Our MLIS archival studies program offers you the opportunity to investigate the processes that shape the historical record.

By studying how records are selected for preservation, arranged and described, and made accessible to the public, archives students have a unique opportunity to research a field that mixes history, ethics, technology and philosophy. Through this study, you are able to research the influences that help determine how society views itself.

Program Type


Program Format

Hybrid, Online

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The MLIS archival studies program provides a range of professional development opportunities, as well as alumni and other professional connections around the country in order to ensure that you are competitive in the job market and have a well-rounded view of the complex issues facing archives. Completion of this program provides you with a graduate degree that will help you gain employment at a variety of archives throughout the United States.

Things to know…

Highly Ranked Program
The School of Information Studies MLIS Archival Studies Program is ranked as one of the Best Archival Science Programs by U.S. News and World Report.

Online & Onsite Program Options
Milwaukee is full of opportunities to gain archival experience.
Can’t come to campus? Complete the MLIS + Archives Concentration fully online.

The Archives Concentration is a credential that appears on your transcript and is completed within the context of the MLIS program.

Declaration of Intent

You may declare a concentration at the time of your application to the program or you may use the link below to add or remove the concentration after admission.

Related Archival Studies Program

Certificate of Advanced Studies (CAS) in Archives & Records Administration
The CAS in Archives and Records Administration consists of 15 credits of advanced coursework designed to help working professionals develop a specialty in archives and records administration. This is a post-master’s degree certificate.
Visit our Archives & Records Administration CAS page for complete details.

Archival Studies Program Requirements

Students pursuing the Archival Studies Concentration must take 15 credits of coursework from the list of qualifying courses as electives within the overall Master of Library & Information Science (MLIS) program.

To pursue the Archives Concentration, students must be admitted into the MLIS program and complete all MLIS program requirements. Please visit the MLIS Program page for complete details: https://uwm.edu/informationstudies/academic-programs/library-and-information-science-masters/

Required Concentration Courses & Electives

Before declaring the MLIS archival studies concentration, we recommend that you take INFOST 650 An Introduction to Modern Archives Administration. INFOST 650 is the prerequisite for most archives courses. This class is offered online every semester provided there is sufficient enrollment. We offer the onsite version of it every Spring semester. INFOST 650 provides an overview of the field and will give you a sense of whether or not you wish to pursue this career track.

For a complete list of required courses and electives for the Information Organization Concentration, please visit the UWM Graduate School Catalog:

Gain Hands-on Experience

Archival Studies Fieldwork

Three credits of fieldwork are strongly encouraged for students in the MLIS Archival Studies concentration. Fieldwork students must have completed INFOST 650 before arranging a fieldwork opportunity. Fieldwork is generally taken for three credits during any semester.

Former fieldwork sites include:

  • Folger Shakespeare Library
  • Library of Congress
  • Lincoln Presidential Library
  • University of Texas-Austin’s Harry Ransom Center
  • Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Marquette
  • National Parks Service
  • Wisconsin Historical Society

How to get started…

  1. Identify a repository
    You are responsible for identifying a repository to work with, but the Archives Program staff can assist you. If you are planning to undertake fieldwork in the Milwaukee area, please contact sois-archivesinfo@uwm.edu before initiating contact with a repository so we can coordinate with other students. You may be able to find fieldwork opportunities at colleges and universities, academic libraries, some public libraries, historical societies, museums or community organizations. Many of these also advertise when fieldwork opportunities become available.
  2. Complete the Archives Fieldwork Form (LINK)
    After the fieldwork forms are submitted, Archives Program staff will contact the repository to ask for confirmation if they can host the student and to formally approve the fieldwork project(s). Once the repository is confirmed, Archives Program staff will send an email introducing the student and field supervisor to each other. The student also must submit the SOIS Fieldwork Placement Form as soon as possible after receiving the introductory email.
  3. Share your experience
    During the fieldwork, you will be expected to contribute to discussions on the fieldwork course Canvas site and develop an e-portfolio based on your experience. Information about the academic requirements for this course will be given at the beginning of the semester.
  4. Complete the Fieldwork Evaluation (LINK)
    Students and field supervisors must complete a fieldwork evaluation at the conclusion of the fieldwork.


