Online MLIS Schools
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I've been reading through all the threads about Library schools, but I haven't seen much about online schools. With my husband being in the military and moving every year or so, I think an online school would work out better for me.
Has anyone here had any experience with an online MLIS degree? Can you recommend a school? I know I want an ALA accredited school and there are about ten online ones, but are any better than the others? Also, has anyone actually gotten a job with an online degree?
Thanks for any help!
I did not get a completely online degree, but about half of my courses were online-only, and a handful were hybrid (face-to-face and online), with the rest being f2f. I was satisfied with the online courses. As long as you are getting the degree from a "real," accredited school, it should be fine. Online classes are really what you make of them. You can learn a LOT, but you can also often pass without doing all the work. The student is the only one suffering in the latter case. So, I cannot help you decide which school to go to, but as someone who had over half of her MLIS education online, I can tell you that they are trustworthy degrees. I secured a professional, supervisory position in a health sciences library within four months of finishing my degree.
I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my MLIS. I was in the "Fast Track" program which is mostly online. We were, however, required to attend classes on campus for 1 week during our first semester and then 1 weekend during each of the following semesters (it was nice to meet everyone face to face and I made several friends from all over the country).
Some of the classes were challenging and took up quite a bit of time, others, were fairly easy and fun.
I got a full-time job in a public library within 5 months of graduating.
I am a current MLIS student taking all of my courses online with Drexel University's iSchool. It is an ALA-accredited program. Drexel is a bit expensive, but they do give a discount to military members and their families. I was also able to get credit for one course based on my experience volunteering at our base library. That was 3 credits I didn't have to pay for.
As allisontb stated, you get out of online classes what you put into them. If you keep up with the reading and engage regularly and in depth on the discussion boards, you will learn a lot. But I know I have found myself frustrated at times when it seems fellow students are not really doing the work. In the end, they are only hurting themselves.
I chose to begin an online program because my husband is retired military, and as you can see from my screen name, we were living overseas. We have since moved back to the U.S. But we are still following his jobs and finding a local, in-person school would be difficult. So far, I have been very impressed with most of my professors and the quality of the courses I've taken.
I just started this fall at the University of Tennessee for my library degree. http://www.sis.utk.edu/ I live in Virginia and get in-state tuition. I only had to attend an orientation in-person and the rest will be online. Most of my professors went to the U of Illinois program, which is partially online and widely considered the best program in the country. Still, as I'm sure you read, the most important thing for getting a job, I'm told, is experience and having an accredited degree. For UT, the in-person degree is the same as the online degree, and the campus students take their courses through the same format so they're getting a similar experience, even if you can't meet up at the coffee shop after class.
I went through the University of Alabama's online program for my MLIS. It was ALA accredited, charged in state tuition, and had live lectures using Blackboard Elearning.
I loved it! There were 40 students in my cohort who I met in person once, as all students were required to make one trip to the campus to meet each other and some of the professors.
The live lecture classes gave me a chance to ask questions, and it felt more like a regular college class.
The live lecture also let you connect more to your professors and other students.
The program didn't cost a lot since it was in state tuition for distance Ed students.
I highly recommend it. It is competitive though, they only let in 40 students a year, and they get a lot of applicants.
I did my entire program online through the University of Southern Mississippi. It was a great way for me to do the program. I did have to be on the computer at set times for class discussions and we did group projects too.
University of South Carolina has an online MLIS program. They're ALA, and it's pretty easy to maneuver their system. They use a combo of Blackboard and their own created "VIP" online registration and information system.
We've got "cohorts" in Virginia and West Virginia, Maine, Pennsylvania, everywhere in SC, and (I think) Florida, and Hawaii, but I don't know if you have to LIVE in those places to qualify.
It's a nice program, and you can go through as quickly or slowly as you like. There are 4 terms yearly - fall, spring, and 2 really short killer summer terms of one month each. You don't have to attend the summer courses to be considered a full-time student.
Maybe have to live in specific areas to qualify?
Some classes have group-work requirements or lecture participation requirements that are really only doable if you have solid internet and something like Skype to connect and chat with people live at times that are workable for the group as a whole.
Less support from professors due to distance and e-format.
Very limited interaction with profs and other students - except for required "comments" on lectures and other students' work (which not all profs require) there really isn't any sense of community or interaction. (That isn't necessarily a bad thing...)
Other downsides, I've heard that USC isn't the most well-regarded school, but if you're motivated, you can learn what you need anywhere, and if you have to have classes available online, then it's an option to think about.
San Jose State has an MLIS online program and I recently noticed that the University of Kentucky has an online option as well, however, I'm not sure if UK's program is ALA recognized. Also, when I was peaking around the UK site, I really didn't get much info from what the online option entails.
