Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies (2016)

GPAS Table of Contents

Archival Education: Mission and Goals
Administration, Faculty and Infrastructure
Conclusion and Footnotes


Archivists systematically identify, select, protect, organize, describe, preserve, and make available to users archival materials [2] – that is, society’s records and documents broadly defined, regardless of form or medium. Archivists preserve and transmit society’s cultural and social heritage, protect the legal rights of individuals and institutions, and aid citizens in holding their governments and other organizations accountable.  Thus, archives and archivists are essential in a democratic and educated society.

Graduate programs in Archival Studies provide students the training and understanding they need to excel in their professional duties. These programs have a higher duty as well: to keep archives relevant. In addition to maintaining technical competence, archivists in the future will have increasing responsibility to engage and educate the public, to diversify the historical record and the profession, to solve problems and use archival materials creatively, to perform in the digital realm, to advocate for the profession, and to enhance the public good. Keeping archives relevant requires graduate programs to prepare archivists to operate in these expanding fields.

Archival Studies programs must also prepare emerging professionals to work with the records of the future as well as those of the past, for graduates will practice in a vast array of institutions and professional positions. These guidelines define the academic preparation graduates need to meet these new challenges and identify a common core of archival knowledge that all graduate programs in archival studies should deliver.

Establishing minimum standards in terms of mission, curriculum, faculty, and infrastructure, these guidelines serve as a benchmark against which graduate programs in archival studies should measure themselves. The SAA hopes these guidelines will improve the archival profession by encouraging the continued thoughtful development of more extensive and comprehensive educational programs. [3]