Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation

Digital curation in library

Gain the technical knowledge and skills you need to create, curate, preserve and manage digital collections in a fast-changing environment.

About the Certificate

The four-course, 12-unit Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation combines intensive, hands-on technology learning with a thorough grounding in the theoretical principles needed to curate and preserve large, complex digital collections.

The certificate may be taken online, making it available to those currently employed or seeking new career opportunities in the information professions. The curriculum takes a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to curating and preserving digital information and is designed to support a wide range of career paths, especially involving libraries, museums, archives, records management and data curation.

The rapid growth of digital collections and online services has led to a shortage of information professionals who possess the technical knowledge and learning skills needed to create, curate, preserve and manage digital collections in a fast-changing environment. Additionally, graduate certificates are recognized as a means for professionals with advanced degrees to update their knowledge and skills. This certificate also offers a path for those with undergraduate degrees who are interested in digital collections, but who may not yet be ready to commit to a full degree program.

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Certificate Requirements

All coursework for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation is conducted online, with no residency requirement. The certificate consists of four semester-long graduate-level courses to be taken within four years. You may begin the program in the fall or spring semesters each year. A total of 12 units is required for completion of the program.

Courses do not have to be taken in numerical order, although the Capstone is normally taken last.


The following two courses are required for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation:

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.

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.

Students must also take two of the following elective courses for the Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation:

Data Warehousing and Analytics In the Cloud will utilize concepts, frameworks, and best practices for designing a cloud-based data warehousing solution and explore how to use analytical tools to perform analysis on your data. In the first half of the course, I will provide an overview of the field of Cloud Computing, its main concepts, and students will get hands-on experience through projects which utilize cloud computing platforms. In the second half of the course, we will examine the construction of a cloud-based data warehouse system and explore how the Cloud opens up data analytics to huge volumes of data.

Most of the web data today consists of unstructured text. Of course, the fact that this data exists is irrelevant, unless it is made available such that users can quickly find information that is relevant for their needs. This course will cover the fundamental knowledge necessary to build such systems, such as web crawling, index construction and compression, boolean, vector-based, and probabilistic retrieval models, text classification and clustering, link analysis algorithms such as PageRank, and computational advertising. The students will also complete one programming project, in which they will construct one complex application that combines multiple algorithms into a system that solves real-world problems.  Graduate level requirements include implementing more complex, state-of-the-art algorithms for the programming project, which might require additional reading of research articles. Written assignments will have additional questions for graduate students.

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.

This course provides an overview of modern database systems at the time. Both relational databases (SQL) and a few non-relational databases (NoSQL) are covered, including topics on data warehouses. The focus of the course is on the practical skills of the design and implementation of data storage and access for data and information sciences. Topics covered include ER-diagrams, database normalization, data modeling in NoSQL databases, SQL and other query languages, and data warehousing. The course will selectively cover one or two types of NoSQL databases, for example, document-oriented, key-value pair, column-oriented, or graph databases. Database platforms used in this course could change with time, some examples include MySQL, PostgreSQL, Apache HBASE, Apache Cassandra, MongoDB, and Neo4J.

Organizing information in electronic formats requires standard machine-readable languages. This course covers recent standards including XML (eXtensible Markup Language) and related technologies (XPath and XSLT) which are used widely in current information organization systems. Building on a sounding understanding of XML technologies, the course also introduces students to newer standards that support the development of the Semantic Web. These standards include RDF (Resource Description Framework), RDFS (RDF Schema), and OWL (Web Ontology Language) and their application under the Linked Data paradigm. While the application of many specific XML schemas used in libraries and other information setting such as science and business will be used to provide the context for various topics, the main focus of the course is on understanding the concepts of XML and Semantic Web technologies and on applying practical skills in various settings, including but not limiting to libraries. The course is heavy with hands-on assignments and requires students complete a final group project.

This three-credit course is one of six 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.

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.

Information Resource Development. Principles of identifying, selecting, acquiring, managing, and evaluating information resources for libraries, information centers, and other information-based settings.

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.

Up to 9 units can be shared between the Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation and a University of Arizona master's degree. Up to 6 units can be shared between this certificate and the Graduate Certificate in Archival Studies. Units cannot be shared among all three programs, however.

Technology Requirements

This certificate requires access to a computer and internet connectivity with specifications beyond the minimum requirements for most School of Information courses. Ensure you have the necessary hardware, software and network connectivity to meet the technical requirements.

There are no formal prerequisites for the certificate program, but you should already be reasonably proficient at finding resources on the Web and performing routine tasks using word processors and spreadsheets. You should feel comfortable with your current operating system (e.g., Windows or Mac OS) and know how to create and organize files and folders, install and configure peripherals such as printers and other hardware devices, and do basic troubleshooting when problems occur.

Some courses in this program will require:

  • A Windows (Win7/Win8/Win10) or Intel-based Mac (OS-X) computer that you have administrator rights on to install virtualization software.
  • Reliable broadband internet connectivity (typically cable or DSL connections; download speeds of one megabit or more are preferred).
  • At least 20 GB of free hard drive space or access to second internal or USB external hard drive)
  • A minimum of 2 GB RAM for Mac or 3 GB RAM for Windows 7/8/10 systems. Depending on individual configurations, you may need to install more than these minimums. 

At least two weeks prior to the start of the program, you should contact the instructor and provide a list of the equipment you propose to use. If you have questions about any particular item, especially ones you might need to purchase, your instructor will be happy to review your selections and suggest options.


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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