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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Library Science

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Library Science

Career Support
The University of Pittsburgh provides resources for Careers in Information Sciences. The University of Pittsburgh includes job sites, links to the University of Pittsburgh's Career Development Office and Office of Student Employment and Placement Assistance. Students may also access the University of Pittsburgh's Career Network, which provides access to the network of information sciences alumni. The University of Pittsburgh wins the best career support in an online library science master's degree program.

Financial Support
The University of Pittsburgh provides scholarships, financial aid, or school-based financial support to aid students for some or all of the costs to attend the information sciences program. The University of Pittsburgh provides a graduate student checklist as well as categories of funding specific to library and information sciences students, including graduate student assistant and residency programs. The University of Pittsburgh wins best financial support in an online library science master's degree program.

Technology Support
Syracuse University wins best online library science master's degree program for technology support. U.S. News & World Report ranks Syracuse University No. 1 for Student Services and Technology in an Online Graduate Education Program. Syracuse provides live tutoring, both live streaming and recorded audio and video courses, and class support for Apple, PC, and Linux users. Syracuse University also provides online bulletin boards, simulations, online labs, and a smartphone app to access course materials anywhere.

Disability Support
The University of Illinois wins best disability support in an online library science master's degree program. The University of Illinois' Disability Resources & Educational Services department provides accommodations to students with learning disabilities, including assistive technology, note taking services and text conversion, video captioning, and tutoring services. Students may contact the division of Disability Resources and Educational Services to ensure disability accommodation.

Library and Research Support
The University of Illinois has the largest public university research library in the United States, with more than 11 million printed volumes. The Library and Information Science Virtual Library provides access to electronic journals, books, electronic reserves, and databases. Students may talk to a librarian from the LIS Virtual Library website and download an iPhone app to keep up to date on new titles in the LIS Virtual Library. The University of Illinois wins best library support in an online library science master's degree program.

Learning Support
Syracuse University wins the award for the best online library science master's degree program for learning support. Students have access to live tutoring, online bulletin boards, simulations, and online labs through the Syracuse library science master's degree program. Students may also participate in library and information science chat sessions, and plan their master's degree in library and information sciences with the help of advisors.

Faculty Credentials
Syracuse University wins best online library science master's degree program for faculty accessibility and involvement. Syracuse University's online instructors require online instructional training financed by the school to teach. In addition, 92% of full–time instructors have a Ph.D. or terminal degree, and the average experience teaching online courses spans 10 years.

Faculty Accessibility
Syracuse University wins best online master's degree program in library science for faculty accessibility and involvement. Online and face-to-face student collaboration is mandatory at Syracuse University. Students may expect instructor response to emailed questions within 48 hours, and access to two hours of online office hours a week.

Alumni Engagement
The University of Pittsburgh wins best online library science master's degree program for alumni engagement. The University of Pittsburgh's Alumni Association provides a travel program, online directory, email address, and career network for alumni association members. The University of Pittsburgh's career network also provides students with the opportunity to interact with alumni interested in improving the career prospects of current University of Pittsburgh students.

Prior Learning Options
The University of Pittsburgh allows up to six credits of graduate-level course work to transfer from an accredited institution in library sciences if taken within four years preceding the date of initial enrollment. The Office of Veterans Services at the University of Pittsburgh is a participant in the Yellow Ribbon Program, and provides military tuition benefits for master's, doctoral, and professional degree programs.

New Online Student Orientation
The University of Illinois help desk prepares students to earn a degree in library and information science. The help desk ensures that all students have set up their University of Illinois accounts, familiarized themselves with GSLIS Computer Literacy Requirements and the GSLIS Mailing Lists and Discussion Forums, and all other services available to online students in the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at the iSchool at Illinois. The university wins best new online student orientation in an online master's degree program in library science.

Explore a Master's Degree in Library Science

Library science is the practice of collecting, sorting, and managing books and other media within a library or other information center. A master's degree in library science is needed to work as a librarian, or a professional who assists library visitors in finding the information they need. Fortunately, you can enroll in a master's degree program in library science online, which allows you to take classes and complete your assignments from home on a more convenient schedule. Some online master's degree programs in library science take 45 credit hours to complete, although the length of the program may vary by institution.

Class Curriculum

Students of an online master's degree program in library science may be required to take core courses such as foundations of information systems, information users and services, social context of information professions, and more. Depending on the institution, students may also choose a specific concentration within library science, including competitive intelligence and knowledge management, digital libraries, and school library media. Keep reading for more information on three common library science courses:

  • Research in Information Organizations. This course typically covers quantitative and qualitative methods, sampling strategies, and data collection strategies used to conduct research in an organization. The objective of the course is to improve a student's research skills by asking them to formulate research problems, collect data, and present the results from their research.
  • Information Users and Services. This course examines the theories and concepts of the use of information services. This includes the factors affecting the use of information resources and, user communities, and trends of use. The course also emphasizes the practical skills needed to meet an individual's information needs.
  • Information Access and Resources. An information access and resources course looks at the typical sources of information and how they're accessed by users. The class also examines the tools used for meeting a user's information needs and the methods for building effective large-scale data retrieval systems.

Library science graduate students are typically assessed by their performance on database exercises, critical reviews, class participation and other assignments, and exams. Since the program is online, most of the class discussions will be conducted through online discussion boards accessed through the university's course management system.

Building a Career

A master's degree in library science qualifies an individual to work as a librarian at an elementary or secondary school, in local government, at a college or university, or a junior college. Typically, a librarian helps visitors find the information they're looking for, organizes library materials, indexes databases of library materials, chooses new books, and prepares the library's budget. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), a librarian's tasks change depending on where they're employed. For example, a school librarian teaches students how to use library resources while a medical librarian assists health professionals and patients to find health and science information.

The median annual pay for librarians was $54,500, according to the BLS. Employment of librarians is expected to increase 7%, slower than average for all occupations, between 2010 and 2020. The proliferation of technology and budget reductions in local and state governments has reduced demand for librarians. However, that may be offset by the need to have library professionals within research or special libraries, where librarians may be needed to sort through large amounts of data, according to the BLS.