Doctorate of Library Science Degrees

School Level Program
JHU Advanced Academic Programs
Certificate Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation

A Doctorate of Library Science degree offers an opportunity for advanced research and training beyond a Master’s degree in Library Science. Students can expect to conduct, analyze, and report on relevant research as well as explore subjects pertinent to their chosen specialization. Certain types of librarians are required to have a doctorate, including medical and law librarians.

Leaders in information and library science have to be able to identify significant problems concerning the future of an information society. They carry out challenging studies and draw conclusions from them. Leaders communicate the findings to those stakeholders who will act on them.

Doctorate in Library Science

A doctoral program provides customizable, highly flexible, and intensive preparation for those who hope to specialize in managing a specific type of library like a university or law library. A Ph.D. in Library Science empowers students to learn and analyze user information and preserve, organize, and manage materials and information to make them accessible knowledge sources.

Click to find online library science programs currently accepting applications for 2023.

Why Consider a Doctorate or PhD in Library Science?

A Ph.D. in Library Science requires degree seekers to become specialized in a data curation, information systems, or librarianship related area of study. The word 'library' in the degree title does not necessarily mean the holder will work in academia or libraries.

A Doctoral degree in Library Science can provide the knowledge and skills needed to become anything from an archivist to an analyst. The careers have competitive salaries and a positive growth outlook. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported those with a doctorate earned $43,472 more annually than all other workers. Earning a doctorate is an excellent means of developing expertise in a field and boost potential earnings.

Featured Online Library Programs

School Level Program
JHU Advanced Academic Programs
Certificate Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation

Are There Online Doctorate of Library Science Programs?

There are several online Doctorate of Library Science programs, but there are more limited options that compared to a Masters in Library Science.

Illinois School of Information

The Illinois School of Information has a doctorate program that requires 48 credit hours, along with a research presentation, field exam, and dissertation. Students work closely with advisors to create educational experiences outside and within the school.

They help students prepare for future research careers. Besides taking classes and carrying out research projects, students are expected to participate in school-sponsored events, meet with international visitors, and attend talks. Those requirements cannot be completed online. Doctorate programs from other universities have similar requirements. Students who wish to continue online studies beyond the Master's level may consider enrollment in a doctoral program in Archival Administration, Public Librarianship, Information Management, or similar degrees.

There are some doctoral degree programs in library science or related areas available.

Emporia State University

Emporia State offers four Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Management degree programs. Three have concentrations in Informatics, Information Systems, or Instructional Design. Having a Master's degree is not necessarily required to gain admittance into the online doctoral programs, and undergraduate and graduate work in library science are not required. Applicants have to take an exam to qualify for candidacy. Those without a Master's degree may have to complete added graduate-level courses to satisfy the requirements of the doctoral program.

Walden University

Walden University offers a Doctor of Information Technology that is designed to enhance technical expertise while developing leadership skills to guide an organization. Experience and knowledge within IT are synthesized through:

  • Leadership simulators that delve into issues relevant to Information Technology
  • Face-to-face residencies that permit networking with other doctoral students and expert faculty members
  • Seminar courses that explore current IT topics such as grid and cloud computing, software engineering, and information security

The Doctorate in Information Technology is offered in two Tracks. Track I is for students with a Master's degree in some technical field. Track II is for those with a Bachelor's degree in a technical field. Entry requirements are a completed online application, official transcripts, and employment history. An enrollment advisor helps candidates gather required materials from the application through the first day of class.

Capella University

Capella offers a Doctor of Information Technology with specializations in Information Assurance and Cybersecurity, General Information Technology, or Project Management. The university reshaped online education to put students in control. They can learn on-demand, manage costs, and leverage their experiences to advance on their own terms.

Typical Coursework for this Degree

A doctoral program is structured to provide students with a general understanding of the field of information and library science as well as expertise in specific research areas. Programs usually take two to five years to complete and consist of the following:

  • Required coursework
  • 18-hour review
  • Research presentation
  • Comprehensive examination
  • Dissertation, including proposal, dissertation work, and defense

Research principles

Doctoral students customize their education by choosing a specialized research topic on which to focus their studies. Research topics vary in scope and subject matter but are uniquely relevant to the Library Science field. Core research principles are introduced through required coursework, specifically in classes like research design, research methods, and data analytics. Students can expect to conduct at least 36 hours of directed research aside from a dissertation, reading courses, and formal courses.

