|Syracuse University||Online MS in Library and Information Science
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, No GRE Required. Complete in as few as 21 months.
|St. John's University||Online M.S. in Library and Information Science
ALA Accredited, 24 months to complete. 4 specializations and 2 certificate options.
In addition to reputation, faculty, and curriculum, students must consider program cost when researching online MLIS programs (Master of Library and Information Science).
As many students are working full-time, raising families, or serving as caregivers, choosing a library science degree program that will not create excessive debt and student loans is crucial. Fortunately, a number of recognized and accredited programs offer affordable Masters in Library Science degree programs online.
Top 10 Most Affordable Online MLIS Degree Programs
The following list is based on our research of available online MLIS programs in the United States. Information was gathered from university websites, program catalogs, and other online guides and rankings. While many factors contribute to the overall cost of a degree program, those we have identified as most affordable have the lowest, cheapest tuition costs. Universities and colleges regularly review and revise student tuition and fees to reflect demand and economic trends. It is important to fully research each program to verify current costs. This is by no means the most exhaustive list as tuition rates could have changed so be sure to check with the admissions department of the library science program you are considering.
Sponsored Online Library Programs
|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.
|California State University San Marcos
|Master||Online Master of Arts in Reading, Language and Literacy
Get advanced training in developing, enhancing and assessing literacy.
University of Central Missouri - Master of Library Science
UCM's 36 credit-hour program is nationally recognized and boasts a 94% graduate job placement rate. In addition to core coursework, the program offers a School Librarian concentration and initial teacher certification. Students gain real-world experience through practical experiences, research opportunities, and a capstone project.
Required coursework, totaling 24 credits, includes Foundations of Librarianship, Technology in Libraries, Organizing Information, and Action Research in Libraries. The remaining 12 credit hours are dedicated to electives, which may include courses such as Advanced Information Literacy, Inquiry Learning, or Curriculum and the School Library. Students may also choose to complete an internship in a school library.
The UCM MLS is an online program that has been accredited by both the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). At the time of writing, the program was in pre-candidacy status for accreditation by the American Library Association (ALA). Admission into the program requires an undergraduate degree and minimum 2.75 GPA, online application, and personal interview.
Tuition rates for online/hybrid graduate students at the University of Central Missouri are $413.50 per credit hour. The total cost for this program is estimated at $14,886, making it a very cost-effective choice. Program scholarships are also available for eligible enrolled students.
University of Alabama - Master of Library and Information Studies
UA Online offers a 36 credit hour MLIS degree utilizing the cohort model. When enrolled in two online courses per semester, the program can be completed in less than two years. Courses are delivered synchronously, with students typically participating in virtual sessions once per week.
Of the total credit hours, 9 are required courses and the remaining 27 are dedicated to an area of emphasis. Options include Academic Libraries, Information Literacy, Special Libraries, and Social Justice. Additionally, students may choose a concentration - either Archival Studies or School Libraries. Students may also choose to complete a thesis as part of the program. All students, regardless of area of emphasis or concentration, must also complete a comprehensive portfolio.
The program has been accredited by ALA. Students are admitted in cohorts and required to participate in a virtual orientation prior to the start of the first semester. A minimum 3.0 GPA in an undergraduate program is required for admission consideration.
Tuition for this program is $440 per credit hour. With 36 required credits, tuition is $15,840 excluding fees. This makes the UA Online MLIS one of the most affordable degree options.
Emporia State University - SLIM Master of Library Science
With a goal of preparing graduates to provide client-focused solutions in information settings, Emporia State's 36 credit hour program offers flexible online learning for non-traditional students. Coursework is spread across core theory, tools, applications, and electives. Students may also choose a concentration in Archival Studies, Health Information Professionals, Informatics, Leadership & Administration, Youth Services, or Outreach and Community Engagement.
Core courses in the degree program cover foundational topics such as Information-seeking Behavior and Reference Services, Research, and Collection Development. Students select from several courses to satisfy a technology requirement. Electives, totaling 14 hours, allow students to sample relevant coursework or concentrate on one area of specialization. All students are required to complete a capstone course.
