Graduate Certificate

Archival Studies


Person holding artificat in museum archive

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

About the Certificate

Archival studies programs have become common in the United States in recent decades. In an era of historic change in recordkeeping 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 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. In addition, this certificate program offers advanced continuing education opportunities to practitioners working in libraries and archives, especially on the challenges posed by the emergence of digital recordkeeping.

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.

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.


For current students completing a M.A. LIS degree, the certificate requires a minimum of 12 units in total, including 9 units from required courses (LIS 540, LIS 640 and LIS 671) and 3 units from an elective course. If you already have a master's degree from another American Library Association Accredited school, LIS 504 is waived.

For students who are only completing a Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies and do not hold a M.A. LIS degree from an American Library Association Accredited school, the certificate requires a minimum of 15 units, including 12 units from required courses (LIS 504, LIS 540, LIS 640 and LIS 671) and 3 units from an elective course.

Required Courses

  • 12 units

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.

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.

Elective Courses

  • 3 units (select 1 course)

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.

Introduces the basics of copyright law and fair use, also discusses the theoretical foundations and history of copyright and the public domain. These issues are placed within a broader multicultural and international context. By the end of the course students will: (a) know the basics of copyright law and fair use as they apply to libraries and related information services, and (b) understand the importance of balancing the rights of intellectual property owners with the societal need for a robust public domain.  Graduate-level requirements include an individual project on a topic chosen in consultation with the professor.

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.

Transfer Units

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