Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies

Graduate certificate student doing archival studies work

Learn about archival practices as they affect the composition and meaning of cultural artifacts and historical records.

About the Certificate

The four-course, 12-unit Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies provides a specialization in an area of growing interest within the library and information science field as well as an opportunity to learn more about archival practices as they affect the composition and meaning of cultural artifacts and the historical records. 

This certificate program also offers advanced continuing education opportunities to practitioners working in libraries and archives, especially on the challenges posed by the emergence of digital record-keeping.

Archival studies programs have become common in the United States in recent decades. In an era of historic change in record-keeping practices and an increasingly competitive job market, students pursuing careers in archives and records management today need formal credentials based on a rigorous education in the theory and practice of the profession.

The program is designed to give you foundational core knowledge of the archives profession. The curriculum is structured around the guidelines for graduate programs set by the Society of American Archivists, ensuring that students have a comprehensive understanding of professional archival standards that may not otherwise be acquired without an archives concentration in their graduate level education.

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Learning Outcomes

The archives certificate will acquaint you with the core knowledge of the profession, focusing on the nature of records and the basic archival functions of records appraisal, acquisition, arrangement, description, preservation, reference, access, outreach and archives administration. You will also gain essential contextual knowledge of the sociocultural factors shaping archival records as they are created and managed over time in different communities of practice and localities.

Certificate Requirements

The certificate requires a minimum of 12 units in total, which includes 9 units from required courses (LIS 540, LIS 640 and LIS 671) and 3 units from an elective course.

If you are a current MLIS student or you already have an MLIS degree from an accredited ALA school, LIS 504 is prohibited from being used in the elective category.


Archival Studies Graduate Certificate students take the following three required courses:

Provides an introduction to the archival profession with focus on theory and practice in the areas of appraisal and acquisition, arrangement and description, reference, preservation, exhibitions, outreach, and electronic resource development.

This course examines the archivist’s ‘first’ responsibility – the appraisal of records for long-term preservation. Appraisal is first in the sequence of archival functions and, therefore, influences all subsequent archival activities. Importantly, appraisal is integral in archiving as, through  it, archivists determine what silver of the total human documentary production will actually become ‘archives’ and thus part of society’s historical narrative and collective memory. By performing appraisal and selection, archivists are thereby actively shaping the future’s history of our times.

This course will address the impact of technology on the fundamentals of libraries, archives and records management. Many librarians, archivists and records managers who have been working for even a few years find that they need to know more about working with digital information, the shift from paper to electrons caused a shift in the fundamental nature of the professions. To thrive in the digital era, they need new skills to accomplish many of the same tasks. Collections will no longer be physical, bur virtual. Patrons will often be thousands of miles away, not just the other side of the reference desk. This course is intended to help you understand this new environment.

Archival Studies Graduate Certificate students take one of the following elective courses:

As the first course a SLIS master’s student takes, LIS 504 provides an introduction to the library and information professions, to the SLIS graduate program and to roles and current issues in library and information services for the 21st Century.

Study of the principles and practices of descriptive cataloging for bibliographic and authority control, and resource discovery. AACR2R, RDA, MARC, Dublin Core, OAI-PMH, and selected specialized metadata schemes for all forms and formats of materials are covered.

Provides an introduction to the preservation of library materials, including an overview of physical and chemical deterioration in various forms of media, and exploration of the body of knowledge related to ameliorating these problems.

Addresses themes associated with the production of information artifacts and issues in documenting cultural diversity across the American culture landscape. The practices of collection and documenting cultures and communities will be explored in relation to the mission of libraries, archives, historical societies and other cultural heritage institutions concerned with the acquisition of information in books, journals and other textual materials, and in sound and visual documents.

This course covers theory, methods, and techniques widely used to design and develop a relational database system and students will develop a broad understanding of modern database management systems. Applications of fundamental database principles in a stand-alone database environment using MS Access and Windows are emphasized. Applications in an Internet environment will be discussed using MySQL in the Linux platform. Graduate-level requirements include a group project consisting of seven sections: Database Design; Implementation (Tables); Forms; Data Retrieval (Queries/Reports); Project Presentation; Project Report; and, Peer Evaluation.

