March 16, 2018

USC Launches Master’s in Library Management

The University of Southern California will now offer an online master’s degree for management in library and information science (MMLIS), developed by the USC Libraries in partnership with the USC Marshall School of Business. Despite the inclusion of management in the title, it’s not intended just for aspiring leaders: “It is the basic qualification for professional librarians”, Ken Haycock, director of graduate programs in library and information management ,told LJ.

The MMLIS is “one of the first programs in librarianship in the United States to be affiliated with a major business school,” USC said in a statement. (Read the complete announcement at The MLIS at St. Catherine University in St. Paul recently moved into its School of Business and Leadership, but wasn’t originally developed there.

The MMLIS will differ from library degrees already offered by other institutions by including a required course in communication for leaders and a two-credit course in Research and Professional Applications required each semester, in which students will investigate critical, current professional problems identified by the advisory board, in teams and with faculty.

Haycock, the program’s director, is a research professor of management and organization in the USC Marshall School of Business, and previously developed and directed the online master’s in library and information science at San Jose State University.

The program will launch in May, and USC plans to apply for ALA accreditation in the fall (something it can’t do until the program is fully operational and has students enrolled).

Unlike many predominantly online programs, there is no requirement that new students travel to the campus for orientation or other seminar work. There’s a required online orientation, and conference-based face-to-face sessions are optional. However, each course has some synchronous requirements, so that students and faculty will interact in real-time. It will be offered initially on a cohort model, in which a group of students moves through all classes and phases of the program together.  Students can complete the 40 required units in two years, at a cost of $1473 per unit. Financial aid and part time schedules are available. Right now, the degree is entirely coursework, but “a thesis option is anticipated,” Haycock said.

This isn’t USC’s first library degree: Beginning in 1936, the university offered a school of library science, which changed its name several times before closing in 1986, according to the Online Archive of California.

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Meredith Schwartz ( is Executive Editor of Library Journal.

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  1. Jennifer Johnson says:

    Let me better understand this, $60,000 for a degree that costs about half basically anywhere else? Are the USC Libraries still run by Cathrine Quinlan who sued her former employer because she broke her contract and lost? What significant collections has Quinlan brought in to USC since she’s been there? I wonder if she still makes racially offensive remarks about the Asian community? Good luck to any student who wastes their money on this program.

    • Historically_speaking says:

      Are most private MLS/MLIS programs really that much cheaper? Some of us do not have the ability to attend a public university becuase they are not offered in our state. I know that I pay at least $1,100-1,200 per cr. At least I have my GI Bill to fall back on.

  2. So this degree costs more than 61K? (42 credits @ $1473 per unit) Seems outrageously steep to me, especially considering that you can get an MBA or another master’s degree for much cheaper at your local public university. Most librarians don’t make more than 50K a year, and many have debt from the MLS.

  3. Ha. Ha. HAHAHAHA. Over $60K? I pity the poor souls who sign up simply because it’s USC.

  4. When the very same dean was at UBC, she refused to refer to Carribean Canadians as anything other than Negroes. Good to see the States haven’t changed her. Good luck to the students paying 60k for a degree that isn’t even ALA accredited and spearheaded by a librarian who hasn’t been independently published, the two things she’s been credited with are co-written by peers and subordinates.

  5. Since most Library Schools have been cashing in on the money making MLIS online “diploma mills,” that are very profitable, USC now wants to re-establish their library school, which was closed in the 80s, and is now lead by the same man that built San Jose State’s online program named Haycock. Despite USC’s prominent name, as many potential students may want to pay for, do we really need another online program? I, as a librarian, know that it doesn’t matter where your MLIS is obtained, one just needs the degree from an ALA accredited school. Cheaper the better. Also, what is so different with a regular MLIS and one in management? I say nothing. This program will simple further floor the under and unemployed MLIS graduates in the library job market. If USC was smart, they will move into the iSchool route similar to Berkeley’s program and offer useful training even online with a technology focus.

  6. I started the library program at SJSU in 2003. We actually went to class and had face time with our professors. When Ken Haycock took over, the tuition doubled and he turned the program into an online “diploma mill.” Now he will do the same for USC. You can earn an expensive degree, but you will still have the same dismal chance of getting a professional position. I went to work in a public library for $12 an hour as a library assistant and had plenty of competition from others who had earned their MLIS. Once in the profession, I found out that I was well behind a number of other paraprofessionals who had gone back to school to earn their MLIS degrees and were waiting for promotions. There are too many online library programs and very few jobs available for recent graduates. Save your money!

  7. Though the program seems expensive, the initiative is a good one. Many librarians lack adequate managerial training in their library programs. Most programs focus on offering a general library degree and the working environment requires much more as many librarians run a one-man show.

  8. David Gaynon says:

    I am posting this as a former librarian who has a MLS degree from a defunct program at a private school. I read through the above comments and thought — is that all that really matters — that you have a MLS degree from an ALA accredited school. Doesn’t it matter if you learned anything useful along the way. Is there a baseline of knowledge for professional librarians or is this more like a British gentlemen in the 19th century buying his commission in the army?