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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.
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.
- Flexibility and accessibility: Whether juggling job schedules or navigating geographical constraints, FHSU’s fully online format removes traditional classroom barriers. Students can access coursework and interact with peers from anywhere with an internet connection, making this program ideal for busy professionals seeking to upskill without compromising existing commitments.
- Renowned faculty: FHSU’s library science program is led by experienced and dedicated faculty. These experts actively engage in research and industry collaborations, ensuring the curriculum remains current and relevant to real-world library practices.
- Dual credentialing option: The program offers a unique advantage: the opportunity to earn both a Master of Science degree and a Library Media Specialist endorsement in Kansas. This dual credentialing opens doors to various career opportunities, particularly within school libraries.
- Limited specialization: Unlike some online programs offering various tracks or concentrations, FHSU’s M.S. in Library Media Specialist focuses primarily on school library settings. While this may be ideal for some, those seeking broader library career paths might prefer programs with diverse specializations.
- Kansas licensure focus: Although the program’s content holds national relevance, its curriculum and endorsement align specifically with Kansas state licensure requirements. Those aiming for library careers outside of Kansas may need to fulfill additional state-specific licensure requirements.
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.
- Flexibility and convenience: NSU’s fully online format caters to busy professionals and geographically dispersed students. Access coursework and interact with peers from anywhere with internet access, allowing you to balance your studies with existing commitments.
- Experienced faculty and strong accreditation: NSU has a dedicated faculty of library and information science experts with active research and industry collaborations. This ensures the curriculum remains relevant and cutting-edge. The program is also accredited by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL), a testament to its quality.
- Career-enhancing program options: Aside from the traditional MLS degree, NSU offers a unique “3+2” accelerated option, allowing you to combine your bachelor’s degree with the master’s program and complete both in five years. Additionally, the program offers an embedded School Library Media Specialist Certificate, enhancing your job prospects.
- Limited specializations: NSU’s program focuses primarily on school library settings, similar to Fort Hays.
- Regional focus: Although the program’s content holds national relevance, its curriculum and embedded certificate align specifically with Oklahoma state licensure requirements. Those aiming for library careers outside of Oklahoma may need to fulfill additional state-specific licensure requirements.
- Potentially longer completion time: While the “3+2” option offers faster completion, the traditional MLS program requires 33 credit hours, which may take longer than programs with fewer required credits.
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.
- Targeted educational focus: The program’s emphasis on library media in educational settings makes it unique and specifically tailored to the needs of aspiring educational media specialists.
- Quality of education: As part of GCSU’s offerings, the program benefits from the university’s resources and experienced faculty.
- Internship opportunities: The program culminates in a 120-hour internship at a local school library, providing students with valuable hands-on experience and the opportunity to build professional connections.
- No Standalone MLIS: Unlike some universities, GCSU’s library science program is offered as a specialization within the Master of Education degree. This might not be ideal for individuals seeking a more traditional MLIS degree.
- Limited specialization focus: Compared to programs with multiple specializations, GCSU’s library media track offers a single focus, which might restrict options for students interested in other library settings like public or academic libraries.
- Smaller program size: GCSU’s online library science program has a relatively smaller student body than larger universities. This might mean fewer opportunities for peer interaction and networking within the program.
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.
- Diverse specializations: NCCU’s MLS program offers seven dynamic specializations to cater to varied career aspirations. Choose from tracks like Academic Librarian, Archives and Records Manager, Digital Librarian, Public Librarian, School Media Coordinator, Special Librarian, or a self-designed concentration. This diverse range allows students to tailor their studies to specific interests and career goals.
- Focus on social justice: NCCU’s program is deeply rooted in the principles of social justice and information equity. The curriculum emphasizes serving diverse communities and addressing issues like information access disparities, censorship, and digital literacy gaps. This aligns perfectly with the values of many future librarians seeking to make a positive impact.
- Experienced faculty: NCCU’s program boasts a dedicated faculty of experienced librarians and information professionals. Students benefit from personalized attention, mentorship opportunities, and access to career services resources. The close-knit online learning community fosters a supportive academic and professional growth environment.
- Limited online resources: Compared to some larger universities, NCCU’s online library science program might offer fewer online resources like digital libraries, databases, or some research tools. Students might need to supplement their studies with external resources.
- Smaller network and career opportunities: While growing, NCCU’s program has a smaller alumni network than larger institutions. This might limit access to certain career opportunities or professional connections in specific regions.
- Potentially longer completion time: Due to the program’s flexibility, some students might take longer than the standard two years to complete the MLS degree. This can affect factors like student loan repayment schedules and employment timelines.
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.
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.
- Quality of education: The program’s national recognition and high pass rate in PRAXIS II reflect its strong academic standards and focus on professional preparation.
- Flexibility: Being fully online, it allows students to pursue their degree without relocating or giving up their current jobs.
- Support and resources: UCA provides comprehensive support and resources for online students, including technical support, program coordinators, and access to UCA instructors skilled in online teaching.
- Licensing limitations: While the program is nationally recognized, out-of-state students need to check with their state’s department of education to ensure that it meets licensure or endorsement requirements.
- Limited interpersonal interaction: The fully online format may lack the interpersonal interactions and networking opportunities typically available in on-campus programs.
