Illinois Library Science Degree Programs

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Updated on May 9, 2024
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Illinois is a beautiful state that enjoys all seasons. Within the state are beautiful beaches, great rivers like the Mississippi, and Chicago, which is one of the largest cities in the U.S. They have over 100 state parks and recreation buildings, large historical museums, numerous art galleries, and opportunities to hear world-renown musicians and see the work of great artists. 

Higher education is one of the state’s best qualities. The University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and the University of Chicago are ranked nationally by the US News Report and are two of the three universities that offer a program accredited by the American Library Association. Additionally, the state offers a multitude of other higher education opportunities and career options for those going into the field of library and information science. 

Keep reading for more information on these programs and the career outlook for those pursuing librarianship or information science careers. 

ALA Accredited Masters in Library Science and MLIS Programs in Illinois

There are three programs for library and information science that the American Library Association accredits. Two of the programs are located in the Chicago area and near numerous career positions, as well as research and internship opportunities. Additionally, the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign and the Dominican University offer Ph.D. programs, meaning more research collaboration opportunities with doctoral students and professors of Ph.D.-level courses. 

MS in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign

This program is not only diverse and flexible in the courses it offers, but each area of the program is of high quality. The U.S. News Report ranked this program #1 in Best Library and Information Studies Programs and awarded them #1 in Information Systems, #1 in Digital Librarianship, and #1 in Services for Youth and Children. They offer the option to customize the course load and choose a customized area of study. They offer coursework in archiving, youth, and children services, school librarianship, information management and organization, research librarianship, competitive intelligence, and special collections. It also offers a flexible online format with virtual classes once a week, usually in the evening for those working during the day.  For those who will be distant learners, keep in mind that all students are required to attend a long weekend orientation on campus to meet the faculty and other students.

How to apply

The minimum qualification for this program is a bachelor’s degree. They also look at grades, GRE test scores, and supporting documents sent with the application. To apply, go online and send in three letters of reference,  a personal statement, an updated resume, and transcripts. Additionally, you will be required to pay an application fee. GRE test scores are encouraged for students with low GPAs, but they are not required. 

Master of Science in Library and Information Science at Chicago State University

The MS in Library and Information science from Chicago State is a 36-credit-hour degree program and is completed in a little over two years on average. The program includes building a portfolio and a capstone. Students can choose an area of study in either archives and records management, public librarianship, or academic librarianship. Additionally, students have a few options for earning a certificate in school librarianship for those wishing to work in a public school system. Because of the various options and thorough coursework, 86% of graduates from this program have a career in their field 12 months after graduation. Additionally, 94% of students who begin the program finish.

How to apply

To qualify for this program, applicants need a bachelor’s degree and evidence of the required work ethic and ability to succeed academically. To apply, fill out the online application, pay the application fee, send in an official transcript, and submit a resume and a personal goals essay.  

Master of Library and Information Science at Dominican University

This degree program is 36 credit hours and can be taken part-time or full-time. Students have the option to take all their classes online, in person, or in combination. There are also many choices of course work and students can choose a customized path, or an area of study in cybersecurity, archives, library administration, youth services, web design, digital libraries, digital humanities, user experience, data management, digital curation, health informatics, and general informatics. Additionally, class sizes stay small in order for students to have a higher quality of learning and interaction with other students and professors. Graduates from this program not only are prepared for professional librarianship, but also for an information and information technology career including law firms, banks, corporations, health care research, and laboratory work. 

How to apply

Qualifications for the program include high academic success and a bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. Applicants need to apply online, pay the application fee, and send in a 500-word personal essay, and transcripts. No GRE test scores are required, however, they are optional and recommended for applicants with a 2.7 GPA or lower. They also encourage sending two letters of recommendation.

Click here for a full list of ALA Accredited MLIS Programs in the US.

Ph.D. in Library and Information Science Programs in Illinois

There are two universities that offer doctoral programs in the field of information science in Illinois. Both are offered by a school of information accredited by the American Library Association and employ experienced faculty within the field. There are on-campus programs and online programs offered by the two universities to choose from. On-campus options offer a more hands-on approach to research, but online programs provide a more flexible format for distance learners, or for those with careers and family responsibilities. 

Ph.D. in Information Science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign 

Doctoral students in this program are funded for five years during their studies. However, the program is a residential program and they do not offer an online alternative. The program includes 48 credit hours of coursework and 32 credit hours dedicated to students’ dissertations. The requirements for the program also include a field exam and a research presentation for the work done during the program. 

How to apply

Visit their application page for admission details and requirements. 

Doctor of Philosophy and Information Studies at Dominican University

The Ph.D. program in information studies can be completed in three years and Dominican University offers an online option for distance learners and for those who have a career and personal or familial responsibilities. In the first two years of the program, students must attend four-weekend meetings in person, but the other class meetings are online and on weekends. The first two years are dedicated to coursework and the final year is for the student’s dissertation. Students will be allowed flexibility while also gaining facetime interactions with experienced professors and fellow doctoral students. 

How to apply

Go online and follow the application process and pay the application fee. 

How to Become a Librarian in Illinois

There is no set of requirements for becoming a librarian, however, many academic and public libraries require a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited school. Library technicians and assistants usually only need a high school diploma or equivalent and some entry librarian jobs may accept applicants with a bachelor’s degree.  The most strict librarian qualifications are for those who want to become a school librarian in the public school system. They must have a library media certification which can be obtained through an ALA-accredited program with a school librarian endorsement program. Alternatively, a certification may be earned by obtaining a Professional Education License or out-of-state equivalent, having experience as a student teacher, completing 18 or more credit hours of teaching reading and English to students, and passing an ILS Licensure Test. 

Chicago Library Science Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

Two Illinois ALA-accredited Library Science programs are in or near Chicago.  Additionally, library employment is highest in Chicago within their public library system and universities. They have nearly 80 public library branches and over 100 institutions for higher education. Many of their universities receive high marks and great research is created in these universities, and their public library system is a leader in the nation and has begun programs and created mind shifts within the public library realm. A couple of trends they started are getting rid of fines, and making technology services a priority. 

What else can you do with a Library Science Degree in Illinois?

There is a multitude of museums and archives in Illinois including the National Archives at Chicago, for historians and archivist professionals within the library and information science. There are also many opportunities for researchers with a library and information background within the hundreds of colleges and universities in Illinois. Additionally, businesses that focus on technology advances and information technology hire information science professionals as well. One example is the largest corporation in Chicago called Accenture.

Illinois Library Science Career and Salary Opportunities

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics recorded 6,000 library positions in Illinois. That makes Illinois the fourth highest among the states in library employment. Additionally, a librarian’s annual mean wage is over $60,000 in Illinois.

Additional Links

To learn about the library association in Illinois visit

For more information about the library and information science, and online resources for library professionals visit

Library Science Degree Programs in Other States