Master in School Librarianship Degrees

School Program ALA Accredited?
Syracuse University Online MS in Library and Information Science
University of Denver Master of Library and Information Science
St. John's University Online M.S. in Library and Information Science

School librarians work in a variety of academic settings, including in primary and secondary schools as well as at colleges and universities. Most school librarian positions require applicants to have a Master of Library and Information Science degree from an ALA-accredited program.

Many Masters in School Librarianship Degrees are MLIS programs with a specialization

Many MLIS degree programs offer school librarianship specializations, which allow students to pursue courses and fieldwork opportunities that will better prepare them for a career as a school librarian. Typical curriculum for school librarianship concentrations include collection development, storytelling, and literacy instruction.

In addition to a MLIS, school librarians often have to earn state certification or licensure as a teacher or media specialist. Specific requirements depend on the job and the state where the job is located.

Click to find online library science programs currently accepting applications.

Are there online MLIS Programs in School Librarianship?

Yes, there are many online MLIS programs that offer a specialization in school librarianship. Prospective students may choose to pursue an online degree for many reasons.

  • More options: Online MLIS programs are not location-based, allowing students more options to choose from.
  • More affordable: Online programs are also designed to be more convenient and affordable. Most online MLIS programs emphasize flexible scheduling and offer part-time enrollment as an option.
  • Comparable quality: Online MLIS programs with specializations in school librarianship feature comparable course options and internship opportunities as residential programs. Graduation requirements are also similar.

What you should consider for the online MLIS

For students who are interested in an online MLIS program, there are a few things to consider. Most online MLIS programs will require a certain level of computer literacy skills. Students will also need to have consistent access to a computer and the internet. Students who aren't sure if an online MLIS program is right for them may be interested in a program that offers a hybrid learning model, which allows students to take some courses online and some on-site. To search for different types of MLIS programs, visit this guide to the top online ALA accredited MLIS programs or view the American Library Association's database ala.org.

Featured Online Library Programs

School Level Program
Syracuse University
Website
Master Online MS in Library and Information Science
ALA-accredited. No GRE required to apply.
University of Denver
Website
Master Master of Library and Information Science
ALA-Accredited, No GRE Required.
St. John's University
Website
Master Online M.S. in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited. Complete in as little as 2 years.
University of West Alabama
Website
Doctorate Education Specialist: Library Media

Are there ALA Accredited MLIS Programs for School Librarianship?

Most employers prefer to hire school librarians who have earned their MLIS from an ALA-accredited program. Some positions may even require it. ALA accreditation ensures a program has demonstrated its ability to provide a high-quality education to its students.

The American Library Association (ALA) is an organization with a mission “to provide leadership for the development, promotion and improvement of library and information services and the profession of librarianship in order to enhance learning and ensure access to information for all.”

To earn accreditation from the ALA, MLIS programs must meet a variety of rigorous standards to ensure students receive a high-quality education. There are many ALA-accredited MLIS programs that offer a concentration in school librarianship. These programs span the country and are available via residential and online formats.

Top 5 Best Online ALA Accredited MLIS Programs with School Librarianship Concentrations

1. San Jose State University

The MLIS program at San Jose State offers a broad scope of academic and professional experiences to prepare students for a career in the library science field. With a robust selection of elective courses that cover a range of topics, this program is designed for students looking to customize their education. SJSU also offers an innovative internship program, which includes virtual opportunities. This program is 100% online and is intended to be flexible and convenient for all participating students. Courses, internships, research opportunities, academic advising, and faculty office hours are all offered virtually. Most courses are asynchronous, so students can attend class on their own time.

SJSU offers a Teacher Librarianship specialization, which is designed for students interested in working in K-12 schools. This concentration allows students to obtain their MLIS degree while also completing the coursework required to earn their Teacher Librarian Services Credential from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, with a GPA of at least 3.0, a general understanding of computer literacy, and reliable access to a computer and internet as well as any necessary software to complete coursework. Prospective students must also complete an online application.

