School Program More Info
Syracuse University Online MS in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited ALA-accredited. Multiple professional pathways or specializations available. No GRE required to apply. Complete in as little as 18 months.
University of Denver Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)
ALA Accredited ALA-Accredited, No GRE Required. Complete in as few as 21 months.
St. John's University Online M.S. in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited ALA Accredited, 24 months to complete. 4 specializations and 2 certificate options.
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College librarianship is a highly specialized branch of the library profession. College librarianship degree programs prepare graduates to work with students, faculty, researchers, and staff in higher education. College librarianship degrees emphasize the knowledge, skills, and abilities necessary for information gathering, analysis, and dissemination, scholarly communication, and effective use of information and communication technologies.

Those interested in working as a professional librarian in a university or college setting should consider Academic Librarianship degree programs. Concentrations, specializations, and pathways in academic librarianship have much in common with those in college librarianship.

Are there online programs in College Librarianship?

Yes. Preparing library and information science (LIS) and information studies (IS) students to work in college libraries is a common task for many online programs. Numerous programs offer concentrations, specializations, or pathways in college librarianship. By nature, these programs are typically taught and facilitated by librarians, archivists, and other information professionals actively working in college and university libraries. They have direct experience with the roles and responsibilities and can provide a practitioner's view of the professional experience.

Click to find featured online library science programs currently accepting applications for 2024.

What is the college librarian specialty?

College librarians are typically employed at research institutions, major universities, and private or community colleges, but can also work in other information and cultural centers. Not only those interested in becoming a librarian purue this degree. College librarianship degree programs can prepare graduates to work as archivists, curators, records managers, and information systems specialists.

Research skills, in particular, are important for college librarians. These skills are necessary to both support the research efforts of students and faculty (via reference help, data analysis, and knowledge sharing), and for conducting and dissiminating original research on topics and issues relevant to library and information sciences.

Sponsored Online Library Programs

School Level Program
Syracuse University
Master Online MS in Library and Information Science
ALA-accredited. No GRE required to apply. School Media Specialization available.
University of Denver
Master Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS)
ALA-Accredited, No GRE Required.
St. John's University
Master Online M.S. in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited. Complete in as little as 2 years.
University of West Alabama
Master Online Master of Education in Library Media
Develop knowledge and skills in school library media with our online library media specialist degree.
University of West Alabama
Doctorate Online Ed.D. Rural Education: Library Media
Explore the essential role of library media within rural schools and districts.
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Top 5 Online ALA-accredited College Librarianship Programs

College, or academic, librarianship programs are popular. They provide students with skills applicable in a variety of professional settings. Graduates are prepared to meet the needs of diverse user populations and contribute to the profession through leadership roles, original research, and advocacy efforts.

University of Alabama - Master of Library and Information Studies, Academic Libraries Area of Emphasis

The University of Alabama offers an academic libraries emphasis for those interested in working as college librarians. In addition to 9 hours of required courses, a management component, and portfolio, students select electives to satifsy the area of emphasis. Coursework is selected from a variety of topics, including user services, technical services, and technology services. Students can also choose to complete a thesis or non-thesis track.

This 36 semester hour program is nationally recognized and ALA-accredited. Online students complete an online orientation during the first fall term of the program. Courses meet synchronously each week. Requirements for admission include an online application form, statement of purpose, resume or CV, application fee, transcripts, and three letters of recommendation. Online graduate tuition is $440 per credit hour.

University of Arizona - Master of Arts in Library and Information Science, Academic Librarianship Concentration

This online, ALA-accredited program is nationally recognized and offers students an interdisciplinary approach to meet their career goals. Completion requirements for the program include three core courses, electives, a capstone internship, and an ePortfolio. Course options in the academic librarianship concentration include Information Intermediation, Collection Management, Government Information: Policy & Resources, and Scholarly Communication.

The Arizona Online MA LIS consists of 37 credit hours. Students must complete an online application and submit unofficial transcripts, resume or CV, statement of purpose, and two letters of recommendation for admission consideration. Tuition is $900 per credit. Graduate assistantships, scholarships, and departmental funding are available for qualified students.

