Erika Lasrado
Written By - Erika Lasrado

Check MarkEdited By Gabriel D.

Check MarkReview & Contribution By Erik L. Cato

In the pre-pandemic year of 2019, a staggering 230 million individuals globally explored museums, delving into the treasures curated by museum staff working tirelessly behind the scenes. Museum studies, typically offered at the master’s and doctorate levels, are designed to impart theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for the effective operation of a museum. Situated within the broader information and library science field, this discipline equips students with a nuanced understanding of culture and societal trends. A specialist in museology possesses a robust cultural foundation, facilitating connections between art, history, technological objects, and scientific advancements. The master’s in museum studies program cultivates analytical and complex insights and hones aesthetic sensibilities and critical thinking skills. It also provides a deep and comprehensive understanding of museum operations, ranging from curation and exhibition design to conservation and cultural preservation.

For those passionate about art, history, and culture, a master’s in museum studies offers an ideal path. This program prepares students for prominent roles within museums, ranging from curators and registrars to public relations specialists and educators. If you aspire to contribute to the dynamic world of museums, this master’s degree provides the expertise needed for impactful and meaningful roles.

Museum Studies online courses

Table Of Contents

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 Museum Studies Master’s Programs

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, and which university to enroll in. 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 Online Museum Studies Master’s Programs

A Master’s in Museum Studies program offers a transformative journey into the world of cultural heritage and curation. These programs are designed to provide students with a profound understanding of the multifaceted aspects of museum operations, from curatorial practices to conservation and exhibition design. 

Throughout the program, students delve into the intricacies of cultural preservation, interpretation, and audience engagement. The curriculum emphasizes fostering cultural connections, allowing individuals to curate exhibits that resonate with diverse audiences. Beyond theoretical knowledge, they develop hands-on skills, preparing them for various professional roles within the museum sector.

One of the key advantages of pursuing a Master’s in Museum Studies is the diverse career opportunities it opens up. Graduates can explore roles as curators, registrars, public relations specialists, educators, and more. The program also nurtures aesthetic sensibilities and critical thinking, enabling professionals to curate exhibits that educate and inspire. In the further sections we have expanded on the various components of this program.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Museum Studies Masters Programs

Museum studies examine museums and their role in society, focusing 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 artists’ views on the human condition, explore nature, educate the public about the human body or history, and much more. The curriculum of various institutions differs. However, a few standard courses across colleges include:

Art of Asia

This course delves into the history of artistic expression, examining the evolution of artistic traditions and influences that have shaped the visual landscapes of these nations. Meeting non-Western art history requirements, it provides a comprehensive understanding of the unique aesthetics and cultural contexts that define the art of Asia.

Immigration and Ethnic Relations in the U.S.

This course delves into the complex dynamics of international migration and its profound impact on American society and immigrant ethnic minorities. It critically examines the social consequences of immigration, addressing historical and contemporary aspects. Focusing on the United States explores the intricate interplay between immigration patterns and the social fabric, offering insights into the evolving ethnic relations within the nation.

Genes, Race, and Society

This course offers an in-depth exploration of the intricate interplay between biological and social constructions of race in Western societies. Emphasizing a historical perspective, it critically examines how race is biologically and socially constructed. Students gain a nuanced understanding of the complexities surrounding the concept of race, paving the way for insightful discussions on its societal implications.

Borders, Prisons, and Suburbs

This course examines the crucial relationship between race and space and its profound implications for developing social inequality in the United States. It takes a multidisciplinary approach encompassing readings, films, and other materials; this course sheds light on the role of race and space in shaping national boundaries, citizenship, regional histories, and spatial typologies. 

Black Families in the Diaspora: U.S. and Caribbean

This course explores the institution of Black families within a broader historical, cultural, socioeconomic, and international context. Tracing their origins in Africa, South America, and the Caribbean, the course analyses cultural continuities and adaptations influencing the structure and functioning of contemporary African American families. Theoretical models guide the examination of migration, family labor force involvement, gender roles, marital relations, parenting, kinship, community networks, and social policies’ impact on Black families’ well-being.