The owners of intellectual property have moral and legal rights that constrain how information can be disseminated. Those working in libraries, archives, or other information services should understand when and why these constraints apply to advocate for a robust and equitable cultural and intellectual commons. Digital content creators should also be aware of the licenses, networks, and creative practices at play in the circulation and reuse of audio, video, photographic and multimodal works. In this course, we will discuss the various legal aspects of copyright  (e.g., fair use, the first-sale doctrine) in the context of information services and content creation as well as the ways intellectual property rights affect information services and shape media reuse in the 21st century.

This course will bring together lectures, discussions, guest presentations, and community-focused assignments to develop student understanding of and experience working with communities on the formation of practical strategies for working within community-focused archives and museum contexts to: identify records, artifacts, and their creation; document their activities; collect, manage, display, make accessible, and preserve records and other historical and cultural material; and undertake community-focused collaborative research. Students will be required to select a community of interest and work independently with that community throughout the semester. The instructor can help suggest communities in search of archives- and museum-focused activities, but students are responsible for selecting their own community site.

This course provides a basic understanding of technology in the digital information environment along with an introduction to practical hands-on skills needed to manage digital information. The course combines reading, discussion, collaboration, project work, independent study, and guided hands-on practice. The course covers the basic installation, setup and maintenance of key systems found in the digital information environment today. Linux is used as a foundation for learning while drawing parallels to the Windows server operating system, Unix operating systems, and other operating systems.

This course provides you with a basic understanding of the theory and practical approaches to the management of information and technology in the digital information environment. Management topics considered in this course range from the strategic (planning, leadership, and policy development) to the tactical (project management, the acquisition and deployment of technology). The course combines reading, discussion, collaboration, project work, independent study, and guided hands-on practice in order to reinforce the concepts described in the project objectives.

This 3-credit course is 1 of 5 required for completion of the Certificate in Digital Information Management (DigIn). This course will provide an in-depth look at the processes involved in building and managing digital collections and institutional repositories. The course will have a strong hands-on component in which students will apply advanced resource description methods to a collection, and then build a prototype repository along with a basic access system. Students will also analyze and discuss case examples of digital collections, focusing on technology management issues and organizational strategies for building different types of collections.

LIS 672 is a prerequisite for LIS 675

Specialized work on an individual basis, consisting of training and practice in actual service in a technical, business, or governmental establishment. Students concurrently enrolled in the M.A. LIS in the School of Information should enroll in a LIS 698 Capstone Internship for a 3 credit internship to satisfy the MA Capstone Internship requirement. See the MA Internship page for additional information.

Qualified students working on an individual basis with professors who have agreed to supervise such work. Graduate students doing independent work which cannot be classified as actual research will register for credit under course number 599, 699, or 799.

You can transfer up to 6 units from other accredited institutions with the approval of the Archival Studies committee.

We also accept the following courses from the Arizona State University Public History Program:  

  • 502: Public History Methodology
  • 598: U.S. Cultural Institutions and Public Practice

Up to 9 units can be shared between the certificate and Master's degree. Up to six units can be shared between certificates.


Application Deadlines

Domestic Applicants

  • Fall Semester: February 15
  • Spring Semester: October 15
  • Summer Semester: March 15

International Applicants

  • Fall Semester: February 15
  • Spring Semester: September 1

How to Apply

To apply, you must complete the University of Arizona Graduate College online application. Follow these steps:

  1. Create a GradApp account
  2. Complete your GradApp profile under "My Account".
  3. Select "Apply to a Program" from the sidebar.
  4. Choose "Graduate Certificate" under application type and then choose the certificate you are interested in.
  5. Choose the semester during which you wish to enter the program.
  6. Your application should now be initiated under "My Active Applications."

Admission Requirements

Applications to our certificate programs are reviewed by our Certificate Coordinator. To be admitted, you must meet the minimum requirements of the UA Graduate College, which include:

  • A bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona or from an accredited college or university recognized by the University of Arizona
  • A grade point average of 2.75 or higher

View All Graduate Certificate Admissions Information

Policies & Resources

Learn more about resources and policies applicable to graduate certificate students, as well as additional academic resources for new and current students, on our Graduate Certificatate Policies & Procedures page:

View Graduate Certificate Policies & Resources

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