Best Online ALA Accredited MLIS Programs

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

The American Library Association (ALA) certifies accredited library science programs internationally. As of 2021, there are over 50 different universities in the US that offer fully online MLIS degrees or online MLS programs.

Note that the MLS and MLIS are for the most part interchangeable and the actual degree title is dependent on the naming conventions of the school at the university.

A Quick Overview of the ALA and Library Science Masters Degrees

  • Master's degrees in library and information science studies (MLS, MLIS, etc.) are often offered by universities that have achieved ALA accreditation.
  • The ALA accredits degrees at all levels: Bachelors, Masters (MLIS or MLS), and doctorate (PhD).
  • There are over 50 different ALA accredited online library science programs available at the Masters level at universities located in the United States.
  • In many cases, a degree from an ALA accredited program is required for careers in librarianship and other related professions.

Click to find online library science programs currently accepting applications.

Top 5 100% Online ALA Accredited MLS Programs

We have searched the web and researched hundreds of different library science degrees in the US. We have used other online resource guides and rankings, reviewed the university website, and have had our researchers and writers review each library science program to determine which is best. Of course, everyone is different, and which library science degree is best for you is up to you and your needs and goals.

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

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - MS in Library and Information Science

Consistently ranked as one of the top-ranked MLIS programs in the country, this program offers students the ability to customize their degree based on personal and professional interests. Students choose from one of six Professional Pathways designed to immerse learners in diverse perspectives related to library and information sciences. The learning outcomes for the program emphasize the importance of graduates comprehending both the theory and the practice of the profession.

What makes this MLIS program one of the best

A total of 40 credit hours, including two required courses, are necessary for graduation. In addition to courses in the Professional Pathways, students may choose to complete a practicum, independent study, or thesis. Joint Master degrees are also available in History, African Studies, and Russian, East European, and Eurasian Studies. Tuition rates for Illinois students are $652 per credit hour, while nonresident rates are $975 per credit hour. No additional campus fees are charged for online students. GRE test scores are required for those with an undergraduate GPA below a 3.0 on a 4.0 scale. Opportunities for financial aid and scholarships are available.

Rutgers University - Master of Information degree

Taking a comprehensive approach to people, education, and technology, this program is founded on the values of library and information science. Concentrations are available in Archives and Preservation, Data Science, Interaction Design and Informatics, Library and Information Science, School Librarianship, and Technology, Information and Management. Students also have the option to design their own pathway, choosing from a variety of courses.

What makes this program one of the best

The program is often ranked as one of the best, and offers a fully online option (with the exception of the Interaction Design concentration) which requires 36 credits to graduate. Online classes average 10-22 students. As a full-time student (at least 9 credit hours per term), one can expect to complete the degree in 1.5 to 2 years. Part-time students (less than 9 credit hours) typically finish in 2-3 years. Applications are considered on a rolling basis, with programs starting in Fall, Spring, and Summer.

GRE is not required

The GRE is not required if applicants have an undergraduate GPA of 3.0 or better or have another graduate degree. Students completing the program fully online can expect to pay approximately $36,000. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

Syracuse University - Library and Information Science Master's Degree

The learning outcomes for this program emphasize the application of skills and theories, in addition to a comprehensive understanding of information resources and research based assessment practices.

What makes this program one of the best

Students can specialize in one of seven Professional Pathways, including: User Services and Community Engagement, Archives and Special Collections, Digital Curation and Services, Organization and Management of Information and Knowledge, Children and Youth Services, Digital Information Systems, and Information Research and Analytics.

The LIS degree program is 36 credits and is often finished in two years. A required, non-credit Graduate Immersion Milestone event allows students to participate in a 2-3 residency workshop. The online program highlights collaborative group learning and multimedia coursework. Classes meet on a weekly basis. Online students have the option to choose from one of four cohort start dates.

University of Tennessee, Knoxville - Master of Science in Information Sciences

This nationally top ranked program emphasizes efforts to prepare graduates for careers in the public and private sectors. Offering multiple Career Pathways, including Assessment Librarianship, Digital Collections, and User Experience, students can customize the 36-hour curriculum.