Some other standard courses that students can find across online museum studies masters include:

  • History of Museums
  • Museum Architecture and Design
  • Art Conservation
  • Digital Curation
  • Visitor Studies
  • Cultural Anthropology
  • Museum Law and Policy
  • Archival Studies
  • Community Engagement in Museums
  • Museum Evaluation and Assessment
  • Material Culture Studies
  • Indigenous Perspectives in Museums
  • Museum Finance and Budgeting
  • Interpretation and Storytelling in Museums
  • Interactive Technologies in Museums

Upon completion of the program, individuals attain a spectrum of skills, including:

  • mastery of the meticulous planning, organization, and management of museum exhibitions;
  • expertise in conceiving and executing educational programs tailored for diverse audiences;
  • competence in the proper handling, preservation, and conservation of artifacts;
  • strategic planning acumen for fostering the sustainable development of museums;
  • proficiency in integrating digital technologies for archiving and innovative exhibit presentation;
  • demonstrated capacity to craft outreach programs that resonate effectively with local communities;
  • adherence to elevated ethical standards across all facets of collections management and display;
  • proven capability in conducting scholarly research pertinent to the field of museum studies;
  • contribution to academic discourse through impactful publications and presentations;
  • proficient writing skills for the creation of reports, exhibition labels, and educational materials; and
  • implementation of interactive technologies to enhance visitor engagement and experience.

Museum Studies Masters Degree Types

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

Master of Arts (MA) in Museum Studies

A Master of Arts in Museum Studies provides students with a comprehensive understanding of museum theory, management, and curation. This program significantly emphasizes academic and research-oriented approaches, equipping them with the theoretical foundations for engaging with complex museum issues. Graduates from this program are well-versed in the scholarly aspects of museum work, preparing them for roles that require a deep understanding of museum theory.

Master of Science (MS) in Museum Studies

Geared toward practical, technical, and scientific aspects of museum work, a Master of Science in Museum Studies is designed to equip students with hands-on skills. This program often includes coursework in conservation and collections management, providing them with the expertise needed for the preservation and technical management of museum artifacts. Graduates are well-prepared for roles that involve the practical application of museum methodologies.

Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Museum Studies

The Master of Fine Arts in Museum Studies integrates artistic and creative elements into the academic study of museums. This program suits individuals interested in exploring exhibitions’ aesthetic and visual aspects. Graduates engage in a blend of theoretical coursework and artistic practice, fostering a unique perspective that combines creativity with the scholarly study of museums.

Master of Museum Studies (MMSt)

The Master of Museum Studies offers a specialized and comprehensive curriculum on museum-related subjects. This program balances theoretical knowledge and practical skills, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for various museum roles. The MMSt program is designed to provide a holistic understanding of museum operations, making it an ideal choice for those seeking a versatile skill set in the museum sector.

Specializations in Museum Studies Masters Programs

There are many specializations that students of master’s in Museum Studies program can take up based on their interests and career aspirations. Each specialization provides a unique skill set relevant to specific roles within the museum sector; few are mentioned below.

Collections ManagementThis specialization focuses on museum collections’ organization, care, and documentation. Students learn about cataloging, conservation, and proper handling of artifacts.Collections Manager, Registrar, Conservator, and more. 
Exhibition Design and CurationThis specialization explores the art of creating engaging and educational exhibitions. Students delve into design principles, narrative development, and audience engagement strategies.Exhibition Designer, Curator, Museum Educator, and more. 
Cultural Heritage PreservationThis specialization concentrates on the preservation and protection of cultural heritage. Students study conservation techniques, preventive measures, and ethical considerations.Cultural Heritage Conservator, Preservation Specialist, and more.
Museum Education and OutreachThis specialization focuses on developing educational programs and fostering community engagement. Students learn about curriculum design, outreach strategies, and public programming.Museum Educator, Outreach Coordinator, Education Specialist, and so on.
Digital Museology and TechnologyThis specialization explores the integration of digital technologies in museum practices. Students gain skills in digital curation, virtual exhibits, and utilizing technology for museum purposes.Digital Curator, Technological Innovator, Digital Engagement Specialist, and more. 
Museum Administration and LeadershipThis specialization concentrates on the managerial aspects of running a museum. Students study leadership, strategic planning, budgeting, and policy development for effective museum administration.Museum Director, Administrator, Executive Director, Museum Operations Manager, etc.
Visitor Experience ManagementThis specialization examines strategies to enhance the visitor experience in museums. Students learn about audience research, accessibility, and creating inclusive spaces for diverse visitors.Visitor Experience Manager, Audience Researcher, Accessibility Coordinator, and more.
Art Conservation and RestorationThis specialization specializes in the preservation and restoration of artworks and cultural artifacts. Students acquire skills in art conservation, restoration techniques, and ethical considerations.Art Conservator, Restoration Specialist, Conservation Scientist, and more. 
Museum Marketing and Public RelationsThis specialization focuses on promoting museums, exhibitions, and programs to the public. Students learn about marketing strategies, public relations, and museum audience development.Museum Marketer, Public Relations Specialist, Marketing Coordinator, and so on.

