Schools for Aspiring Archivists: How to Choose

Students interested in studying archivist programs should choose a program based upon the type of materials they wish to work with, as not all archivists have the same academic background. Keep reading to learn more about program options for archivists, and get school info. Degree programs for archivists can commonly be found for archivists at the bachelor's and master's degree level.

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Archivists work in many different capacities, from the smallest museum to the largest library. Programs are offered at the bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree levels at colleges and universities throughout the United States.

Top 10 Colleges that offer programs in Library and Information Science Schools

Below is a list of the top schools in the country that offer programs in library and information science at all degree level:

College/University Location Institution Type Degrees Offered In-state Tuition (2015-2016)*
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, IL 4-year, Public Master's $15,023
University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, NC 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $8,591; Graduate: $9,143
University of Washington Seattle, WA 4-year, Public Master's $15,207
Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 4-year, Private Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $43,318; Graduate: $33,312
University of Michigan Ann Arbor, MI 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $13,856; Graduate: $20,638
Rutgers University New Brunswick, NJ 4-year, Public Bachelor's, Master's, Doctoral Undergraduate: $14,131; Graduate: $16,272
University of Texas Austin, TX 4-year, Public Master's $10,934
Indiana University Bloomington, IN 4-year, Public Bachelor's and Master's Undergraduate: $10,388; Graduate: $8,442
Simmons College Boston, MA 4-year, Private Master's and Doctoral $20,052
Drexel University Philadelphia, PA 4-year, Private Master's $31,239

Source: *National Center for Education Statistics

School Selection Criteria

Since there are many options for prospective students, individuals should consider the following when selecting a program:

  • There is a wide variety of career options for archivists; students should make sure a program's curriculum will address his or her specific interests.
  • Students should consider programs that offer internships or practical work experience that will help them develop on-the-job skills and a network within the archiving world.
  • Individuals should check if a program is accredited with the American Library Associations (ALA), since a vast majority of employers require a degree from an ALA accredited school.

Library and Information Services Certificate

Library and information services certificate programs are perfect for aspiring archivists who do not have a specialization interest or are undecided about an area of specialization. Certificate programs can take up to a year to complete. While some are offered by community colleges, most are part of larger library and information science schools.

Bachelor of Science or Bachelor of Arts in Information and Library Science

Prospective archivists should understand that some schools differentiate between the titles of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in Library Science. Undergraduate programs in library science or archival studies are not as common as schools that offer a graduate or joint bachelor's and master's degree. The few schools that do offer a B.S. in Library Science specifically prepare students to continue on to a master's program in information or library science. Minors in library science, on the other hand, are available to undergraduate students at some colleges and universities. Students who complete a B.A. or B.S. may be able to continue to advanced certification for specific library or teaching jobs.

Master of Science in Library and Information Science

Candidates who want the job of curator or museum or university archivist may want to consider a Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MSLIS). Graduate programs typically take two years to complete.

Prospective master's students may also want to consider a dual or joint degree program. Specialization in particular areas can help archivists find jobs in the fields they are most interested in. For example, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), museums also want curators and archivists to have a master's degree in the discipline of the museum ( To meet this requirement, many prospective archivists earn degrees in art, history, archaeology and even museum studies. Enrolling in dual degree programs or taking elective courses in related historical fields can help archivists become more marketable.

Advanced or Graduate Certificate

While some masters programs include advanced certification, most archivists will have to complete additional continuing education to receive advanced certificates in specialized areas. Advanced certificate programs are generally available to any graduate student in a MSLIS program, and sometimes to graduate students in the humanities or liberal arts. Graduate certificate programs last up to one year, and some include student teaching or advanced internship opportunities. Archivists with these credentials may be allowed to work with rare collections and hold advanced positions in institutions or with a state's archives.

There are many schools across the country that offer programs in library and information science at all degree levels. Schools that are accredited with the American Library Association offer students better career options upon degree completion.

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