Masters in Library Science: Degree Program Overviews

Read about library science studies at the master's degree level. Find out about required prerequisites and coursework likely to be taken in this type of program. Also read details about career and continuing education options, including certification in the field.

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Essential Information

A master's degree program in library science covers the ways in which libraries acquire, process and circulate its electronic and print resources. Coursework focuses on managing the services that allow library patrons to access information, whether by checking out print materials or accessing online databases or digital media. Students also learn how to organize media using the Library of Congress or Dewey Decimal Classification systems, acquire new materials based on patrons' needs or properly maintain historical archives.

Some programs allow students to choose from concentrations in school media or adult and children's services and end with a library practicum or internship. Master's degree programs can take up to three years to complete, but they are typically finished in a year and a half. Students can earn either a Master of Arts or Master of Science in Library Science or Library and Information Science.

Educational Prerequisites

Applicants need a bachelor's degree with a GPA of 3.0 or higher. A master's degree is also acceptable for admission; however, some schools require higher minimum GPAs for students submitting a graduate transcript. Students who do not meet these GPA requirements may submit Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores as supplementary admissions materials. Some schools also accept scores from the Law School Admission Test (LSAT) or the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT). In some cases, students must complete a computer skills course before beginning library science coursework.

Program Coursework

Many programs offer students the choice of completing degree requirements online, on-campus or both. While a student's elective courses depend on the type of library career for which he or she is preparing, core coursework typically consists of the following:

  • Information access
  • Cataloguing
  • Reference sources
  • Collection development

Popular Career Options

Graduates with a master's degree may find employment at public or school libraries, as well as at general, law or medical libraries found on college and university campuses. Most libraries have several departments, and possible career options include the following:

  • School librarian
  • Public services librarian
  • Reference librarian
  • Children's librarian
  • Media specialist
  • Archivist

Continuing Education Information

Graduates who are pursuing a career as an archivist can receive voluntary certification from the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) (www.certifiedarchivists.org). Applicants qualify to sit for their written certification exam after completing their master's degree and either one or two years of work experience, depending on whether or not their degree contained coursework in archival administration.

As for school librarians, many states require that they be certified as teachers in addition to completing a master's degree in library science. Teacher certification requirements can include a bachelor's degree in education, student teaching experience and the completion of Praxis examinations on pedagogy and content areas.

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