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How do I get a Master's Degree in Library Science?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 31 October 2016
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Getting a master’s degree in library science is a good choice for anyone who would like to work at top levels in larger libraries. Not all libraries require the degree, but for the most career mobility and for better pay, this degree is highly recommended. Fortunately, people can apply to master’s programs with very diverse backgrounds, though all people need to possess a bachelor’s degree prior to application or by the time they would officially start classes.

There are many different schools that offer a master’s degree in library science and a couple of choices are available in the actual degree earned. Some people earn a master’s of arts or M.A. and others earn an M.S. or master’s of science. It’s not clear that one degree is viewed as superior to another; the M.S. sometimes takes a few more units to complete. The most important consideration is that the degree be accredited and viewed with favor by any agencies or associations within a country that sets standards for library hiring and practice. For instance, in the US, it would be wise to find a program that is certified by the American Library Association, and other associations exist in different countries.

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The actual requirements for entry into any master’s degree in library science program vary by school. As stated, a bachelor’s degree is required. Additional things a school may request are test scores on standardized tests like the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) test. Students might need to demonstrate a working knowledge of computer systems, and those who are not native speakers or who are coming from countries with a different language could be required to show language proficiency through testing.

Most schools require an undergraduate grade point average of at least a 3.0. In competitive programs, a much higher GPA may be needed to secure a place. Students should also plan on gathering strong letters of recommendation from professors, or if they have worked in libraries, they might want professional letters of recommendation from staff at libraries. Fortunately, many colleges offer students the opportunity to work at college libraries, and if work can’t be found there, local libraries are often desperately in need of volunteers. This extra experience may be useful in securing placement in a master’s degree in library science program.

Program types vary and there are even ones that are fully online and don’t require physical attendance at a school. As long as the program is accredited and viewed with favor by any regional or country associations, it is worth considering. The length of time for attendance is usually about two years, but some programs or students will take a little more or less time. Each school will have different graduate requirements, and these will all need to be met before a person formally obtains a master’s degree in library science.

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