- Additional costs: Besides tuition, students may need to consider the cost of textbooks, technology requirements, and any other miscellaneous fees.
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.
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.
- High-quality education: The program’s accreditation and comprehensive curriculum ensure a high-quality library and information studies education.
- Specializations: The availability of specializations such as Archival Studies and School Library Media allows students to tailor their education to their career goals.
- Strong support and resources: The program offers robust support for students, including 24/7 tech support and personalized guidance from application to graduation.
- Synchronous online format: While offering a structured learning environment, the requirement for synchronous attendance might be challenging for some students due to different time zones or scheduling conflicts.
- Additional costs: Apart from tuition, students may incur additional fees, such as technology requirements, course fees, and proctoring fees.
- State certification requirements: For those pursuing the School Library Media concentration, it’s important to note that certification requirements may vary by state. Students should ensure that the program meets their state’s certification requirements.
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.
- ALA accreditation: This ensures that the program meets high standards of quality and relevance in the field of library science.
- Wide range of career opportunities: Graduates are prepared for diverse roles in various types of libraries across the country.
- Support for working professionals: The online format particularly benefits working professionals, enabling them to pursue higher education without leaving their jobs.
- Technology requirements: Students need to ensure they have the necessary technology and a reliable internet connection, which might require additional investment.
- Limited interpersonal interaction: The fully online format may lack some face-to-face interactions and networking opportunities available in on-campus programs.
- State certification: For students interested in school library media, it’s important to note that the MLIS program at VSU does not prepare students for school media certification, although it does qualify them for public library 5(b) certification.
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.
- High-quality education: The program’s accreditations meet high educational standards.
- Diverse and global perspectives: The inclusion of students from around the world enriches the learning experience, providing broader perspectives on library and information science.
- Career readiness: UCM’s MLS program graduates have a high job placement rate, indicating the program’s effectiveness in preparing students for the workforce.
- Technology dependence: Being an online program, students must have access to reliable internet and suitable technology, which might be a challenge for some.
- Lack of on-campus experience: While online education offers flexibility, it may lack the campus experience that some students may prefer for networking and hands-on learning.
- ALA accreditation in pre-candidacy: Although the program is pursuing ALA accreditation, it is currently in pre-candidacy status. Full ALA accreditation may be a consideration for some students, especially those looking to work in certain academic or public libraries.
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.
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.
- Career opportunities: Graduates from this program are prepared for diverse roles in librarianship, archival studies, and information management, reflecting the program’s comprehensive curriculum.
- Reputation and quality: The continuous ALA accreditation since 1931 speaks to the program’s long-standing reputation and commitment to maintaining high educational standards.
- Program flexibility: The fully online and asynchronous format allows students to balance their studies with other personal and professional commitments.
- Cost considerations: While the program is affordable compared to many others, the cost of $19,980 might still be significant for some students.
- Limited direct interaction: The entirely online format might limit opportunities for in-person networking and direct interaction with faculty and peers.
- Technology dependence: Students need reliable internet access and technology, which could be a challenge for some, especially in areas with limited connectivity.
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.
- Career versatility: Graduates are prepared for a wide range of careers in library and information science, enhancing their employability in various sectors.
- Quality of education: The program’s ALA accreditation and comprehensive curriculum ensure a high-quality education.
- Online flexibility: The program’s fully online format offers convenience for working professionals and those who cannot relocate for on-campus studies.
- Technology dependence: Students must have reliable access to technology and the internet, which could be a barrier for some.
- Limited face-to-face interaction: The online nature of the program might limit opportunities for direct interaction with faculty and fellow students, which some may find invaluable for networking and collaborative learning.
- Cost considerations: While relatively affordable, the program’s cost may still be significant for some students.
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 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.
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:
- Information Organization: This course teaches you how to categorize and manage information resources effectively. Archival science is often a focus area within this course, orienting you on how to preserve and organize historical documents.
- Information Technology and Libraries: Essential for modern librarians, this course encompasses the digital tools and technologies that facilitate information management.
- Research Methods: Mastering the art of research is critical. This course typically covers both qualitative and quantitative methods used in library science.
- Reference and Information Services: Here, you’ll learn the skills needed to assist patrons, such as information literacy instruction and resource recommendation.
- Library Management: These classes prepare you for the operational aspects of running a library, including staff management, budgeting, and policy development.
|Categorization, Management, Archival Science
|Digital Tools, Technologies
|Qualitative & Quantitative Research
|Information Literacy, Resource Recommendation
|Administration, 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:
- Archival Studies: For those passionate about preserving history, this concentration focuses on managing and curating collections of historical documents and records.
- Information Technology: A perfect blend for the tech-savvy librarian, courses in this track explore digital librarianship and information systems management.
- School Librarianship: Ideal for aspiring school library media specialists, this concentration equips us with the skills to support K-12 education and foster a love of learning amongst students.
- Information Organization: This track emphasizes the importance of cataloging, metadata, and classification, ensuring users can find and access library resources efficiently.
- Public Library Services: Aimed at future public librarians, this concentration focuses on community engagement and developing programs that serve diverse population needs.
Choosing the right concentration can pave the way for your future career and personal growth in the rewarding field of library science.
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.
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.