North Dakota Library and Information Science Programs

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Updated on May 14, 2024
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North Dakota is a midwestern state that borders Canada and the states of Montana, Minnesota, and South Dakota. The state is mostly rolling plains that provide great opportunities for agriculture. The state is also made of mountains, valleys, rivers, and lakes. The state receives all four seasons, with winters that average 17 degrees Fahrenheit in the southwest and two degrees Fahrenheit in the north. It is not uncommon for North Dakota summers to have highs above 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The air can be cold and dry when coming from the polar region or warm and humid when coming from the Northern Pacific Ocean. Due to the state’s seasons of weather and varying landscapes, they offer plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities, including water sports and activities, winter sports and ice fishing, hiking, camping, biking, and horseback riding. Additionally, they offer plenty of museums and historical sites to visit. 

North Dakota is a great option for those pursuing higher education, including a career as a school librarian. Currently, the state does not offer any MLIS degrees or any library science programs accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). However, they offer a master’s degree of education with a concentration in library and information that follows standards set by the American Association of School Librarians (AASL) and is accredited by CAEP. Those who wish to work as professional librarians in a public library or academic library can earn an MLIS or MLS degree online from an ALA-accredited program.

This article will cover the education options for those pursuing librarianship, how to become a librarian, the education programs available in North Dakota, and career options in North Dakota. It will highlight what to expect from each program and how to gain admission. Also, it will cover the career options outside of librarianship for those who have a degree in library and information science and the career options in North Dakota’s largest cities for librarians. 

Library and Information Science Schools and Programs in North Dakota

North Dakota offers one degree in Library and Information through Valley City State University, which is accredited through CAEP and follows the standards of the American Association of School Librarians (AASL). This degree is for educators with a teaching license in North Dakota who wish to work as school librarians in elementary and secondary institutions. Currently, there are no library science degrees in North Dakota for those pursuing librarianship in a public or academic library setting. However, there are plenty of online programs that are accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). ALA sets the standard for programs in librarianship, and most states and institutions require librarians to have a master’s from an ALA-accredited program.

Master of Education with a Concentration in Library and Information Technologies at the Valley City State University

This program is 39 credit hours in length and requires 120 hours of customized field experience. Additionally, students must take a comprehensive oral exam that includes each student’s portfolio. There are four core classes each Master of Education student takes and eight courses for school librarianship. The core courses include Research in Education, Issues in School, Community and Family, Supervision and Assessment of Teachers and Learners, Exceptionality, Diversity, and DIfferences. The library and information courses include Applied Research in School Libraries, Literature and Literacy for Children and Young Adults, Integrating Information Literacy and Research Standards, Contemporary Cataloging for the School Library, Collection Development for the 21st Century School Library, Using Information Resources, Administering and Evaluating Program Resources, Collaboration, Management, and Leadership.

How to apply

To qualify for the graduate program at Valley City State University, applicants must have an undergraduate degree from a regionally accredited college or university and a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 grading scale. Applicants must provide official transcripts from each of the colleges or universities they attended. The transcripts must be sent to the Office of Graduate Studies. To apply, go online, fill out the online application for graduate admissions, and pay the application processing fee. Additionally, applicants must provide three letters of recommendation, a resume, and a written statement of professional goals.

How to Become a Librarian in North Dakota

North Dakota does not have state requirements for public librarians and academic librarians at universities and colleges, but many institutions and library employers require or prefer librarians to have their MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program. This is especially true for library managers and administrators. Additionally, many academic librarians who are instructors may need their Ph.D. in information science. Library assistants and technicians may only need a high school diploma or equivalent. 

School librarians, or library media specialists, are required by the state of North Dakota to earn set credentials. There are three levels of credentials a school librarian can obtain. The first level requires 15 credit hours of library media coursework from a state-approved LMIS program. The second level requires an additional nine credit hours from a state-approved LMIS program for a total of 24 credit hours. Lastly, the third level of credentials is for library media directors. They must have a master’s degree from an LMIS program that is state-approved, or a related master’s degree with 24 hours of coursework from an LMIS state-approved program. 

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

One of North Dakota’s largest employers is Noridian Healthcare Solutions. Their headquarters is in Fargo, North Dakota, and they have been around since 1966. They offer careers in finance, administration, information technology, cyber security, and data analysis. Depending on their specialization, library and information science professionals can find a good career in any of these areas. Nearly all information specialists are qualified for a career in data analysis for Nordian. Employment benefits include employer-partially funded health care, a health savings account or reimbursement arrangement, dental and vision insurance, prescription coverage, life insurance, long-term disability, a 4% match in the employee’s 401k, and generous paid leave time. 

For those interested in state and American history, you can choose a career with the state historical society, archives, and museum. They offer internships, volunteer opportunities, part-time jobs, and full-time careers. The museum hosts field trips and has Learning Labs for teaching children and teens about geology, archeology, and how historians study the past and use that information today. They also provide resources for educators, manage and create exhibits, and host daily events and programs. 

Bismarck Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

Bismarck Public School System is the largest school district in North Dakota. The Bismarck Public School started in 1874, and they are growing with the school’s community, which is diverse and thriving economically. The school district has 18 elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, an alternative high school, a Career Academy and Technical Center, and an early education program. The school library media specialists must know the standards the American Association of School Librarianship (AASL) sets. The Bismarck Public School Library Media follows both the AASL standards and the standards of the International Society of Technology in Education. 

The Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library serves the Bismarck area. The service area has a population of 98,458. The library offers one large main library and a bookmobile. They provide 30 library staff positions with 13 librarians. Nine of the 13 librarians have their MLIS degree from an ALA-accredited program. Last year, they offered 607 library programs. They offer programs and services for children, teens, adults, parents, and programs for career-seeking users. 

Fargo Library Degree Programs and Career Opportunities

The fourth largest employer in Fargo is the public school system. They provide over 3,000 careers, and 2,000 of those are full-time and permanent positions. Currently, the school system employs 20 library staff. The system is made up of 16 elementary schools, three middle schools, three high schools, one alternative high school, and one special education day school. They also offer an adult learning center, an early childhood special education program, the Explorer Academy, the Trollwood Performing Arts School, and the Virtual Academy.

Fargo Public Library serves an area with 125,990 residents. The library system is made up of one central library, two library branches, and a bookmobile. They have 43 library staff, including 20 librarians. Of the 20 librarians, 17 have MLIS degrees from an ALA-accredited program. They offer services for teens, children, adults, and parents. They also provide education and entertainment programs for families, book clubs for adults, and a writing club. 

Salary Opportunities in North Dakota for Librarians

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, North Dakota provides 550 librarian positions, including in academic, public, and school libraries. This number is comparable to surrounding states. However, Minnesota has the largest number of librarian positions of the states surrounding North Dakota, and they are currently offering 2,350 librarian positions. The annual mean wage for librarians in North Dakota is $53,710. North Dakota’s wages for librarians are also comparable to the surrounding states. 

Additional Links

To get connected to professional librarians and information specialists in North Dakota, visit They also post state job openings and national conference information. 

If you want to know more about librarianship and public libraries, visit  

To learn more about school librarianship and library media specialists, visit