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Gaining KM “cred” in graduate school
Academic programs help forge career paths

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San José State University Master of Archives and Records Administration

The San José State University (SJSU) Master of Archives and Records Administration (MARA) degree program evolved from the Master of Library and Information Science degree program, also offered by the SJSU School of Information. Founded in 2008 with its first class graduating in 2011, the MARA program was a response to students who preferred to work in non-library career environments. “We wanted our students to be competitive in the job market and succeed in both archiving and records management,” says Patricia Franks, MARA program coordinator and professor in the SJSU School of Information.

To develop the content for the program, the SJSU School of Information faculty members looked at core competencies identified by the American Records Management Association (ARMA), testing materials from the Institute of Certified Records Managers (ICRM), the Society of American Archivists (SAA) and the Academy of Certified Archivists (certifiedarchivists.org). “We distilled our offerings from these four basic sources,” Franks says. But in view of the constant changes in those fields, the MARA program quickly adapts, recently adding courses on information governance and information assurance. “Both of these are required courses,” she continues, “and provide solid backgrounds in areas that are growing in importance.”

About half the incoming students have jobs in records management or archiving and want to strengthen their skills, while the others come from a diverse range of fields and want to transition into the field. One example of someone who went through a major career shift is a student who was a choreographer with her own dance company and wanted to preserve videos of performances. “We were trying to migrate data,” says Katrina O’Brien, “and some of it was getting lost.” She sought an online program that would focus on records management and archiving and found the MARA program at San José.

Along with her coursework, O’Brien gained extensive practical experience from working on local projects. One was for the Milagro Theatre, which had 30 years of paper and electronic records that needed to be identified, organized and transferred to the Oregon Multicultural Society. O’Brien developed its records collection schema from scratch, along with a retention schedule for active and future records.

While O’Brien was still in the MARA program, she began working part-time for World of Speed, a motorsports museum with nearly 100 vehicles and a wide variety of artifacts ranging from film reels to digital images. O’Brien got the job through connections she developed while in the program. By the time she graduated, she had decided to dissolve the dance company and take a full-time position with World of Speed as the archivist and collections manager.

“This was a great opportunity because they were just beginning to build the museum. I started with boxes of materials, developed the collection management policy, the disaster plan and online collection catalog,” O’Brien explains. “It has been an amazing, eye-opening experience that I would not have been able to do without MARA. The program has been on the cutting edge of creating classes that match the future of the field, which has been a great benefit.”

Northwestern University School of Professional Studies

Northwestern University offers several programs related to knowledge management. One is a newly introduced (in fall 2015) Online Master in Information Design and Strategy (sps.northwestern.edu/program-areas/graduate/information-design/index.php) offered by the School of Professional Studies. This interdisciplinary program focuses on digital information management, design and technology. It provides both theoretical background and guidance on how to present information. Core courses include user-centered design, information and content strategy, as well as information design and architecture. Electives include learning theory, social media and content, and introduction to data and analytics. Students can choose from among four different areas of specialization.

Another program offered by the School of Professional Studies is the Online Master of Science in Predictive Analytics (sps.northwestern.edu/program-areas/graduate/predictive-analytics/index.php). Established in 2011, that program is an early entrant into the field of educating data scientists. It offers courses in business management, information technology and modeling, and covers both traditional statistics and machine learning. Some of the areas in which students can customize their studies include marketing analytics, risk analytics and text analytics. Students in the program come from diverse backgrounds and include those coming directly from undergraduate schools as well as experienced professionals in medicine, the legal field, computer science and mathematics.

For a list of other KM-related graduate programs, which includes those in data analytics and data science, see the following which is also on page 10 of KMWorld, February. Vol.25, Issue 2.





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