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The records management degree may be offered as part of a Master of Library and Information Science (Online MLIS is available) or Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) program. This degree is closely related to the Archival Studies degree. As such, the work of many archivists is aligned with that of records managers. Archivists, however are typically tasked with the management of historical or cultural records.
Are there online Records Management programs?
Yes. The majority of colleges and universities offering online records management degrees include them in archives or archival studies programs. Additionally, some programs offer online records management graduate certificates. These online library science graduate certificates may be a good option for those already possessing a degree in a related field. Though online, many of these records management programs allow students opportunities for hands-on learning through local, regional, or national partnerships.
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Records management vs. Archival studies
Records management degrees have a greater focus on the evaluation, organization, storage, and preservation of documentary materials throughout their life cycle. A records management degree program covers the broad spectrum of information, communication, management, and technology. Graduates are prepared for rewarding careers with private businesses, government agencies, or nonprofit organizations.
Are there Bachelors in Records Management programs?
No. While there are no bachelor-level records management programs, related undergraduate degrees may prepare graduates for a future career in records management. Bachelor's degrees in information studies, information technology, data science, data analytics, or digital media may provide students with the necessary foundation. It is important to keep in mind that records management careers typically require at least a master's degree.
Are there Masters in Records Management programs?
Yes. Online programs offering graduate-level concentrations, specializations, and courses in records management are available. Master-level records management degrees are often associated with MLIS or MSIS (Master of Science in Information Studies) programs. These remote programs offer flexibility for students, many of which work full-time while enrolled.
Are there ALA Accredited Masters in Records Management programs?
Yes. The American Library Association accredits library and information science programs at the master-level. Many ALA-accredited programs offer concentrations, specializations, or pathways focused on archives and/or records management. Currently, ALA accredits more than 25 programs offering records management or related degrees.
Professionals with a records management degree are found in a variety of professional settings and possess job titles that reflect the diversity of their roles. While these professionals typically manage large quantities of electronic or digital records, they are often still responsible for a significant amount of analog (paper or physical) records.
Top 5 online MLIS programs with Records Management concentrations
Online MLIS programs offering records management concentrations may use different terminology to designate the specialization. Archives, archival studies, records administration, special collections, and digital content management are all related areas of concentration. Assessing learning outcomes, course offerings, and real-world experience opportunities is crucial when evaluating programs. Admission varies by program, so it is important to fully review all application requirements.
University of Tennessee, Knoxville - Archives & Records Management Pathway
As part of the ALA-accredited and nationally ranked Master's of Science in Information Sciences, the archives and records management pathway prepares students for exciting records management, archival, or research careers.
Course recommendations for this degree are based on the Society of American Archivist's (SAA) Guidelines for a Graduate Program in Archival Studies. Essential courses include: Metadata, Digital Curation, and Archives and Records Management. Additionally, program faculty and coordinators encourage student participation in professional associations and conferences.
This program consists of 36 semester hours and can be completed 100% online or on-campus in Knoxville. Tuition and fees are based on resident status and course delivery. A non-resident online student can expect to pay approximately $27,900.
San Jose State University - Master of Archives & Records Administration
This program places an emphasis on preparation for careers in information governance, corporate archives, and records management. Students gain experience with technologies for the management of records through carefully selected courses. Additionally, this course prepares graduates to take the Certified Records Manager and Certified Archivist examinations.
Of the 42 hours needed for graduation, 30 units are required MARA courses. Many are Academy of Certified Archivists (ACA) preapproved. Since the MARA program does not emphasize work in libraries, it is not ALA-accredited. For students interested in working in a library, San Jose State's ALA-accredited MLIS degree may be a good option. This program also includes coursework in archives and records management through a dedicated career pathway.
At a cost of $474 per unit, students can expect to pay $19,908 for the degree. The MARA program has been delivered fully online since 2009.
University of Washington - Archiving, Special Collections, Records Management
This MLIS is ALA-accredited, nationally ranked, and available online or in-person. While not a designated concentration, the university offers courses that prepare students broadly for a records management career.
Suggested coursework includes: Archival and Manuscript Services, History of Recorded Information, Government Publications, and Indigenous Systems of Knowledge. Additionally, students may consider courses in Digital Preservation, Advocacy and Social Change, and Museum Administration and Leadership. Finally, courses in the iSchool's Textual Studies Certificate Program may also count toward the MLIS.
Generally, the online MLIS consists of 63 quarter credits in a three-year part-time program. Online tuition is $852 per credit, with an estimated total cost for the degree of $53,676.
Wayne State University - Digital Content Management Path
Some of the themes emphasized in the digital content management specialization include: digital collections, digitization, and project management. With no required minimum of courses, students are free to select from a variety of digital content management electives. Elective options include: Introduction to Database Design, Digital Libraries, and Digital Curation and Preservation. Students also complete hands-on projects.
Wayne State's fully online MLIS program is ALA-accredited. The program consists of 36 credit hours, with 18 credit hours dedicated to an area of professional specialization. A graduation assessment must be completed to graduate from the program.
Tuition for online students is $818.26 per credit, with a $56.69 per credit hour student service fee and $328.01 per term registration fee.
Louisiana State University - Digital Content Management Focus Area/Records and Information Management Electives
LSU's School of Library and Information Science offers two fully online graduate programs. Both include relevant program options for records management. Applicants are encouraged to compare both formats prior to applying for admission.
SLIS Online includes the digital content management focus area. This focus area highlights skills needed to manage the life cycle of digital content, build applications, and deliver services. Students learn to create databases, information retrieval systems, and digital libraries. Students are highly recommended to complete the Digital Libraries course and then choose from a number of additional electives.
