Most Affordable Online Library Science Degrees

Online library science programs are offered at dozens of schools across the U.S., many of which do not require on-campus visits. Explore the top 25 schools that offer affordable online options as well as program components. Schools offering Archival Studies degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Top Affordable Online Library Science Programs

When selecting an online library science degree program, factors such as cost and affordability, program length and flexibility should be considered. Twenty-five of the best schools that offer affordable online library science programs are listed below.

1. University of Southern Mississippi

Location % Receiving Financial Aid Undergraduate and Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Hattiesburg, MS 94% $8,624

The University of Southern Mississippi offers graduate and undergraduate programs in library science online, which are accredited by the Committee on Accreditation of the American Library Association. The school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC), and has full-time tuition rates of $4,448 for undergraduate and graduate students (per semester, 12 to 19 credit hours). The school offers the following programs in library science online.

  • Bachelor of Science in Library and Information Sciences (120 credits)
  • Master of Library and Information Sciences - Licensure (55 credits)
  • Master of Library and Information Sciences (40 credits)
  • Graduate Certificate in Archives and Special Collections (18 credits)

The school also offers the Master of Library and Information Sciences (MLIS) through dual-degree programs, which also lead to a master's degree in instructional technology, history, political science or anthropology.

2. University of Kentucky

Location % Receiving Financial Aid Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Lexington, KY 95% $13,052

The University of Kentucky is accredited by the SACSCOC, and its library program is accredited by the American Library Association. Students can earn a Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS) entirely online in two years or less. The program consists of 36 credit hours and offers optional practicum experiences including study abroad opportunities. With a per credit fee of $685, the total program tuition is just under $25,000. Students interested in school librarian positions can pursue the MSLS with a school librarian concentration, which prepares them for certification (36 credit hours).

3. East Carolina University

Location % Receiving Financial Aid Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Greenville, NC 81% $7,485

Eastern Carolina University has an online Master of Library Science program that requires no on-campus or practicum visits. The program consists of at least 39 credit hours and enables students to choose a concentration in public librarianship, academic librarianship or school librarianship. In-state students have a tuition rate of $233 per credit hour while out-of-state students have a tuition rate of $877 per credit hour, making ECU's program one of the most affordable for NC residents. Graduates are prepared and qualified to take the North Carolina Public Library Certification exam; students from other states should review their state certification requirements to ensure the program meets the required criteria. Eastern Carolina University is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

4. University of Northern Iowa

Location % Receiving Financial Aid Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Cedar Falls, IA 81% $10,432

The University of Northern Iowa, which is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, offers an online Master of Arts in Library Science degree program. The program consists of 33 credit hours and one on-campus Saturday session during the program. All graduate students have a tuition rate of $509 per credit hour, which equates to a total program tuition of just under $17,000. The program curriculum follows the guidelines set by the American Library Association for school librarian preparation, and includes both asynchronous and synchronous course components. The program includes courses in school library leadership, library technology, library resources and curriculum development.

5. University of Arizona

Location % Receiving Financial Aid Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state) Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
Tucson, AZ 92% $12,467 $13,044

The University of Arizona is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, and its library science programs are accredited by the American Library Association. Undergraduate students have a tuition rate of $500 per credit hour, and graduate students have a tuition rate of $900 per credit hour, regardless of residency. The school offers the following programs in library science online.

  • Graduate Certificate in Instruction & Teaching for Librarians & Information Professionals (12 credits)
  • Master of Arts in Library & Information Science (37 credits) with concentrations and some supplemental certificates available in:
    • Law Librarianship
    • Academic Librarianship
    • Digital Information Management
    • Archival Studies
    • Legal Information and Scholarly Communication
    • Public Librarianship
    • Medical and Community Health Information
    • Special Librarianship
  • Accelerated dual-degree: Bachelor of Arts in Information Science and eSociety/Master of Arts in Library & Information Science (151 credits)

Rank School Name Location % Receiving Financial Aid Undergraduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)Graduate Tuition & Fees (in-state)
6 Kent State University at Kent Kent, OH 96% $10,312 $11,536
7 University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus Norman, OK 95% $11,538 $8,577
8 Appalachian State University Boone, NC 71% $7,364 $7,961
9 San Jose State University San Jose, CA 74% $7,796 $9,230
10 Simmons University Boston, MA 100% $40,850 $21,894
11 University of Hawaii at Manoa Honolulu, HI 82% $11,970 $16,502
12 University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Champaign, IL 62% $15,094 $18,126
13 Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College Baton Rouge, LA 96% $11,950 $13,023
14 University of North Carolina at Greensboro Greensboro, NC 87% $7,331 $8,128
15 Middle Tennessee State University Murfreesboro, TN 95% $8,858 $9,864
16 University of Wisconsin-Madison Madison, WI 62% $10,555 $12,010
17 University of Central Missouri Warrensburg, MO 94% $7,673 $8,067
18 Northeastern State University Tahlequah, OK 94% $6,650 $4,903
19 Rutgers University-New Brunswick New Brunswick, NJ 69% $14,974 $19,416
20 Emporia State University Emporia, KS 98% $6,758 $8,464
21 University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus Pittsburgh, PA 78% $19,080 $23,696
22 Sam Houston State University Huntsville, TX 89% $8,296 $7,791
23 University of Nebraska at Omaha Omaha, NE 87% $7,790 $6,592
24 Texas Woman's University Denton, TX 93% $7,796 $7,336
25 University at Buffalo Buffalo, NY 83% $10,099 $13,705

