Specialization in Archives &Records Administration (ARA)

SLIS announces a restructured curriculum for its Archives and Records Administration (ARA) Specialization. This curriculum will begin Fall 2011.

Program Description

This specialization, begun in 1967, is designed to prepare graduate students, primarily in library and information studies and history, for professional archival and records administration positions. The Archives and Records Administration (ARA) track adheres to the curricular guidelines established by the Society of American Archivists (2002). It is administered through SLIS. Students who wish to complete a number of the ARA classes without committing to the archival and records administration specialization may do so.

The ARA track
  • prepares students for positions in archives, manuscript repositories, special collections departments, and records management agencies,
  • emphasizes archival theory and the fundamentals of practice, and
  • offers students many venues for learning: lectures, discussions, research, exercises using records and archival materials, practicums, and independent study projects in area repositories supervised by professional archivists.

Admission to the Program

All students admitted to SLIS are eligible to complete the ARA specialization. There is no separate application process.

Requirements for Completion

The basic ARA curriculum consists of a minimum of 18 credits.


616: Records Management
734: Modern Archives Administration
754: Archives User Services and Outreach
818: Archives Accessioning and Appraisal
977: Archival Description and Arrangement, including EAD
Practicum, which can be satisfied by taking LIS 620, completing a 40-hour practicum as part of a class, or completing an internship.

One of the following courses is also required:

976: Special Problems in Archives-Manuscripts Administration
839: Special Collections
839: Preservation and Conservation
839: Digital Curation

Students can also extend their education by building archival content into other required and elective courses for their degree, and by selecting complementary courses outside of the SLIS curriculum.


The program gives special emphasis to archival professionalism, the skills required to meet current problems, and analytical thinking and writing.

Although the ARA track is mainly designed to train archivists and other record professionals, it also offers training useful to librarians. Many librarians find themselves faced with historical collections in spite of the fact that they never intended to become archivists. Public libraries often have collections related to the surrounding community or region; special collections departments inevitably become the home for manuscript collections for which no other library department is prepared; business librarians often find themselves expected to identify, store, and access records of ongoing and/or permanent value. In all of these cases, an archival education is useful and may be the added credential that secures a job in a crowded market.

Continuing education in archives administration is often offered through the library school's continuing education program. Click below for information on upcoming offerings.

The UW-Madison has an active student chapter of the Society of American Archivists. It provides an opportunity for archives students to take their education beyond the classroom and to foster professional involvement. Click below for information on the chapter and its activities.

SLIS encourages students to use the resources of professional organizations to learn more about the archives profession, apply for scholarships, and search for internships and professional employment.