Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies (2016 Proposed Revisions)

SAA's Committee on Education is currently seeking comments on its proposed revisions of "Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies," which was last reviewed in 2011. Provide your comments on any aspect of the proposed revisions here or send them to Deadline for comments: Friday, June 17. 

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, paper-based or digital. 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. As the Society of American Archivists’ strategic plan notes, “The relevance of archives to society and the completeness of the documentary record hinge on the profession’s success in ensuring that its members, the holdings that they collect and manage, and the users whom they serve reflect the diversity of society as a whole.”3 Consequently, graduate programs in archival studies must reflect that diversity in their course offerings, faculty, and student body.

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.4