Top courses

Doctoral students take a broad range of courses that cover a variety of subjects. Some courses examine introductory principles while others explore more specialized topics relevant to the Library Science field. Some doctoral programs require students to take two research methods courses in consecutive semesters as well as up to six hours of statistic coursework. Statistics coursework must include an introduction to inferential and descriptive statistics, computational techniques, and analysis of variance. Students can satisfy this requirement with classes in other departments, such as education, psychology, or sociology. Appropriate courses are chosen with the help of a faculty advisor. All courses taken should be at the graduate level.

Course Description

Doctoral Seminar

Designed specifically for doctoral candidates, this seminar aims to help students develop the skill set they need to succeed in their studies. Students can expect to learn about the doctoral research process and how to write and present scholarly findings. This course also includes guided discussion and projects centered around peer critiques.

Retrieving and Analyzing Information

Introduces the application of the processes used in seeking information, the evaluation of retrieved information’s quality, and synthesizing the data into a form that is useful.

Foundation of Information Science

Examines information science evolution that includes ethics policy, organizational communication, behavior and scholarly communication; human interaction and information seeking; search and retrieval, organization and management, and information presentations.

Tools for Information Literacy

Offers concepts and tools for information literacy that include networked information systems, computer applications, and software use and maintenance.

Retrieval and Organizing Systems

Introduces students to foundational core techniques and concepts in information organization, data mining, and information retrieval.

Human Information Behavior

Analyzes organizational problems and how to design information systems to solve those problems.Students apply interface design and database principles to implement information systems.

Information Use for Organizational Effectiveness

A course in the basic concepts of how technology, people, and information interact to influence the effectiveness of organization.

18-Hour Review

The review is usually held at the end of a student’s first year. The committee is chaired by the student’s advisor includes all faculty members who taught the student. The student’s mastery of selected subjects and the ability to identify opportunities for research and the means to address problems associated with research are addressed. Students are told of any identified deficiencies and suggested strategies to improve. If deficiencies are severe, the student may be counseled to depart the program.

Year Reviews
Each subsequent year, students prepare and present a statement of progress to the associate dean and advisor. The statement includes a reflection on progress, a statement of research interest, a summary of completed coursework, and a list of papers written during the year. Continuing in the program depends on a satisfactory review.

Coursework Completion and Pre-Comprehensive Requirements

Full-time students usually complete all necessary coursework between two and two-and-a-half years. It’s generally considered unsatisfactory if a full-time student isn’t making progress within three years. Part-time students’ progress is based on individual circumstances. However, part-time students are expected to progress at a comparable rate. Before taking the comprehensive exam, doctoral candidates must:

  • Complete all required coursework
  • Conduct a literature review of a specialized research topic
  • Present two papers submitted for publication

Comprehensive Exam

After completing necessary coursework and preliminary research, students assemble a research package for the comprehensive examination. This typically includes an overview of a student’s research interests, a literature review that specifies areas of theory, methodology, and research, and a brief dissertation prospectus. After the examining committee accepts the research package, an oral exam is conducted. The oral exam has the same scope as the research package.

Doctoral Dissertation

Students register for a dissertation by filing out advisory surveys, completing a registration form, and signing a learning contract. After the comprehensive exam has been completed successfully, the student and advisor consult to form a dissertation committee. Students then prepare a dissertation proposal to present to the committee. Typically, a student completes and defends the proposal or makes substantial progress toward that goal within six months. It’s generally considered unsatisfactory if a student hasn’t made progress after a year.

The doctoral dissertation is an original contribution of knowledge that involves identifying and defining a research topic, applying appropriate research methodology, organization, and data analysis to the investigated topic, and interpreting and presenting the research findings. The dissertation defense is a final oral examination and presentation. The dissertation committee that administers the exam typically includes a minimum of one scholar outside the program.

List of the Top Online Doctorate of Library Science Programs

University Degree Program Accreditation Format

Dominican University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Drexel University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Florida State University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Kent State University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Long Island University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Rutgers, State University of New Jersey

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

San Jose State University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Simmons University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

Texas Woman's University

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Alabama

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Arizona

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Kentucky

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Maryland

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Missouri

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Oklahoma

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Pittsburgh

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of South Carolina

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Tennessee

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Washington

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Wisconsin-Madison

PhD in Library Science ALA Online

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

PhD in Library Science ALA Online