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Digital curation involves the collection, assessment, organization, and preservation of digital assets. Examples of digital assets are images, videos, audio files, research data, presentations, cryptocurrencies, and NFTs. These include born-digital objects and objects that have been digitized from analog sources. When digital assets are curated, or associated with specific collections, discovery and use becomes easier for students, researchers, and the public.
Generally, librarians and archivists have been responsible for this type of work and degree programs are associated with library and information science (LIS). However, it is not uncommon to find those with digital curation responsibilities in other professions and industries. As an emerging field, it is likely that demands for professionals with digital curation expertise will grow in the future.
Are there online MLIS programs in Digital Curation?
Somewhat. As a quickly developing field, more universities and colleges are offering concentrations, specializations, and career pathways focused on digital curation. These master of library and information science - MLIS programs - aim to prepare information professionals who will work directly with digital assets. Check the Library Science Masters degree program you are interested in to see which tracks and courses they offer specifically related to digital curation.
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Are there Bachelor's programs in Digital Curation?
At this time, no undergraduate programs offer a degree specifically tailored to digital curation. However, there are programs that teach the knowledge and skills that may be relevant to entry-level roles focused on digital curation. These include programs that emphasize foundational skills in archives and preservation, digital humanities, information technologies, and electronic records management. An undergraduate degree in library science Bachelors may be a good option for those interested in learning concepts foundational to digital curation.
Are there Doctoral programs in Digital Curation?
While digital curation is an increasingly important topic in library and information science research, few doctoral programs offer an emphasis this area. This is not to say that a student interested in earning a PhD by conducting relevant and timely research on digital curation cannot be accepted into a post-graduate program.
Doctoral programs aim to attract potential candidates who will contribute original research in areas of interest to the university and program faculty, with a focus on advancing the profession. With a strong proposal, a potential student may gain admission to a doctoral program in library and information science Doctoral and pursue their research.
Are there Graduate certificates in Digital Curation?
Yes. Several respected programs offer graduate certificates in digital curation. These are generally designed for those with either an undergraduate or graduate degree and an interest in gaining additional knowledge in the field. Many of these certificate programs are available online. These programs build upon foundational library and information sciences concepts - with a focus on archives, preservation, and electronic records management - and teach necessary skills for practicing librarians, archivists, and records managers.
The University of Maine offers an Online Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation. The 12-15 credit hour program includes 4 required courses and optional electives, at a cost of $608 per credit. Required coursework includes Intro to Digital Curation, Metadata, Digital Collections & Exhibitions, and Digital Preservation. A bachelor's degree is required for admission.
The Digital Curation and Data Management Graduate Academic Certificate (GAC) offered by the University of North Texas is a fully online program designed for current LIS students, graduate students in other programs, and post MLIS professionals. The program requires 12 hours of coursework, with required courses covering the Introduction to Digital Libraries, Digital Curation Fundamentals, and Preservation Planning and Implementation for Digital Curation. There are no specified prerequisites for the GAC.
The University of Arizona Online's Graduate Certificate in Digital Curation is nationally recognized. The 15 credit hour program, consisting of six 14-week courses, can be completed within three years. Courses include Digital Curation and Digital Preservation, Introduction to Applied Technology, Managing the Digital Information Environment, and Digital Information Management Capstone. The cost per credit is $900.
Top 5 Online ALA-accredited Digital Curation Programs
The American Library Association (ALA) accredits the following online master's degree programs offering a focus in digital curation. While each program is organized according to established standards and industry best practices, each has a unique approach to digital curation education. When researching a potential graduate program, it is important to consider coursework, faculty experience, experiential learning opportunities, completion time, and cost.
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill - Online Master's in Digital Curation and Management
UNC's Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree in Digital Curation and Management has been designed to prepare information professionals who can safeguard data, while making it accessible. This program emphasizes the skills and knowledge necessary to ensure digital assets remain FAIR: findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable. Offered by the ALA-accredited School of Information and Library Science (SILS), this 30 credit hour program can be completed in as little as two years with full-time enrollment.
Asynchronous coursework consists of SILS required courses (18 hours), SILS electives (6 credits), and business fundamentals and professional skills courses (6 hours). Some of the required courses are Introduction to Digital Curation, Data Governance, Audit and Certification of Trustworthy Digital Repositories, and Information Assurance. Of the electives, options include Web Development, Data Analysis, and Applied Data Ethics. In addition to coursework, students complete 150 internship hours.
