Graduate Archival Programs

Graduate programs in archival studies are most commonly offered as graduate certificate programs, but Master of Arts degree programs with a concentration in archival studies are also available. These programs provide students with archival training to work in museums, special collections, libraries and other areas. Learn more about these graduate programs below.

Information for Graduate Programs in Archival Studies

Master's degree programs with a concentration in archival studies are typically offered on-campus, but some graduate certificate programs in the field are available online. These programs generally require a hands-on practicum experience and allow room for some elective coursework so students can individualize their plan of study. Here we discuss some of the common course topics for these programs.

Introduction to Archival Studies

As the name suggests, students in these courses are introduced to archival theory and the archival profession. Students learn how to work with archives, special collections and records, including the appraisal, selection, acquisition and arrangement of these items. Other topics these courses discuss may include ethical and legal responsibilities in the field, archival management, advocacy and outreach.

Research Methodologies in Archives

Research methodologies courses closely intertwine the methods for historical research and archival research. These courses examine primary sources, such as documents and letters, digital materials, artifacts, museum displays and more. Students may also explore topics in collective memory and how this recorded information is constructed.


Students in conservation or preservation courses study the various methods and strategies for preserving library materials. These courses examine the physical nature of these materials, why they deteriorate and how to prevent deterioration. Specific topics may include disaster preparedness, proper handling of materials like film and paper documents, digitization and more.


These courses explore the different methods and theories for classifying and organizing archives and library materials. Students learn about descriptive cataloging and how to arrange materials and may discuss some of the history of the subject. These courses may include exercises to provide students with hands-on learning experiences.

Records Management

Courses in records management discuss the concepts of the field and prepare students to manage both electronic and paper records. Students may learn about the history of records management and current issues in the field. Specific topics may include best practices, information management and the practices of records managers.

Common Entrance Requirements

Master's degree programs and graduate certificate programs in archival studies usually require applicants to submit the appropriate application along with their official transcripts, references, personal statement and resume or CV. Master's degree programs may also require students to submit their GRE scores and a writing sample. Applicants to graduate certificate programs need at least a bachelor's degree and may have to complete an interview process. Some graduate certificate programs may also have a minimum GPA requirement.

Students interested in archival studies may pursue a master's degree with a concentration in the field or a graduate certificate in the subject. These programs may include online coursework and generally require a practicum for hands-on learning.

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