What makes this program one of the best

A practicum program offers online learners the ability to gain hands-on professional experience. Research opportunities also give students the chance to further explore professional specialties.

Courses are available fully online and on-campus. Students are assigned a faculty mentor who acts as an advisor during program completion and following graduation. Tuition for resident online students is $25,200, while nonresident online students can expect to pay $27,900. Future students are able to express interest in scholarships during the application process and assistanships are available for accepted, qualified students.

Florida State University - Master of Science in Information

With a fully online option, this program highlights the education of information professionals to assist people with the location, use, and understanding of information.

What makes this program one of the best

The program goals emphasize graduates gaining the knowledge, skills, and abilities for a variety of professional settings. The school also offers a Master of Arts in Information degree. Both the Master of Science and Master of Arts in Information degrees are ALA accredited.

Courses in the program are arranged by program of study. Specializations include: Cultural Informatics, General Librarianship, Health Informatics, Information Organization, Leadership & Management, Reference Services, School Libraries, Technology & Networking, Web Design, Youth Services, and Public, Academic, and Special Libraries. Students are required to complete 36 semester hours, including four required core courses and one required technology skills course. Tuition fees are based on residency status, with rates for online students including an additional auxiliary fee. Students must complete the degree within 7 years from registration.

Most Affordable ALA Accredited MLS Programs

Tuition rates vary from school to school. Many programs charge different rates based on residency status (in-state versus out-of-state). Additionally, students seeking to obtain their MLS degree fully online may be subject to additional fees. Keep in mind, rates and fees are subject to change.

The University of Alabama - Master of Library and Information Studies

With a foundation in traditional library and information management techniques, students also choose from courses focused on digital libraries, archival appraisal, metadata, and storytelling (both traditional and digital). Students must complete 36 semester hours and both thesis and non-thesis options are available. Students can gain professional experience through in-person or virtual internships. The degree can be completed on-campus or fully online (though there is a mandatory in-person orientation for online students).

Tuition information

Tuition rates for online students are affordable at $440 per credit hour. In-state students attending classes on-campus are charged $440 per credit hour, while out-of-state in-person students are charged $1,243 per credit hour.

University of Missouri - Master of Library and Information Science

A member of the iSchools Consortium, this program features broad coursework offered fully online. Students enrolled full-time often finish in two years, with part-time students completing their degree in up to four years. Some courses in the program are offered in an 8-week format. A total of 39 credit hours, consisting of 18 hours of required courses, electives, and an ePortfolio, are needed to graduate. Students also have the option to earn a dual degree in Public Affairs.

Tuition information

Tuition plus fees amounts to around $463 per credit hour. The estimated cost for obtaining a degree is $18,074.

The University of Southern Mississippi - Master of Library and Information Science

Students in this accredited, fully online program are often prepared to work in libraries, archives, and other information centers. Depending on enrollment, students can expect to complete the 40 credit hour degree program in 1-3 years. Standardized test scores (GRE, GMAT, or PRAXIS) are required for admission. A Bachelor of Science in Library and Information Science is also available.

Tuition information

At a rate of about $512 per credit hour, full-time students enrolled in 9 credit hours (regardless of residency) can expect to pay $4,782 per semester. Students enrolled part-time (5 credit hours) pay a tuition of $2,660.60 per semester. All online students are subject to an online delivery fee.

Clarion University - Master of Science in Library Science

Located in Pennsylvania, this program offers its MSLS degree fully online. Students are required to complete 36 credit hours, which include core courses (12 credits), a management course (3 credits), electives (18 credits), and a capstone project (3 credits). Concentrations within the program include: Reference and User Services and Local and Archival Studies.

Tuition information

Tuition rates are based on residency. Online Pennsylvania students pay $676.60 in tuition and fees, while online non-Pennsylvania residents pay $770.10.

North Carolina Central University - Master of Library Science

This accredited program is offered fully online. Program specializations include Public and Digital Libraries and School Media, among other options. A total of 36-39 credit hours are required, based on concentration. A joint degree in Law Librarianship is also available. GRE scores are not required and submitted scores will not be considered as a factor for acceptance.

