Mississippi Library and Information Science Degree Programs

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Updated on October 25, 2023
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Mississippi is a southern state with the Mississippi River running through it. Mississippi is great for those who dislike cold weather because the state has hot, humid summers and mild winters. Additionally, Mississippi has 62 miles of coastline, and 26 of those miles are beautiful white sandy beaches. This makes Mississippi a great state for fishing, wildlife exploration, and other outdoor recreational activities. Mississippi also has large casinos and hotels, including the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino and the Golden Nugget Biloxi Hotel and Casino. The state also has plenty of family-friendly activities like cruise and ferry excursions, award-winning seafood, the Hattiesburg Zoo, and Lynn Meadow Discovery Center.  There are also plenty of historical sites and museums, including the Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library, and the birthplace of Elvis Presley. 

The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State, and the University of Southern Mississippi are large universities that are great and affordable options in higher education. The University of Southern Mississippi offers an undergraduate degree in library science and a master’s in library and information science that is accredited by the American Library Association. Students can also combine the undergraduate degree with the master’s degree to expedite both degrees so as to enter the career field early. 

This article will cover the highlights and admission process of these two programs and what to expect from the degree. It also covers career and education opportunities in Mississippi’s largest areas and the salary opportunities for librarians in the state. Readers will also receive an understanding of how to become a librarian for public, academic, and school libraries. Additionally, the article covers some other options in the state for librarians and information specialists outside of the library setting. 

Bachelor Programs in Library and Information Science (BLIS) in Mississippi

A bachelor’s in library and information science will help students enter the library field as library assistants, technicians, catalogers, archivists, and in low-level librarian positions. A graduate is also useful for businesses and organizations that handle large amounts of information, data, and research. There is one undergraduate program in library and information science in Mississippi. The program is offered through the University of South Mississippi and has regional accreditation. Additionally, the university offers an MLIS degree that is accredited by the American Library Association. 

Bachelor of Science in Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi

This undergraduate program is at least 120 credit hours long and is offered completely online. Students will interact each week in a virtual classroom and take courses in information technology, librarianship, cataloging, collection development, web design, and children’s literature. Additionally, in each student’s senior year, they will complete an internship or practicum at a library or archives. This gives the students practical knowledge and real-life experience before graduating. Undergraduate students also take core classes in literature, history, science, lab, composition, art, math, social science, and a writing intensive course. 

How to apply

To qualify for full enrollment, applicants must have a high school diploma and a 3.2 GPA. Applicants also qualify if they have a 2.5 GPA and a 16 on the ACT, or a 2.0 GPA and a 18 on the ACT. In areas where applicants have low test scores, the student will be placed in an intermediate course. For those who meet the minimum qualifications, they can apply online. There will be an application fee to be paid online, and other documents and essays may be required within the application. Applicants must also submit official transcripts and either ACT or SAT scores. 

ALA Accredited Library Schools and Programs (MLIS) in Mississippi

Mississippi has one Master of Library Science program that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). It is offered by the University of Southern Mississippi. It is one of the more affordable MLIS programs that ALA accredits, and it is offered online. ALA is the most respected and recognized organization in librarianship standards and many library employers prefer or require librarians to hold an MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program. 

Master’s of Library and Information Science at the University of Southern Mississippi 

This is a 40-credit hour degree program that is offered completely online and it is one of the more affordable MLIS degrees that is accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). All MLIS students take courses in Library and Information Science, Reference and Information Sources, Cataloging and Classification, Collection Development and Management, Library Management, Foundations of Librarianship, Fundamentals of Information Science, and Research Methods in Library and Information Science. Then students can choose an elective in either media, information technology, or web design. Students will also complete a 3-credit Master’s Project before graduating. 

How to apply

To qualify, applicants need at least a 2.75 GPA on a 4.0 grading scale and an undergraduate degree. Applicants can then create an online account, fill out an application, and pay the application fee. For the MLIS program, applicants must submit a one to two-page Statement of Purpose that describes their backgrounds and interests as they relate to library and information science. They also must submit an updated resume, official transcripts, and two letters of recommendation.  No GRE test scores are required. 

How to Become a Librarian in Mississippi

There is no state certification for librarians in academic, private, or public library settings. However, most libraries and institutions require professional librarians to have a master’s in library and information science from a program accredited by the American Library Association. However, library technicians may only require a year of experience and a high school diploma. Library directors and professors are likely required to have a Ph.D. in Information Science. 

For those who want to become school librarians in the Mississippi public school system, they will need either a master’s in library media, or three years of teaching experience and certification in library media. They also must pass the PRAXIS II Exam in library media and go through a background test. For more certification information visit the Mississippi Department of Education’s website, or contact the Education Licensure Department. 

What Else Can You Do with a Library Science Degree in Mississippi?

One of the largest employers in Mississippi is Singing River Health System. They provide award-winning healthcare and a more personal care experience. Information specialists and those with a library science degree are needed as analysts and information technology experts. One of the current positions they are looking to fill is an Information Systems Application Analyst/Trainer. They also have careers in professional development, education management, and management for registration and scheduling. The average salary is $47,448 annually for employees working with Singing River Health System. 

Jackson-Hinds Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities 

The Jackson-Hinds Public Library System serves the Jackson and the Hinds communities. The system is made up of 15 library branches. There are seven in Jackson and eight in Hinds. The two areas pull their resources together so that both areas can have access to more resources, including online access to more databases including Mango Languages, WestLaw, and Ancestry.com. They also provide plenty of online databases and services to children, including learning activities and homework help. Each location offers programs and services for children, teens, computer help, and much more. 

Gulfport-Biloxi Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

The two cities of Gulfport and Biloxi are part of Harrison County. Together they have one public library system, an international airport, and the Mississippi beaches that connect them. The Harrison County Library System is made up of nine public library branches. They also offer services and resources in genealogy, local history research, community outreach, technology assistance, and much more. They also have a children’s department, an outreach department, and a teen and youth services department. Each department provides resources, services, and plenty of programs to attend. Some of their regular programs include book clubs, storytimes, computer classes, and craft times.  

The Local History and Genealogy Department is located in the Biloxi Library. Visitors can view funeral records, cemetery index lists, resources on the civil rights era, and an index of births, marriages, and deaths in Harrison County from 1888 to 1939. Records and materials cannot be checked out, but photocopies can be made for a small fee. This department is staffed with a full-time librarian and assistant. 

Salary Opportunities in Mississippi for Librarians

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 1,380 librarian positions in the state. The mean salary is $46,120 annually. The lowest wage is for entry-level library staff and it is $20,910 annually. The highest wage is for the higher level administrators which is $63,220 annually. These salaries are some of the lowest in the country, however, those interested should consider that the cost of living in Mississippi is also one of the lowest in the country. 

Additional Links 

To learn more about the American Library Association and the standards set on librarianship and MLIS degrees, go to https://www.ala.org/.

For librarian job openings and information on libraries in the state, visit https://mla42.wildapricot.org/

Library Science Degree Programs in Other States