To graduate, students must complete 43 units. The majority of students in this program are able to graduate in 2.5 years or less. Tuition costs $474 per credit.

2. University of Washington

The University of Washington's MLIS program focuses on organization theory and information ethics as the framework for its academic offerings. Curriculum is designed to engage students in discussion, research, and directed study. This MLIS program emphasizes the importance of the social impact of a career as an information professional. Through required and elective courses and fieldwork experiences, students can expect to gain the necessary skillset for entry-level positions in their chosen career path. This program can be completed online or as a residential learning experience.

UW's School Library Media Endorsement program is available for students pursuing a career as a school librarian. This program's specialized coursework prepares students for the Washington State WEST-E exam, which is a requirement for working as a school librarian in the state of Washington.

Applicants to this program must have a bachelor's degree or higher and have graduated with a minimum 3.0 GPA. Prospective students must also submit an online application, which includes a personal statement, diversity statement, a resume, and three recommendation letters.

Students must earn 63 credits to graduate. Depending on a student's course load, this degree takes two to three years to complete. Tuition costs $852 per credit.

3. University of South Florida

Consistently rated as one of the top MLIS programs in the country, the University of South Florida is offered in a fully online, asynchronous format. Curriculum is based on a set of six core requirements and a variety of electives. Students can choose to specialize their degree, or can pursue a general track of education. Accredited by the ALA since 1974, this program also provides extensive opportunities for research and fieldwork.

USF's MLIS program offers a School Librarian/Media Specialist specialization, with coursework focusing on topics related to providing library services to K-12 students. This option allows students to earn special certification from the Florida Department of Education.

Prospective students must submit GRE scores unless they can demonstrate a 3.5 GPA or higher from a previous degree program. Other admission requirements include an academic writing sample, three written letters of recommendation, a resume, and a statement of purpose.

Students must complete 39 credits to graduate, including 18 credit hours of core courses, three credit hours of technology elective, 18 credit hours for additional electives, and a comprehensive exam or portfolio requirement. Full-time students can expect to graduate in two years. Tuition costs $431 per credit for in-state students, and $877 per credit for out-of-state students.

4. University of Alabama

Designed for busy students, this MLIS program is completely online, though it does require students to attend an on-campus orientation. This program is based on a cohort model, which promotes collaboration and discussion among students and faculty. Participants in the program can expect to attend synchronous, virtual sessions one night per week. Curriculum explores a diverse array of topics, including digital stewardship, information literacy, and social justice.

UA MLIS students can choose to concentrate in School Library Media. To complete this certificate program, students must take several education electives and concentration requirements, as well as the standard required courses for their MLIS degree. This specialization is designed to meet the Alabama State Department of Education's requirements for Class A Certification in School Library Media, which is necessary for school librarians in the state of Alabama.

Applicants to this program must complete an online application and demonstrate a 3.0 undergraduate GPA. Students must also meet the technology requirements for this program, which include access to a personal computer, high-speed internet, and email. Students must also have an up-to-date operating system and internet browser, and a headset with an attached microphone.

To graduate, students must complete 36 credit hours, including nine hours of required courses and 27 hours of coursework related to a student's Area of Emphasis. Full-time students can expect to finish this program in two years or less. Tuition costs $440 per credit hour.

5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

U of I's MLIS program has a strong focus on versatility and convenience. Students can choose from a variety of electives to complete their degree, or pursue a customized pathway that fits with their interests and career goals. With an 84% graduation rate, this program only requires two core courses, allowing students to take control of the direction of their degree. A completely online program, students can also expect to gain useful experience through extracurricular and networking activities, internships, and professional field experience.

This program offers several Pathway options for students to specialize their studies. The Youth and School Librarianship Pathway is designed for those interested in working as a children's librarian or in a school setting. Curriculum for this Pathway explores storytelling, children's literacy, and school library management. U of I also offers a School Librarian Licensure program, which provides students with the credentials they need to work in a school library in the state of Illinois.

