FAQ: Best Undergraduate Degree for Library Science

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published September 29, 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

To become a librarian, having a master's degree in library science is a common requirement. Before earning a master's degree, students receive their bachelor's degree in a related field of study. If you're interested in becoming a librarian or pursuing a similar position, it may benefit you to know what your options are for an undergraduate degree. 


In this article, we discuss the frequently asked questions about good undergraduate degrees for library science professionals to share information on why you might earn this degree, how much library science professionals earn and common undergraduate courses. 


What is an undergraduate degree for library science?

An undergraduate degree for library science is an educational program where students learn about library operations and technology. An undergraduate degree typically takes four years for full-time students to complete, and it prepares them for a job or further education. While earning a library science degree, students may take courses that teach them about information and computer science or library organization. They may also learn about research techniques.

If a student wants to pursue a specific library position, such as a children's librarian, then they may take courses that are related to that field. For example, they might take a children's literature class.

Related: FAQ: What Is a Library Science Degree and Why Get One?


Why get a master's degree in library science?

You might get a master's degree in library science if you're interested in becoming a librarian or a similar position. Most library positions require candidates to have a master's degree in library science, which is why you might consider pursuing a master's program. This may be due to the level of specific training and knowledge that librarians need to complete their tasks successfully. If you have a master's degree in library science, you may have a better chance of becoming a librarian. Having a master's degree could also qualify you to earn a higher salary because of your credentials.

Read more: How To Become a Librarian in 4 Steps (With FAQs)


What are some good library science undergraduate degrees?

There are several other degree programs that can be helpful for pursuing a master's in library science. Students might take these programs if they're interested in working in a specialty library. For example, a student who wants to work in a corporate library might want a business undergraduate degree. A student who wants to be a librarian for a hospital could earn a degree in health sciences. Typically, the education prerequisites for a library science master's program is to have a bachelor's degree. So having an unrelated degree, such as business, still qualifies you for a library science master's degree.

Here's a list of some common undergraduate degrees that are good for library science careers:


Library science

Some colleges have library science undergraduate degrees. This may be one of the best options for aspiring librarians because it teaches students about what they might learn while earning their master's degree. A library science degree teaches students how to collect, organize and manage information within different systems. 

Libraries have become increasingly digital, which means that library science students may learn a lot about library and computer technology. Some coursework may also help students learn how to assist customers with research or library resources. Another component of library science is library archives. Students could learn how to collect and preserve archival materials.

Related: Librarian Job Requirements for a Successful Career


Information Science

This degree teaches students how to gather, organize and manage various types of information. Library science has a strong emphasis on information management, which is why this degree can prepare students for a library science master's program. Within this program, students may learn about database management and systems analysis. An information science degree also provides students with computer and technology skills. Most libraries have digital databases and programs to store and analyze their information. Having computer skills can also prepare students for a master's in library science. Along with these skills, students learn about data collection and management.

Related: 18 Careers in Information Science


English 

Many librarians have an undergraduate degree in English. An English degree program provides students with a broad education over several topics, such as writing and literature. Learning about literature, publishing and other related topics can help students have a general understanding of library management. Students could also learn about researching through several of their classes, which is an important aspect of library science. Overall, having extensive knowledge about the English language and literature may be useful for a library science master's degree. For example, you may gain more expertise concerning archives or authors, which relates to library management.

This is also a good option for those who are passionate about literature and reading, as this degree path can build a good foundation of professional qualities and skills that can help you become a librarian.

Related: 20 Jobs You Can Do With an English Literature Degree


Communications

This degree helps students learn about effective communication and networking. In this program, students may take classes that teach them how to convey information to a variety of people and in different settings. A communication degree may be helpful for a library science master's program because librarians assist customers and other library staff members daily. For instance, librarians might help check out or find books and explain resources or research methods to customers. Communication is a topic library science students may learn a lot about in their master's program, which is why this is a beneficial undergraduate degree to have.

Related: FAQ: Is a Communications Degree Worth It?


Education

This degree may be helpful for students for a few different reasons. If a student wants to become a children's librarian, then having an education degree can help qualify them to work with children or young adults. It would also prepare them for any specific coursework or concentrations pertaining to children's library services in their master's program. Even if a student wants to work in a public library, several of those locations have children's services. An education degree teaches students how to educate others, which is something a librarian does for any patron of the library, regardless of their age.

Related: Skills for Working with Children: Definition and Examples


What undergraduate courses can you take to prepare for a master's in library science?

Here are some undergraduate courses you can take that may help prepare you for a master's in library science:


Education

Regardless of whether you want to become a children's librarian or a public librarian, taking a few education courses can help prepare you for a library science master's. For example, you could take a classroom management class. The skills you learn in that class could potentially translate to managing a library. Also, you usually learn different teaching methods in education courses. This can prepare you for classes in a master's program that teaches you about assisting library customers.

Read more: How To Become a School Librarian (With FAQs)


Computer science

While taking a computer science class, you may learn about basic computer and technology skills, such as operating different programs or systems. A computer science class could also teach about algorithms or programming languages. Having some knowledge about technology can qualify you for a library science master's degree because you may take more advanced computer classes during that program. Most libraries operate on digital services, which means it might be helpful for you to know how to use technology for your master's degree.

Related: 10 Careers in Library Science To Explore


Research techniques

In this class, students learn about different ways to conduct research. A research techniques class is beneficial for library science students because as a librarian, you perform research to gather and analyze data. You may also help customers research for their personal needs, so this class can help you assist customers. Some topics you might learn about include using different research methods, finding credible sources and interviewing people.

Related: How To Put Research on Your Resume (With Examples)


Public speaking

Many colleges require public speaking as a general education course. This is also a class you may take if you're pursuing a communication degree. A public speaking class is about the basics of presenting information to a group of people. In this course, you may create and present speeches, essays or debates. This class prepares you for a master's in library science because in that program, you typically learn how to convey helpful information to customers.

Related: 18 Strategies To Improve Your Public Speaking Skills


How much do library science graduates earn?

The national average salary of a librarian, which is a common career that library science graduates pursue, is $52,425 per year. Another popular career for library science graduates is a library director. The national average salary of a library director is $55,373 per year.

The salaries for these jobs may vary based on several factors, such as the location of the job, the size of the company and the level of experience that the professional has. For instance, a professional who has a master's degree in library science may earn more than someone who only has a bachelor's degree.


For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, click on the links provided.


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