Affordable Online Degrees: VSU's MLIS Program Named a Best Buy

August 30, 2012

Jessica Pope
Communications and Media Relations Coordinator

Affordable Online Degrees: VSU's MLIS Program Named a Best Buy

VALDOSTA -- The Master of Library and Information Science program at Valdosta State University has been named a Best Buy by GetEducated.

Founded in 1989 by psychologist and educator Vicky Phillips, the Vermont-based GetEducated is reportedly the only consumer group in the United States dedicated to helping students compare and rate online colleges and universities. It serves to protect distance learners from online education fraud.

VSU’s MLIS program was among 16 similar degree programs across the nation to be independently reviewed. Of those, 10 were found to offer a high quality education at a cost that ranks well below the national average.

VSU came in at No. 2, outranked only by East Carolina University, which has a lower in-state tuition rate. However, Dr. Wallace Koehler, director of the university’s MLIS program and professor, said VSU has a lower out-of-state tuition rate since costs are not based on residency, and as a result, the university has seen a rise in the number of non-Georgia students entering the program.

Also, according to GetEducated, the Greenville, N.C.-based library science education program is not yet accredited by the American Library Association. Valdosta’s MLIS program has been accredited by the ALA’s Committee on Accreditation since 2007.

“The library profession requires a degree from an accredited program,” said Dr. Alan Bernstein, university librarian and dean of the MLIS program at VSU.

The university welcomed the first nine students into its new Master of Library and Information Science program in August of 2001. Today, the program admits roughly 80 to 90 students a year, some in the fall and some in the spring. Koehler noted that the enrollment numbers “mushroomed” after the program was accredited.

Most of the students are older, working, married, and raising families. They come to the program from as close as the local community and as far away as Korea, Uganda, and China. The typical student takes two courses a semester, graduating in five semesters, Koehler noted.

Bernstein graduated from the program in 2003. He was the second person to earn the degree at VSU and has said on more than one occasion that “it’s a good program, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.”

Koehler joked, “I went from being his professor to answering to him. Without the program [Bernstein] wouldn’t be where [he is] today.”

In the mid-1990s, Emory University closed its library school. Realizing a demand for the program existed, Dr. George Gaumond, who was university librarian at the time, wrote a proposal to the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia seeking to have VSU selected as the host site for an online library school. Instructors were hired; in July of 2001, Koehler was named associate director of the program. A year later, he became director.

Clark Atlanta University had a library education program until 2005.

The mission of VSU’s MLIS program is “to prepare professionals who will exercise leadership in planning, promoting, implementing, and administering the preservation, organization, dissemination, and effective use of society’s recorded information.” The seven-member faculty teaches a curriculum that “reflects the role of library and information services in a rapidly changing technological and global society.”

Contact Dr. Wallace Koehler at (229) 333-5966 or or Dr. Alan Bernstein at (229) 333-5860 or at to learn more.

On the Web:

GetEducated says:
“A million online students visit annually seeking advice on which of the 3,000-plus online education programs best meet their needs. We are pleased to showcase … [VSU] as a top contender. … You are a member of an elite group of innovators ensuring higher education access … in a time when college affordability has become a critical national concern.”