In the year 2019, before the covid 19 pandemic hit the globe, a staggering 230 million people visited museums all over the world and museum staff work backstage continuously to create exhibits from its treasure. Generally offered at the master’s and doctorate level, museum studies aim to provide theoretical and practical skills required to operate a museum. Seen as a part of the information and library science area, museum studies will equip students with an analytical and complex understanding of culture and social developments. A museology specialist has a solid cultural background that allows making connections between works of art and history, or between technological objects and scientific advancements. Students will also develop an aesthetic eye, as well as critical thinking skills.

If you are one who has a flair for  art, history and culture etc. then a master’s in museum studies might be the right course for you. A master’s degree in museum studies prepares students for professional roles in museums. These higher-level roles may include curators, registrars, public relations specialists, educators and many other positions.

Museum Studies online courses

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Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online Masters Degrees

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Online Masters in Museum Studies

A few of the biggest dilemmas while deciding to do a master’s in the program are which program to pursue, which school to pick, which university to enroll into. And then there are other considerations such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. We at OMC went through all these matrices and created a list of the best online masters in museum studies. See the ranking below:

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College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
George Washington University
1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052
University of Washington(on-campus)
1400 NE Campus Parkway, Seattle, Washington 98195
New York University(on-campus)
70 Washington Sq South, New York, New York 10012
Harvard University(on-campus)
Massachusetts Hall, Cambridge, Massachusetts 02138
Tufts University(on-campus)
Medford, Massachusetts 02155
Johns Hopkins University
3400 N Charles St, Baltimore, Maryland 21218
University of San Francisco(on-campus)
2130 Fulton St, San Francisco, California 94117
Strayer University-Stafford
12603 Southwest Freeway Suite 400, Stafford, Texas 77477
Savannah College of Art and Design
342 Bull St, Savannah, Georgia 31402
Southern University at New Orleans
6400 Press Drive, New Orleans, Louisiana 70126

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Museum Studies Masters Programs

Museum studies focus on the global, historical and theoretical aspects of museums and cultural institutions. The field spans the design, organization and management of national and international museums.

The museum studies degree combines the academic study of art history with the broad scope of museum practice. Through practical learning experiences, you’ll study the basic functions of museum operations. These include administration, acquisition and conservation of artifacts. You’ll also learn about the important role museums and cultural institutions play in educating the public and raising cultural heritage awareness on local, national and international levels.

Museum Studies Masters Degree Types

Museum studies is generally offered as a Master in Arts degree. There are different specializations offered that we will discuss in the next section , but all of them are offered as a Master’s In arts program.

Specializations in Museum Studies Masters Programs

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration prepares for
MA in Museum StudiesMuseums today need visionary leaders. This program offers the theory and practice of all aspects of the museum field, teaching innovative skills and knowledge to meet the challenges of the 21st century.• Education
• Collections management
• Curatorial and exhibition strategies
• Visitor engagement
• Business, management, and leadership
• Digital strategies
M.A. in Art & Museum Studies  Georgetown University’s M.A. degree program in Art and Museum Studies brings the academic study of art museums together with museum practice, and emphasizes the international contexts of museums in the modern world. Through courses, individual research, and internships, students work closely with Georgetown art history faculty, curators, and other museum professionals in Washington DC, and with faculty specialists at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London or New York.• Director-Studio Gallery
• Curator of Collections
• Museum Technician
• Collections Technician
• Cataloging Registrar
• Preservation Technician
Master’s program in Art History and Museum StudiesDesigned for those hoping to work in art collection-related fields, the master’s program in Art History and Museum Studies, offered by the Department of the History of Art and Architecture, provides advanced qualifications in art history and a broad introduction to museum work. Students in this program will take courses in art history and museum studies simultaneously.• Collections management
• Curatorial and exhibition strategie
• Museum librarian
• Museum registrar
Master of Arts in Museum ProfessionsSeton Hall’s unique M.A. in Museum Professions prepares you to create, innovate and lead in  twenty-first century museums. You’ll prepare for all aspects of museum work in four industry-driven skill centers that reflect the complex, multipurpose nature of cultural institutions today.Exhibition Development: Explore the mindset and creative tools needed to conceive and execute engaging museum exhibitions.
Registration: Learn up-to-the-minute skills and ethics for a career in the care and management of museum collections.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Museum Studies Masters Programs

Museum studies is the examination of museums and their role in society, with a focus on the principles used by curators, staff, and historians of museums everywhere, from the Louvre to a quaint local history museum. These principles include acquiring, examining, and displaying historical objects for public study. Hence, the curriculum revolves around acquiring such skills. Museum displays attempt to do more than entertain visitors; they reveal an artists’ views on the human condition, explore nature, educate the public about the human body or history, and much more.