A bachelor's degree with a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or better is required for admission. Potential students will complete an online application and submit transcripts, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, and a resume/CV. GRE scores are not required for admission. Tuition is based on residency, with North Carolina residents paying $1,039.57 per credit hour and non-residents paying $2,112.45 per credit hour.
Syracuse University - Digital Curation and Services Career Pathway
The School of Information Studies at Syracuse University offers a number of in-demand career pathways for the LIS program. With a focus on community engagement, technology use, and information justice and equity, this program prepares information professionals through a broad range of experience in librarianship and information science. The 36 credit hour program is usually completed within two years.
The digital curation and services career pathway combines foundational LIS knowledge with that of data services and systems, programming and markup languages, and metadata theory and practice. Coursework may include Information Systems Analysis, Digital Data and Services in Libraries, Metadata, and Information Visualization. Students must complete core coursework, electives, and an ePortfolio. Additionally, students may choose to complete a Certificate of Advanced Study in Data Science while enrolled in the program.
An online application, transcripts, resume, personal statement and two letters of recommendation are required for admissions consideration. While GRE and GMAT scores are not required, they can be submitted if the applicant feels they will be of benefit. Merit-based scholarships and fellowships are available for qualified students.
Indiana University - Digital Curation Specialization
The IU Online Master of Library and Information Science emphasizes the role of libraries in contemporary society, technology trends, and policy issues. Students participate in individual learning, team-based projects, and receive support from faculty who serve as instructors-as-coaches. The MLIS consists of 39 credit hours, across core and elective courses.
Required foundational courses for the Digital Curation specialization include Methods and Tools for the Information Professional and Information Sources and Services. Specialization requirements include Digital Curation, Metadata, Digital Libraries, and Capstone in ILS. Electives include options for digital preservation of moving images or audio. Upon satisfying the 21 credit specialization requirements, students may choose to complete 3 credits of outside elective coursework.
Admission requires a bachelor's degree and submission of transcripts, two letters of recommendations, and a personal statement. The cost per credit hour is $492.50, regardless of residency status. Financial aid and scholarships are available to eligible admitted students.
San Jose State University - Digital Curation Career Pathway
The 43 unit MLIS at San Jose State boasts a customizable curriculum, diverse internship opportunities, and fully online learning. With a focus on LIS theory and skills, the degree program also includes opportunities to study emerging technologies. One of several career pathways available is in Digital Curation.
In addition to completing six required courses (16 units), students in the digital curation pathway will complete specialized courses. Recommended coursework includes Resources and Information Services in Digital Humanities, Seminar in Digital Assets Management, Seminar in Digitization and Digital Preservation, and Seminar in Curating Exhibits from Archival Collections. Students may also be interested in other relevant career pathways, such as Data Science, Digital Services, or Emerging Technologies.
Applicants will be considered for admission with a bachelor's degree and a minimum overall GPA of 3.0. The program does not require GRE/GMAT test scores, letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose, or a resume for admissions consideration. Tuition and fees are based on where the student lives, with Regular Session fees applicable to students living near the SJSU campus in California and Special Session fees for all others. Special session tuition is $525 per unit, with a total cost of $22,575 for the program.
University of Tennessee - Data Curation and Data Management Career Pathway
UT's School of Information Sciences offers the Master of Science in Information Science (MSIS) both on campus in Knoxville and online. Courses are completed in real-time, with students actively engaging with faculty and peers. The MSIS requires 36 semester hours, with 27 of these hours completed in information sciences.
The Data Curation and Data Management career pathway offers an option for students interested in working with data of all kinds. Recommended courses include Metadata, Digital Curation, and Data Management. Students may also select specialized courses, such as Geospatial Technologies, Scientific and Technical Communications, and Information Architecture.
All undergraduate degrees are considered for admission to the program. Applicants will submit transcripts, a written statement, three letters of recommendation, and a resume. The GRE is not required. Scholarships and graduate assistantships are available to eligible admitted students.
Typical Online Digital Curation Curriculum
Generally, digital curation coursework emphasizes knowledge and skills in electronic records management, digital asset management, digital preservation, data science, and data curation. Coursework may also introduce specific programming languages, explore examples of digital repositories, and teach preservation management techniques for digital assets. While coursework will vary by program, the following courses represent typical classes a student may expect to take.
