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“Getting started in museums”

Yes, working in museums is a career.  Below is a comprehensive listing of schools for museum design, exhibition design and museum studies.

One of the most frequently asked questions about the museum field is “how do I get started”?   Many people in the museum field either studied, Museum Studies, Art History, Fine Art or Design.  Those who progress to working as senior staff often go back to school for a Master of Business Administration.

Areas of study for museum positions:
Curator – Museum Studies / Art History / Fine Art
Exhibition Designer / Director of Exhibitions – Industrial Design / Set Design / Fine Art
Educator / Director of Education – Psychology / Early Childhood Education / Museum Studies
Director – Art History / Business / Museum Studies
Registrar – Museum Studies / Art History / Fine Art
Volunteer Manager / Docent Manager – Art History / Marketing / Education
Historian – Advanced degree in their area of expertise
Marketing / Director of Marketing – Marketing / Graphic Design
Botanist, Scientist, Physicist, Paleontologist – Advanced degree in their area of expertise
Development Director- Philanthropy / Museum Studies / Marketing / Public Relations
Marketing Director – Marketing / Communications
Operations Manager – Technical School / Contractors License
Book Keeper / Chief Financial Officer – Business / Accounting

There are people woking at museums who did not study in the areas outlined above. To work at a museum you don’t “have to” follow the career path above, but it helps.

I often find my self in meetings with people from outside the museum field who make comments such as; “museums are no different than any other business” or “museums need to be more like a businesses”.  Then I find myself in the uncomfortable position of saying “yes, museums are  “in business” and yes, museums could learn from typical business practices.  But, museums are not a “business” and museums are different than a business”.  The objective of a business is to be profitable, the objective of a museum is to communicate (link to museum definition).  Museums need to stay “in business” but profit is not their objective.  I would recommend anyone interested in working in museums to seek out a good program in the their area of interest.  I find It very helpful to be immersed in the culture of museums prior to working at a museum. The best museum programs, have professors who work for or at a museum and can introduce students to the museum culture.

I have put together a list of the Museum Studies, Museum Education and Museum Exhibition Design programs.  Thank you all to those that help with completing the list!  Please contact me if I have omitted any programs.

Museum Studies/Museology

Arizona State University
B.A. in Museum Studies
http://art.asu.edu/museumstudies/

Baylor University
Degree: B.A., B.S., and M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.baylor.edu/Museum_Studies/

Brown University
Degree: M.A. in Public Humanities
http://www.brown.edu/Research/JNBC/maprogram.php

Chadron State College
Degree: B.A. in Applied History with a Museum Studies Major
http://www.csc.edu/socialsci/museum/degrees.csc

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Degree: M. A in History Museum Studies
http://www.oneonta.edu/academics/cgp/curriculum/curriculum.html

Florida International University
Degree: Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies
http://thefrost.fiu.edu/edu_studies.htm

George Washington University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://programs.columbian.gwu.edu/museumstudies/

Harvard University Extension School
Degree: M.L.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.extension.harvard.edu/degrees-certificates/museum-studies

Indiana University – Purdue
Degree: M.A. degree in Museum Studies
http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/mstd/

Institute of American Indian Arts
Degree: Associate of Fine Arts, B.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.iaia.edu/academics/degree-programs/museum-studies/

Johns Hopkins University
Degree: MA in Museum Studies
http://advanced.jhu.edu/academic/museum/

John F. Kennedy University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.jfku.edu/Programs-and-Courses/College-of-Graduate-Professional-Studies/Museum-Studies.html

New York University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/fineart/academics/curatorial.htm

San Francisco State University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.sfsu.edu/~museumst/

Seton Hall University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Professions
http://www.shu.edu/academics/artsci/ma-museum-professions/

Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
Degree: Undergraduate Special Bachelor Degree
http://www.museum.siu.edu/studies.html

Southern University at New Orleans
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies and Cultural Preservation
http://www.suno.edu/Colleges/Museum/

Syracuse University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://vpa.syr.edu/art-design/design/graduate/museum-studies

Texas Tech University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Science
http://www.depts.ttu.edu/museumttu/program.html

Tusculum College
Degree: B.A. in Museum Studies
http://www2.tusculum.edu/museumstudiesprogram/

University of Central Oklahoma
Degree: B.A. / M.A. in History and Museum Studies
http://www.libarts.uco.edu/history/Undergraduates.htm#History_-_Museum_Studies

University of Colorado, Boulder
Degree: M.S. in Museology
http://www.colorado.edu/catalog/catalog10-11/courses/museumandfieldstudies.html