 Timeline for Graduating from Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Most master’s in museum studies online typically take anywhere between 16-24 months, while many accelerated master’s programs require just one year of study after students have completed their bachelor’s. Full-time programs are designed for completion within two academic years, offering an immersive experience. The first year covers core coursework, followed by summer internships. The second year focuses on specialization coursework, thesis development, and additional hands-on experiences.

Part-time Master’s in Museum Studies programs allow students to extend their studies over multiple years, balancing coursework with other commitments. This flexibility accommodates a more manageable study schedule, with internships typically undertaken during the summers.

Accelerated Master’s in Museum Studies programs condense all requirements into a streamlined 12 to 18-month timeframe. These programs maintain a full-time commitment, ideal for those seeking a swift entry into the workforce, emphasizing practical experiences and hands-on projects.

Accelerated Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Accelerated online Master’s in Museum Studies programs provide an efficient and flexible path for individuals eager to expedite their education and enter the museum field promptly. Typically completed in 12 to 18 months, these programs maintain a rigorous curriculum delivered through online platforms. Students engage in immersive coursework, gaining theoretical knowledge and practical skills essential for museum careers. The accelerated format often includes intensive project work, ensuring graduates are well-prepared for the dynamic challenges of the museum profession. Some colleges provide an online museum studies master program, including:

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. Admission requirements for Museum Studies Master’s programs may vary between institutions, but typical requirements include:

  • Bachelor’s Degree
    A completed bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution is usually a prerequisite. While some programs may prefer a background in a related field, others may accept diverse academic backgrounds.
  • Transcripts
    Submission of official academic transcripts is standard. Programs often look for a solid academic record to indicate a candidate’s preparedness for graduate-level studies.
  • Letters of Recommendation
    Most programs request letters of recommendation from professors or professionals who can speak to the applicant’s academic abilities and potential.
  • Statement of Purpose
    Applicants submit a Statement of Purpose outlining their academic and professional goals and reasons for pursuing a Master’s in Museum Studies.
  • Résumé/CV
    A Résumé or curriculum vitae (CV) detailing relevant academic, professional, and volunteer experiences is typically required.
  • Interview
    Some programs may conduct interviews as part of the application process to assess a candidate’s fit.
  • Portfolio
    Applicants with prior experience in the arts or related fields may be required to submit a portfolio showcasing their work.
  • GRE Scores 
    While not always mandatory, some programs may require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores. Check the specific requirements of the program to which you are applying.

Accreditation for Museum Studies Masters Programs

Accreditation for Museum Studies Master’s Programs ensures that these programs meet specific standards of quality and provide a solid education to students. Accreditation is typically granted by recognized accrediting bodies or associations. While specific accrediting bodies may vary, the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) [4] is a notable organization in museum studies that provides accreditation for museum programs. To ensure that the industry and fraternity recognize the degrees they are getting into, and more importantly, to be eligible for US federal student aid [5], one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies [6]

No GRE Museum Studies Masters Programs

Several museum studies master’s programs do not require the GRE for admission. The admission criteria may vary across institutions, and some programs prioritize professional experience, a solid academic background, and a compelling statement of purpose over standardized test scores. Prospective students interested in pursuing a museum studies master’s degree without GRE requirements should check the admission criteria of individual programs to ensure a good fit for their academic and professional backgrounds. Some colleges providing a no gre museum studies master’s degree include:

Free Museum Studies Courses

If someone is unsure of the subjects that one might take up for a master’s in museum studies, then below is a list of free programs that students may pursue to determine the course to be taken and the work required. Some free courses that students of museum studies can take are:

CourseInterdisciplinary Teaching with Museum Objects[10]
Provided byedX
DescriptionThis dynamic course explores innovative approaches to education by integrating museum objects into interdisciplinary teaching strategies. It delves into the collaborative use of artifacts, artworks, and historical items to enrich various academic subjects, fostering a holistic understanding of diverse topics.
CourseSeeing Through Photographs[11]
Provided byCoursera
DescriptionAlthough 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 addresses the gap between seeing and truly understanding photographs by introducing diverse ideas, approaches, and technologies that inform their making. 
CourseThe Museum as a Site and Source for Learning (FutureLearn)[12]
Provided byFutureLearn
DescriptionThrough this course, one can explore the purpose of museums today, find out how they facilitate learning, and how museum collections, spaces, and technology help visitors learn. One also learns how to interact with museum collections and spaces and use technology to encourage engagement.

How to Pay for Online Museum Studies Master’s Programs

Pursuing an online Master’s in Museum Studies can be costly, and exploring funding options becomes crucial to alleviate potential student debt. Here are several mechanisms for students to consider:


A straightforward option, scholarships offer a popular means of funding education without needing repayment. However, students should be cautious of scholarship scams.


Graduate Teaching Assistantships and Graduate Research Assistantships, available at certain universities, allow students to teach, work, or conduct research while pursuing a Master’s in Museum.


Funds provided by federal, state, or private sectors and grants cover tuition and various student expenses, including study materials, transportation, and equipment.

On-Campus Employment

Some universities offer on-campus employment opportunities, treating students as employees. Earnings from such employment can help offset tuition costs.

Federal Loans

Federal or private loans provide an additional avenue for raising funds, but students should be mindful of interest rates and repayment obligations.

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid)

FAFSA is a potential option for securing financial aid for graduate studies[13].

Exploring the best Financial Guide is advisable to understand college funding comprehensively. 

Scholarships for Online Museum Studies Masters Programs

Museum Studies Master’s Programs can be financially supported through various scholarships, providing students with opportunities to ease the financial burden. Here are some potential scholarships to explore:

Midwest Art History Society Travel Scholarships[14]

These scholarships, designed for graduate students, including those in museum studies, support travel to present research at the Midwest Art History Society annual conference.

Getty Graduate Internship Program[15]

The Getty Foundation provides internships and grants for students pursuing careers in fields related to the visual arts, including museum studies.

AAM Museum Studies Fellowship[16]

Offered by the American Alliance of Museums (AAM), it supports individuals from underrepresented groups in the museum field, providing financial aid and professional development opportunities.

Alice L. Crossley Prize in Art History[17]

The College Art Association (CAA) awards this prize to graduate students for outstanding accomplishments in art history, including museum studies.

Careers and Salary Outlook for Online Museum Studies Master’s Graduates

Masters in Museum Studies graduates can pursue various exciting museum and cultural heritage careers. Here is a list of potential careers:

  • Curator
  • Educator/Interpreter
  • Archivist
  • Conservator/Restorer
  • Museum Director/Administrator
  • Exhibition Designer
  • Registrar
  • Digital Media Specialist
  • Public Relations Specialist
  • Grant Writer

These career options offer diverse opportunities for individuals with a Master’s in Museum Studies, allowing them to contribute to preserving, interpreting, and presenting cultural heritage. Some of these careers are explained below:

