Completing a Degree Online

Pursue What's Next - Rutgers MLIS Online You can complete your entire MLIS degree through online learning, and enjoy the flexibility and convenience of managing your coursework from home or from work.

Currently, the online program offers complete plans of study for these areas within the MLIS degree program:

  • General study
  • School Library Media Studies
  • Digital Libraries
  • Public Libraries

In addition, the online program offers courses to support all plans of study to some degree.

Course of Study

You will take two to three years to complete your degree online. A normal course load online is two courses or six credits per semester (part-time study). Students with superior time management skills have successfully taken up to three courses online during a semester (full-time study). If you are interested in taking more than three courses per semester, you should apply to our face-to-face program on campus.

All course work for the online program is conducted entirely online. New students participate in an online orientation where they have an opportunity to learn more about the program, the faculty, and the SC&I MLIS community.  Through this orientation experience, you will meet your faculty, learn how to use the eCollege online courseware system, learn more about our library services online, and get to know the other students in your cohort.

Our online classes have the same content as our on-campus courses and are taught by the same combination of faculty and adjunct instructors as our on-campus program. Online classes will be limited to approximately twenty students to support the quality of the experience. In general, we use an asynchronous mode of delivery, which means that you do not need to be online at a given time during the week, but the classes do have schedules, discussions, assignments, and deadlines that must be met throughout the semester. Some classes may have real-time chat scheduled during the semester; you will be notified of this when you are registering for classes.

Required Online Courses

As with the on-campus program, you are required to enroll in three non-credit classes as part of the degree program:

  • 501 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions in their first semester
  • 502 - Colloquium in a later semester
  • 503 - ePortfolio Capstone in your last semester

The online program is designed primarily for part-time study. Online study typically includes 6 credits (two courses) per term unless special permission is obtained from your adviser to do fewer. As with the campus program, there are summer courses offered, but a maximum of 12 credits may be earned by attendance at summer sessions, and no more than 9 credits may be taken in any one summer without permission. You will complete the degree within three years.

Tuition for the online program is $900.00 per credit, plus $300 per course in fees, regardless of your state of residency. For detailed information about tuition and fees, please visit http://www.studentabc.rutgers.edu/.

The online program was built with generous funding from the federal agency of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.


About Online Learning

Your online classes are taught by full-time faculty members or highly qualified part-time instructors, and you are in class with a group of peers. The classes are NOT self-paced tutorials. We limit class size to help ensure that there is a great deal of interaction among students and teachers in every class. The classes have a structure and there are readings and deadlines and assignments just like in face-to-face coursework. But because the classes are asynchronous, during a given week you can participate during the times that are convenient for you. With asynchronous threaded discussion, class conversations unfold over periods of time, and therefore you must check into class at least three times a week for a fall or spring class, and five times per week for a summer class since summer is a compressed semester. On occasion, we may run a synchronous session via chat or webcasting but we will list this requirement in our course description so you know about it in advance.

Succeeding in Online Learning

Are you one of those adult learners who would succeed in an online program? Successful online students tend to be self-motivated, fairly organized, and comfortable learning by reading and writing. You tend to be the kind of person who stays on top of your work and do not need reminding about deadlines. You are usually a very busy person, but you understand that learning takes time and do not expect online classes to take fewer hours than face-to-face classes. To be successful you don't have to be a computer whiz kid, but you should have experience with word processing, email, sending attachments, navigating websites, and basic Internet searching, and you should feel relatively comfortable when you have to try something new with your computer. You must have regular access to the Internet (ideally, with a high speed connection) because you will have to get into class at least several times a week, and you should have your own email account. When you enroll with us you will have access to a 24/7 Helpdesk, available by phone toll-free or via email, to help you solve technical problems you might encounter.

You can verify that you have a desktop computer appropriate for accessing our online courses by going to http://ecollege.rutgers.edu and checking the technical requirements, which are listed through a link on the left of the webpage.

Testimonials About the Online MLIS Program

Can online learning really provide a rich educational environment? Our experience after eight years of providing distance education at the graduate level is yes. Here's what students in previous semesters in our certificate programs have told us about online learning:

"The Rutgers program is great. I learned a lot and did feel like I got to know the faculty and the other students. I even missed the program when I was finished."
Susan Swords Steffen, Library Director, Elmhurst College (IL).