Tuition information

Tuition rates are based on residency, with in-state fees at a very affordable $297.62 per credit hour and out-of-state fees at $901.64.

Top 5 Campus Based ALA accredited MLS programs

Many ALA accredited programs offer on-campus or hybrid (combined on-campus and online) degree options. The ALA makes available a searchable database of ALA accredited programs that can be completed in-person ALA.

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Master of Science in Library Science

Students may choose to specialize in one of nine areas. Specializations include: Academic Libraries, Adult Services in Public Libraries, Archives and Records Management (ARM), Children and Youth Services, Digital Libraries, Organization of Information and Materials, Reference, School Library Media Coordinator, and Special Libraries and Knowledge Management. Students selecting the ARM concentration have the option to pursue either the MSLS or MSIS (Master of Science Information Science).

This program requires 48 semester hours, with 22.5 hours designated as required core courses and the remaining hours for elective courses. Students lacking practical experience in a library or information center are encouraged to take a structured practicum. A master's paper or project must be completed satisfactorily for graduation. While GRE scores are no longer required for admission, applicants can voluntarily submit these test scores if they feel the scores would help to more fully illustrate their academic capabilities.

In-state tuition rates are $586.23 per credit, while out-of-state rates are $1,602.45. Residents and nonresidents are subject to mandatory student fees. Both need- and merit-based financial aid is available, as well as assistantships for qualified students.

The University of Texas at Austin - Master of Science in Information Studies

Offering a flexible curriculum, this interdisciplinary professional program emphasizes comprehensive areas of study. Among these are Informatics, Information Retrieval and Search, and Curation and Preservation. Students may further customize their learning experience by participating in Portfolio or Dual Degree Programs, obtaining a Certificate of Advanced Study, or receiving an Endorsement of Specialization.

Completion of the degree requires 36 semester hours of coursework, which includes core courses (3 credit hours), electives (30 credit hours), and a capstone (3 credit hours). The capstone project serves as the culminating experience for the program. Students choosing to complete a master's thesis capstone project complete 27 elective credit hours. Beginning with the Fall 2022 admission cycle, applicants will not be required to submit GRE scores.

Semester tuition (with an enrollment of 9 credit hours) is $10,848 for Texas residents and $19,786 for non-Texas residents. Upon application, new students are automatically considered for teaching assistantships and scholarships.

University of Michigan - Master of Science in Information

Students enrolled in this top-ranked interdisciplinary program in Ann Arbor may pursue a number of professional interests, though the program's special strengths are in Digital Archives and Library Science, Human Computer Interaction and User Experience, and Data Science and Analytics. The program places a high value on experiential learning and giving students access to respected faculty. Dual degree programs in Business Administration, Law, Medicine, Public Policy, and Social Work allow students to further meet their career interests.

Students have the ability to tailor their educational experience, gaining a degree in two years as a full-time student. The program requires 48 credit hours to graduate, with coursework in introductory, advanced, and mastery courses. Students have the option to complete a three-credit mastery course or a six-credit master's thesis. An internship program is also included in the program.

On-campus tuition for Michigan residents enrolled full-time (9+ credit hours) is $12,451, while rates for full-time non-Michigan residents is $25,068. Financial aid and scholarships are available.

Indiana University Bloomington - Master of Library Science

The school offers both an MLS and MIS (Master of Information Science). Both degrees are accredited by the ALA. The MLS program focuses heavily on digital aspects of library and information science, while the MIS emphasizes the inter-sectionality of people, information and technology.

Students may choose a specialization to focus on career interests. MLS specializations include: Archives and Records Management, Art Librarianship, Children's and Young Adult Services, Data Science, Digital Humanities, Information Architecture, Music Librarianship, Rare Books and Manuscripts Librarianship, and Digital Content, Curation, and Collections. MIS specializations include: Data Science, Digital Humanities, Information Architecture, Information Technology Leadership, and DC3. Dual degree options are available as well.

