How to Get a Masters of Library Science (MLS) Degree Online

You can earn your master’s degree in Library Science online. The steps below explain how to find an American Library Association (ALA)[1] accredited master’s online program in universities in the United States and Canada. These online programs offer degrees in library science, although sometimes the degrees have names other than Master of Library Science (MLS); your degree in librarian science may also be called Master of Library and Information Studies (MLIS), or Master of Science (M.S.).


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    Search for an accredited master’s program. You must earn your master’s degree from an ALA-accredited university or college.
    • If you are interested in earning your master’s in library science completely online, search the ALA’s database of 100 percent online studies for MLS degrees.[2]
    • If you want to study primarily online, but are amenable to some small amount of on-campus time, search the ALA’s database for those qualified universities.[3]
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    Choose a college that offers other degree programs that will complement your intended career choices. A master’s degree in library science doesn’t mean you are limited to working in a library. Today’s world of global digital information has opened up many new career paths that are extremely compatible with a MLS or MLIS degree. Think about your intended career choice, and look at courses in online universities that will dovetail with your educational goals. For example, if you intend to become a Metadata Librarian, choose a school that has a strong Information Technology or Computer degree program. You’ll want to take the most up-to-date courses in that field to complement your library of science degree. Listed below are career possibilities for someone with a MLS degree:
    • Researcher
    • Information resources specialist
    • Web analytics manager
    • Digital Reference Librarian
    • Digital Services Director
    • Teaching and Services Learning Coordinator
    • Archival Consultant
    • Curator, Media Resources
    • Geographic Information System Map Specialist
    • Information Resources Project Director
    • Architecture Librarian
    • Metadata Librarian
    • Metadata Analyst
    • Digital Initiatives Archivist
    • Director of Technical Services
    • Document Control Archivist
    • Visual Resource Manager
    • Department Director, Music, Film, Digital Books.
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    Set aside study time. Online study can be tricky, as you may initially have the illusion that there is plenty of time to get the studies done and delay your study. This isn't a good approach, as everything will back up and you'll have too much to get through at the last minute. Instead, set up a timetable for steady study, and mark down each deadline for turning in assignments and any other tested activities.
    • Set up an area at home that is dedicated to your studies. Keep all relevant materials in one place for ease of finding.
    • Stick to a regular study timetable. Avoid skipping too many allotted sessions for study; instead, treat these times as seriously as turning up for lectures or tutorials.
    • Begin preparing for assignments well in advance of the due date. Always leave a few days before the due date for revision and editing.
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    Consider complementary courses or classes in communications skills. If you wish to spend time teaching and helping others to do better research, you may benefit from specific classes related to teaching or communications skills. More libraries are now offering free or low-cost online or phone tutoring to library users that help them improve their own research skills and it takes good communications skills to convey this information to varied members of the public, from teens to the elderly.


  • Some universities don’t even use the word “library” in their programs. These are often called “School of Library and Information Science.” Don’t worry about that; just make sure it is accredited by the ALA.
  • ALA accreditation means that the degree program has undergone a review that meets the ALA Committee on Accreditation’s Standards for Accreditation of Master’s Programs in Library and Information Studies.
  • A degree in library science will give you a skill set that is heavily sought after by today’s employers. The management and analysis of digital information has opened up many new lucrative career options for “librarians.”


  • Accreditation of a master’s degree program by the ALA is one thing, but make sure you choose an online college (for any degree program) that is approved and accredited by sources recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The Secretary of Education approves various the accreditation decisions of governing authorities, and the secretary is required to publish a list of accredited universities. You can download the database of accredited post-secondary institutions and programs from the website of the U.S. Department of Education.[4]

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