The School of Library and Information Management (SLIM) is the oldest in the western United States and has been accredited by ALA. To be considered for admission, students must complete an online application and submit official transcripts, a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a two-part statement of purpose.
Online tuition and fees for SLIM are determined by residency status. Students living in Kansas or select counties in Missouri and Oklahoma have a tuition rate of $4,523 per 12 credit hours, which would bring the cost of the program to $13,569. Non-residents are charged $6,160 per 12 credit hours, totaling $18,480.
Louisiana State University - Online Master of Library and Information Science
LSU Online's MLIS is a 36 credit, non-thesis degree program. Courses offered during the fall and spring consist of 7-week modules, while summer courses are 5-week modules. Students in the program may also choose to earn an online graduate certificate in either Archival Studies or Records and Information Management.
The program core consists of 6 courses for 18 credit hours. Students will complete Information & Society, Information Technologies and Systems, and Organization of Information, among other courses. The remaining coursework may be dedicated to one or multiple areas of interest, including Librarianship, Archival Studies, Cultural Heritage Resource Management, and Records and Information Management.
This program has been accredited by the American Library Association and boasts experienced faculty. To be considered for admission students must submit a resume and a 1,000 word statement of purpose. No letters of recommendation are necessary to apply.
At a rate of $555 per credit hour, with an estimated total cost with fees of $19,980, the LSU Online MLIS degree program is and affordable option. It is important to note that Louisiana State University offers two online master's of library and information science degree programs. The School of Information Studies (SIS) Online MLIS is classified as an on-campus program and has a different tuition and fee structure.
University of North Texas - Online Library Science Master of Science
UNT Online aims to prepare information professionals qualified to work in a variety of professional settings. The program requires 36 credit hours, a practicum, and a capstone for completion. Students may also choose from six targeted concentrations, including Knowledge Management, Law Librarianship and Legal Informatics, and Music Librarianship.
Required program core courses include Information and Knowledge Professions, Information Organization, and Information Access and Knowledge Inquiry. Students then select from a number of topics to satisfy the remaining credit hours. Coursework may include Digital Citizenship, Advanced Storytelling, Information Architecture, Preservation, or Digital Humanities. The required capstone experience consists of a comprehensive ePortfolio.
In addition to the fully online degree program, UNT also offers cohorts to students in Virginia-West Virginia, Vermont-New Hampshire-Maine, and California. To be considered for admission, students must submit a one-page statement of purpose and goals, resume, and two letters of recommendation. This program has received ALA accreditation.
UNT offers a competitively priced program, whether the student is in Texas or not. The estimated tuition and fees for in-state residents is $16,500. Out-of-state students can expect to pay $570 per credit hour, for an estimated cost of $20,520.
University of Missouri - Library and Information Science
The University of Missouri offers a 39 credit hour, fully online Master of Library and Information Science. As part of the School of Information Science & Learning Technologies, this LIS program has been accredited by the American Library Association. Coursework in the program is offered synchronously and asynchronously.
The program includes 18 credits of required courses and students are encouraged to complete a practicum. Students may choose to complete coursework in one of four transcripted emphasis areas: Electronic Learning Information Professional (ELIP), Archival Studies, School Library Media Certification, or Youth Services. An ePortfolio is required for graduation. Additionally, students may obtain a joint degree in Juris Doctor/Library & Information Science (JD/MLIS) or Master of Public Affairs/Library & Information Science (MPA/MLIS).
Students enrolled in the program full-time may complete the degree in as little as 2 years. Part-time students have up to 8 years to earn the degree. Interested students may take up to 9 credit hours before applying for official admission to the program. Students are admitted during fall and spring semesters. In addition to an online application, a resume or CV, essay prompt responses, two letters of recommendation, and transcripts must be submitted for admission consideration.
This program has an estimated cost of $20,865. Broken down, tuition is $535 per credit hour. Financial aid, awards, and scholarships are available for eligible enrolled students.
The University of Southern Mississippi - Master of Library and Information Science
This 40 credit hour MLIS includes 25 core credits and 15 electives. In addition to foundational and specialized coursework, students complete a technology-focused course, two research projects, and an optional practicum. The School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) also offers fully online graduate certificates in Archives and Special Collections, and Youth Services and Literature.