Subject/CourseCourse Description:
Art of AsiaHistory of the art of the Asian cultures, with emphasis on China, Japan, and India. Meets non-Western art history requirements.
Immigration and Ethnic Relations in the U.S.The ethnic and social consequences of international migration with a focus on the United States. Examines the impact of immigration on both American society and immigrant ethnic minorities over time.
Genes, Race and SocietyAn in-depth examination of the biological and social construction of race in western societies. Special emphasis is placed on examining these constructs from a historical perspective.
Borders, Prisons and SuburbsExplores how the relationship between race and space has been important to the development of broad patterns of social inequality in the United States. Through a variety of readings, films and other material, examines how ideas of race and space have been important to the making and maintenance of national boundaries, citizenship, regional histories and spatial typologies such as border, ghetto, suburb and prison.
Black Families in the Diaspora: U.S. and CaribbeanWithin a historical, cultural, social-economic, and international context, the institution of Black families begins with their lives in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean and follows the cultural continuities and adaptations impacting the structure and functioning of contemporary African American families. Theoretical models provide focus to studying voluntary and involuntary migration, family labor force involvement, gender roles, marital relations, parenting, kinship and community networks. Throughout the course attention is given to the role of social policies in shaping the well-being of Black families.
Women in U.S. History, 1600 to 1880Historical discussion of American women of diverse racial, religious, and ethnic groups and classes; focuses on changing definitions of women’s roles.
Mexican American History to 1900Mexican American history from pre-Hispanic origins to frontier journeys north through 19th-century life in the U.S. Southwest.
Lang/Literacy-Indig PeoplesExamines issues, policies, theoretical foundations, and practices of indigenous peoples and other language minority communities from a sociolinguistics and language reclamation perspective.

Accreditation for Museum Studies Masters Programs

Accreditation is a vetting process wherein an institution has been evaluated by an independent accrediting body and found to meet the high standards of a rigorous education. Thus, accreditation in essence is enforcement of quality. Read more about Accreditation.

Hence, to ensure that their degrees are recognized by the industry and fraternity they are getting into, and more importantly to be eligible for US federal student aid one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies.

Timeline For Graduating From Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Most master’s in museum studies online typically takes anywhere between 16-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. In doing an accelerated program, students can save money on tuition. One can refer to such a program here. Typically, for a master’s in geography, students need to take 30 – 36 hours of credits.

Admission Requirements For Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Even though every master’s in museum studies online will have a specific requirement, generally speaking, a master’s in museum online would require an accredited bachelor’s degree majoring in museum studies with a GPA of around 3 in undergraduate work and work experience as a curator you are pursuing curator studies in your master’s program.

Free Museum Studies Programs

If someone is unsure of the subjects that one might take up for a masters in museum studies, then below is a list of free programs which students may pursue to figure out the course to be taken and work required on the courses.

Area of FocusDescription
Interdisciplinary Teaching with Museum Objects (edX)Register for this 14-week course and join an online community of educators for an immersive exploration of teaching with museum objects and works of art. Museum educators will explore connections among their collections and model teaching strategies that participants can implement with their students, whether online or in the classroom.
Seeing Through PhotographsAlthough taking, sharing, and viewing photographs has become second nature for many of us, our regular engagement with images does not necessarily make us visually literate. This course aims to address the gap between seeing and truly understanding photographs by introducing a diversity of ideas, approaches, and technologies that inform their making. In this course you will look closely at 100 photographs from the collection of The Museum of Modern Art, going behind the scenes of the Museum and into artist studios through original films and audio interviews.
Tangible Things: Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You (edX)Gain an understanding of history, museum studies, and curation by looking at, organizing, and interpreting art, artifacts, scientific curiosities, and the stuff of everyday life. Have you ever wondered about how museums, libraries, and other kinds of historical or scientific collections all come together? Or how and why curators, historians, archivists, and preservationists do what they do?
The Museum as a Site and Source for Learning (FutureLearn)Explore the purpose of museums today and find how they facilitate learning. Find out how museum collections, spaces and technology help visitors learn. What is the purpose of museums in today’s world – a world obsessed with technology? On this course we explore what can be gained from interacting with museum collections and spaces, and how to use technology to encourage engagement.

How to Pay for Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Keeping in mind the cost of education these days and the amount of debt that each student carries it is of prime importance how you choose to fund your master’s in geography online program. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For further reference, students can refer to this link here for scholarships.

It might happen that someone does not qualify for a scholarship, for such candidates if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. The other way of funding your master’s in geography is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid. Here is a link to the application for FAFSA Application.

FAQs about Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the museum studies program about?

The program examines how museums produce and reflect culture and the role museums play worldwide. Students develop theoretical questions and applied skills that engage the functions, practices and critical analyses of museums. Courses address topics across the interdisciplinary boundaries of museum studies, including anthropology; art history, theory and criticism; and public history. The program is designed to be use-inspired, socially embedded and trans-cultural, educating students in the meaning and significance of museums in contemporary society and preparing them for diverse museum careers.

What are the educational backgrounds of students in the museum studies program?

Is professional or internship experience within the museum field required to apply for a master’s in museum studies?

Are there scholarships or teaching fellowships available?