Introduction to Digital Curation
In this foundational course, students will explore theory and best practice for the creation, selection, storage, maintenance, and preservation of digital assets and content. Through a survey of contemporary issues and trends, this course will address topics relevant to archives and records management in various information centers. Topics will include the electronic record lifecycle, legal, ethical, and policy issues, and tools and technologies.
Foundations for Managing Digital Collections
As a crucial aspect of the electronics records lifecycle, this course introduces core concepts of digital collection management. With a focus on information technologies and data systems, students will investigate and evaluate practical applications. Upon completion, students will feel comfortable discussing and applying industry best practices in digital collections for libraries, archives, galleries, and museums.
Introduction to Metadata
Metadata, or data about data, is used to describe digital assets and content. In this course students will gain a foundation in relevant concepts crucial to the implementation of structured metadata. Topics include metadata schemas and models, interoperability, quality assurance, and evaluation. Through hands-on exercises, students will create machine-readable data.
Foundations in Electronic Records Management
This course explores the history, theory, method, and practice of archival studies and records management. Through case studies, readings, and discussions, students will consider record-keeping strategies for defining, identifying, controlling, managing, and preserving electronic records. Topics will include acquisition, appraisal, arrangement, outreach, and advocacy. Special emphasis is given to emerging information and communication technologies.
Introduction to Digital Humanities
This introductory course presents foundational concepts in digital humanities that are relevant to libraries, archives, galleries, and museums. With a focus on scholarship and public work, topics include digital technologies and humanistic inquiry. Special emphasis is placed on demonstrating how information professionals can use appropriate methods to support digital humanities work in their communities.
Introduction to Data Science
This course provides an experiential learning opportunity to apply methods in data collection, management, and evaluation. Key concepts include applied statistics, data visualization, machine learning, and text mining. The programming language R will be utilized, with a brief introduction to the language and its applications covered early in the course. This course serves as a foundation for all future data science coursework.
Project Management for Information Professionals
Effective project management is a skill necessary for any professional environment. This course introduces project management tools and strategies for the information professional. Through case studies, readings, and discussion, students will consider project planning tools, risk assessment, budgeting/finances, and leadership/team management. Students will demonstrate knowledge and skills through the development of a project management strategy for an information center.
What can you do with a Digital Curation degree?
Broadly, a degree in digital curation prepares the holder to manage digital assets in a variety of settings. This can be information centers, cultural heritage centers, government agencies, non-profit organizations, or business enterprises. Those earning a degree in digital curation will work closely with other information professionals (librarians, archivists, records managers), in addition to scientists, historians, curators, and scholars.
Information professionals responsible for the curation of digital assets are concerned with the lifecycle of these electronic records. These specialists are stewards of digital data and information from creation, through maintenance and use and, finally, to disposition. Many digital curators are responsible for the maintenance of digital repositories where assets are managed and stored.
Where can you work with a MLIS degree as a Digital Curator?
Graduates of a library and information science program with expertise in digital curation may find a growing number of opportunities with university libraries and special collections. These institutions are increasingly concerned with making digital resources available to students, faculty, staff, researchers, and the public. Museums, galleries, and other cultural heritage centers also have opportunities for these information professionals, as more physical collections are being digitized.
In addition to educational and cultural centers, it may be possible to find employment within the archives of state and federal agencies or government organizations. Organizations that manage large collections of digital assets, such as media brands, also have a need for information professionals with experience in digital curation. Ultimately, career opportunities can exist within any organization that prioritizes the collection, use, and preservation of digital assets.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment for archivists, curators, and museum workers is expected to grow by 10% between 2022 and 2032 Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers.
Common job titles in Digital Curation include:
- Digital Curator
- Digital Collections Librarian
- University Archivist
- Digital Initiatives Librarian
- Scholarly Communications Librarian
- Open Educational Resources (OER) Librarian
- Collection Archivist or Curator
- Open Scholarship Librarian
- Digital Asset Manager
- Digital Programs Librarian
- Data Center Services Specialist
- Research Data Archivist
- Data Quality Specialist
- Data Visualization Librarian
- Data Management and Curation Librarian
- Data Visualization Specialist