited by the American Library Association, but highly affordable. Specialization options are also available. Students may choose to concentrate their studies on a particular area of interest, such as academic librarianship, adult services, public librarianship, technology management, or youth services. Dual degree options are also available. Indiana University is ranked by major publications like Forbes magazine and U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News ranks the school as the 199th best national university.

#17 – San Jose State University

Online Master of Library and Information Science

San Jose, California

Website

San Jose State University - online master’s in library science

San Jose State University offers a top ranked & accredited online master of library science.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,644

The accredited online master of library science program at San Jose State University is designed to prepare graduate students for careers as information specialists. Coursework is delivered entirely online and includes classes in information communities, information professions, information retrieval system design, and research methods in library and information science. Internship opportunities are available, even for online students. In fact, the school works directly with internship supervisors to maintain a large database of opportunities that include virtual positions. San Jose State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as the 39th best regional university in the West. Also, the library and information studies graduate school ranks #33 in the most recent edition of Best Colleges.

#16 – University of Maryland

Online Master of Library and Information Science

College Park, Maryland

Website

University of Maryland - online master’s in library science

University of Maryland’s online master’s in library science program has six concentrations, including school library.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,514

An affordable online library science degree is available at the University of Maryland. The program is fully accredited by the American Library Association and provides a strong foundation in both research and practice of library and information science. Six concentrations are available, including archives and digital curation, community analytics and policy, diversity and inclusion, individualized program plan, school library, and youth experience. All courses are delivered online and include achieving organizational excellence, creating information infrastructures, and serving information needs. The University of Maryland is highly ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as the 57th best national university. Also, the graduate library and information studies school ranks #10 in the country.

#15 – Chicago State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Chicago, Illinois

Website

Chicago State University - online master’s in library science

Chicago State’s online master’s in library science is accredited and highly affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $8,320

Chicago State University offers a master’s in library science online degree program that is both ALA-accredited and affordable. The online MSLIS degree program is designed with an urban focus and offers four specialization areas that include academic libraries, archives and record management, public libraries, and school libraries. Core online courses include foundations of the information professions, introduction to reference services, organization of information, and research methods in library and information science. A thesis or senior project is required for successful completion of the program. Chicago State University is regionally ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a top regional institution.

#14 – University of Colorado

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

Denver, Colorado

Website

University of Colorado - online master’s in library science

University of Colorado’s online master’s of library science focuses on school librarianships.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,804

The University of Colorado offers an online master of library science degree program that emphasizes information and learning technologies within school libraries. The online program is the only one of its kind in Colorado to be endorsed by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. Required courses include information storage and utilization, media literacy and maker culture, and research in schools. In addition to required classes, a professional portfolio instead of a comprehensive exam or master’s thesis is required. The University of Colorado is a nationally ranked institution and top public school. U.S. News and World Report ranks the school as the 199th best national university in the country.

#13 – University of Oklahoma

Online Master’s in Library and Information Studies

Norman, Oklahoma

Website

University of Oklahoma - online master’s in library science

University of Oklahoma offers an accredited MLIS degree.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,637

Interested in an affordable online library science degree? The University of Oklahoma offers an online master’s in library and information studies program that is designed for busy and working students. Required online courses include information and communication technology, information and knowledge society, management of information and knowledge organizations, organization of information and knowledge resources, and research methods. In addition to courses requirements, degree candidates must complete an end of program assessment. Students may choose from three assessment options: comprehensive examination, portfolio, or thesis. The University of Oklahoma is a ranked institution. In fact, major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the school as the 108th best national university. Also, the library and information studies graduate school ranks #24 in the country.

