Online Library Science Degree at GSLIS

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The Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) offers students pursing a Master of Science degree in library science the option to attend classes online through its LEEP program. UIUC is an ALA accredited university, meaning the library science degree earned through the program is considered an appropriate professional degree for librarians. Most institutions, especially academic and research libraries at colleges and universities, hire only librarians with degrees from accredited programs, which is the reason why students should consider only schools with ALA accreditation. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is also tied with the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill for the highest ranked library science program in the nation.

The LEEP program is an online scheduling option that allows students to complete the majority of coursework from remote locations through online classes. Online students can pursue three degrees or certificates: a Master of Science degree (MS), certificate of advanced study (CAS), and K-12 LIS certification. During the first 12 years of LEEP, over six hundred graduate students have graduated from the program with jobs in reference services, bibliographic services, preservation, archives, special collections, museums, digital libraries, public libraries, school libraries, and in the field of information technology.

LEEP Students and Online Classes

The GSLIS LEEP program at UIUC is for students who prefer a more traditional classroom setting but who cannot physically attend classes on campus one day a week. Earning a master’s degree in library science from UIUC requires 40 hours of graduate study with a minimum of 10 four-credit classes. GSLIS requires all students to complete LIS 501: Information Organization and Access and LIS 502: Libraries, Information, and Society at the beginning of their graduate studies. Although LIS 502 requires students to attend a 10 day on-campus session at the end of July or beginning of August as an introduction to the LEEP program, almost all other classes including LIS 501 are available online.

Unlike most other online programs currently available, the LEEP program is not self-paced but rather more closely resembles a traditional educational environment. Most classes require students to attend a two hour live Internet session at a specific time each week. Students log into a program that resembles a chat room each week and then listen to the professor lecture and participate in chat discussions. The only difference between a traditional course and a LEEP course is that each class session occurs virtually with teachers and classmates from all over the country and even the world. Most classes also require one on-campus day near midterm in which students must again travel to the UIUC campus.

Coursework and Tuition

After completing the two required course—501 and 502—students design their individual curricula to meet their individual needs. For example, students interested in youth librarianship can take LIS 403: Literature and Resources for Children, LIS 404: Storytelling, and LIS 514: History of Children’s Literature. Students who wish to pursue careers in preservation can take LIS 548: Library Buildings, LIS 582: Preserving Information Resources and LIS 590BB: Bookbinding: History, Principles and Practice. Online students may also take on-campus classes. The complete course catalog of library and information science classes offered by GSLIS is available online.

Tuition is approximately $1,628 per four credit hours at $16,280 to complete the degree for students who are residents of the state of Illinois, and approximately $3,212 per four credits hours plus a $164 Academic Outreach Fee at $32,284 to complete the degree for students outside the state of Illinois. LEEP students must also pay for any books, other supplies, technology, Internet access, and housing for on-campus sessions required for individual courses.

Jobs and Salary

Libraries employ many different types of people in many different types of positions including library assistants and library technicians. In contrast to assistants and technicians, however, librarians must have a graduate degree in library science for most librarian positions at most libraries. School librarians must also have a school librarian certificate and a teaching degree in most states. As of 2006, approximately 158,000 people worked as librarians with three-fourths of those positions in school or academic libraries and one-fourth in public libraries.

Although the projected employment growth for librarian positions is lower than in other occupations at only four percent between the years of 2006 and 2016, job prospects are projected to remain favorable over the next 10 years because two-thirds of current librarians will reach retirement age during the next decade. Librarian salaries vary depending on the type of library at which a librarian works with librarians in administrative positions earning the most. However, the median librarian salary as of 2006 was $49,060 with 50% of librarians earning between $39,250 and $60,800.