FAQs

SAA Certificate Programs

General

Webinars

In-Person Courses

Miscellaneous

Arrangement & Description (A&D) Certificate Program

General

Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Certificate Program

General

Comprehensive Exam



Do you have a question that isn't answered here? Email your question to education[at]archivists.org.


SAA Certificate Programs

General

There is no formal enrollment process for any of SAA's certificate programs. Participants can start registering for and taking courses at any time. When you take your first course, your instructor(s) will distribute a roster asking you to verify your attendance and to indicate if you want to take the examination. This information is forwarded to the SAA office, and staff will record your attendance and send you the online examination link.
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Neither program allows the option to meet all requirements completely online.
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SAA members as well as employees of member institutions receive a discount on early-bird and regular registration rates. Check the Course & Workshop Fees page for current rates on courses, workshops, webinars, and exams. top ▲

For both A&D and DAS: More experienced/knowledgeable participants may choose to gain credit by testing out of Foundational courses only. To do so, challenge exams may be purchased via SAA's Bookstore.
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A&D: Certificate pursuers have 36 months (beginning in the month your first course exam is taken) to complete coursework. There is no comprehensive exam.
DAS: Certificate pursuers have 24 months (beginning in the month your first course exam is taken) to complete coursework and up to 5 months to complete the comprehensive exam once coursework has been completed.
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Both periods begin the month you take your first exam.
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A&D: The A&D certificate is valid for five years once the last course exam has been successfully completed.
DAS: The DAS certificate is valid for five years once the comprehensive exam has been successfully completed.
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A&D and DAS certificate holders who wish to renew their certificates will need to complete the equivalent* of four one-day courses from the certificate program's course list within the five years that their certificates are valid.

For renewal, note that:

  • Renewal classes may be a combination of courses from all tiers; however, only one foundational course may be applied to the certificate renewal
  • All classes must be new (no retakes) to the attendee
  • A maximum of four webinars is allowed in renewal

*Two webinars equal one one-day course.

SAA automatically tracks progress through the renewal process.
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Webinars

A&D: There is no limit to how many webinars you can apply; however, do note that two webinars equals one course.
DAS: You may take up to seven DAS webinars. That said, a subsection of DAS students who have taken seven webinars—those with less experience in digital archives—have found the comprehensive exam to be particularly challenging. You may be better served by taking some Foundational courses via webinars and completing the remainder of the requirements with face-to-face courses that address all core competencies.
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One exam registration is included with each webinar registration fee. You will receive an examination link within one month of purchase which allows for two months of viewing access. In order for your colleagues to take the exam as well, you will need to complete the webinar roster and return it to our office.
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You may purchase an exam via the SAA bookstore. In order for your purchase to be processed, the purchaser of the webinar you attended must have verified your attendance on his or her webinar roster.
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It may take up to five business days for us to process your order. If you have not received the exam link after five business days, contact education[at]archivists.org.
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Once the webinar exam link is sent from our office, the exam must be completed within seven days; once you have started the exam, you must complete it in one sitting and within 30 minutes.
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Contact us within two weeks to schedule a retake. If you fail an exam a second time, you may retake the exam for a fee. If you fail a third time, you must retake the course (at a reduced rate).
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In-Person Courses

In-person courses are held at various institutions across the United States.
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Contact us! Email our department at education[at]archivists.org to express interest and/or to find out more about hosting a course. Organizations/entities that co-sponsor workshops or courses with SAA receive the following support from SAA:

  • Instructor(s) with travel and expenses paid
  • Instructional materials, including handouts and readings, nametags, registration of participants, and Continuing Education Certificates for registered participants
  • One complimentary registration if minimal beverage breaks (e.g., coffee, tea, water), appropriate classroom space, and AV equipment are provided at no cost to SAA

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Exams are conducted online and are included in the course registration fee.
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Once we've verified that you attended a specific course, you'll receive the link to an online, multiple-choice exam, which must be completed within seven days of completing the course. Once you have started the exam, you must complete it in one sitting. Exams for one-day courses have 20 questions and must be completed within 60 minutes (A&D) and 120 minutes (DAS). Exams for two-day courses have 40 questions and must be completed within 120 minutes (A&D) and 240 minutes (DAS).
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Contact the SAA Education department within two weeks to schedule a retake. If you fail an exam a second time, you may retake the exam for a fee. If you fail a third time, you must retake the course (at a reduced rate).
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Miscellaneous

A certificate program is a training program on a specialized topic for which participants receive a certificate after completing courses with specific focus and passing an assessment instrument. The certificate results from an education process and is different than a degree-granting program. They are incentive programs to work toward a tangible goal in an organized way within a designated time frame.