University of Denver
Degree: M.A. in Art History with Museum Studies Concentration
http://www.du.edu/art/programs/MAahMuseum.html

University of Florida
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.arts.ufl.edu/programs/museumstudies.aspx

University of Illinois at Chicago
Degree: Professional Certification Museum Studies (graduate and undergraduate)
http://www.uic.edu/depts/arch/ah/museumstudies.shtml

University of Kansas
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www2.ku.edu/~distinction/cgi-bin/overview146

University of Leicester (UK)
MA/MSc and PhD programs in Museum Studies
http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/museumstudies

University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Degree: B.A. in Art History and Museum Studies
http://www.uncg.edu/art/undergraduate/history

University of Oklahoma
Degree: M.A. in Liberal Studies, Museum Studies Option (100% Online)

University of Oregon
Degree: A Master of Arts Management
http://aad.uoregon.edu/programs/degrees

University of South Florida
Degree: Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.gradcerts.usf.edu/certificates/xms.html

University of Washington
Degree: M.A. in Museology
http://depts.washington.edu/uwmuse/

Virginia Commonwealth University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Studies
http://www.pubapps.vcu.edu/bulletins/prog_search/?did=20153

Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio
Degree: BA Museum Studies
http://www.walsh.edu/museumstudies.htm

Museum Anthropology
Arizona State University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Anthropology
http://shesc.asu.edu/node/316

Columbia University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Anthropology
http://www.columbia.edu/cu/anthropology/graduate/main/index/museum_anthro.html

Museum Communication
University of the Arts
Degree: M.A. in Museum Communication
http://www.uarts.edu/academics/visual-arts/ma-museum-communication

Philanthropy
Indiana University at Purdue
Degree: Master of Arts in Philanthropic Studies
http://www.philanthropy.iupui.edu/education/grad.aspx

Museum Education
Bank Street College
Degree: M.S. in Leadership in Museum Education
http://www.bnkst.edu/graduate-school/academics/programs/museum-education-overview/

George Washington University
Degree: M.A. Teaching in Museum Education
http://gsehd.gwu.edu/programs/mep/masters

Tufts University
Degree: M.A. in Museum Education
http://ase.tufts.edu/museumstudies/masters.asp

University of the Arts
Degree: M.A. in Museum Education
http://www.uarts.edu/academics/visual-arts/ma-museum-education

Museum Exhibition and Design
Art Center
Degree: Master Industrial Design
http://www.artcenter.edu/accd/programs/graduate/industrial_design.jsp

CCA
Degree: Bachelor of Fine Art
http://www.cca.edu/academics/industrial-design

Cooper Union
Degree: Bachelor of Architecture
http://cooper.edu/architecture

The Corcoran College
Degree: MA Exhibit Design
http://www.corcoran.edu/degree-programs/graduate/ma-exhibition-design

Fashion Institute of Technology (S.U.N.Y.)
Degree: M.A. in Exhibition Design
http://www.fitnyc.edu/2868.asp

MIT
Degree: Master of Media Arts and Sciences
http://www.media.mit.edu/about

Pratt Institute
Degree: Master of Industrial Design
http://www.pratt.edu/academics/art_design/art_grad/industrial_design_grad/

Royal College of Art
Degree: Master of Arts, Design Interaction
http://www.rca.ac.uk/Default.aspx?ContentID=161712

NYU
Degree: Master of Professional Studies (M.P.S.) degree
http://itp.tisch.nyu.edu/object/itp_overview.html

San Francisco Art Institute
Degree: M.A. in Museum Exhibition and Museum Studies
http://www.sfsu.edu/~museumst/

Sci-Arch
Degree: Bachelor of Architecture
http://www.sciarc.edu/portal/programs/undergraduate/index.html

University of the Arts
Degree: M.A. in Museum Exhibition, Planning and Design
http://www.uarts.edu/academics/design

University of California, Davis
Exhibition Design, BA
http://design.ucdavis.edu/

Collections Management
Eastern Illinois University
Degree: M.A. in Historical Administration
http://catalog.eiu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=11&poid=1275

Curatorial Studies/Curatorial Practice
Bard College
Degree: M.A. in Curatorial Studies
http://www.bard.edu/graduate/

California College of the Arts
Degree: M.A. in Curatorial Practice
http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/curatorial-practice

Curatorial Studies/Curatorial Practice
Brigham Young University
Degree: B.A. in Art History and Curatorial Studies

California College of the Arts
Degree: M.A. in Curatorial Practice
http://www.cca.edu/academics/graduate/visual-critical-studies/curatorial-practice