Application requirements include a bachelor's degree, with a minimum 3.0 GPA. If the GPA requirement is not met, applicants must submit GRE scores. Prospective students must also complete an online application and submit three letters of reference, a resume, and a personal statement.

Students must complete 40 credits to graduate from this MLIS program. Full-time students can expect to graduate in 18-24 months. Tuition costs $652 per credit for in-state students, and $975 per credit for out-of-state students.

ALA requirements for MLIS Programs in School Librarianship

The American Library Association (ALA) has developed a list of comprehensive standards for accreditation. These standards are categorized under five benchmarks, which include: systemic planning, curriculum, faculty, students, and administration, finances, and resources.

Accreditation requirements

Accreditation requirements are the same for all MLIS programs, regardless of what concentrations they offer. During the accreditation process, a designated external panel will review a MLIS program’s mission, goals, objectives, courses, and recruitment policies, among other criterion.

Curriculum requirements

A MLIS program must demonstrate their curriculum, including specialized curriculum, “takes into account statements of knowledge and competencies developed by relevant professional organizations.” If a program is offering a school librarianship concentration, its specialized coursework must comply with this stipulation.

Typical Curriculum for MLIS Programs in School Librarianship

Reference and Information Services

This course provides instruction on how to conduct a reference interview in a library setting. Assignments and readings are designed to address all levels and types of research, including in a school setting. Students can expect to learn different styles of conducting a reference interview, including roving reference and virtual reference. This course also reviews best practices for interpersonal encounters while on the job. Most importantly, this course explores effective research skills through collection navigation and database queries.

History of Youth Literature

This course is important for students pursuing a concentration in school librarianship as it addresses materials that will be relevant to a school library collection. This course’s historical approach offers insight into the earliest works of literature for children. Coursework explores the different trends that have shaped children’s literature over the years. From classics to contemporary works, students can expect to gain an extensive understanding of what works are important to include in a library collection for youth.

Information Ethics

Addressing important questions of ethics in the library and information science field, this course is often a core requirement for MLIS students. This course examines issues related to censorship, accessibility, intellectual freedom, and information privacy. Designed to be relevant to the digital age, students can also expect to address cyberbullying and social networking as it relates to the discipline. Coursework will encourage students to practice real-world decision-making through discussion and debate.

Library Services for Children and Young Adults

This course is designed to show students how to plan, execute, and evaluate library programs and services for children and young adults. Students can expect to learn about different types of youth programs as well as how to design them. This course often includes a special project that requires students to develop their own service model or program. Other topics that are typically discussed in this course include library services for children with special needs, appropriate digital media for youth, and controversial children’s literature.

Collection Development

Another core requirement for most MLIS students, this course emphasizes the importance of developing and maintaining a relevant library collection. Coursework will explore all the different types of media included in a library collection, including physical materials, digital materials, and multimedia resources. Students can expect to learn about acquisition and budgeting as well as collection evaluation and weeding. Other topics may include licensing agreements, publishing trends, and the importance of equitable collection development practices in a library setting.

Early Childhood Literacy

This course is designed for those interested in working in a library setting that caters to young children, such as an elementary school. This course explores literacy development in children as they grow and mature. Students can expect to discuss different methods of literacy, tools to improve literacy, and the library’s role in promoting childhood literacy. This course may also provide real-world examples of library services and programs that are relevant to current trends and topics in early childhood literacy.

School Library Media Materials

This course provides an in-depth survey of materials that are appropriate for K-12 students. Students taking this course can expect to review state and national curriculum standards to better understand what materials are appropriate for school libraries to include in their collection. This course also prompts students to analyze best practices for school library collection development and program planning. Topics may include digital media use for children, historical and current trends in children’s literature, and the importance of encouraging independent reading in school-aged children.

