Conclusion and Footnotes

GPAS Table of Contents

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

These guidelines define the minimum requirements for a graduate program in archival studies that is coherent, autonomous, and based on core archival knowledge. Within the guidelines, higher education institutions may create a wide variety of programs offering master's degrees. This range of options provides students with choices of direction and emphasis and ultimately enriches the profession by promoting diverse educational offerings around a common core of knowledge. These guidelines define the academic education needed to meet the challenges of serving as an archivist in the 21st century and provide a strong common basis for graduate archival education regardless of any program’s institutional affiliation.


[1] The "Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies" (GPAS) were first approved by the Society of American Archivists (SAA) Council in January 2002 and subsequently revised by the Committee on Education in 2005, 2011, and 2015. This current version of GPAS was revised by the Committee on Education and adopted by the SAA Council in November 2016, at the recommendation of the SAA Standards Committee. GPAS replaced the "Guidelines for the Development of a Curriculum for a Master of Archival Studies Degree," adopted by the Council in 1994.  By means of these guidelines, the Society of American Archivists endorses the development of coherent and independent graduate programs in archival studies. SAA believes that programs of the extent and nature outlined in these guidelines are the best form of pre-appointment professional education for archivists. For this reason, these guidelines supersede prior documents on archival education issued in 1977, 1988, and 1994.

[2] Archival materials are recorded information, regardless of physical format or type of creator (public or private), that are created or received by an individual or organization carrying out its activities and that is set aside for preservation and future use. Archival records and papers are instrumental for evidence and accountability as well as for social and cultural memory. In these guidelines, the phrase “records and papers” will be used to encompass documentary evidence produced by organizations and individuals in all media (paper, digital, audio, and visual) and in any format.

[3] For information about archival education programs in North America, including a directory of such programs, see the SAA website at

[4] The interdisciplinary character of archival education makes it possible to place a program in a variety of settings, such as a school of library and information science, a department of history, a school of public administration, a law school, or a school of business administration. Two departments may also administer a program jointly, thereby emphasizing the interdisciplinary nature of the archival field.

[5] The Academy of Certified Archivists has developed a useful list of domains of archival knowledge. See the "Role Delineation" section of the Handbook for Archival Certification (found within the “Exam Handbook”) online at