Careers and Salary Outlook For Online Museum Studies Masters Graduates

OccupationMedian Annual Salary (US $)Job Growth (2019-2029)Job Description
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers$52,14019%Archivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curators overseas collections of artwork and historical items and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators prepare and restore objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits.   Curators, museum technicians, and conservators typically do the following:
• Acquire, store, and exhibit collections
• Select the theme and design of exhibits
• Design, organize, and conduct tours and workshops for the public
• Attend meetings and civic events to promote their institution
• Clean objects such as ancient tools, coins, and statues
• Direct and supervise curatorial, technical, and student staff
• Plan and conduct special research projects
Postsecondary Teachers$80,56012%Postsecondary teachers instruct students in a variety of academic subjects beyond the high school level. They may also conduct research and publish scholarly papers and books. ​​Postsecondary teachers, often referred to as professors or faculty, specialize in a variety of subjects and fields. At colleges and universities, professors are organized into departments by degree field, such as history, science, or business. A professor may teach one or more courses within that department. For example, a mathematics professor may teach calculus, statistics, and a graduate seminar on a topic related to polynomials.

Certifications and Licensure For Online Museum Studies Masters Students

The museum studies practitioners typically don’t need a certification nor a mandatory license to practice their craft. But organizations put a lot of value on professional certifications while hiring candidates. If one has completed a master’s in museum studies,  it would not be a bad idea to pursue one of the certifications relating to their field of work or a graduate certificate in museum studies. A few of such are discussed below:

Museum Origins and IssuesThis course explores the diverse origins of the major types of museums, and contemporary issues and ethical challenges facing those museums today. How the primary public mission is established and interpreted and an overview of museum organization is included. Planning for exhibitions, community inclusion, and diversity are also addressed. Students are encouraged to make weekly field trips, visiting subject-appropriate museum sites in their own area and reporting back to the class. Students will also participate in discussion boards on the assigned topics and research the origins and mission of a museum in their locality.
Successful Museum ManagementThis interactive course explores the organization, governance and management of museums, with a focus on real-world problem solving. We consider the role of the board, the museum president, staff and volunteers. Topics include strategic planning, organizational structure and development, fundraising, marketing, collections management, exhibit development and design, evaluation and museum finances. Students, instructor and guest museum lecturers together critically examine current issues in the museum world, such as technological impacts, funding strategies, relevance to new audiences, virtual museums and economic impacts.
Learning and MuseumsThis course studies current theories and practices of education and learning in museums and examines the principal activities in planning and implementing educational experiences for museum visitors. Included are consideration of the role of museum educators and the principles of informal learning. Strategies to assess learning interests for potential audiences and to include technology in museum learning are presented. All types of educational opportunities and experiences offered by museums are examined and evaluated. Students will analyze the learning opportunities and experiences offered by a museum of their choice in their own area, in addition to participating in weekly online discussion boards.
Museum Studies Graduate Certificate  The course will expose students to:
• Understanding of important museum management practices, such as leadership, financial management, organizational behavior, or resource development.
• Vital insight into facets of visitor experience and exhibits, including curation, conservation, collection management, and design.
• Knowledge of museum-focused topics, such as exhibition development and design, visitor engagement, museum law, or technology.

Additional Resources For Online Museum Studies Masters Students

A master’s in museum studies is a gateway to the industry. But to further their careers and keep being relevant in this fast-paced industry, professionals can become members and hence accredit themselves with a professional organization in their chosen career field of their master’s. Apart from being a body that assists in developing and distributing knowledge, professional associations keep their members informed about the newest developments and innovations. We discuss few such organizational bodies below:

international council of museumsThe International Council of Museums is an international organisation of museums and museum professionals which is committed to the research, conservation, continuation and communication to society of the world’s natural and cultural heritage, present and future, tangible and intangible.   Over the years, ICOM has evolved in accordance with international museum professionals’ needs worldwide, keeping in mind its main mission. More than 60 years after its creation, the organisation continues to represent the global museum community.
American Association for State and Local HistoryThe American Association for State and Local History is a national membership association dedicated to helping the history community thrive. For the better part of a century, AASLH has provided leadership and resources to its members who preserve and interpret state and local history to make the past more meaningful to all people. AASLH is the professional association for history-doers.   Today AASLH provides crucial resources, guidance, professional development, advocacy, new publications, field-wide research, and a sense of connectedness to over 5,500 institutional and individual members, as well as leadership for history and history organizations nationally. It is the only comprehensive national organization dedicated to state and local history.
The Association of Art Museum DirectorsThe Association of Art Museum Directors advances the profession by cultivating leadership capabilities of directors, advocating for the field, and fostering excellence in art museums. An agile, issues-driven organization, AAMD has three desired outcomes: engagement, leadership, and shared learning.
Museum Computer Network (MCN)MCN envisions a world in which all museums are empowered digitally to achieve their missions. Hence, its mission is to grow the digital capacity of museum professionals by connecting them to ideas, information, opportunities, proven practices, and each other.
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