Cataloging and Classification

Designed to be applicable in a variety of library settings, this course is an introduction to cataloging all different types of library materials. This course typically covers the basics of information classification and retrieval. Students can expect to learn how to create and update catalog records. Other topics will include MARC records and descriptive and subject cataloging. Many school librarians are responsible for the cataloging and classification of their library’s collection, making this course useful for those interested in that career path.

Storytelling

This course provides guidance on the best practices for storytelling in a library setting. This is especially useful for school librarians working with younger children as part of their job will be reading aloud to students. Students can expect to learn about the ancient tradition of oral storytelling as well as the methods being used in libraries today. This course is designed to develop students’ storytelling styles and analyzes the developmental benefits of reading aloud to children.

School Library Fieldwork

Also listed as an internship opportunity, this course allows students to gain necessary experience working in a school library. Many MLIS programs have partnerships in place with local schools that allow students to spend time working in a school library. This hands-on experience provides students the chance to apply the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom to the real world. Through fieldwork opportunities, students can develop the practical skills they need to succeed in their future career as a school librarian.

What careers can you have with a school librarianship degree?

School librarianship is a dynamic career path that offers the chance for collaboration, instruction, and research. School librarians are instrumental in introducing students to resources that not only supplement their education but instill a lifelong love of learning. School librarians help students and teachers access information and navigate the school library’s resource collection.

Job duties

Other job duties include providing reference services, maintaining media collections, and assisting with questions related to research, technology, and learning. School librarians work closely with teachers to develop lesson plans and find resources to support classroom activities. School librarians working at the university level usually specialize in certain areas of study, including law, music, or fine arts. These positions include aiding in specialized research and collection development in that particular area of study. There is often an instructional component to working as a school librarian, which is why some positions require teaching credentials.

Choosing to pursue a MLIS degree with a specialization in school librarianship provides a wide range of career opportunities in a variety of academic settings. Job titles could include School Librarian, School Media Specialist, or Library Media Specialist, among others. There are many different types of school librarians and which career path is right for you will depend on the type of school library in which you are interested in working.

Elementary school librarian

Elementary school librarians work with younger children and are essential in introducing them to the importance of libraries and the resources they offer. Job duties may include collection development for age-appropriate materials, conducting story times and other activities for class visits, and assisting students and teachers with finding materials and other reference questions.

Middle and high school librarians

School librarians who work at middle schools and high schools have similar duties, though often the information needs of students are more advanced at this level. School librarians in this setting are responsible for providing reference assistance, maintaining a relevant and useful media collection, and teaching students how to find accurate and credible resources for class projects. This type of school librarian may also work closely with teachers on developing lesson plans and projects.

Higher education librarians

Librarians who work at the college and university level are still considered school librarians. However, this career path is much different from school librarians working at primary and secondary schools. University librarians don’t typically need a teaching certificate to be eligible for employment. However, instruction is still a large part of their job duties. University librarians are responsible for educating students on how to use their respective institution’s resource collection, which can include teaching classes in a group setting or providing one-on-one guidance.

College librarians
University librarians will work closely with students and professors to address their information needs, especially when it comes to specialized research. Other job duties can include collection development, cataloging, and assisting with technology questions. University librarians are often designated as subject specialists in a particular field. This way, they can better support advanced research queries from students and faculty. University librarians may even work in a specialized library or department. For this reason, some university librarian positions require candidates to have additional degrees or work experience in their specialized field of study.

Salaries

There are other distinctions to consider when pursuing a career as a school librarian. Depending on your preferences, you could decide to work at a private school, public school, or charter school. Location can also be a determining factor as schools in rural settings will have different information needs and require different skillsets than a school in an urban setting.

School librarian salaries are similar to those of teachers or other librarian positions. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median annual salary for librarians and library media specialists is $60,820. The BLIS reports a mean annual salary of $60,940 for elementary school teachers, $60,940 for middle school teachers, and $60,810 for high school teachers. All statistics are based on data from May 2020.