OccupationArchivists, Curators, and Museum Workers[18]
SkillsAnalytical, customer-service, detail-oriented, and organizational skills. 
Median Annual Salary$53,420
Job Growth (up to 2032)10% (much faster than average)
Job DescriptionArchivists appraise, process, catalog, and preserve permanent records and historically valuable documents. Curator’s 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 collections and exhibits.   
OccupationCraft and Fine Artists[19]
SkillsArtistic, business, creativity, customer service, talent, and interpersonal skills. 
Median Annual Salary$53,140
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as the average)
Job DescriptionCraft and fine artists engage in various creative processes to produce their work. They utilize techniques such as knitting, weaving, glassblowing, painting, drawing, and sculpting. These artists develop innovative ideas and methods, often creating sketches, templates, or models to guide their artistic endeavors. The selection of materials is a crucial aspect, considering factors like color, texture, and strength.
OccupationAnthropologists and Archaeologists[20]
SkillsAnalytical, critical thinking, communication, and physical stamina.
Median Annual Salary$63,940
Job Growth (up to 2032)4% (as fast as average)
Job DescriptionAnthropologists and archaeologists play pivotal roles in unraveling human societies’ complexities and histories. Their multifaceted responsibilities include meticulously planning cultural research initiatives and tailoring data collection methods to specific regions, specialties, or projects. Through keen observations, interviews, and scrutiny of historical documents, these professionals amass valuable insights into diverse aspects of human culture.
SkillsAnalytical, communication, foreign language, problem-solving, and research skills. 
Median Annual Salary$64,540
Job Growth (up to 2032)3% (as fast as the average)
Job DescriptionHistorians are dedicated professionals who specialize in unraveling the intricacies of the past. Their responsibilities encompass a range of tasks aimed at comprehensively understanding historical events, developments, and cultural shifts. They also evaluate the authenticity and significance of various sources, employing rigorous methodologies to ensure the accuracy of their findings.

Certifications and Licensure for Online Museum Studies Master’s Students

Certifications and licensure are not commonly required for pursuing a Master’s in Museum Studies. However, there are professional certifications that can enhance the credentials of museum studies professionals and demonstrate a commitment to excellence in the field. These voluntary certifications can be pursued based on individual career goals and interests. Here are some relevant certifications:

Certified Institutional Protection Manager (CIPM)[22]

Offered by the International Foundation for Cultural Property Protection (IFCPP), this certification focuses on security management for cultural institutions, including museums. It covers risk assessment, emergency planning, and security protocols.

Certified Interpretive Guide (CIG)[23]

The National Association for Interpretation (NAI) provides the CIG certification for individuals involved in educational programming and interpretation within museums and cultural institutions.

Certified Fund-Raising Executive (CFRE)[24]

While not specific to museums, the CFRE certification from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) can be valuable for professionals involved in fundraising activities for museums and cultural organizations.

Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Certification[25]

For professionals involved in museum facility management, obtaining LEED certification demonstrates expertise in sustainable and environmentally friendly building practices.

Digital Archives Specialist (DAS)[26]

The Society of American Archivists (SAA) offers the DAS certification relevant to individuals working in museum archives. It covers digital archives management and preservation.

It is important to note that the specific certifications deemed valuable may vary based on the individual’s career focus within museum studies. Additionally, licensure is not typically required in the museum studies field.

Additional Resources for Online Museum Studies Master’s Students

A master’s in museum studies is a gateway to the industry. But to further their careers and remain relevant in this fast-paced industry, professionals can become members and 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. Here are some examples:

International Council of Museums[27]

The International Council of Museums is an international organization of museums and museum professionals 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 to meet international museum professionals’ needs worldwide, keeping in mind its primary mission.

American Association for State and Local History[28]

The 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, providing crucial resources, guidance, professional development, advocacy, new publications, field-wide research, and a sense of connectedness to over 5,500 institutional and individual members.

The Association of Art Museum Directors[29]

The Association of Art Museum Directors advances the profession by cultivating the 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) [30]

MCN envisions a world where all museums are digitally empowered 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.

FAQs About Online Museum Studies Master’s Programs

What is the focus of the museum studies program?

The program explores how museums contribute to and mirror global culture. It equips students with theoretical inquiries and practical skills to engage with museums’ functions, practices, and critical analyses. Spanning interdisciplinary boundaries, courses cover topics in anthropology, art history, theory and criticism, and public history. The program aims to be use-inspired, socially embedded, and trans-cultural, educating students about the meaning and significance of museums in contemporary society and preparing them for diverse careers in the field.

What educational backgrounds do the museum studies program students have?

 Is professional or internship experience required for a master’s in museum studies application?

What types of courses are offered in a museum studies program?

 Is a thesis or final project required in most museum studies programs?

 What career paths can one pursue with a master’s in museum studies?