Rankings

Affordable Online Masters Degree Programs in Library Science

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Updated: January 22, 2024, Reading time: 21 minutes

A college student holding a book on a library

Seeking a master’s degree in library science can open the door to various career opportunities in academia, public service, and corporate information management. With the rise of digital resources, the skills of library science professionals are more critical than ever. We understand affordability is key for many potential students, and online master’s in library science programs have become increasingly attractive.

Most Affordable Online Master’s Degree Programs in Library Science

In our search for quality education that won’t break the bank, we’ve identified some of the most affordable online Master’s in Library Science (MLIS) programs. These institutions are not just budget-friendly; they’ve maintained strong academic standards, ensuring that affordability does not come at the cost of a solid education.

A campus library with long tables

Fort Hays State University

Fort Hays State University offers one of the most budget-friendly online master’s degrees in library science. For the academic year 2023-2024, the graduate tuition for online courses is $319.45 per credit hour​.

This is for those seeking to specialize in educational librarianship, particularly as a school library media specialist. This focus mainly benefits educators or those aspiring to work in educational settings.

The program is offered fully online, providing a convenient option for working professionals or students who cannot attend on-campus classes. This flexibility allows for a balance between academic, professional, and personal commitments.

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Northeastern State University

Northeastern State University is a top choice for an accredited and flexible online MLS program at a public university tuition rate. The total cost of the program is approximately $11,700​​. For the 2023-2024 academic year, the graduate online-only tuition rate is $308.40 per credit.

The program prepares candidates for the evolving role of the school librarian in a global and technological society. It is tailored for those aspiring to provide leadership in educational settings and focuses on connecting learners with information and fostering a love for reading and effective information management​.

NSU’s educator preparation programs, including this master’s degree, are accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This accreditation assures the quality and relevance of the program.

A professor and students talking inside the library

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Georgia College & State University

Georgia College & State University provides an online MLIS program emphasizing leadership and innovative library services. The program includes a variety of courses that cover professional education, certification areas, and other key aspects of library media. This comprehensive approach ensures a well-rounded education in the field.

Their affordable tuition makes it a smart choice for students conscious of their educational investments. To earn a Master of Education with a major in Library Media from this school, expect to pay $288 per credit hour, along with $32.50 in tech fees. With the tech fee, that brings each hour to $320.50.

In addition, the program is ALA-accredited and can be completed fully online in as little as 12 months with full-time study, making it highly accessible.

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A classic library

North Carolina Central University

North Carolina Central University (NCCU) offers an online Master of Library Science (MLS) degree that is a compelling choice for students seeking an affordable and flexible graduate education in library science. The program is accredited by the American Library Association and provides a comprehensive understanding of librarianship and information services. 

The NCCU MLS program addresses the evolving role of libraries as information centers. It offers specializations in various areas, including public libraries, academic libraries, digital libraries, school media, and more.

The estimated tuition for graduate students for the 2023-2024 academic year is $298.73 per credit hour for in-state students and $1,038.07 for out-of-state students​. These rates are competitive compared to other similar programs, making the NCCU MLS program a cost-effective option​.

The program’s online format provides flexibility and convenience, accommodating students’ busy schedules and allowing them to balance their studies with personal and professional commitments.

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University of Central Arkansas

The University of Central Arkansas (UCA) offers a fully online Master’s program in Library Media and Information Technologies, which is a notable option for students seeking an affordable and flexible graduate education in library science. 

A student getting a book on a shelf

This program prepares students to become Library Media Specialists in K-12 schools and is nationally recognized by the American Association of School Librarians.

The program is nationally recognized and has a high PRAXIS II content pass rate in School Library Media, indicating a strong educational quality.

UCA offers a flat-rate tuition for its online graduate degree programs. Regardless of residency or location, students are charged $336.00 per credit hour​. This is competitively priced, especially considering the quality of the program.

Additionally, UCA offers various scholarships and grants, including the Teacher Opportunity Program (TOP), which provides tuition reimbursement grants to Arkansas teachers and administrators​.

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University of Alabama

Offering a comprehensive MLIS program, the University of Alabama stands out with its affordable tuition and robust online learning environment, accommodating a diverse student population.

UA’s MLIS program is accredited by the American Library Association and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, ensuring high educational standards. It prepares students for diverse roles in library and information sciences, with concentrations available in Archival Studies or School Library Media.

The program is delivered online using web-based technology, creating a virtual learning campus. Classes meet synchronously at specific times each week, offering a structured yet flexible learning environment suitable for busy professionals​.

The distance learning tuition rate is $440 per credit hour, making it a financially accessible option for many students. Additionally, UA offers several tuition grants and scholarships to support students financially.

A librarian assisting someone on the library

UA offers various grants, such as the Build on Bama and Back to Bama tuition grants, and scholarships specifically reserved for distance students, making it more affordable.

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Valdosta State University

Valdosta State University (VSU) offers a Master of Library and Information Science program that is both affordable and fully online, making it an excellent choice for students seeking a flexible and cost-effective path to a degree in library science. 

The MLIS program at VSU is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). It focuses on preparing librarians for roles in academic, public, and special libraries, not just in Georgia, but also nationwide.

The program is fully online, offering flexibility to students who may be working professionals or have other commitments. This format allows students to balance their studies with personal and professional obligations.

The graduate eTuition rate is $293 per credit hour, which amounts to $879 per three-hour course​. Including tuition, books, and other incidental costs, the overall expense will vary depending on the number of credits taken and additional expenses such as technology upgrades.