I am currently pursuing a MLIS as an online student at Drexel University. It's an ALA-accredited program, and I've enjoyed it very much so far. U.S. News & World Report ranked the Drexel program #9 nationally for Librarianship. I had also considered Wisconsin since they were just starting up an online LIS program, but in the end decided on Drexel because of its reputation and use of various online teaching technologies. Also, the academic years is divided into Quarters (10 weeks long), and I could start the program sooner. There is no requirement to ever visit the campus, but I hope to get there sometime for a visit. Otherwise, the Hagerty library is really amazing and has everything you'll ever need accessible online. It's a rigorous program for sure, but I feel it's worth it. Good luck!
I went to the University of North Texas and it was essentially all online.
I graduated in 2002. My wife also went and she graduated in about 2007.
It was great. I had to go to Denton two times. One was for an orientation class right when I started. That lasted maybe two or three days.
Another time I had to go up there for a class that required a few days of in-person classroom setting. This required me to go there for about 3 days I believe, then the rest of the class was online. I could have also taken this class at the University of Houston for the 3 day in-person part, but they did not offer it there in the semester that I needed it, and I was about to graduate.
I had one other class that required me to meet 5 different times on Saturdays at the University of Houston library for classroom sessions.
Other than that, it was entirely online.
I loved it.
I don't think there was any bias against me having an online degree when I graduated. It did take me quite some time to get a job, but I think it was just a bad job market at that time. I have never heard a single word one way or the or the other about MLIS degrees that are obtained online. I think it is more understood with this type of degree, because it is a lot of times adults going back to get a second degree.
I guess what I am saying is that getting an MLIS online through UNT was not comparable to getting a Bachelor's through the University of Phoenix.
I'm currently in the online program at the iSchool of the University of Washington. You have to be on campus for the first few days of your first year, but after that it's completely online. They emphasize a lot of group projects, which can be challenging if your group members are slackers. Some of the professors are great, while others have difficulty being responsive. Overall, it's not bad, but not stellar (although I don't have experience at other schools to compare it to). If you have further questions about it, feel free to send me a private message.
First, I would like to apologize for taking so long to respond to this thread. Between a computer bug and having to go out-of-state for a family emergency, I haven't had time for much!
Second, thank you for all your responses. I am familiar with online learning (my BA will be finished online.) I will be looking more in-depth at all the schools recommended on here. We've recently learned we are moving in the summer of 2012 and I will only be one year into my degree then, so I am definitely going to have to go with an online school. I'm glad to hear that online degrees aren't looked at any differently than brick-and-mortar degrees!
Again, thank you. And if anyone has any other tips or advice, I would love to hear it!
NOT an MLIS online school - but if you - or anyone - is interested in an undergrad library degree online, I'm currently in one. Working toward an LIT AS degree and I love it. I didn't get into the one MLIS program I applied to so went this route for now... one of the few I know of, but there are probably more. I highly recommend it for people already working in libraries without a degree (certificates available too) or who aren't ready to spend the money on MLIS degree: Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The amount of work involved so far - like any class - depends on the student. Your degree is what you make it. I have a BA degree that sometimes kicked my butt and some of the online library classes are just as challenging. Absolutely love it. I've heard some MLIS degreed librarians say that we are learning more, and more practical, information than they got from their MLIS degrees. The department is growing here too - lots of good elective classes on the horizon.
Another option - Milwaukee - University of Wisconsin - has a MLIS online option - ALA accredited.
>14 teandoranges: re: undergrad library degree
I don't know if it is still so, but when I applied to UCLA (and was accepted) in 1989, they would not accept applicants with an undergraduate library degree to the MLS program. The logic was that you should have some subject knowledge first, and that the MLS would allow you to apply that knowledge. I think that's also why a lot of institutions look favorably towards a second subject masters degree in addition to an MLS (or MLIS or whatever the alphabet soup is).
This isn't to criticize an undergrad library degree, but if your intention is to eventually pursue an MLIS make sure that your undergrad degree won't hamper that.
@fugitive #15 Very true. I'm aware of this dilemma with undergrad LIT degrees not being ideal... but this is not a BA degree - an AS. I already have a BA in a different field so the LIT AS degree is a 2nd undergrad degree. If a future MLIS school has a problem with this scenario - then I'll look elsewhere. But yes - I have heard that for those who ONLY have a BA/undergrad in Library Science that grad schools prefer expertise in a non LIT field - whether a minor/major.
I'm at Rutgers (ALA accredited) doing sort of a hybrid of on-campus and online courses. You can do the MLIS degree entirely online, however. (And it doesn't matter if you're in the state or not. I've had students in my online courses who lived in towns neighboring campus along with those who lived across the country.) I agree with one of the earlier posters -- online classes are usually what you make of them. You can log on once a week and probably still pass (but you won't be involved much in the class) or you can log on every day and get involved in discussion, readings, etc. Online courses can have interesting professors, too, because working LIS professionals who might not otherwise be able to teach are teaching these courses. I had one professor who was a professional at Princeton Univ Libraries and one who was a former ALA president. Pretty cool stuff! I would imagine getting a job with a degree online is the same as getting one with a degree on campus, especially if a) it's an ALA accredited program and 2) you were to explain your situation.