#12 – University of North Carolina Greensboro

Master of Library and Information Studies Online

Greensboro, North Carolina

Website

University of North Carolina Greensboro - online master's in library science

UNCG offers an ALA-accredited and affordable online master’s in library science.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,489

University of North Carolina at Greensboro offers an online degree in library studies that is one of the oldest LIS programs in the state. The program is 100% online with blended asynchronous and synchronous instruction. Accredited by the ALA, the program offers a solid foundation for anyone interested in a professional librarianship. Specializations are available for those interested in specific licensures and certifications. According to the program’s website, graduates have found work in academic settings, public libraries, school libraries, and even nonprofit institutions. UNCG is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 187th best national university and the 105th top public school in the country.

#11 – Emporia State University

Master’s in Library Science Online

Emporia, Kansas

Website

Emporia State University - online master’s in library science

Emporia State University offers a top-ranked master’s in library science online program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,488

The master’s in library science online program offered at Emporia State University is fully accredited by the American Library Association. The program offers three concentration areas, which include archives studies, leadership and administration, and librarianship for children and young adults. Online courses include foundations of library and information science, management and information organizations, organization of information, and research in library and information science. 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. Also, the graduate library and information studies school has earned recognition from major publications.

#10 – Appalachian State University

Online Master’s in Library Science

Boone, North Carolina

Website

Appalachian State University - online master’s in library science

Appalachian State University’s online master’s in library science is designed for working students.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,409

Appalachian State University offers an online degree in library studies that is designed for graduate students who want to pursue careers in library science. The program is nationally recognized by the American Association of School Librarians and accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Required courses include collection development and management, information sources and services, organization of information, strategic administration of library resources and services, and technology and libraries. Also, students must complete either an internship or practicum; however, a thesis is not required. Appalachian State is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News 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 - online master’s in library science

University of Central Missouri’s online master’s in library science program offers a PK-12 specialization.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,384

For those interested in an accredited master’s in library science online, the University of Central Missouri offers a unique program. Designed for the preparation of school librarians, the program promotes the librarian’s role as that of a teacher. In fact, a specialization in PK-12 instructional and information services is available. Curriculum is approved by the American Association of School Librarians and includes online courses like library media administration, library systems and information technology, and reference sources and services. The school is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 75th best regional university in the Midwest.

#8 – Sam Houston State University

Online Master of Library Science

Huntsville, Texas

Website

Sam Houston State University - online master’s in library science

The online master of library science program at Sam Houston State prepares professionals for librarianships in various settings, including schools.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,213

The online master of library science program at Sam Houston State University is designed to prepare professionals for school librarianship. The program provides instruction for the common procedures and principles found in school libraries. Required courses include collection development, literature for children, literature for young adults, organization of collections, research design and methodology, and school library administration. A library internship is also required. The internship provides supervised practice within a school library, giving the student real-world experience in the setting where they will most likely work. Sam Houston State University is a nationally recognized institution. In fact, U.S. News and World Report lists the school among the top national universities. Many of the school’s online graduate programs have also earned rankings.

#7 – University of North Texas

Online Master’s in Library Science

Denton, Texas

Website

University of North Texas - online master’s in library science

University of North Texas’ online master’s in library science is top-ranked by U.S. News and World Report.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,165

The Department of Library and Information Sciences at University of North Texas offers an online library science degree designed for working professionals who want to earn advanced skills in library and information sciences. The program is nationally ranked and accredited by the American Library Association. Required courses include information access and knowledge inquiry, information resources development, organization and control of information resources, and research methods and analysis. The University of North Texas is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, U.S. News lists the school as a best national university and the library and information studies graduate program as the 21st best program of its kind. Also, the health librarianship program ranks #6, and the school library media program ranks #8.

#6 – University of Southern Mississippi

Online Master of Library and Information Science

Hattiesburg, Mississippi

Website

University of Southern Mississippi - online master's in library science

The online master’s of library science at University of Southern Mississippi is accredited and affordable.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $7,090

University of Southern Mississippi offers an online master of library science program that combines information science with library studies. Successful graduates of the program earn an MLIS degree entirely online. Required courses include cataloging and classification, collection development and management, foundations of librarianship, fundamentals of information science, reference and information sources, and research methods in LIS. A comprehensive exam and final project are also required, and students are encouraged to complete a practicum or field experience at a library. The University of Southern Mississippi is a nationally ranked institution by U.S. News and World Report. The school’s graduate library and information studies program has also been listed in the most recent edition of Best Colleges.