Learn.org's school ranking methodology categorizes and assesses data from schools and other reliable sources, such as the U.S. Department of Education, and weighs the information based on quality, cost, value and other factors critical to students' academic decisions. All table data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics; tuition represents the 2018-2019 school year.

Online Library Science Program Information

While most online library science programs offer completely online coursework, some schools require students to attend on-campus orientations and/or learning sessions. Students typically complete an online introductory course, or tutorial, which provides an overview of the online learning platform. Most online library science programs feature asynchronous coursework, which allows students to log in at their convenience, but some programs do involve synchronous course components that require students to log in at specific times (for example, a scheduled live video lecture).

Program Options and Length

The specific components required of students and time to completion vary by degree program. Students with qualifying transfer credits can shorten their overall program length; for example, a student with a qualifying associate's degree can often cut their bachelor's degree requirements in half, and students with prior graduate coursework may be able to transfer in and waive some of their curriculum requirements. Below are programs available in library science.

  • Bachelor's Degree: Undergraduate degrees usually include around 120 credit hours and take 4 or fewer years of full-time study to complete. They are open to students who have at least a high school diploma or its equivalent. Coursework includes general studies courses, such as mathematics and English subject classes, as well as several courses specifically addressing library science topics.
  • Master's Degree: Master's degree programs in library science are open to those who have a bachelor's degree, and some programs require incoming students to have an undergraduate degree in teaching and/or teaching certification. These programs typically include around 36 credit hours of coursework and take 2 years or less of full-time study to complete. Some master's degree programs allow students to choose an area of concentration, such as one of the following:
    • School librarianship
    • Law Librarianship
    • Public Librarianship
    • Academic Librarianship
  • Accelerated Programs: These programs are open to students with at least a high school diploma or an equivalent, and enable students to earn both a bachelor's degree and a master's degree. They typically include around 140 to 150 credit hours and take around 5 years to complete.
  • Graduate Certificate: Certificates are catered to librarians, teachers and other professionals who want to expand their expertise in library sciences. They are usually available in specific focus areas, such as archives, law, digital information and instruction.

Common Courses

Undergraduate library science degree programs primarily include general studies courses, which include courses in science, English, mathematics and humanities. Students also take around 15 courses that are specific to their program. Students of graduate library science programs can have varying courses, especially if they have a concentration within their program. Several courses commonly found in both graduate and undergraduate online library science programs are listed below.

  • Information and Library Services - covers current issues, ethics, practices and regulations of libraries and other information service centers
  • Cataloging - explores practices for collecting and utilizing information in library settings, including digital materials, media and books
  • Research and referencing - breaks down the tools available for reference and research, as well as how to properly evaluate resources
  • Utilizing Technology - explores the types of technology available in library roles and how to maximize use in creating methods for enhanced learning
  • Media for Young Adults - looks at the roles of librarians in media center settings for students, including practices, programs and teaching methods
  • Literacy Information - explores the framework and practices in information literacy, providing students with the necessary skills for roles in library environments

Online Library Science Program Costs

There are typically several costs involved with completing an online library science program, including tuition and various fees, although some schools offer flat-rate fees by credit hour or semester. Several costs typically associated with completing library science programs online are discussed below.

Tuition

The primary cost involved with any college program is typically tuition. Tuition for online library science programs drastically varies based on the degree pursued and the school. Library science bachelor's degree programs can cost $20,000 to $60,000 or more for students without prior college credits, and master's degree programs can cost $10,000 to more than $30,000 in tuition. Keep in mind, students with prior college credits who qualify for transfer can decrease the total credit hours required for their programs as well as the total tuition cost.

Other Program Costs

Online library science programs can involve other direct costs such as technology fees, course material fees, student services fees and registration fees. These vary by school, but could add hundreds to each course, or $3,000 to more than $10,000 for an entire program. Students should review all applicable program and institution fees when determining the total costs associated with their programs.