Examples of required courses include Media Utilization, Web Design and Evaluation, and Library Management. Additionally, students may complete up to six credit hours abroad in London in British Studies. Those interested in merging their passion for history with information science, may also choose to pursue a dual MLIS/MA in Anthropology, History, or Political Science.
A resume, essay, and two letters of recommendation are required for admission consideration. Three program-specific scholarships are available for qualified enrolled SLIS students. This program has been accredited by ALA.
Online students pay the same tuition as Mississippi residents. At a cost of $535.12 per credit hour, the estimate for the degree is $21,404.80. Full-time students can expect to pay $4,989 per semester. While students enrolled part-time will have a tuition of $2,775.60 per semester.
San Jose State University - Master of Library and Information Science
SJSU offers a 43 credit online MLIS. Students are able to customize the curriculum to meet their professional needs by selecting coursework and internship experiences. Several career pathways are available for students to choose from, including Data Science, Emerging Technologies, Leadership and Management, School Librarianship, and Web Programming and Information Architecture.
Of the 43 credit hours, 16 are dedicated to required coursework. Elective options may include Government Information Sources, School Library Media Materials, Vocabulary Design, or Web Usability. Students may also take beginning Spanish through a joint venture with the Department of World Languages and Literature. The culminating experience for the program is either a thesis or ePortfolio.
San Jose State's degree program has been accredited by the American Library Association. Most students complete the program in 2 to 3 years. Students satisfying minimum GPA requirements for an undergraduate degree will be considered for admission. No GRE scores, letters of recommendation, statement of purpose, or resume are required for admission.
The fee structure at SJSU is based on residency, with "special session" students assessed the lowest tuition and fees. Special session students are those living outside of the San Jose, California area. Tuition for these students is set at $525 per unit, with a total cost of $22,575 for the degree.
Clarion University - Master of Science in Library Science
With a focus on flexibility and respected faculty, the online MSLS from Clarion University aims to prepare information professionals for the evolving digital world. The program consists of 36 credit hours and students may choose from concentrations in Local and Archival Studies, Reference and User Services, or School Librarianship. Students may also gain knowledge and skills through hands-on field experiences.
Core courses include Intro to the Info Professions, Reference Sources and Services, Organization of Information, Integrated Tech in Libraries, and Mgmt of Libs and Info Agencies. In lieu of selecting a concentration, students may complete electives. Elective coursework ranges from Business Reference to Cultural Heritage Informatics to Grant Writing. The culminating experience for the program is a capstone internship.
PennWest's online MLIS has been fully accredited by ALA. Start terms are offered in August, October, December, March, June, and July. Admission requirements include a bachelor's degree, a minimum 3.0 GPA, and resume.
Tuition for this degree is based on residency. Pennsylvania residents are charged $516 per credit hour, for an estimated cost before fees of $18,576. The tuition rate for non-residents and international students is $774, for an estimated cost before fees of $27,864.
North Carolina Central University - Master of Library Science
NCCU's MLS degree program has been modeled on curricula recommended by the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the Association for Information Systems (AIS). The 36 hour ALA accredited degree includes specializations in areas ranging from digital libraries to school media. Students may choose from concentrations including Networking and Communication, Strategic Information Management, and Health Informatics.
Students enrolled in the degree program will complete 7 core courses, for 21 credit hours, with the remaining hours dedicated to concentrations requirements or electives. Those interested in completing a dual degree may also consider the school's joint programs. Joint degree options include Master of Business Administration (MBA)/MIS, Juris Doctor (JD)/MIS, Master of Public Administration (MPA)/MIS, and Master of Art in Educational Technology/MIS.
GRE scores are not required for admission. Applicants will submit official transcripts, two letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume or CV. Students are admitted for fall, spring, or summer terms.
NCCU provides an example of the difference in cost for in-state students versus those who are out-of-state. Students in North Carolina have an estimated tuition rate of $298.73 per credit hour. This would given an estimated degree cost of $10,754.28, making it an extremely affordable option for in-state residents. However, out-of-state students pay $1,038.07 per credit hour, with an estimated tuition cost of $37,370.52.
