Online Graduate Certificate Programs in Archival Studies

Oct 26, 2019

Online archival studies programs offer graduate certificates for students who wish to work in the field of archiving. Curriculum discussed in this article can set students up for success in practice and in professional exams.

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With the onset of the digital age, the practice of archiving, or maintaining and preserving records and documents, has become exponentially more complex. There is more variety in methods and strategies for accessing records than ever before, and online graduate certificate programs have curriculums to reflect the new challenges professional archivists face.

Online Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies Coursework

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) sets a standard for a graduate certificate in archival studies (CARST or NDP), and most programs adhere to these guidelines. Some programs at the graduate level set students up to take the Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) Certification Exam. Most programs are around 18 credit hours in length, and the following are some subjects that a curriculum in archival studies often includes.


Courses in theory of archival studies can range from fundamental to complex. Founding principles of archiving might be explored as well as courses such as community-oriented studies for archivists and the change of the profession since the onset of the digital age. Students can expect to take at least one archival studies theory course in their program exploring principles from records management to public history.

Physical Preservation

These courses go over the actual physical preservation of items. The prevention of deterioration of physical records is one of an archivist's main responsibilities. These courses include the techniques and materials used to preserve a variety of different media, from various types of papers to photographs and negatives. These classes might also address appraisal techniques for potentially valuable records and artifacts.

Digital Records

Creating a digital record of that which was only previously available in physical format is a new responsibility of archivists that has evolved over the past several decades. Database management and website formatting as well as search techniques can be explored in courses such as these. Security and other concerns that apply to digital archive collections could be a focus. Students might also delve into metadata management.

Audiovisual Materials

Written records are often the focus when considering archives, but audiovisual materials can be just as important. Archivists can learn the nuances in preserving, cataloging, and supplying such materials for research. The basic methods for changing video/audio to digital may be explored.


Curating collections of material for scholarly outreach is also a prime concern for archivists. Classes in this subject typically cover digital and physical curation, i.e. setting up collections either on display or in a subject matter accessible format. Maintaining and updating repositories will usually fall under courses such as these, as well.

Program Admittance Requirements for an Online Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies

To be admitted into an online graduate program in archival studies, applicants must show proof of graduation from a bachelor's program. Minimum GPA requirements will be set by each school. Other documents applicants may be expected to supply include multiple letters of recommendation, personal statements, and resumes. Some schools require applicants possess or are currently in the processing of obtaining a graduate degree.

There are online programs available to obtain a graduate certificate in archival studies by completing about 18 credits. The curriculum will typically include a broad range of subjects meant to prepare students for both examinations and practice in the digital information environment of today.

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