Masters in Library Science: Degree Program Overviews

Master's programs in library science teach students how to manage library holdings, archives and online database systems. Some library science programs offer specialization options, like school media or adult and children's services.

Essential Information

Master's programs in library science teach students how to manage library check-out and online database systems. Students also learn how to organize media using the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal Classification systems, acquire new materials based on patrons' needs and properly maintain historical archives. Some programs allow students to choose from concentrations in school media or adult and children's services. Master's degree programs can take up to three years to complete, but they are typically finished in a year and a half. Most programs culminate in a library practicum or internship.

Applicants to master's programs in library science generally need a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. Schools may also accept students with graduate degrees, however, minimum GPA requirements may be higher. Some schools may also accept scores from the Graduate Record Examination (GRE), Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) as supplementary admissions materials. In some cases, students must complete a computer skills course before beginning library science coursework. Many programs offer students the choice of completing degree requirements online, on-campus or both.

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Master's Degree Programs in Library Science

While a student's elective courses depend on the type of library career for which he or she is preparing, core coursework typically consists of the following:

  • Information access
  • Cataloguing
  • Reference sources
  • Collection development

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a master's degree may find employment at public or school libraries, as well as at general, law or medical libraries found on college and university campuses. Most libraries have several departments, and possible career options include the following:

  • School librarian
  • Public services librarian
  • Reference librarian
  • Children's librarian
  • Media specialist
  • Archivist

Continuing Education Information

Graduates who are pursuing a career as an archivist can receive voluntary certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) ( Applicants qualify to sit for their written certification exam after completing their master's degree and either one or two years of work experience, depending on whether or not their degree contained coursework in archival administration.

As for school librarians, many states require that they be certified as teachers in addition to completing a master's degree in library science. Teacher certification requirements can include a bachelor's degree in education, student teaching experience and the completion of Praxis examinations on pedagogy and content areas.

A master's degree in library science can be specialized to prepare students for the specific career they desire, such as an archivist or children's librarian. Graduates can obtain additional certification based on their chosen career.

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