For in-state students tuition is $470 per credit hour, while rates are $1,435 for out-of-state students. Fellowships and other funding opportunities exist for graduate students.

Simmons University - Master of Library and Information Science

This program emphasizes both flexibility and customization. Program concentrations are available in Archives Management, Cultural Heritage Informatics, Information Science and Technology, and School Library Teacher Program. Dual degrees in Archive Management, Library and Information Science, and Children's Literature are also available. Additionally, topical "tracks" help guide students to coursework in specific areas.

Students gain hands-on experience through pre-professional work opportunities, internships, and site visits. Courses are offered in Boston and at extension sites across Massachusetts. The Master's in Library Science Design-Your-Own Curriculum and some concentrations may also be completed fully online. The program consists of 36 credit hours, including 9 required library and information science credits. GRE scores are only required if the applicant's GPA from all degrees earned is below 3.0.

Tuition, regardless of residency, is $1,335 per credit hour with an additional $60 per semester student fee. Students enrolled in full-length, on-campus programs are eligible for merit-based scholarships.

Are there ALA Accredited MLS Programs with No GRE?

Admission requirements for MLS programs vary by school. The GRE, Graduate Record Examinations, is not always required. The following ALA accredited MLS programs do not require a GRE for admission.

  • iSchool at University of Wisconsin, Madison – Master’s in Library and Information Studies
  • Drexel University – Master of Science in Information Library & Information Science
  • University of Kentucky – Master of Science in Library Science
  • San Jose State University – Master of Library and Information Science
  • University of South Carolina – Master of Library and Information Science
  • Syracuse University – Library and Information Science Master’s Degree
  • University of Tennessee, Knoxville – Master of Science in Information Sciences
  • Florida State University – Master of Science in Information
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill – Master of Science in Library Science
  • University of Michigan – Master of Science in Information
  • Indiana University Bloomington – Master of Library Science
  • The University of Alabama – Master of Library and Information Studies
  • University of Missouri – Master of Library and Information Science
  • Clarion University – Master of Science in Library Science
  • North Carolina Central University – Master of Library Science

Does ALA Accreditation Matter?

Yes, it does for most aspiring librarians. MLS programs that have achieved ALA accreditation demonstrate their commitment to upholding rigorous standards for quality and value in education and innovation.

An ALA accreditation can be viewed as a stamp of approval from academics and practitioners. Additionally, many employers actively seek candidates with a degree from an ALA accredited program. In some cases, such as professional positions in public and school libraries, an ALA accredited MLS degree is required. Ultimately, one must consider his or her long-term professional goals when evaluating an MLS program.

Why the ALA is important for MLIS programs

Over the years the ALA, and its membership, has adapted to better reflect the diverse communities it serves. According to its website, ALA’s mission is “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.”

Top priorities & key action areas for ALA accredited library science programs

Priorities for the organization include: Advocacy for Libraries and the Profession, Diversity, Education and Lifelong Learning, Equitable Access to Information and Library Services, Intellectual Freedom, Literacy, Organizational Excellence, and Transforming Libraries. These eight Key Action Areas serve as guiding standards for the ALA and its work.

What is the ALA?

Libraries have long held an important role in American culture and society. As early as 1853, there were calls to form a permanent organization for librarians. Prominent figures, including Melvil Dewey, Frederick Leypoldt, and other well-respected bibliographers and librarians actively worked for the formation of a recognized conference.

The American Library Association, ALA, was officially founded in 1876 during the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. The original purpose of the organization was “to enable librarians to do their present work more easily and at less expense.”

ALA is recognized internationally

The ALA is a globally recognized organization, respected for its advocacy work and professional development opportunities for librarians and information professionals. A critical component of the organization is the accreditation of library and information studies programs in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Through an external review process, involving both self-evaluation and peer-assessment, Master-level degree programs are regularly assessed and accredited based on specific criteria.

Important to maintaining high MLS program quality

Programs achieving ALA accreditation are committed to maintaining a certain standard of quality and integrity for their students, faculty, and staff. At the time of this writing, the ALA accredits 67 programs at 63 individual institutions.