Records management studies, sometimes referred to as archive studies, can lead to an official national certification in records management, a career as an archivist at a museum or historical society, or enhance a master's degree in library or information science. This certificate can often be completed partially or fully online, and typically requires the successful completion of 12 to 18 credits and may include an independent study or practicum requirement.
Courses Common to Most Records Management Programs
Most programs have a core set of one to three foundation courses, in addition to which, students can select from a list of elective courses that can be chosen based on an expected career path or interest. Students may not be able to start an elected course until they have completed any prerequisite course requirements.
Principles of or Introduction to Records Management and Archives
Standard protocols and techniques for preserving documents, records, or archives are the focus elements of this type of course. Some of these courses may also introduce students to the characteristics of possible careers in archives or records management. Other topics touched on in such an introductory course often involve the evolution of records management, legal implications, inventory, organization, protection, and the latest trends in records or archive management.
Digitalization of Records and Archive Management
A course in the digitalization of records will address the ongoing transition from paper to digital archives while possibly exploring some of the risks and advantages of such a method. The course should address automation, platform stability, accountability, long-term storage implications, and best practices. Students may also practice identifying what makes a quality digital material and the technical issues involved with creating them.
Archiving Multimedia Records
This specialized course should address techniques and practices in maintaining moving images and sound. Special considerations unique to audiovisual material might include learning about historically relevant digital formats someone may encounter working with digital materials. Other topics covered may include organization, preservation techniques, and the latest trends.
Legal Issues and Governance
A class covering the legal issues and governance of records management will build on the knowledge of policies and regulations students may learn in other courses and provide a deeper understanding of this topic. Common expected legal topics such as privacy, governing access, liability, and copyright should be addressed in such a class. Some classes also address more diverse areas such as digital evidence procured for legal cases, malpractice, and public policies, though in some programs these areas may be addressed in a separate class.
Students will learn an integral element of maintaining a successful collection as they study ways to organize and classify records and archives. Various frameworks for organization and ways of evaluating records and archives for placement in such organizations should be the focus of such a class. Students may be educated about the tools and techniques for describing, organizing, navigating, and evaluating records.
Independent Study, Research, or Field Work
Students may be required to take part in classes that will allow them to practically apply what they have learned in the program through research, fieldwork or independent study projects, for example, students could gain experience working with an archive repository. Students may need to take such a course near the end of the program and gain approval for their topic of study from the professor. Consultation, written and sourced reports, and presentations can also be a part of this course.
A graduate certificate program in records management or archives often requires that a student already have a bachelor's or master's degree in library or information science, or a closely related field. A prior GPA of 3.0 and transcript request is common, and schools may require GRE test scores, a resume, or a statement addressing personal, academic, and professional background. There may be a technology competency requirement to fulfill. Schools may have special admission requirements as a non-degree seeking student or may require that the student meet the same admission requirements as a student seeking a master's degree.
Graduate certificate programs in records management provide students with knowledge and skills that enable them to pursue careers as information officers, historians, assets managers, or museums and library curators. The required courses provide students with in-depth knowledge of every aspect of record and archive management from the organization of assets to legal issues and often may be applied to a future master's degree in a related field.