FAQs

SAA Certificate Programs

General

Webcasts

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 register for and take courses at any time.
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At this point, 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 Education Fees & Policies page for current pricing. top ▲

For both A&D and DAS: More experienced/knowledgeable participants may choose to gain credit by testing out of Foundational courses only. Exams for this purpose may be purchased here.
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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 four 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

SAA automatically tracks progress through the renewal process.
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Webcasts

A&D: Three courses in the A&D program are required: Arrangement & Description: Fundamentals; Describing Archives: A Content Standard; and either Copyright Issues for Digital Archives OR Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives. Although all are offered in person only, the former two are Foundational courses and thus may be tested out of. The remaining courses you choose may be taken online or in person.
DAS: A minimum of two courses must be taken in person; the remaining seven courses may be taken online or in person. That said, a subsection of DAS students who have taken seven webcasts—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 webcasts and completing the remainder of the requirements with face-to-face courses that address all core competencies.
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One exam is included with each webcast purchase. Additional exams (for colleagues) may be purchased here
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You can purchase an exam here.
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You'll have 60 days to complete the exam. Once you have started the exam, you must complete it within 30 minutes (and in one sitting).
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You'll have two opportunities to pass the exam. If you fail both times, please contact education[at]archivists.org to discuss your next options.
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In-Person Courses

In-person courses are held at various institutions across the United States.
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Our Call for Hosts survey opens twice a year. Email our department at education[at]archivists.org to express interest and/or to find out more about hosting a course. top ▲

Exams are conducted online and are included in each course registration fee.
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Each course portal will be open for three weeks after the course date. Once you have started the exam, you must complete it in one sitting and within 60 minutes (for one-day courses) or 120 minutes (for two-day courses).
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You'll have two opportunities to pass the exam. If you fail both times, please contact education[at]archivists.org to discuss your next options.

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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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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 Course 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. Both are offered in person only, but since they are in the Foundational tier, they may be tested out of. Additionally, one legal course—either Copyright Issues for Digital Archives or Privacy and Confidentiality Issues in Digital Archives is required, and it is offered as an in-person course.

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 Course 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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Comprehensive Exam

As of April 2018, the DAS comprehensive exam is offered exclusively in an online format. It consists of 100 multiple-choice questions that test knowledge on all DAS Core Competencies and across all four tiers. The breakdown of questions per tier is 55% Foundational, 35% Tactical and Strategic, 10% Transformational, and 10% Tools and Services. To prepare for the comprehensive exam, students should peruse the DAS Curriculum Suggested Readings List.
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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 three options:

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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