Library Studies Degree and Certificate Program Overviews

Oct 23, 2019

Program options exist for librarians looking to further their education and those looking to enter the field. Typically, students enroll in a master's degree or a specialist certificate program.

Essential Information

A number of schools offer both specialist certificates and master's degrees in library studies. Specialist certificates are usually designed for working librarians seeking specific advanced skills, like digital or public librarianship, while 2-year master's programs are tailored to the needs of aspiring librarians. Both types of programs may culminate in a final project or oral examination. Librarians in public schools typically need to be licensed, and licensure requirements often include completion of a master's degree in library science or library studies and an exam. Many public schools also expect librarians to hold teaching licensure.

Admission requirements vary by program. For certificate programs, a master's degree is required. For entry into a master's program, applicants must have a bachelor's degree and have obtained a 3.0 or higher, and in some cases must have taken the GRE or GMAT.

Specialist Certificate in Library Studies

A specialist certificate program in library studies enables library professionals to update their skills and acquire expertise in a particular area of library management. Available specializations might include reference services, public librarianship, music, law, health, art, academic librarianship, digital libraries, youth services, school media, and archives administration. Courses in a specialist certificate program depend on the specialization chosen. Specialization courses might include:

  • Archive services
  • Pedagogy, literacy and information management
  • College libraries
  • Metadata and database design
  • Digital resource management
  • Health data systems

Master's Degree in Information and Library Studies

A master's degree in information and library studies provides training in the organization, storage and management of information resources and the provisioning of those resources to the wider public. Students gain an understanding of the interrelationship between information technology, information, library professionals who facilitate access to information and the diverse segments of the public that use information. Master's degree programs are built around a core set of library studies courses and electives in a chosen library studies specialization. Some possible core courses are:

  • Information organization
  • Collection development and management
  • Archive management
  • Library and information services
  • Library technology
  • Library services

Popular Career Options

Librarians who earn a specialization certificate may use their new skills to expand the scope of their current job, transfer to a more advanced position with the same employer or seek employment with a new organization. Facilities that employ trained specialist librarians include:

  • College or university libraries
  • Public libraries
  • Library media centers
  • Law libraries
  • Museum libraries

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

A master's degree in information and library studies qualifies graduates to become librarians. The predominant employers of librarians include elementary and secondary schools, public libraries, colleges, universities and government agencies.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), employment of librarians will increase 6% over the 2018-2028 decade. Growth will be inhibited by the increased use of information technology, which enables library patrons to find more of the information resources they need themselves. Librarians earned a median salary of $59,050 as of May 2018, according to BLS data.

Continuing Education Information

Librarians who want to move their careers into academic research or become library studies educators at the postsecondary level need to earn a doctorate. Many schools that offer master's degree programs in library studies also offer doctoral programs.

While the career outlook is relatively stagnate, there are still some jobs for students interested in becoming librarians. Obtaining a master's degree or graduate certificate in library studies is likely to increase a graduate's job prospects by equipping them with important skills in information organization, library technology, and database design and management.

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