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How Do I Earn an Archivist Degree?

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  • Written By: Lainie Petersen
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 08 May 2020
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The process for earning an archivist degree, or a degree in archival studies, depends on the education system in the country where you want to pursue your education. In the United States, you will typically need to enroll in a master's degree program in library science or history that has a concentration in archival studies, although some stand-alone archivist degrees do exist. Another option is to earn a graduate certificate in archival studies. In the United Kingdom, you will have the option of enrolling in either a bachelor’s or master’s degree program. Programs in the United Kingdom are similar to those in the United States in that archivist training is often combined with the study of library science or history.

If you are interested in becoming an archivist in the United States, you will first need to earn a bachelor's degree, as archivist training is typically offered at the postgraduate level. Depending on your career goals, you may wish to major in history or another liberal arts field. Prior to graduating, you should investigate schools that offer the opportunity to earn an archivist degree. While there are some programs that specifically train you in working with archives, you will typically need to choose a school that supplements postgraduate training in library science or history with archival training.

In many cases, the schools you'll be looking at are library science programs. If you plan to work in the United States, it is a good idea to select a library science program that has been accredited by the American Library Association (ALA). Without this accreditation, you may find it difficult to get your combination library science/archivist degree recognized by employers. If you choose to get a master's degree in history, you'll want to select a program that is not only properly accredited but that offers specialization in the period of history that interests you. It is usually possible to complete a master's degree after two years of full-time study. Your degree program may be longer, however, if you decide to study part-time or participate in an internship.

Another option for earning an archivist degree is the completion of a postgraduate certificate in archival studies, which is typically available through library science programs. This can be a good option if you already have a postgraduate degree in history or library science but did not receive training in archives management while you were in school. In addition to academic studies, you may also want to pursue professional certification. You can earn this certification by passing a comprehensive examination offered by professional associations composed of professional archivists.

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