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.
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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:
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
Museums 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.
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.
Designed 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.
Seton 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.
Art of Asia
History 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 Society
An 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 Suburbs
Explores 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 Caribbean
Within 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 1880
Historical 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 1900
Mexican American history from pre-Hispanic origins to frontier journeys north through 19th-century life in the U.S. Southwest.
Examines 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.
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.
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.
Although 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.
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?
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
Q: What is the museum studies program about?
A: 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.
Q: What are the educational backgrounds of students in the museum studies program?
A: Students have very diverse academic backgrounds with undergraduate degrees in areas as wide-ranging as anthropology, art history, biology, business, environmental science, history, English, journalism, psychology, sociology, photography, design, chemistry, law, and education.
Q: Is professional or internship experience within the museum field required to apply for a master’s in museum studies?
A: No– but professional experience is taken into consideration and favored during the application review process. While the admissions committee prefers to see work, volunteer, or internship experiences at a museum or cultural organization on an applicant’s resume, we understand that applicants have different professional backgrounds and not all applicants will have had the opportunity to pursue internships or jobs within museums or cultural organizations.
Q: Are there scholarships or teaching fellowships available?
A: Academic scholarships are available and awarded based on your academic record as well as other scholarly achievements. Also, it depends on the university regulation, so better to check with the school you are applying to. Generally there is no additional application for these funds, and you are automatically considered for them when you apply to the program.
Careers and Salary Outlook For Online Museum Studies Masters Graduates
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 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:
This 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.
This 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.
This 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.
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:
The 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.
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. 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 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.
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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