If you are considering becoming a professional librarian, you likely already know that the American Library Association (ALA) has recommended that all professional librarians hold a Master of Library Science (MLS), Master of Library and Information Science (MLIS), or related degree from an ALA-accredited program. Let’s say you have finished such a program, and are now the proud holder of an ALA-accredited MLS or MLIS degree. Congratulations! But, wait! You’ve just realized that the MLS/MLIS degree is not the most advanced degree you can get in library and information science. What about the Doctor of Library Science degree?
What is a Doctor of Library Science Degree?
A Doctorate of Library Science degree is the highest degree in library science that you can achieve. It is designed for those who wish to work in specialized library management, as well as within research and academia. There are fewer Doctor of Library Science degree programs than there are the more popular MLS or MLIS programs, but they do exist. On-campus and online options are available within Doctor of Library Science programs.
Doctor of Library Science Degrees Titles
Doctor of Library Science degrees may go by the following names:
- Doctor of Library Science
- Doctor of Philosophy in Library and Information Management
- Doctor of Information Technology
- Doctor of Philosophy in Information and Library Science
- Doctor of Philosophy in Information Science
- Doctor of Philosophy in Information Studies
- Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning – Library Media Specialist
- Doctor of Philosophy in Education – Learning Analytics
Are Doctor of Library Science Degrees Accredited?
While doctoral degrees in library science are not usually ALA-accredited, they are found at schools that house MLS or MLIS programs that are ALA-accredited. The college or university department that houses the Doctor of Library Science program, therefore, has received ALA accreditation. Doctor of Library Science programs recommended by the ALA can be found in their searchable database.
Why Should I Consider Pursuing a Doctor of Library Science Degree?
If you are interested in working in specialized areas in library science, getting a Doctor of Library Science degree is the way to go. You will qualify for more advanced positions in library science, garnering higher salaries. For example, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), as of May 2020, the mean annual wage for a librarian/media collections specialist (a position requiring a Master of Library Science) is $63,560. With a doctoral degree in library science, however, you can qualify for library positions with higher salaries, such as specialized librarian or library director positions, which can earn between $77,680 and $97,460 annually. Other positions that a Doctor of Library Science can help you to qualify for include, but are not limited to:
- Post-secondary professor: $80,560
- Archivist: $75,070
- Operations research analyst: $92,280
- Computer and information systems manager: $161,730
Doctor of Library Science Degree Program Admittance
Being at the pinnacle of library science, you might wonder if it is very difficult to gain admission to a Doctor of Library Science degree program. Admission to these programs is usually very competitive. Requirements vary from school to school, but usually include:
- Holding a master’s degree from an ALA-accredited program in library science or library and information science or related field
- Passing the GRE examination (this is not required for all Doctor of Library Science programs – check with the school in which you are interested)
- Completed application and fee
- Updated resume/curriculum vitae
- Statement of purpose/admission essay (topics vary from school to school)
- Official transcripts of all prior academic work
- Three professional and/or academic references
- Writing sample of prior research work
An admissions interview will be conducted before you are accepted into a Doctor of Library Science program. Admission to a Doctor of Library Science program is quite competitive, based upon the strength of your educational background and GRE scores, work experience, statement of purpose, research experience, and personal interview. Doctoral candidates often must identify a faculty member who will be responsible for directing their research and work during the duration of the program.
Course Types Found in a Doctor of Library Science Program
Classes are different in a Doctor of Library Science program than what you have experienced in your MLS program. You will have more seminars that go further in-depth on research problems pertaining to the field of library and information science. Topics of courses that you may encounter in a Doctor of Library Science program may include:
- Retrieving, Organizing and Analyzing Information
- Foundations of Information Science
- Tools for Information Literacy
- Human Information Behavior
- Information Use for Organizational Effectiveness
In addition, an 18-hour review will usually be held at the end of your first year in the Doctor of Library Science program. This is conducted by a committee consisting of all faculty members who have taught you thus far. Your mastery of selected subjects and ability to identify research topics is assessed. You are told of any deficiencies and methods of improvement that they determine. Your continuation in the program is dependent upon a satisfactory review.
Every year after that during your Doctor of Library Science program, you will present a statement of progress to the associate dean and your advisor, reflecting your research interests, progress you have made, summary of courses you have completed, and list of papers you have written during the previous year. Your continuation in the program is dependent upon a satisfactory review.
How Long Will It Take to Complete Coursework in a Doctor of Library Science Program?
The length of time that it takes to complete coursework in a Doctor of Library Science program differs from school to school. However, if you are attending classes full-time, you will likely complete coursework in two-and-a-half-years. If attending part-time, your length of time to complete classes will vary. You will need to take a comprehensive exam at the end of your coursework and once you have completed a literature review of your intended research area. You must also have presented two papers for publication prior to your comprehensive exam.
What is a Comprehensive Exam in a Doctor of Library Science Program?
After completing coursework, you must then complete a comprehensive exam that includes an overview of your research interests, a literature review, and a dissertation prospectus. The examining committee must accept your written comprehensive exam package, then they will conduct an oral exam on the same information.
What is a Dissertation in a Doctor of Library Science Program?
A doctoral dissertation occurs near the end of your Doctor of Library Science program. You must register for dissertation hours with your college’s department. Once your comprehensive exam is accepted, you and an advisor will consult to form a dissertation committee and present a dissertation proposal to present to the committee. You should complete and defend the proposal, or make substantial progress on it, within six months of completing your comprehensive exam.
Your doctoral dissertation will consist of an original contribution of knowledge that involves identifying and defining a researchable topic, applying research methodology to that topic, and presenting and interpreting the data. The dissertation defense is a final oral examination administered by the dissertation committee and open to the entire university community. At least one scholar from outside of your university’s library science program will sit on the dissertation committee that administers the oral examination.