Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies

Archivists systematically identify, select, protect, organize, describe, preserve, and provide access to archival materials – that is, society’s records and documents broadly defined, regardless of form or medium. Graduates of Archival Studies programs will be responsible for the records of the present, past, and future. Archival education is not addressed only to those wishing to work as archivists in archival institutions or programs. It is relevant to a wide range of activities, and graduates will practice in diverse types of institutions, businesses, communities, and professional positions. Archivists seek to facilitate the reliable and accurate creation of records that can be maintained as authentic throughout their existence, and to manage, organize, preserve, and provide access to records using methods that maintain and protect their trustworthiness. They do so to capture evidence of human activity and to preserve and transmit this evidence and the memory of it into the future, thereby supporting the assertion and defense of individual and collective rights, holding governments, organizations and individuals accountable for the exercise of their respective powers, and to secure the transfer of society's memory and culture into the future. Archivists play a crucial role in facilitating accountability within a democratic society.

Graduate programs in Archival Studies provide students the education and understanding they need to excel in their professional duties. These programs are responsible for ensuring archivists possess knowledge and skills relevant to the challenges posed by constantly changing workspaces, technological, and social environments, and the expectations of record creators, users, and society at large. In addition to maintaining technical competence, archivists have responsibility to engage and educate the public, to diversify the historical record and the profession, to solve problems and use archival materials creatively, to work with digital materials, to advocate for the profession, to be responsive to user requirements requiring modes and means of access, and to enhance the public good. These guidelines consider that Archival Studies program graduates need to meet new challenges as they encounter them, and identify a common core of archival knowledge that all graduate programs in archival studies will deliver.

These guidelines serve as a benchmark against which graduate programs in archival studies should measure themselves by establishing minimum standards in terms of mission, curriculum, faculty, and infrastructure. SAA hopes these guidelines will improve the archival profession by encouraging the continued thoughtful development of extensive and comprehensive educational programs.

SAA Council Approval/Endorsement Date: 
January 2002; Revised 2005, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2023
Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies.pdf159.6 KB

Related Resources:

Browse the following member-contributed references to case studies, journal articles, events, and other resources related to this standard.
No related resources have been added.
SAA Members: Log in to add Related Resources.