Indiana University - Master of Library and Information Science, Academic Librarianship Specialization

This fully online program prepares students to be 21st century leaders, capable of applying technology to facilitate access to information. Core requirements for the program includes four foundation courses: Methods and Tools for the Information Profession, Information Sources and Services, Acquisitions and Management of Knowledge and Information, and Organization and Representation of Knowledge and Information. Students work with an advisor to select electives relevant to the academic librarianship specialization. Course options include Introduction to Research, Online Searching, Academic Library Management, and Information Instruction.

IU Online's 39 credit hour MLIS is ALA-accredited. To be considered for admission, an online application must be completed and transcripts, three letters of recommendation, and a 750 to 1,000 word personal statement must be submitted. In-state and out-of-state students both pay $478 per credit hour.

East Carolina University - Master in Library Science, Academic Librarianship Concentration

ECU's Department of Interdisciplinary Studies offers an online MLS with an academic librarianship concentration. Generally, the program is designed to prepare professionals who serve their communities in a globally connected and technological society. Students complete 21 semester hours of core coursework. In addition to 12 semester hours of approved electives, the academic libraianship concentration includes the following coursework: Academic Libraries, Information Literacy and Library Instruction, Research Methods in Library and Information Studies, and Academic and Public Library Internship: Seminar. A portfolio is the culminating capstone product for the program.

All coursework is offered asynchronously, giving students the flexibility to juggle families and careers while attending school. Full-time students can complete the program in five terms, while part-time students can complete the program in seven terms. Admission requirements include an online application, transcripts, a 500-word admissions essay, and three letters of recomendation. College of Education scholarships are available for eligible MLS students. Tuition and fees are based on residency status.

University of South Florida - Master of Arts in Library and Information Science

Academic librarianship is a major research area at USF. As such, faculty and graduate students produce original research relevant to and affecting college libraries. The MA in Library and Information Science is a 39 credit hour fully online program that is accredited by the American Library Association. The curriculum includes 18 credit hours of core coursework, 3 technology electives, 18 general electives, and a comprehensive exam/portfolio.

Coursework relevant to college librarianship includes Research Methods in Library and Information Science, Introduction to Library Administration, Seminar in Academic Libraries, and Visualization of Knowledge. The GRE is required for admission, but can be waived under certain circumstances. Tuition and fees are based on residency status.

Are there Bachelor's programs in College Librarianship?

Generally, undergraduate library and information science degrees offer foundational education and experience. Bachelor-level programs provide an introduction to information literacy, teaching and learning, research methods, outreach and other concepts important to college librarianship. The purpose of these programs is to prepare students for entry-level or paraprofessional positions, or for admission to a master's program.

Advanced knowledge, skills, and abilities required for college librarianship are taught through graduate programs. It is possible to find an undergraduate library and information studies program, either online Online Bachelor's in Library Scienceor on-campus Bachelors of Library Science Degrees, that offers coursework relevant to college librarianship.

Are there Doctoral programs in College Librarianship?

Yes. There are doctoral library science programs that allow students to explore topics and issues relevant to college librarianship, with a focus on conducting rigorous research and disseminating findings. These programs may be of interest for those who want to contribute to the profession’s scholarship, teach library education at the graduate level, lend expertise to specialized library and information work, or impact public policy.

University of Pittsburgh’s Library and Information Science PhD

The University of Pittsburgh’s School of Computing and Information offers a research-driven Library and Information Science PhD. The program creates opportunities for original research in the areas of archives and information science, information behavior, health information behavior and health education interventions, social information systems, web-based information systems, and school librarianship. A minimum of 54 credits are required to complete the program.

San Jose State University’s Online Gateway PhD Program

San Jose State University’s Gateway PhD Program is a primarily online, international program delivered in collaboration with Manchester Metropolitan University. The program emphasizes preparing individuals for faculty, leadership, and research positions in library and information science. Once a year, students and faculty meet for a week-long research workshop in San Jose, California. The projected time to complete the program is six years, though students can enroll on a part-time basis with a maximum completion time of 84 months.

