An online library science degree prepares you to do much more than just shelve books. In addition to studying how libraries work, you'll learn about information science, which entails data analysis, information architecture, and 21st-century technologies relevant to a library career.
Earning your library science degree online can also mean lower tuition rates and a more flexible class schedule. We rank the best online library science degree programs and discuss the biggest benefits of earning this unique bachelor's degree.
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Reasons to Get Your Library Science Degree Online
- An online bachelor's degree in library science often provides tons of academic flexibility, letting you work a full-time job while in school.
- Some public colleges and universities grant out-of-state tuition waivers to students taking classes fully online.
- Top online library science degree programs may pair you with internships, externships, and other hands-on educational opportunities near your home.
- A bachelor's degree in library science from an accredited online college qualifies you to apply to master's in library science programs.
- An online library science degree can qualify you for a career in digital, corporate, or law librarianship.
Did You Know...
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), librarians and library media specialists earn around $15,000 more than the median annual salary for all U.S. jobs.
Why Accreditation Matters for an Online Library Science Degree
As you research online library science degree programs, be sure to verify schools' accreditation statuses. Accreditation means a recognized accrediting agency has determined the institution meets certain academic standards.
If you eventually decide to pursue a master's in library science, look for programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). This organization accredits graduate library science programs only.
Attending an accredited library science program proves to potential employers that you possess the skills and knowledge needed to succeed as a librarian or other library professional.
What Do You Learn in an Online Library Science Degree Program?
Online library science degree coursework prepares you for an entry-level library career or admission to a master's in library science program.
Classes emphasize in-demand skills such as research, education, and information management. You'll often hone these skills through experiential learning opportunities and a well-rounded liberal arts education.
Here are some common courses you might take for a bachelor's degree in library science:
- Archives and manuscripts
- Children's literature
- Foundations of library and information science
- Information literacy
- Introduction to library careers
- Library collection management
- Library information technologies
- Research and reference services
- User and information experience
Did You Know...
Starting in the late 19th century, many librarians wrote in "library hand" — a type of handwriting used to standardize catalogs and ensure legibility across libraries.
What Can You Do With an Online Library Science Degree?
Library science careers often come with responsibilities like helping the public with research, creating databases, and maintaining budgets.
Your level of education can affect your career options and salary potential. Most top-paying library science jobs with high projected job growth rates require a master's degree.
A typical master's in library science degree takes two years of full-time study. Top online and on-campus master's programs will hold ALA accreditation.
|Job||Median Annual Salary (May 2021)||Job Growth Rate (2021-2031)||Minimum Education Required|
|Librarians and Library Media Specialists||$61,190||6%||Master's degree|
|Library Technicians||$17.78 per hour||-4%||Certificate/diploma|
|Library Assistants, Clerical||$14.16 per hour||-4%||High school diploma|
Frequently Asked Questions About Library Science
How much does a bachelor's degree in library science cost?
Although tuition can vary significantly by school, you can expect to spend anywhere from $9,400 to $37,600 per year in tuition and fees, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
You can save on your online library science degree by choosing an in-state public college or university. Another way to potentially save money is to take classes at a local community college and then transfer those credits to an online library science degree program.
You can also reduce your college spending by submitting the FAFSA and applying for grants and scholarships.
Do you need a master's for a library science career?
Though earning a bachelor's degree in library science can help you get entry-level and support positions in the field, most library professionals earn a master's in library science so they can pursue advanced roles.
The majority of professional librarian jobs require you to have a master's in library science from an ALA-accredited program.
You can still advance in the field without a graduate degree, though. If you earn a teaching certificate along with a bachelor's in library science, you can work in elementary and secondary school libraries.
Are librarians in demand?
Jobs for librarians and library media specialists are projected to grow by 6% between 2021 and 2031 — the same as the average growth rate for all U.S. jobs — according to the BLS.
During that same period, the BLS projects that jobs for archivists, curators, and museum workers will grow far faster at 12%.
Keep in mind that changing economic conditions may impact the demand for library science-related careers.
What type of librarian makes the most money?
A January 2023 report from Indeed found that general librarians, library managers, and library public relations managers earn an average salary exceeding $30 per hour. Library computer technicians make over $25 per hour. Other related positions pay significantly less.
Many factors besides job title can affect your salary. Librarian positions in major metropolitan areas tend to boast higher salaries to offset these areas' higher costs of living. Taking professional development classes or earning an advanced degree may raise your salary potential.
Is a library science degree worth it?
A library science degree can be worth it, depending on your interests, skills, and goals. If you love libraries, research, and information science — and plan to earn a graduate degree — then a library science degree could be a great fit for you.
Library science also lets you specialize in fields like law, academia, and medicine. This means you can combine your passion for library science with another subject that interests you.