New Certificate in Digital Curation at Johns Hopkins University

Conservators today, like all museum professionals with responsibilities for collections care and management of cultural heritage, aDigital Curation John Hopkins Universityre worried about the ongoing maintenance and documentation of digital artifacts along with the conservation of physical objects in their collections.  Johns Hopkins University’s MA in Museum Studies has announced a new certificate program in digital curation starting in January 2014 to address the need for formal education in this emerging field of stewardship.
The Certificate in Digital Curation is a specialized graduate program designed to prepare museum professionals to manage the growing volume and variety of digital assets of long-term value that museums are now routinely producing, acquiring, storing and sharing.  Assets that need ongoing management include born-digital media art, research data, and documentation information stored in collections management systems about physical collection objects.  And because most museums are now investing significant resources in digitizing collections—new acquisitions as well as for the purpose of loan, pre- and post-conservation treatment, and presentation online—they have a growing need to preserve their digitized assets.
Digital curation is defined as the management of digital assets over their lifetime. While the term is not synonymous with the modern understanding of the role of a museum curator, it does reflect the historical definition of curator as “keeper” of collections.  It is also in alignment with the growing international digital curation community dedicated to maintaining access to digital data of long-term value.
The JHU digital curation certificate program consists of six courses, including five online and one on-site internship.  Class size is limited to 15-17 students to allow for stimulating discussions with classmates and faculty. The curriculum includes the following 13-week courses:

  1. Digital Preservation, which covers the principles of digital preservation and the basics of developing and assessing digital preservation plans;
  2. Foundations of Digital Curation, which particularly addresses the beginning of the digital life cycle, including topics such as appraisal and selection, metadata standards, and intellectual property issues;
  3. Managing Digital Information, which emphasizes the management of digital objects in museum environments, including format transformation, management of surrogates, and workflows;
  4. Internship in a museum or related organization, including at least 120 hours on-site and completion of a project or paper;
  5. An approved elective chosen from the MA in Museum Studies curriculum, OR a second internship; and
  6. A supervised research project leading to a publishable or presentable paper that contributes to the new literature of the digital curation field.

Admission requirements for the digital curation certificate are:

  • A master’s degree in museum studies or other relevant field,
  • A bachelor’s degree and at least five years full-time experience working in a museum, library, archive, or related cultural heritage organization, or
  • Students enrolled in the JHU MA in Museum Studies program upon completion of 5 courses.

A grade point average of at least 3.0 on a 4.0 scale is required for admission (work experience will also be considered).  International students are welcome, but please note that TOEFL for students whose native language is not English or who have not graduated from an accredited college or university in the US is required.
The deadline for applications for the spring semester (classes beginning January 22) is December 16.
We are excited about this new program, and we encourage interested conservators and other museum professionals to contact one of us!  Our contact information is provided below.
Phyllis Hecht, Program Director, MA in Museum Studies,
Joyce Ray, Program Coordinator and Lecturer, Digital Curation Certificate,