"I have found online learning . simply terrific. I hadn't ever taken an online class before and I admit to having been a bit skeptical. Would I get to know my classmates? Would my teacher get to know me? Would I actually learn anything? A rousing yes to all of the above. I highly recommend the online program at Rutgers ."
Cheryl Coon, author of Books to Grow With: A Guide to Using the Best Children's Fiction for Everyday Issues and Tough Challenges (Lutra Press; May 2004; www.lutrapress.com)

"I like the broad group of students able to participate online. It is a mix much more exciting than available at the local college."

"Initially I struggled with responding. I was very self-conscious and had to really take my time. What surprises me . is how much easier it is for me to write now."

To Apply

Your admissions and graduation requirements are the same as for on-campus students. To apply to the online program, follow the directions under Admissions. You must select either the on-campus or online option when applying. (If you are willing to be admitted to the alternate option - i.e., you prefer to be in the online program but are willing to be enrolled in the on-campus program as well - please contact us at to notify us that you are willing to be considered for the other option as well.)

Please note the technology competencies addressed on the Admissions webpage.

Plans of Study

Many general MLIS. courses are available online. In addition, there are full plans of study available online: School Library Media, Digital Libraries, and Public Libraries.

If you pursue the School Library Media concentration online, your plan of study has eleven required courses and one elective to meet New Jersey Department of Education requirements. To become certified as a School Library Media Specialist by the State of New Jersey, in addition to Library and Information Science courses you must also complete coursework in Education. See our School Library Media Certifications webpage for more information.

The School Library Media plan of study includes these courses:

510-Human Information Behavior
530-Principles of Searching   
550-Information Technology for Libraries and Information Agencies
522-Cataloging and Classification
540-Reference Sources and Services
514-Learning Theory, Media, and the Curriculum       
547-Materials for Children           
548-Materials for Young Adults
555-Multimedia Production           
575-Management of School Library Programs
592-Field Experience           
One elective, with approval of adviser. There will be a limited number of choices online for the elective.

Participation in three noncredit classes, 501 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions, 502 - Colloquium of Library and Information Studies, and 503 - ePortfolio Capstone is also required. All three take place during a regular semester in addition to your credit coursework. The 501 class will be included as part of your first semester in the program. 502 is required toward the end of your study. You will complete 503 in your last semester.

If you pursue the Digital Libraries concentration online, your plan of study will include at least twelve of the following courses:

510-Human Information Behavior
512 Interface Design
520-Organizing Information
522-Cataloging and Classification
524- Metadata for Information Professionals
530-Principles of Searching   
540-Reference Sources and Services
550-Information Technology for Libraries and Information Agencies
551-Information Retrieval
553-Digital Libraries
554-Information Visualization and Presentation
555-Multimedia Production
558-Digital Library Technology
570-Management of Libraries and Information Centers     
592-Field Experience

Participation in three noncredit classes, 501 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions, 502 - Colloquium of Library and Information Studies, and 503 - ePortfolio Capstone is also required. All three take place during a regular semester in addition to your credit coursework. The 501 class will be included as part of your first semester in the program. 502 is required toward the end of your study. You will complete 503 in your last semester.

If you pursue the Public Libraries concentration online, your plan of study will depend on your career aims. To illustrate, here is an example plan of study for a Child Services Librarian in a Public Library (choose 12):

510-Human Information Behavior
520-Organizing Information
530-Principles of Searching
540-Reference Sources and Services   
550-Information Technology for Libraries and Information Agencies
522-Cataloging and Classification 
514-Learning Theory, Media, and the Curriculum       
547-Materials for Children           
548-Materials for Young Adults
555-Multimedia Production           
553-Digital Libraries 
555-Multimedia Production
570-Management of Libraries and Information Centers     
592-Field Experience

Participation in three noncredit classes, 501 - Introduction to Library and Information Professions, 502 - Colloquium of Library and Information Studies, and 503 - ePortfolio Capstone is also required. All three take place during a regular semester in addition to your credit coursework. The 501 class will be included as part of your first semester in the program. 502 is required toward the end of your study. You will complete 503 in your last semester.

Technology Requirements

Please check the RutgersOnline website for information on hardware and software you will need to access the online classes. In terms of technical skills you should have, please note the skills we have outlined that you need to enroll in all MLIS classes, both on-campus and online.

For more information

For more information about the online degree option, please contact us at online@comminfo.rutgers.edu or 848-932-8936.