Indirect Costs

In addition to direct program costs, students should consider those costs that are indirectly associated with online library science programs. Online programs require students to maintain internet access and have a computer that meets specific technical requirements. Students should review these requirements to find out if they'll need to purchase a new computer for their program.

Accreditation for Online Library Science Programs

Students interested in online library science programs should look for two types of accreditation: institutional and programmatic.

Institutional Accreditation

Institutional accreditation applies to a school as a whole, and recognizes various criteria such as cost, graduation rates and curriculum. Schools can be accredited by various agencies, either with national accreditation or regional accreditation. Regional accreditation is usually the better of the two because it's easier for students to transfer credits to another school and requires schools to meet more stringent criteria for accreditation. Institutional accreditation is necessary for students to qualify for financial aid.

Programmatic Accreditation

Programmatic accreditation applies specifically to programs, showing that they meet quality, curriculum and outcome requirements. Library science programs are accredited by the American Library Association at the graduate level. Depending on their career interests, students may be required to earn their degree through an accredited program.

Choosing an Online Library Science Program

In addition to cost and accreditation, you should consider other factors such as flexibility, program length and faculty when deciding on an online library science program.

Programs Offered

The most important consideration in choosing your school is what programs are offered online. Depending on if you need an undergraduate, accelerated (dual-degree) or master's degree program, the schools you're reviewing may or may not have all programs available online.

Residency Requirements

Although many online library science programs do not require any on-site components, some programs require students to attend one or more face-to-face events (such as orientation and learning sessions). Check with your schools to see what, if any, on-site requirements are involved with your program.

Flexibility

Some programs are only available as part-time or full-time options, while others allow students to set their own pace. Review your time commitments and ideal completion date to determine which option will best fit your needs.

Faculty

It's extremely helpful to enter a program with experienced and expert faculty. You should ask about faculty experience as well as their availability. Will your questions be answered within a few hours or within a few days?

What Can You Do with an Online Library Science Degree?

Depending on whether students have a bachelor's degree or a master's degree, they typically pursue careers as library technicians or librarians. All salary and outlook data below is provided by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Library Technicians and Assistants

Library technicians and assistants help library visitors and librarians with organization, administration and finding library materials. Their duties can include issuing library cards, cataloging materials, updating library account balances and planning library programs and events. In 2018, library technicians had a median annual salary of $34,050, and library assistants had a median salary of $26,500. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects all library technicians and assistant positions to decrease by 3% between 2018 and 2028 due to decreased library use.

Librarians

Librarians help library patrons find materials and perform research, often working in specific fields (such as school librarians and public librarians). Their duties can include organizing materials, planning events and programs, teaching informative classes, maintaining library budgets and finances as well as training library assistants and technicians. They are expected to see a job growth of 6% from 2018 to 2028, and had a median annual salary of $59,050 in 2018. Although library assistants and technician positions are expected to decrease in number, librarian positions are expected to increase. The overall public use of libraries has decreased, but parents and educators continuously use the library for services.

Professional Resources for Library Science Graduates

There are several professional organizations that offer various benefits to librarians, library science students and supporters.

Special Libraries Association (SLA)

SLA offers full, retired, organization and student memberships with varying benefits. Most memberships include networking opportunities, continuing education, publications and job boards.

American Association of Law Libraries (AALL)

AALL is a professional organization for librarians in legal settings who wish to collaborate and support each other as well as the legal system. Benefits include networking, continuing education and research collaboration.

Medical Library Association (MLA)

MLA offers membership to students, medical librarians, practitioners and more. Benefits of membership include webinars, leadership programs, publications and discounts.

American Library Association (ALA)

ALA gives members countless opportunities for networking, continuing education, leadership skill development and advocacy. Membership is offered to librarians, supporters, students and organizations.

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

  • 1. Degree Options:
The schools in the listing below are not free and may include sponsored content but are popular choices among our users. Tuition and costs will vary across programs and locations. Be sure to always request tuition information before starting a program.

Popular Schools

  • Strayer University

    Strayer University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Strayer University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Southern New Hampshire University

    Southern New Hampshire University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Southern New Hampshire University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Capella University

    Capella University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Capella University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Ashford University

    Ashford University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Ashford University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Walden University

    Walden University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Walden University:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Grand Canyon University

    Grand Canyon University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Grand Canyon University:

    • Doctoral
    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Pacific Oaks College

    Pacific Oaks College responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Pacific Oaks College:

    • Master
    • Certificates

    Online Programs Available

  • Purdue University Global

    Purdue University Global responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Purdue University Global:

    • Master

    Online Programs Available

  • Northcentral University

    Northcentral University responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Northcentral University:

    Online Programs Available

  • Penn Foster High School

    Penn Foster High School responds quickly to information requests through this website.

    Popular programs at Penn Foster High School:

    Online Programs Available

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. Next »