Online Graduate Degrees for Media Specialists: Program Options

Dec 03, 2019

Essential Information

Online master's degree programs in library media, also called school library information specialist programs, are relatively easy to find. Though the coursework is primarily available over the Web, some on-campus work and an orientation may be required in the beginning to familiarize students with library media technology. These programs are designed for teachers certified to work in the public school system. The exact regulations for working as a public school information specialist vary by state.

Those who don't intend to work in schools may want to consider an online Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS) degree program, both of which are readily available. These programs might require students to have the ability to view and burn DVDs, as well have access to a photo or video editing software and a word processing program. An external memory device is typically recommended for saving and submitting work. Some states require professional certification for working in a public library; learn the regulations in your state before choosing an educational program.

Master's Degree for Media Specialists

A media specialist plans and coordinates the audio, visual, and communication technology for presentations, lectures, classes, meetings, and conferences. While media specialists may also work in marketing, journalism, and many other industries, current graduate level programs are available online only for prospective library media specialists. Library media specialists are teachers who specialize in multimedia equipment and programs for education, meaning these programs primarily lead to master's degrees in education.

Program Information and Requirements

Library media specialist master's programs can typically be completed within two years for full-time students. Students are evaluated for knowledge and media proficiency through written exams and electronic portfolios that include course projects. Classes require on-time correspondence with instructors and scheduled deadlines for coursework. Some schools require media specialist students to attend an on-campus orientation to become familiar with the advisers, instructors, and expectations for online distance learning programs.

Technical requirements include reliable and regular access to high-speed Internet. Because students must submit an electronic portfolio of their projects, external memory devices are recommended. Some classes require the ability to view and burn DVDs. Useful software includes Microsoft Office as well as photo editing and movie editing programs. Email is a common way for students to interact with instructors and classmates, though some schools also utilize online forums.

Common Online Media Specialist Courses

Online library media specialist training covers advanced methods for using computers, networks and the Web. Students who are not already comfortable with current computers, software, and the Internet must take additional computer courses. Since library media specialists are often working in schools, master's programs contain classes on educational psychology and age-appropriate learning materials.

Issues In Educational Media Course

This course covers the history and development of communication and information technology and the effect on education. Legal topics, including censorship and intellectual property, are also discussed.

Research and Information Sources

Students learn to utilize and evaluate electronic and print references. This course outlines productive search techniques and how to aid others in doing research.

Media Resource Administration

This course discusses the methods for efficiently managing multi-media equipment for a school and creating a complete library media center. Topics include budgeting, needs assessment, and event programming.

Creating Instructional Media

In addition to presenting instructional media, library media specialists occasionally have to produce educational material. This course trains students in media technology such as digital cameras, photo and video editing software, web-page development, and graphic design programs.

Career Information

Graduates with a master's degree in library media may be qualified for teaching and library positions in public and private educational institutions and libraries. These positions frequently require that students receive additional certification or licensure.

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported in 2018 that 33% of librarians worked for elementary and secondary schools, 31% were employed by local government, and 18% of librarians were employed by colleges, universities, and professional schools. According to a September 2019 report by, school library media specialists earned an average annual income of $48,412.

Licensing and Continuing Education Information

A master's degree in library media does not include teacher's certification. To become a media specialist for K-12 schools, a teaching license may be required from the state. Each state has its own particular requirements for teacher certification. Graduate students are encouraged, although not required, to gain their teaching license before enrolling in a master's program for library media specialists.

A few schools offer online library media specialist endorsement programs. Endorsements are certifications for instructors in specialized subject areas. Since endorsements are added to existing degrees and licenses, an endorsement program can be completed in only one year.

Two-year master's degree programs in library science and library and information science are commonly found online, teaching students fundamental skills connected to being media specialists, such as coordination presentations. Those working in schools will need to earn teaching licensure, and some schools may offer professional certification.

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