Deadlines for fieldwork submission are as follows:
Fall fieldwork: June 15
Spring fieldwork: Dec. 15
Summer fieldwork: March 1

Alternative Summer Break (ASB)

Alternative Summer Break (ASB) is a noncredit, volunteer career development program that places interested and motivated online and onsite MLIS and CAS students in archives during any two weeks over summer break. Students are placed in archives where they gain hands-on experience and network with professionals. Participation requires that students commit to volunteering 60 hours over two sequential weeks during the summer semester. Students are responsible for their own travel, food and accommodations.

Application Materials
Alternative Summer Break Application Form
*Please apply by April 27

The archival profession is highly competitive. You should have or obtain job experience prior to the completion of their MLIS. Participating in Alternative Summer Break and/or enrolling in INFOST 759 Fieldwork in Library and Information Science is highly recommended.

Want to Learn More?
Please contact Shaun Hayes: hayes29@uwm.edu

Employment Advice

The archival profession is highly competitive, and the MLIS is usually a requirement for professional-level employment. However, an MLIS is, by itself, not sufficient. Participating in Alternative Summer Break and/or enrolling in INFOST 759 Fieldwork in Library and Information Science is highly recommended.

Examples of other ways to strengthen your resume are: full- or part-time paid employment as a paraprofessional, records management certification, leadership positions and/or active participation in professional organizations and the SAA student chapter, technical skills, grant-writing, paper presentations and community engagement, among others.

Many entry-level positions are short-term and/or grant-funded positions.

UWM Career Resources

UWM offers support through the following:

  • UWM Career Planning and Resource Center: The Career Center provides career counseling and resume review services to graduate students on both a walk-in and appointment basis.
  • Handshake Employment Platform: PantherJobs is a database of general positions targeted towards UWM alumni and students. It also provides a resume referral service and a system for storing and managing job search materials.

Other Career Resources

Useful resources available elsewhere:

Archival Studies – Funding Aid & Scholarships

Funding Sources from SOIS

Funding Sources from UWM

Other Funding Sources

Society of American Archivists (SAA)

Midwest Archives Conference (MAC)

Mid-Atlantic Regional Archives Conference (MARAC)

Northwest Archivists (NWA)

Society of Southwest Archivists

Society of California Archivists

Research and Presentation Advice

MLIS archival studies students are encouraged to use their class assignments as a way in which to explore an issue of importance to them that has the potential for further dissemination. For example, major essay assignments can serve as the first draft of an article for publication or for a conference panel or a course project could turn into a conference poster. SAA and regional conferences have a history of accepting posters highlighting community engagement work by student chapters or other student groups.

Engaging in this kind of activity provides experience for positions in places like archives within academic libraries where a tenure process is the norm. It also gives you an edge on your resume.

Publishing Options

The following journals publish archival studies research and some are specifically focused on student research. You are of course always encouraged to apply to any other journals that seem like a good fit:


The following student research awards are available for student papers:

UWM and SOIS Support

Student Poster Presentations

Student poster presentations are a great opportunity to share your research interests and network at professional conferences. It is also generally easier to have a poster accepted at a conference than a professional paper or panel.

Please see the below links for examples of student poster presentations and advice on creating them:

Professional Organization

Joining professional archival organizations is a great way to network and participate in conferences, either as an attendee or a presenter. Organization websites often have information on upcoming conferences, submission information and networking opportunities. Members may also pursue leadership positions in archival organizations.

The archival profession is divided into groups of professional organizations, usually by geography.

National/International Organizations

Regional Organizations

Local Organizations

Directory of archival organizations in the United States and Canada: http://www2.archivists.org/assoc-orgs/directory

ARMA Chapter Directory:
ARMA’s Chapters and Regions Website

Archives and Records Management Conference Information

Conference attendance is a great way to network with other archivists and develop as a professional. Find information about archives and records management conferences here.

Conference Information