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Information on Master’s Degree Programs in Museum Studies

Majors Overview November 21, 2015

This article talks about master’s degree programs in museum studies and their education requirements, coursework, career choices, job and wage outlook, and certification and continuing education choices.

Master’s Programs in Museum Studies

Important artifacts or records, including historical documents, artwork, and sports memorabilia are collected, preserved and displayed by museums. In a master’s program in museum studies, students explore every aspect of this field, including exhibits, the history of museums, community education, management and operations, curatorial research, and outreach.

Research and/or internships, as well as coursework, are covered by students who are allowed to select a specialty of focus for their studies and later career. Program graduates are trained to seek positions managing collections and museums, in addition to informing the public about the cultural role played by museums. Program graduates can seek jobs with federal agencies, zoos, art museums, and other non-profit institutions.

Education Requirements

Admission criteria typically require incoming students to hold a bachelor’s degree, preferably in a related field of study, such as anthropology, history, or biology. In some programs, applicants with a bachelor’s degree in an unrelated area may be allowed to take prerequisite museum courses.


Program coursework is devised to allow students to examine the finer points of museums extensively through internship experience, coursework, and a thesis, or a similar research writing project. Core coursework may cover topic areas such as:

•Building and architecture of museums
•Museums for specific ethnic groups
•Roles of communications and marketing for museums
•Museums in the Digital Age
•Public education through museums
•Museum management and administration
•Managing collections in museums
•Financial management of museums and similar non-profits

Career Choices

Program graduates can seek a museum curator position that involves the overseeing and analysis of collections, as well as handling of public outreach campaigns (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). A curator typically oversees objects of biological, cultural, or historical value. Additionally, program graduates can seek various kinds of professional jobs within a museum, including:

•Exhibit planners
•Development Director
•Marketing specialist

Job and Wage Outlook

In a competitive profession, curators are expected to see a faster-than-average job growth, over the 2010 – 2020 decade (BLS). In 2014, curators in historical sites, museums, or similar institutions brought in an average annual wage of $56,690 (BLS).

Certification and Continuing Education Choices

A museum archivist, whose job involves handling important documents and records, can seek professional certification through the Academy of Certified Archivists. Certification is a voluntary program that typically requires enrollees to satisfy experience and educational qualifications, in addition to passage of a national exam. Individuals who seek advanced research or teaching careers can enroll in a doctorate in library science, history, or a related field.

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