Typical Online College Librarianship Curriculum

College librarianship curricula focus on a wide range of knowledge and abilities required to work in higher education and other areas of information and culture. Digital and visual literacy, database organization and management, discipline/subject-specific reference services, and contemporary research methods are some topics covered through coursework.

The following are sample courses typical to college librarianship curricula:

Foundations in Academic Libraries – This course investigates contemporary trends in university, college, and community college libraries. Through readings, discussions, case studies, and conversations with practitioners, students will understand the diverse issues facing academic libraries today. Topics include management and administration, services, legal and fiscal responsibilities, staff organization, and supervision. Students will identify challenges and critically examine various strategies, methods, and best practices for overcoming these challenges.

Information Literacy & Library Instruction – Library instruction with an emphasis on information literacy is a core aspect of academic librarianship. This course introduces theory and practical application for information literacy instruction in a variety of curricula and information settings. Students will conceptualize, collaboratively plan, present, and evaluate a library instruction program. The goal of this project is to promote information literacy in the academic library setting. Consideration is also given to instructional graphics and preparing instructional media.

Subject-specific Information Sources – This course surveys the various knowledge and information resources available for specific departments, disciplines, and subjects. Students will examine and evaluate print and non-print sources for reference and research value, including databases, print and electronic books, digital collections, maps, and audiovisual materials. Topics may include resources relevant to: government (state, local, federal, and international), health sciences and medicine, business, humanities, arts and architecture, or science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Digital Reference Services – Library and information center reference services exist to help answer the information needs of patrons. This course prepares students to navigate online, digital, and electronic sources. Topics include information organization, query, database search, and access. Discussion will also include contemporary social issues and trends related to digital reference for users and libraries. Students will develop the knowledge, skills, and abilities to effectively and efficiently assist users in locating, evaluating, and accessing digital resources.

Cataloging & Classification – In this course, students explore historical and modern approaches for information organization by librarians and other information professionals. Topics include linked data, subject access and access tools, bibliographic control, and standards. Special consideration is given to contemporary issues and trends in the Web era. Students will gain hands-on experience through collaborative lab-based projects.

Outreach & Engagement – An introduction to the theory, methods, and practices involved with library and information center public outreach and engagement. This course explores the variety of ways libraries efficiently and effectively serve the information and recreational needs of user populations. Special consideration is given to strategies and practice for outreach to diverse and multicultural user groups. Students will develop, present, and evaluate an outreach or engagement plan for an organization of their choosing.

Scholarly Communication – How is scholarly communication produced, disseminated, and evaluated? What is the role of the information professional in scholarly communication? This course aims to answer these questions through investigation of formal and informal methods and print and electronic modes of production. Topics include challenges and opportunities for access, peer review, alternative modes of production and dissemination, the economics of scholarship, and intellectual property issues. Special consideration is given to the content and technology of scholarly communication across various diverse disciplines and subjects.

Leadership and the Information Center – Information centers expect leadership to be displayed by professional employees, regardless of whether these employees are in management roles or not. This course provides an introduction to the theories, principles, and practices of leadership in libraries and other information organizations. Topics include what leadership is and differences between management, personal strengths, professional values, continued education, and diversity, inclusion, equity, and accessibility. Through readings, discussions, and case studies students will also explore organizational culture, teamwork and collaboration, project management, data-informed decision making, and assessment and evaluation.

Foundations in Information Technology – This course introduces the basic concepts and applications of Web- and Internet-based information technology (IT). Consideration is given to the impact of IT on society, organizations, groups, and individual users. A variety of topics are covered, including: computing basics, human-computer interactions, network applications, economic, legal, and financial issues, and social aspect of information systems. Contemporary trends, issues, and challenges are also considered. By the end of this course, students will be prepared for advanced topics in future courses.

