Administration, Faculty and Infrastructure

GPAS Table of Contents

Archival Education: Mission and Goals
Administration, Faculty and Infrastructure


A. Faculty

The graduate program in archival studies must have a faculty capable of accomplishing program objectives. Faculty should have a deep understanding of the profession and archival work, strong ties to both the academic and professional communities, technological knowledge and skills, effectiveness in teaching, a record of research and publishing within the field, and active participation in professional organizations. A program that meets these guidelines must have a minimum of one full-time, tenure-track faculty member. Full-time faculty members must be eligible for appointment to the graduate faculty within the parent institution (in virtually all cases this equates, at minimum, to holding a doctoral degree) and must demonstrate expertise by contributions to archival knowledge through publications and professional service. The faculty must be sufficient in number and in diversity of specialties to carry out the major share of the teaching, research, and service activities required for the program and to deliver the core knowledge of archival studies to give stability to the program. In many instances, additional full- or part-time faculty will be required to fulfill program objectives. Part-time or adjunct faculty, when appointed, should balance and complement the teaching competencies of the full-time faculty. Programs are enhanced when adjunct or part-time faculty have extensive practical experience, demonstrated expertise through contributions to professional knowledge through publication and professional service, and excellent teaching credentials.


B. Program Duration


The appropriate duration of a graduate program in archival studies should be consistent with that of all graduate programs in the hosting school or university in which it is situated. To cover the curriculum components outlined above adequately, however, a master's-level archival program should have a minimum of eighteen (18) semester hours devoted exclusively to core archival knowledge, including practical experience. Remaining credits can be in areas of complementary knowledge or electives.


C. Structure of the Learning Process

Graduate education in archival studies requires several modes of instruction and learning. Coursework provides the best method of presenting archival theory, principles, and methodology, as well as many areas of interdisciplinary knowledge. Practical experience is necessary to apply theory to workplace settings and to provide experiential learning. Scholarly research enables students to explore dimensions of the field in greater depth and to contribute original research to the professional discourse.

  1. Coursework

    Coursework is the basic venue for graduate-level archival education, and course format (e.g., lecture, seminar, web-based, distance education) will vary. Courses should employ a variety of pedagogical techniques to teach the knowledge areas outlined in these guidelines as well as to strengthen students' analytical, writing, and speaking skills.

Practical Experience

Knowledge acquired in coursework will be enhanced through experiential learning in the workplace. In the context of master's-level archival education, practical experience is not an exercise to discover theory and methods empirically; rather, it allows students to verify their understanding of archival principles by applying them in real-life situations and to understand how to make adjustments so that archival principles fit archival practice. Practical experience also provides students with structured feedback on their applied archival skills and with mentoring by records professionals working in the field.

Any form of experiential learning must serve the student's educational goals primary, even if a host institution ultimately benefits from the work accomplished by the student. Any practical experience with a host institution should be a structured program related to the student's program of study. The program should be designed by faculty in collaboration with the designated host institution's internship supervisor and include provision for regular feedback and evaluation.

Scholarly Research

Scholarly research is an essential component of the archival studies curriculum because it enhances students' ability to think critically and rigorously about archival issues and strengthens their competence to analyze and critically review the literature. Research also has the potential to provide original contributions to the archival literature and thus helps to invigorate the profession. Archival research can take on many forms and can borrow methodologies from a variety of fields in the humanities and social sciences. Although much archival research has been the result of an individual effort, education programs should introduce students to collaborative research and encourage it within and outside their own discipline.

D. Resources and Facilities

Instructional and research resources and facilities for meeting the needs of students and faculty include access to core archival literature, library and multimedia resources and services, computers and information technologies, and accommodations for independent and group study. Facilities should be appropriately staffed, convenient, and fully accessible. Students should also have regular and frequent access to archives and manuscript repositories. Repository access can take the form of class visits, research assignments in the repositories, and opportunities for internships and other types of practical experience. It is particularly important for a program to have strong relationships with area repositories.

E. Administration, Placement, and Financial Support

The graduate program in archival studies must identify a program director or administrator. The program director is responsible for making certain that the program achieves its mission, goals, and objectives. The program director must be a full-time tenure-track member of the faculty or staff of the home department. Depending on the scope and placement of the program, he or she may have the title of director, chairperson, or dean.

Programs must provide career counseling for students as well as vigorous placement support. Career counseling is essential because of the variety of potential venues for employment for archival students and of the numerous types of institutional and functional specializations available. Due to the variety of ways in which employment opportunities are advertised or announced and to the importance of professional recommendations, students need vigorous efforts for placement support as they enter the job market.

The parent institution must provide continuing financial support that is sufficient to develop and maintain the program. The level of support must provide a reasonable expectation of financial viability and must consider the number of faculty, administrative and support staff, instructional resources, library and information services, and facilities needed to carry out the archival education program's mission, goals, and objectives.