Online Library Science Master Degree Program Overviews

Research online library science master degree courses and programs. Find out what you can learn in these courses and what you'll need in order to participate in online learning to determine if it's right for you.

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Essential Information

There are nearly 60 American Library Association-accredited schools in the U.S., many of which offer all-online master's degree programs. A number of hybrid programs also exist that mix online courses with classes or seminars requiring in-person campus attendance. Generally, applicants need to have taken the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and earned a bachelor's degree in any major.

Some programs may require upwards of 40 semester hours for completion; however, full-time students complete an online library science master's degree program in less than two years. Applicants who have completed work in ALA-accredited programs may be able to transfer credits. A thesis or capstone project as well as a practicum or internship experience may be required for program completion.

Master of Library and Information Science

This is one of the more common online master's degree programs for aspiring librarians. Students who participate in this program gain fundamentals in librarianship studies as well as information systems management. Technical courses could include the following:

  • Project management
  • Data mining
  • Enterprise network management
  • Telecommunications
  • Database administration
  • Information architecture

Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Science in Library Science

This program prepares graduates to work in environments like public, academic or corporate libraries. In addition to core library science studies covering the history, politics and ethics of the written word and bibliographic data standards, additional course topics could include:

  • Classification and cataloging
  • Principles of searching
  • Reference sources
  • Issues in user services
  • Integrated technologies in libraries
  • Preservation and conservation
  • Business reference sources
  • Bibliography of the sciences
  • Government documents

Master of Arts in Library Science

Students of a Master of Arts program focus on sharpening their research and analysis skills. Completing such a program could prepare graduates to pursue field-specific doctoral degrees. Examples of topics of study include the following:

  • Library management
  • Library collections development
  • Organization of information
  • Information retrieval
  • Information services
  • Communications technology
  • Research methods

Areas of Concentration

Some online master's degree programs in library sciences may offer an area of specialization. These could include the following:

  • School library media
  • Archival studies
  • Youth services
  • Library and information services
  • Digital libraries
  • Art librarianship
  • Law librarianship
  • Knowledge management for business

About Online Learning

While most distance learning courses are self-paced, from time to time some may require real-time virtual log-ins for special instructional sessions; assignments are typically deadline driven. In addition, some schools may offer virtual internship experiences.

To aid in the learning process students may use social networking platforms, discussion boards, online learning management systems and video conferencing. Students are also granted access to their college's computer intranet, including library resources and e-mail.

There are multiple master's degree options for students interested in graduate library science programs. Some are available fully online, while others require some in-person training. Students should look for programs accredited by the American Library Association.

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