Research Literacy and Methods in Library Science – An exploration of the resources, practices, trends, issues, and challenges related to research in library and information sciences and information studies. Special consideration is given to the skills and abilities required to conduct original research and contribute to professional knowledge in librarianship. Topics include research methods, research literature, assessing results, and ethical principles. Students will learn to define, identify, and evaluate research problems. The culminating experience for the course is designing, planning, and conducting research.

Internship – Students will participate in specialized work under the supervision of a practicing librarian, archivist, records manager or other information professional. Students enrolled in this course are expected to complete a minimum of 75 service hours, participate in online peer discussions, and submit an evaluation report on the internship site and supervisor. At the completion of the internship, students are expected to discuss and analyze their experience through either a presentation, research project, or other product. Internship site and supervisor must be pre-approved by student’s faculty advisor.

Where can you work with a degree in College Librarianship?

Traditionally, college librarianship degree programs prepare graduates to work in higher education. For example, liaison librarians provide instructional and research support to specific departments, such as engineering, biology, architecture, or business. College librarians may also be responsible for public engagement, access services, scholarly communications, digital collection development, or electronic resource management.

While many graduates with college librarianship degrees work directly with higher education through colleges, universities, and vocational or trade schools, employment opportunities also exist with research organizations, government agencies, and publishing companies. Outreach and collaboration are key aspects of college librarianship work. College librarians create mutually beneficial connections with students, faculty, researchers, staff, content providers, other information professionals, and professional organizations.

The ALA-accredited master’s degree is the terminal degree for most college librarianship positions. It is possible to gain experience in a college library setting with a bachelor’s degree by obtaining an entry-level or paraprofessional position. These tech or assistant positions are a good choice for students pursuing a master’s degree.

Common job titles in College Librarianship include:

  • University Librarian
  • Instruction & Outreach Archivist
  • University Archivist & Historian
  • Science & Engineering Liaison Librarian
  • Health Sciences Librarian
  • Collection Development Coordinator
  • Archive Information Specialist
  • Collection Strategy Librarian
  • Electronic Resources Librarian
  • Digital Asset Management Consultant
  • Digital Projects Librarian
  • Film Preservationist
  • Special Collections Cataloger
  • Software Development Librarian
  • Technical Services Librarian

Are there specific licensure requirements?

Generally, there are no specific licensure requirements for college librarians. Some college librarians working in higher education may choose to pursue a second disciple/subject-specific master’s degree to further their expertise in a designated area of study. And those interested in becoming a library dean or holding a faculty position with a librarian education program will often pursue a doctoral degree.

Top College Librarianship Organizations

The Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) ACRL is the primary organization for professionals in research and academic libraries. ACRL was founded in 1940 and has nearly 9,000 individual and library members. Advocacy and issues important to the association include scholarly communication, student learning and information literacy, and equity, diversity, and inclusion. Members have access to professional development, including live webcasts, online courses, and an annual conference. Membership is open to anyone who is already a member of the American Library Association (ALA).

The Association for Library and Information Science Education (ALISE) ALISE is a worldwide leader in promoting education for information professionals. Personal membership is available to faculty members, administrators, librarians, researchers, students, retired individuals, and anyone interested in the objectives of the association. ALISE publishes the Journal of Education for Library and Information Science and a book series. The association also offers employment placement services, a Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities (KSAs) survey for member schools, and an annual conference.

EDUCAUSE EDUCAUSE is a professional association dedicated to the management of information technology for higher education. With more than 100,000 individuals at member organizations globally, EDUCAUSE works to advance higher education through a focus on key issues and trends and networking and career growth opportunities. Organizational members have access to research, toolkits, publication, training and professional development, and virtual communities.

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) ARL is a professional association for libraries and archives in universities, federal government agencies, and public institutions in the United States and Canada. Scholars and scholarship are central to ARL’s focus. Priorities for the nonprofit organization include public policy advocacy, access to information, diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility, providing impact data and analytics, and informing leadership practice.