LSU Online offers electives in Records and Information Management. Students may take 6 elective courses toward the degree. Course options include: Introduction to Digital Curation, Management of Knowledge-based Assets in Organizations, and eDiscovery. There is also a 3-credit directed independent study.
Tuition and fees will depend on whether a student enrolls in the MLIS via SLIS Online or LSU Online. The MLIS is a 36-hour degree program, granted conditional accreditation by ALA as of 2019.
Typical Online Records Management Curriculum
Records management curricula highlight the organization, preservation, and access of digital and analog records. An emphasis is placed on best practices, standards, and processes. Among other skills, courses prepare students to authenticate or appraise records, evaluate the relevancy of records, organize records based on a predetermined standard, decide the best methods to preserve records long-term, and determine when and how records will be destroyed at the end of their life cycle. Curricula often include a practicum, ePortfolio, or independent study.
Though courses required for the degree will vary by program, records management curricula typically include:
Archives & Records Management
This foundational course introduces the objectives and responsibilities within archival and records management settings through theory, principle, and practice. The duties of archivists and records managers are discussed within professional, cultural, and social contexts. Students will explore the purpose and function of records systems, archival programs, and information management systems within various types of organizations.
Management & Leadership
Teaches the principles and practices of management and leadership within the library and information science context. Students explore theory, policies, organizational structures, conflict resolution, planning, financial issues, and professional standards. Course topics may include management and leadership within specific professional settings, such as libraries, archives, or museums.
This course provides students with an introduction to theoretical principals and practical aspects of digital curation. Students learn the skills necessary for the management and maintenance of scholarly information, data, and other forms of digital content. The data curation life cycle, selection criteria, copyright, professional ethics, and integrity and authenticity of content are discussed. Standards and best practices for libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions are included.
Metadata is structured information used to describe information resources. This course provides an introduction to the study and application of metadata to digital assets for discovery and access in online settings. Course topics include description standards and best practices, element sets and schemas, vocabularies, and authority controls. Through hands-on practice and case studies, students will identify types of metadata, apply standard metadata elements to records or collections, and use basic mark-up languages.
Introduces the foundational concepts, principles, and practices of user-centered information architecture. In this course students investigate the tools and techniques required for effective structural design of information environments, including: websites, online communities, and intranets. Practical experience will be gained in arrangement, labeling, navigation, and search optimization.
Records and Information Creation, Appraisal, and Retention
This course offers an overview of the theory, principles, and practices related to the life cycle of archival materials and other types of contemporary records. Topics include records creation and management process, process documentation, digitization, legal compliance, records disposition, and retention policy frameworks. An emphasis is placed on both the evolution of theory and modern professional practices. Students will develop critical evaluation skills necessary for the management of records and collections.
Records and Information Access, Storage, & Retrieval
Students will be introduced to the standards and best practices for the access, storage, and retrieval of archival and contemporary records. Topics include retrieval systems, reference services, storage operations, legal and ethical access concerns, information-seeking behavior, and user needs analysis. Review and evaluation of practical applications across a variety of settings and users is included.
Preservation, Conservation, & Digitization
Presents theoretical principles and practical applications of preservation, conservation, and digitization of digital and analog records. The course will examine challenges related to format vulnerability, standards, and retention policies. Students will also discuss contemporary problems and issues in preservation, conservation, digitization. Hands-on experience will be gained through the use of digital content management systems and trusted repositories. Course focus may be on library, analog, or digital materials – or a combination of the three.
Students will explore and apply appropriate research methods applicable to a number of information environments. Course topics include research project design, human subjects, quantitative and qualitative methods, results interpretation, methodological evaluation, data analysis, and research presentation. Students will design a research project which may be used to satisfy a thesis requirement. Areas of focus may include methods in information studies, records management, or archival science.
The culminating Practicum experience allows students the opportunity to translate theory into practice by showing understanding and application of core program competencies. Under the guidance of qualified information professionals, student will complete a set number of working hours in a professional setting. Requirements for completion include: maintenance of an activity log, submission of an evaluation by the site supervisor, submission of a self-evaluation, and an optional presentation or paper on the experience. The practicum must first be approved by the student’s faculty advisor and may be completed online, in-person, or in a hybrid format.
ALA requirements for Records Management programs
ALA requires records management programs, as with all ALA accredited MLIS programs, to meet certain specific minimum standards. These standards ensure the educational quality and value of the program and that it meets or exceeds industry expectations. Stringent, criteria-based self-evaluation and peer-assessment are requirements for ALA accreditation and continuation.
What careers can you have with a Records Management degree?
The term “record” can be applied to any asset, including: government documents, employee files, photographs, maps, manuscripts, and artwork. Naturally, this diversity in format and use is reflected in the types of careers a graduate from a records management program may have.
Employers include universities, libraries, museums, hospitals, corporations, technology companies, state and local government agencies, healthcare groups, and financial organizations. A position in a library, university archives, or museum may require candidates to have a MLIS from an ALA-accredited program.
Top positions are highly competitive, requiring candidates to have a good balance of education and professional experience. Some graduates may find it beneficial to pursue continued education, through workshops, trainings, or certification, to advance within the field. Possible careers include:
- Data Management Specialist
- Document Specialist
- Content Manager
- Digitization Manager
- Corporate Records Officer
- Electronic Document Management Coordinator
- Government Records Analyst
- Information Analyst
- Information Resource Specialist
- Records Administrator
- Digital Curator
- Digital Collections Manager