Keene State College students have been given yet another opportunity to take their career to the next level.

As of fall 2018, students will have the opportunity to enroll in the new Master’s of Arts in History and Archives, and, while it may be most appealing to history majors, anybody can enroll. 

Professor of History and Philosophy Dr. Andrew Wilson said the idea for the program came about when history faculty members were exploring graduate program possibilities. While many history faculty were in the process of updating and restructuring their programs, they surveyed students and received feedback that they enjoy a hands-on approach to history, such as working with documents, artifacts and archives. 

And even better, he said there is quite the job market for archivists. “There’s growing opportunities for real employment in archives, so we thought, well, this is something we can then credibly and realistically do, so let’s do it, and that was the beginning,” Wilson said. 

For those interested still enrolled at KSC, they can get a head start on the graduate program in their senior year. Those who apply in their junior year can take two graduate courses that count toward both their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in their senior year, Wilson said. KSC students would spend one academic year, including summer, beyond graduation finishing the master’s program. 

Professor of History Dr. Matthew Crocker said it is a real opportunity for students to come out of KSC in five years with a Bachelor and Master of Arts. “Most graduate programs are at least two years, so it’s a real opportunity. It’s a pretty cool program and we’re excited to do it,” Crocker said. 

For those who apply after graduation, Wilson said finishing the program would take about three semesters, plus a summer semester to complete. 

Wilson said there is currently one American studies major piloting the program and five or six other KSC students who have expressed interest or intend on applying. 

In terms of the program’s coursework, three classes combine a historical topic with an archival component, and then two classes are strictly dedicated to archival training. These serve as the base work to be able to sit for the certified archivist exam administered by the Academy of Certified Archivists. 

After taking these courses, students can pursue an internship option or archival research project option. 

While the Master of Arts in History and Archives can lead students to jobs in historical societies, libraries, museums, archives and corporations, there is also a lot of opportunity for those in film studies as well. 

“It’s really open to anybody because you don’t need a history background necessarily in order to work as an archivist or how to learn to practice as an archivist, but you need some historical foundation to go forward with that,” he said. “In order to be able to contextualize the documents and artifacts, then you need to have some historical background to be able to understand the time period that these artifacts were produced, what was happening and things like that.”

While the main area of employment with such a degree is with archives, Wilson said the array of opportunities is quite broad. “The real money is working as an archivist for a corporation, if that’s your goal,” he said. 

He described the program as “intellectually and emotionally exciting” because it allows students to be the first to look at certain “unfiltered” documents, which is a rare opportunity. 

Sophomore American studies and management major Brianna Kichler said having the option will benefit students. “The way it’s going to work is students can start taking masters classes their senior year, so that will trim a year of graduate school off and then the students who participate in doing the masters program their senior year will only have to stay an extra year to get a masters degree, which is awesome… It’ll be great to have that experience,” Kichler said.

Junior secondary education and history major Peter Powers said he agreed. He said, “I think it will help students save money on getting their masters, as well as help them have a smooth transition into a masters program. It utilizes the pretty underused archives on campus.”

Wilson referred to the purpose of archives, which is “to create a memory,” and that’s just what this program will allow students to do. 

Jessica Ricard can be contacted at jricard@kscequinox.com