#5 – East Carolina University

Online Master of Library Science

Greenville, North Carolina

Website

East Carolina University - online master’s in library science

East Carolina University offers one of the biggest online master’s in library science programs in the state.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,857

East Carolina University offers an online library science degree program that is designed for busy and working professionals who want to earn a graduate degree online. The ALA-accredited program is one of the largest programs of its kind to graduate school librarians and media coordinators. Required online courses include collection development, materials for children, research methods in library science, and technology for library services. A professional internship that consists of 110 working hours is required for graduate library science students. East Carolina University is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the school ranks #194 among the best national universities and #111 among the top public schools.

#4 – Texas Woman’s University

Online Master of Library Science

Denton, Texas

Website

Texas Woman's University - online master’s in library science

Texas Woman’s University’s online master’s in library science degree program ranks #38 in the U.S.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,667

The ALA-accredited online master’s in library science from Texas Woman’s University is a degree program designed for busy professionals who want to work in academic settings, public libraries, or schools and special libraries. Online classes include foundations of library and information studies, information and communication technology, information organization, library management, and a practicum. Twelve elective hours are also required. Electives may include health sciences information services management, multicultural librarianship, or youth programs. Texas Woman’s University is a nationally ranked institution. In the most recent publication of Best Colleges, U.S. News and World Report ranks the graduate library and information studies school #38 in the country.

#3 – North Carolina Central University

Online Master of Library Science

Durham, North Carolina

Website

North Carolina Central University - online master’s in library science

NCCU’s online master of library science program is designed for busy and working individuals.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,627

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) offers a master’s in library science online degree program that is ALA-accredited. Online courses include foundations of librarianship and information services, management and systems, organization of information, research methods, and selection and use of information sources. The program is designed for busy and working students who want to complete a flexible master’s in library or information science entirely online. NCCU is a regionally ranked institution. In fact, major publications like U.S. News and World Report rank the school as the 65th best regional university in the South and the 27th top public school. The graduate library and information studies school is ranked #41 in the nation.

#2 – Valdosta State University

Online Master’s in Library and Information Science

Valdosta, Georgia

Website

Valdosta State University - online master’s in library science

Valdosta State University’s online master’s in library and information science degree is a non-thesis program.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $6,490

Those looking for a non-thesis online library science degree may find a suitable option at Valdosta State University. The ALA-accredited online master’s in library and information science degree is a 39-hour non-thesis program that is designed to educate individuals in the skills necessary for library and information professions. The program is perfect for individuals who cannot leave their job or family obligations to attend on-campus classes. Required courses include cataloging and classification, foundations of library and information science, information sources and services, and management of libraries and information centers. Valdosta is ranked by major publications like U.S. News and World Report. In fact, the most recent edition of Best Colleges lists the school as the 76th best regional university in the South.

#1 – Texas A&M University

Online Master’s in Educational Technology and Library Science

Commerce, Texas

Website

Texas A&M University - online master’s in library science

Texas A&M’s online master of library science degree is the most affordable program on our list.

Graduate Tuition/Fees: $5,500

Texas A&M University offers a unique online master’s in library science program that is designed to educate students for school librarian leadership roles. The program emphasizes educational technology and best practices in current technological trends. Online courses include books and related materials for children and young adults, developing general and specialized collections, research methodologies, and web 2.0 technologies for instruction. A school librarian certification program is also available. Texas A&M is listed by major publications like U.S. News and World Report as a nationally ranked institution. Also, the school is listed in our #1 spot for being the most affordable top online master’s in library science degree program for 2016.

This concludes our ranking of the 30 most affordable online master’s in library science degree programs at top-ranked institutions.

By GSH Staff
August 2016