Online MLIS Degree Program Cost Considerations
The bulk of online college costs are associated with tuition. Most online degree programs charge tuition by credit hour or course. Factors such as the number of credits or courses required for completion, optional coursework, enrollment level, and residency status may impact tuition for online MLIS degree programs.
Programs with less required credits or courses may have a lower tuition. Programs may charge a lower tuition rate for in-state students and those studying in neighboring states. Alternatively, a number of online MLIS degree programs charge a flat rate tuition regardless of where the student is located. Whether a student is enrolled full- or part-time may also impact the overall cost.
Other costs should be taken into consideration when researching an online degree program. While the programs highlighted here are fully online, some may include coursework that requires students to travel - for example, internships or field experiences. The cost of transportation should also be included when calculating costs. Students may also choose to complete coursework beyond the required minimum credits to gain additional knowledge and skills.
Additionally, students should consider the cost of admission applications, textbooks, supplemental course resources, test proctoring, and required technology. Finally, fees may not be included in tuition and should be taken into consideration. Fees, which may be assessed by credit, course, or term, will raise the overall cost of the degree program.
What options are there to lower the cost of an online MLIS degree?
Financial Aid, often in the form of FAFSA loans and grants, is the solution for many students who need financial support to attend college. Generally, grants are based on financial need and are not repaid, while loans may be based on income and will need to be repaid with interest. It is important to discuss financial aid options with a university financial aid representative. There are often deadlines associated with FAFSA, so starting this step early is crucial.
Transfer credits from other university programs may reduce the number of overall credits required to complete the degree, resulting in a lower cost. This, however, can be a difficult process as not all universities and colleges accept transfer credits. Those that do may have strict requirements on which credits qualify. It is important to discuss transfer credits with an academic advisor.
Tuition assistance or tuition reduction may be available for active duty military and veterans, military dependents, and members of underrepresented communities. These programs may significantly decrease the cost of tuition for eligible students. To qualify students will need to provide official documentation of their eligibility status.
Some employers reimburse employees for the successful completion of a course or degree program. Whether the entire course cost or only a portion is reimbursed is decided by the employer. Generally, the employee must be taking the course to meet a job requirement and will need to pass the course with a minimum grade specified by the employer. The employee will assume responsibility for paying for the course upfront. Upon completion, the employee will submit documentation of their grade (typically an official transcript) and the employer will then reimburse the full or partial cost of the course.
Are scholarships available for MLIS degree programs?
Yes. Many of the universities and colleges offering MLIS degree programs also have scholarships available to enrolled students in the school. It is important to check the availability of scholarships when researching admission requirements, as some schools will automatically consider students for scholarships upon acceptance. Other schools require students to apply for these scholarships separately.
Additionally, the American Library Association operates a popular and competitive scholarship program. Students complete one online application and are able to select from a number of scholarships to apply for. Options include General Scholarships, Scholarships by Specialty or Practice Area, Scholarships for Library Support Staff, and Scholarships for People from Underrepresented Groups. Each scholarship has specific guidelines and the online application is open from September 1 to March 1 annually.
Other organizations in library and information sciences also offer scholarships, including state-based library associations, honor societies, and memorial funds. Finally, local and state scholarships offered by private enterprises cannot be overlooked. While these may offer lower amounts than regional or national scholarships, this funding can contribute significantly to the reduction of overall tuition and fees.
Why consider a Masters in Library Science degree?
The MLIS and closely related Masters MLS degrees are for students interested in becoming information professionals. Traditionally, these programs were designed to train librarians and archivists.
These professionals may work as academic librarians Academic Librarianship, archivists Archival Studies, public librarians Public Librarianship, records managers Records Management, or school librarians School Librarianship.
Popular library science programs
Today, earning this degree opens many more opportunities. Increasingly organizations beyond libraries and archives are seeking professionals with experience in informatics Informatics, information systems Information Systems Design, knowledge management Knowledge Management, and user experience (UX) User Experience UX. Earning this degree demonstrates the graduate’s competency in meeting the information needs of users in diverse and complex environments.