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Top Online Library & Information Science Programs for Librarians

Top Online Colleges Library and Information Science Programs

Calling all digital librarians. Does the prospect of earning an online MLIS excite you almost as much a properly cited primary source?  If so, our editors have a new online college list just for you: 4 top online master of library and information science programs.  

Our online learning experts reviewed 15 online information science degree programs in search of top contenders. We used six rating dimensions: accreditation, depth of offerings, longevity in e-learning, use of educational technology, progressive curriculum, and the legacy reputation of the residential information science school to select our picks for the top online MLIS degrees.  

Only 4 out of the 15 online library science schools our experts reviewed made the official Get Educated “top” honor roll of online degrees for librarians. While researching our list, Karen O’Brien, who oversees accreditation for the American Library Association (ALA), advised our editors that “choosing an online degree that is accredited by the American Library Association could end up saving your ( readers a lot of time and money.”   We concur.   ALA accreditation is the boss standard for career education for librarians, whether they study information science on campus or online. ALA accreditation was an essential element in our expert’s selection of top rated online learning schools.  

Technology is transforming education, and our elite group of top rated online information science schools didn’t stop hitching technology to knowledge delivery in the Bookmobile age.   Each Get Educated top pick earned its merit badge by innovating new online learning opportunities.   Librarians, what are you waiting for?  

Go, get educated online by one of these top library and information science schools.  

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Top Schools & Programs for Librarians
Online MLIS

1. University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Graduate School of Library and Information Science – LEEP Program
Online Master of Science in Library and Information Science 

The prize for staying ahead of the game goes to the librarians of Illinois. They didn’t wait to see if online learning would claim mind share. They founded LEEP in 1996. LEEP began offering an advanced degree in digital libraries in 2005. In 14 years, the information science program online has awarded distance degrees to over 850 librarians.   Murmurs in the stacks indicate that the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) may be “the top ranked” LIS school in the nation.   GSLIS earns top marks from Get Educated for having the foresight — and guts — to open a virtual portal to an ALA-accredited master of library science online 16 years ago.   GSLIS also boasts the oldest extant LIS doctoral program in the country (We’re talking 1948 here, folks).   To make a long story short: They know what they’re doing.   P.S. Tuition is a steal, if you happen to be an Illinois resident ….  

2. Drexel University

Online Master of Science in Library and Information Science  

Two award badges for Drexel, say we. This online program is the digital bomb for two reasons. First: Drexel is the only information science school online to make our list that is 100% geography free – meaning zero face time is required on campus (The others all require at least a week on campus to earn that online MLIS).   That’s forward thinking, especially since campus residencies tack thousands of dollars onto the cost of a distance degree, and real research has not supported the prejudicial notion that face time significantly increases knowledge transmission. (Guess those Drexel librarians have been reading the research on online learning, eh?)   Second: they have the most awesome majors. There’s more than one kind of librarian and Drexel offers online library science majors in everything from youth services to archival studies.   Be forewarned though that Drexel, like most private East Coast schools, is expensive. Scout for scholarships for online students if you go the Drexel route.  

3. Syracuse University

iSchool – School of Library and Information Studies
Online Master of Science in Library and Information Science  

All graduate programs offered by the Syracuse School of Information Studies can be completed on campus, online, or in a blended format. Online learning and residential degrees share the same courses, faculty, and cost structure as their peer campus programs. All online MLIS degrees offered by Syracuse are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA) regardless of the format used to complete the degree. Online students who attend Syracuse come from across the United States and several foreign countries. Some already work in the information science field, but many are prepping for a career change. A diverse student body makes for peer learning that serves and sharpens many career interests.  

4. University of Washington – Seattle

Information School (iSchool)
Online Master of Library and Information Science  

If you’re short on cash – come on, we all know how much librarians make – this is the most affordable top pick (unless you’re lucky enough to be an Illinois resident, in which case Illinois is your best bet).  

The iSchool at Washington is no baby chick. In 2011, these Pacific Coast librarians celebrated 100 years of connecting people with information (1911 – 2011). The school’s residential program has been accredited by the American Library Association since 1926. iSchool offers the most extensive ALA-accredited degree program in the northwestern United States.   The iSchool also supports a Directed Fieldwork option. DFW allows librarians worldwide to earn credit for career placements in librarianships. Placements have covered specialties ranging from archival studies to corporate indexing, from technical services to database development, and from user interface and web design to working with youth. Settings have included corporations as well as public and academic libraries, historical societies, television stations, and school libraries. Geographic locations for DFW have included Washington, Oregon, New York, Montana, California, Washington D.C., Asia, and Europe.  

Note: All Get Educated top picks were selected from regionally accredited universities offering ALA-accredited masters programs (MLIS) with legacy residential information science programs.   Go here to review all of the 400+ online education masters detailed in the Get Educated database.   While the above information schools are tops in terms of career clout and the innovative use of online learning, they are not the most affordable options.  

Concerned about the cost of earning a library science degree online?  We’ve got you covered. Consult the exclusive Get Educated data-based ranking list of the best affordable online masters in library and information science.   P.S. We miss someone? Speak up. Nominate your favorite online library science degree programs. We’re all ears!    

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About the Author: Vicky Phillips was cited in 2009 by US News & World Report as “for 20 years the leading consumer advocate for online college students.” In 1989 she designed America’s first online counseling center for distance learners on AOL. In 1998 she authored the first print guide to online graduate degrees – Best Distance Learning Graduate Schools put out by the Princeton Review. In 2001 she authored Never Too Late to Learn the Adult Student’s Guide to College.