Certification is the process by which an entity grants recognition and use of a credential to an individual after verifying that he or she has met predetermined and standardized criteria. Certification results from an assessment process and indicates mastery/competency measured against a set of standards; it typically results in a designation.

For more information, see the National Organization for Competency Assurance (NOCA) Guide to Understanding Credentialing Concepts.
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At this time, we do not.
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Arrangement & Description (A&D) Certificate Program

General

  • SAA members and other archivists, comprising managers, administrators, and other professionals who work with records or other archival materials in organizations with staff or by themselves
  • Librarians, legal staff, and records managers who have responsibility for records or other archivial materials
  • Employers who want to ensure that their staff has the knowledge and training to: successfully arrange and describe institutional records using appropriate descriptive standards; implement appropriate risk management strategies; and manage the overall process fully aware of ethical considerations
  • Members of the Academy of Certified Archivists and regional associations
  • Archival students and members of SAA student chapters

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Filter by Certificate in the Catalog to find all courses marked A&D.
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Two specific courses are required: Arrangement and Description: Fundamentals and Describing Archives: A Content Standard. As both of these courses are in the Foundational tier, they may be tested out of. Additionally, one legal course is required, and it must be taken in person.

If you've already taken and passed one of the DAS legal courses no more than three years ago, contact the SAA Education department to ensure that you receive course credit toward the A&D certificate.
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The DAS program utilizes a comprehensive exam because the curriculum covers all archival functions. Since the A&D curriculum concentrates on one archival function, a comprehensive exam is not appropriate and thus each course exam is sufficient.
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Digital Archives Specialist (DAS) Certificate Program

General

  • Archival practitioners, managers, administrators, and other professionals who work in large or small organizations, either with other staff members or alone
  • Librarians, legal staff, and records managers who have responsibility for digital records
  • Regional archival associations, student chapters, and archives students
  • Employers who want to ensure that their staff members have the knowledge and training to address digital archives issues appropriately

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Filter by Certificate in the Catalog to find all courses marked DAS.
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No specific courses are required, but to obtain the certificate, you must have taken the appropriate amount of courses from each tier.

  • Foundational (4)
  • Tactical and Strategic (3)
  • Tools and Services (1)
  • Transformational (1)

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For the purpose of developing DAS, SAA has chosen to differentiate between electronic records and digital archives.

  • "Electronic records" are those (whether digital or analog) that require electronic devices in order to be created and used.
  • "Digital archives" are permanent digital records that require a computer to create and use them.

The term "archives" may refer to both materials and the repositories that house them; similarly “digital archives" may refer to an archival institution focused on the management of permanent digital records or a cache or collection of such materials.
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Comprehensive Exam

The comprehensive exam is held three times a year—in late February, in mid-August at the SAA annual meeting, and in early November—in various cities and regions of the country. If you're part of a group of at least five people who want to take the exam in a particular area, you may request a proctored test in that area by emailing the Education department. Otherwise, we will send you information as you near the end of your DAS program about registration information for upcoming exams.
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You will have up to an additional five months after the 24-month window expires in which to sit for and pass the exam.
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The DAS comprehensive exam is an in-person, proctored, paper-based exam that tests knowledge on all DAS Core Competencies. Although there is no expectation that an individual take each course, knowledge across the scope of topics is strongly recommended.

The exam is 100 multiple-choice questions that cover content across multiple courses and address the seven Core Competencies of the DAS curriculum. The breakdown of questions per tier is 55% Foundational, 35% Tactical and Strategic, 10% Transformational, and 10% Tools and Services.
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To be the most prepared, we suggest that you study your notes as well as workbook materials from the in-person courses you attended. Additionally, reading the materials on the Comprehensive Exam Suggested Readings List will help you as well.
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DAS course materials are continually reviewed and revised to keep abreast of best practices and standards in the digital archives field. Similarly, exam questions are updated to reflect these revisions. So that exam questions correlate with the course content, it is important that participants complete courses within 24 months of beginning and take the comprehensive exam within five months of completing the final course.
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