Certificates
California State University at San Bernardino
Degree: Undergraduate Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.csusb.edu/majorsdegrees/undergraduate/baAnthropology/CertificatePrograms.aspx

Indiana University at Purdue
Degree: Undergraduate Certificate in Museum Studies
http://liberalarts.iupui.edu/mstd/index.php/undergraduate

Northern Illinois University
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.niu.edu/mstudies/

Northwestern University
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.niu.edu/mstudies/

Smith College
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.smith.edu/siams/

University of Iowa
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.uiowa.edu/~mstudies/MuseumStudiesCertificate.htm

University of Oregon
Degree: Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies
http://aad.uoregon.edu/programs/certificates/museum-studies-certificate

University of South Carolina
Degree: Certificate in Museum Management
http://www.cas.sc.edu/mcks/museummgmt/

University of Tulsa
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.utulsa.edu/academics/colleges/Henry-Kendall-College-of-Arts-and-Sciences/Certificates/Museum%20Studies.aspx

Utah State University
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.usu.edu/degrees/index.cfm?id=209

Canadian Programs
Association of Manitoba Museums, Winnipeg
Degree: Professional Certificate in Museum Practice
http://www.museumsmanitoba.com/courses/index.html

Alberta Museums Association, Edmonton
Degree:Certificate in Museum Practice
http://www.museums.ab.ca/what-we-do/professional-development/certificate-in-museums-studies.aspx

Museums Association of Saskatchewan, Regina
Degree: Professional Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.saskmuseums.org/professional_development

Ryerson University
Program: This is a joint program in Photographic Preservation & Collections Management
Degree: M.A. in Photographic Preservation; Collections Management
http://www.imagearts.ryerson.ca/photopreservation/program.html

Sir Sandford Fleming College, Peterborough
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
http://www.flemingc.ca/programs/museum-management-and-curatorship

University of Calgary
Degree: Minor in Museum and Heritage Studies
http://arts.ucalgary.ca/departments-programs/museum-and-heritage-studies

Université de Montréal
Degree: M.A. in Museology
http://www.etudes.umontreal.ca/index_fiche_prog/213110_desc.html

University of Toronto
Degree: Degree of Master of Museum Studies (MMSt)
http://www.ischool.utoronto.ca/degrees/mmst

University of Victoria
Degree: Graduate Professional Certificate (GPC)
http://www.uvcs.uvic.ca/cultural/graduate/

Resources:
Smithsonian listing of museum study programs:
http://museumstudies.si.edu/training.html

LinkedIn thread regarding the best schools for museum studies

*I studied Fine Art at Skidmore College (Bachelor Science, Fine Art) and Industrial Design at Pratt Institute (Master Industrial Design)

Photo: Robert Motherwell, “Elegy to the Spanish Republic, 108” 1965-1967, Collection of MOMA, Photo by Mark Walhimer 2011

About Mark Walhimer

Mark is Managing Partner of Museum Planning, LLC, a museum planning and exhibition project management firm of interactive educational environments for Science Centers, Children's Museums and Natural History Museums. You can reach Mark at mark@walhimer.com.

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6 comments

  1. Nice round-up.  JFKU actually now offers students the choice of getting a joint MA in Museum Studies/MBA,

  2. and Bank St has a second program – Leadership in Museum Education – which is a weekend, executive ed format program that allows you to continue to work full time. A year of education theory and practice and a year of management.

  3. Hi Mark. This article is extremely helpful, I wish I would have read it when I was looking for museum programs. One that is not on the listed, probably because it is not a traditional museum studies program, is the Parsons/Cooper-Hewitt MA in the History of Decorative Arts and Design. It is an academic art history degree, but immerses you in a museum environment. You can do internships at the museum in any department and most professors are curators or work in a museum in some capacity. Both these factors can really help you decide what area of museum work you’d like to pursue…even if its not a curator. Another plus, is that all the downtown Parsons classes are also open to you…so if you’d like to add in a little museum planning/design, you can do that too.

  4. I agree, if we
    start to museum job than it doesn’t mean that we have no knowledge and
    education related to that field, different studies lines are for that, I like
    that job because in this job lot of unique objects come to see,
    Worcester Park Removal

  5. Just a small update, The University of Tulsa no longer offers a certificate in Museum Studies, but they do now offer a full-blown M.A. in Museum Science and Management (I will graduate from it in May). Also, Baylor only offers a minor in museum studies for B.A. and B.S. Otherwise, great list!

  6. University of Texas at Austin has a Museum Studies Portfolio for those already pursuing a Masters degree. Thanks for the great post! Your blog is a fantastic resource!

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