Also, on a side note, there was one person in my course who took classes on campus despite having a husband in the military -- she did an accelerated track and finished in one year (September through July actually). I'm not sure I'd recommend this though because you'd have a lot of work on your plate then!
I have been looking at online MLIS programs as well and San Jose State is very inexpensive and looks easier to get into than most but is also accredited by ALA. Does anyone have any more experience with their program?
I have to put a plug in for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee School of Information Studies online masters program. I am finishing my MLIS this summer and moved while going to school. I have really like that as an online student you pay per class rather than tuition per semester.
Although, I have been an online student, there have been a few group project that we used Skype or something similar to communicate. It seemed to work ok and it was a way to work with other students.
The only difficulty (which really isn't one) is the difference in time zones. You just have to be aware of the time if you live in a different time zone.
Good luck to everyone starting or currently in school.
I teach cataloging online for the University of Alabama's School of Library and Information Studies (SLIS). I also taught cataloging for Drexel University's iSchool for two quarters, but I told them I didn't want to teach for them anymore. I strongly believe that cataloging is a subject best taught when students have constant contact with the instructor, and Drexel's asynchronous format didn't allow for that. (SLIS uses a synchronous system, with students able to exchange questions and problems with me for three hours per week.)
I think getting a degree online is basically good, but there are some topics, cataloging among them, that are better taught in a real-time environment. Cataloging is a subject with very detailed and complicated rules, and I devoutly think that it is better learned with a teacher on board for at least a few hours every week.
I am currently halfway through my MLIS at the University of Illinois. My degree has been entirely through their online (LEEP) program. It's been a great experience so far! All classes are held in real time. We meet for two hours each week for lecture, class discussion, questions, etc. I definitely think that this format is best for facilitating online learning - I can't imagine that I would get as much out of classes held asynchronously. The difficulty of the classes is pretty varied. I've had some that were quite rigorous, and others that required much less effort. The classes are all online, but you are required to travel to campus once for a 10-day session at the beginning of the program (known as boot camp), and again each semester to meet with each of your classes for a one day in-person session. I live in Chicago, so traveling to central Illinois is not a big deal for me, but it might be more of a consideration for others - although I have had students from all over the country in my classes.
The program is currently ranked #1 by US News & World Report, so admission can be pretty competitive, but I've had a fantastic experience and highly recommend it!
I attened IU-SLIS-Indy in person. One of the comments that I heard from one of my professors there is that librarians who were online students tend not to have the people skills that students who attended in person have when it comes to working in a real library. That's not to say that the online portion of our classes did not enhance our experience.
I graduated from San Jose State last spring - I feel like it was a pretty solid education, although a bit uneven in instruction. It's not the most academically rigorous, but there's a good mix of theory and practical tools.
If you're considering it, I recommend joining the Yahoo discussion group for students ( http://groups.yahoo.com/group/sjsumlis )
SJSU also was reviewed in the Hack Library School blog, which is a good resource although I feel it could be a lot more critical http://hacklibschool.wordpress.com/
@ fugitive...Just curious as to your statement. Are you saying those with an undergrad in a library related area will be hampered while pursuing an MLIS? I think I may know what you are getting at, but please clarify...
I'm not fugitive, but I can answer for my program. Precedence in admittance is given to applicants with undergrad degrees unrelated to LIS (business is highly valued, as is a specific discipline - history or various arts or any of the sciences), and applicants with prior (or current) library work experience.
Someone with an undergrad LIS degree wouldn't necessarily be turned away, but if there were a lot of applicants for just a few places, they would be at a disadvantage in the application process.
I have heard, but do not know for sure, that applicants with dual undergrad degrees are considered based on their NON-LIS degree, but I don't have any personal experience with that.
In an interesting development, USC (where my online MLIS classes are from) is just starting this year with their own LIS undergrad degree, so I'm very curious as to whether that will impact the "undergrad LIS not preferred" system in the graduate school.
ETA - The reasoning I have heard is because MLIS is broad-spectrum as to where Librarians end up and what they end up focusing on, and because Librarians are needed in special field libraries and institutions where they are expected to have a grounding in that subject area, it is preferred to have someone with a background in something that MLIS isn't going to provide - the idea of having an undergrad LIS means that you have someone who already knows a little about Librarianship, but nothing else, and that can be detrimental to their eventual career.
...chiming in with Texas Woman’s University School of Library and Information Science (TWU SLIS)- reasonable tuition, rigorous instruction, a wide variety of courses allowing you to chart a track specific to your interest (medical, public, media specialist, youth services, academic, etc.)
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