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A narrow isle on a library

University of Central Missouri

The University of Central Missouri boasts a nationally recognized MLS program, offering a School Librarian concentration and initial teacher certification at a competitive price.

The MLS program at UCM is accredited by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). Additionally, it has pre-candidacy status for accreditation with the ALA, which is a strong indicator of quality and rigor​.

UCM’s MLS program emphasizes creating an inclusive learning community, connecting students worldwide with practitioners in their field of study. This approach provides a diverse and enriching educational experience​.

The rate for graduate online classes is $413.50 per credit hour. While still affordable, this is more expensive than we see at other schools like North Carolina Central University or Valdosta. Students can get various forms of financial aid and scholarships offered by UCM, though specifics should be checked directly with the university’s financial aid office.

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Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) offers an online Master of Library and Information Science program that presents a comprehensive choice for students seeking an affordable, accredited, and flexible graduate education in library science. Their graduates are equipped with the skills needed to excel in the evolving landscape of library science.

The MLIS program at LSU is the only ALA accredited program in Louisiana, which is a testament to its educational quality and industry recognition. This accreditation is crucial for those pursuing a career in librarianship, particularly in public, academic, or state libraries.

A college student holding a book on a library

The program is 100% online with no on-campus requirements, making it highly suitable for working professionals or those who cannot attend an on-campus program due to geographical or personal constraints​.

Students in the MLIS program can focus on various career-specific areas or earn a dual degree with a Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies or Records and Information Management, enhancing their skills and employment prospects​.

The total program cost is $19,980, which breaks down to $555 per credit hour for the 36-credit hour program. LSU offers various financial aid options, scholarships, and veterans education benefits to help students fund their education.

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University of North Texas

As one of the most affordable options, the University of North Texas provides students with access to an esteemed MLIS program that doesn’t sacrifice quality for the cost. UNT’s program is accredited by the American Library Association, ensuring it meets the highest quality standards in library science education.

The program offers flexibility in terms of course selection and specialization. Students can choose from six concentrations within the Library Science major, allowing them to tailor their education to their career goals and interests​.

The program covers a broad range of topics necessary for information professionals, preparing students for various roles in public, academic, and special libraries and other information organizations​.

The estimated cost for Texas residents is approximately $16,500 for the entire program, which includes 36 total credit hours. This estimation is subject to change and varies by state residency. UNT offers various financial aid options, including scholarships, assistantships, and fellowships, to assist students in funding their education​.

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An elegant library

Online MLIS Degree Program Cost Considerations

When we consider online Master of Library and Information Science programs, the costs can vary significantly, so it’s crucial to sort out financial considerations before committing.

Tuition Rate

Tuition is typically charged per credit hour. For instance, at Louisiana State University’s online MLIS program, you’re looking at approximately $555 per credit hour, with total costs reaching around $19,980. This is on the higher end for the cost per credit hour when looking at affordable online degree programs.

Program Duration and Credit Requirements

Program lengths occasionally alter the cost structure. An online MLIS might be a three-year, part-time program, where students take 6-8 credits per quarter. Graduation typically requires about 63 quarter credits.

Other Fees

Don’t forget to factor in additional fees like technology, library access, or materials, as they can add to the overall program cost. And remember, investing in your education involves more than just tuition—it’s about aligning the program’s value with your career goals!

Common Master’s in Library Science Courses

When we explore the curriculum of affordable online Master’s in Library Science programs, we typically find a set of core courses. These core courses lay the foundation for library and information science professionals. Here’s a quick overview of what you might encounter:

CourseFocus Area
Information OrganizationCategorization, Management, Archival Science
Information TechnologyDigital Tools, Technologies
Research MethodsQualitative & Quantitative Research
Reference ServicesInformation Literacy, Resource Recommendation
Library ManagementAdministration, Budgeting, Policy

Each program may also offer elective courses tailored to specific interests, such as youth services, digital libraries, or information architecture, allowing you to specialize in the field. With diverse and dynamic courses, these programs equip you with the knowledge to advance in the evolving landscape of library and information science.

Library Science Concentrations

When you consider advancing your education with an online Master’s in Library Science program, there are various concentrations to choose from, based on your specific interests and career goals. Below is a snapshot of some common pathways:

Choosing the right concentration can pave the way for your future career and personal growth in the rewarding field of library science.

A student on a library

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the Typical Duration for Completing an Online Master’s Degree in Library Science?

Online master’s programs in library science typically range between one and two years. Factors that affect duration include whether you’re a full-time or part-time student and if the program requires a thesis or capstone project. For instance, the program at Fort Hays State University can be completed in as little as one year by full-time students.

How Does the Cost of an Online Master’s in Library Science Compare to On-Campus Programs?

Online programs are often more affordable than their on-campus counterparts. Savings come from fewer transportation expenses, no campus housing costs, and often reduced tuition rates for online offerings.

Do Career Prospects in Library Science Justify the Investment in an Online Master’s Degree?

Absolutely, acquiring a Master’s degree in Library Science can open doors to advanced positions within libraries, research institutions, and information management entities. The increased career opportunities and potential for a higher salary typically justify the investment in a master’s program.

Conclusion

When looking at the landscape of online Master’s in Library Science programs, we find diverse options catering to academic goals and financial considerations. With affordable tuition rates, it’s clear that a valuable education in this field doesn’t have to be out of reach.

We’re certain of one thing—your search for more information on picking the best graduate degree or school landed you here. Let our experts help guide your through the decision making process with thoughtful content written by experts.