Master's Degree in Library Science: Requirements to Enroll in and Complete a Master's Degree in Library Science

Published Aug 28, 2009

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Librarians perform numerous public services, such as promoting reading and education, helping patrons locate information and resources, and developing knowledge organization systems to make information more accessible. A master's degree in Library Science is required for librarian positions at public, academic and special libraries. Primary or secondary school librarians may not need a Master of Science in Library Science, but they must be qualified for state teaching licensure.

Enrolling in a Library Science Degree Program

Several colleges and universities offer some form of Library Science degree program, such as a Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS), Master of Library Science (MLS) or Master of Science in Library Science (MSLS). The American Library Association,, keeps a list of accredited master's degree programs in Library Science. Most employers will only accept ALA-accredited degrees. A master's degree program in Library Science is available either online or on campus at many colleges and universities. A bachelor's degree from any academic discipline is a prerequisite for admission into library school. Most Library Science programs encourage applications from students with diverse academic backgrounds. Many programs require GRE scores for admission consideration, in addition to a personal essay, undergraduate transcripts and references.

Completing a Library Science Degree Program

Master's degree programs in Library Science require approximately 36 semester hours to complete. The curriculum may vary, depending on the student's area of concentration, but most programs focus on such core topics as library management, the history of books and printing, collection management, intellectual freedom and censorship, reference sources and services, cataloging, school media and research methods. Computer-related coursework is also essential to the curriculum. Areas of concentration include archives and records management, reference, children and youth services in public libraries, technical services and academic libraries. An internship or practicum is often required as part of the course, in addition to a thesis or portfolio. After completing a Library Science degree, graduates can seek positions as chief librarians at public or academic libraries. Positions at special libraries, such as medical or law libraries, usually require additional education in those specific fields. According to U.S. News & World Report, librarianship is one of the most promising careers in the U.S., due to employment outlook, earning potential and job satisfaction.

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