Museum Studies M.A. Program

The KU master’s degree in Museum Studies is a 36-credit-hour program built around 3 fundamental components – Foundational courses and experiences, Conceptual inquiry and application, and Professional specialization and expertise. Students who earn the M.A. in Museum Studies will have acquired mastery of the professional and conceptual dimensions of museums in the broadest sense, while also developing the specialized skills necessary for success in the field.

The graduate curriculum in Museum Studies provides a comprehensive overview of the discipline, opportunities for mastering core components of museum practice, avenues for exploring the interdisciplinary nature of museums, solid grounding in current issues facing museums, and possibilities for research to develop new and innovative approaches in the field. The Museum Studies Program’s core courses provide a foundation in the theories, history, techniques, and problems common to museums, historical agencies, and related institutions as well as the specialized operations of such institutions. Students also receive classroom and field training in methods and subject matter within their chosen professional specialty: Leadership and Management, Interpretation, Collections, and Community Connections. The Museum Studies Program also has well-established connections with academic disciplines such as American Studies, Anthropology, Geology, Art History, History, and Natural History, and students have many opportunities to take courses in those fields. Museum Studies graduates are well-equipped to undertake professional and leadership responsibilities in museums, historical agencies, and related institutions.

Graduates of the program work as curators, archivists, directors, exhibit designers, collection managers, and much more at museums across the country and around the world.

Admission to Graduate Studies

An applicant seeking to pursue graduate study in the College may be admitted as either a degree-seeking or non-degree seeking student. Policies and procedures of Graduate Studies govern the process of Graduate admission. These may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Please consult the Departments & Programs section of the online catalog for information regarding program-specific admissions criteria and requirements. Special admissions requirements pertain to Interdisciplinary Studies degrees, which may be found in the Graduate Studies section of the online catalog.

Admission to the Museum Studies M.A. Program

Students are admitted to the M.A. program only in the fall semester. The deadline for submitting applications is January 15. The Museum Studies Admissions Committee seeks to notify applicants of admission decisions by early March. Only in exceptional circumstances will we consider applications submitted after the deadline.

Eligibility criteria for admission to the M.A. program follow Graduate Studies' admission policy. To be considered for admission to regular graduate status in the program, a student must hold a bachelor's degree and have earned at least a B (3.0) grade-point average in previous academic work. Acceptance in the program is determined by the Museum Studies Admissions Committee. A full list of the required application materials can be found on the Museum Studies website.

Non-native speakers of English must meet English proficiency requirements as described here

M.A. Degree Requirements

The M.A. degree in museum studies requires 36 credit hours at the graduate level. Students in the Museum Studies program will complete the following:

1. The Museum Studies Core - 9 credit hours
2. Museum Professional Areas - 9 credit hours
3. Museum Conceptual Domains - 6 credit hours
4. Electives - 9 credit hours
5. Museum Experience (Internship) - 3 credit hours
6. Final Product & Examination

1. Museum Studies Core (9 credit hours)
The Museum Studies Core ensures that all Museum Studies students gain a comprehensive understanding of the theories, history, techniques, and problems common to museums, historical agencies and related institutions. The Capstone course, taken in a student’s third semester of study, provides an avenue for students to conduct research or other creative activities that advance the discipline of museum studies.

MUSE 801The Nature of Museums3
MUSE 802Culture of Museums3
MUSE 803Seminar in Current Museum Topics3

2. Museum Professional Areas (9 credit hours)
Students will develop expertise in one of the principal specialties of museum work by completing at least two courses in that area, at least one of which must be a Museum Studies (MUSE) course. Many courses in other departments could fulfill requirements; it is the responsibility of students, and their advisors, to ensure that individual courses meet program requirements based on the general relevance of the course and assurance that the student’s work in the class will be applicable to museum studies by meeting with instructors and examining syllabi.  Courses taken must be at the 500 level or above.  The following lists include examples of courses that may fulfill the professional areas requirement.

Courses cover areas such as administration, policy, fundraising, and legal issues related to the management of non-profit organizations.
MUSE 701Museum Management3
Examples of Courses in Other Departments and Programs:
LAW 867Law and the Arts2-3
MEMT 823Seminar in: _____1-3
PUAD 828Nonprofit Management and Policy3
PUAD 830Administrative Ethics3
PUAD 855Financial Management for Public and Not-for-Profit Organizations3
Interpretation includes developing skills in exhibition design and installation, graphics, and marketing, public programs, as well as innovative approaches to new and emerging technologies.
MUSE 703Introduction to Museum Exhibits3
MUSE 705Introduction to Museum Public Education3
Examples of Courses in Other Departments and Programs:
ADS 712Design Strategies and Methods3
BIOL 720Scientific Illustration3
THR 618Scenography and the Musical Theatre3
Courses provide opportunities to develop expertise in the practices and policies associated with the management and care of the range of materials in museum collections.
MUSE 704Introduction to Collections Management and Utilization3
MUSE 706Conservation Principles and Practices3
MUSE 707Practical Archival Principles3
Examples of Courses in Other Departments and Programs:
ANTH 520Archaeological Ceramics3
ANTH 582Ethnobotany3
ANTH 648Human Osteology4
BIOL 603Systematic Botany3
GEOL 725Paleontology of Lower Vertebrates3
TD 504History of Textiles, Lecture3
UBPL 760Historic Preservation Planning3
Courses enable students to develop skills in public programming, curriculum planning, visitor studies, audience development, and volunteer management.
MUSE 705Introduction to Museum Public Education3
Examples of Courses in Other Departments and Programs:
ABSC 719Experimental Field Work in Community Settings1-5
C&T 808Qualitative Research: Curriculum Inquiry3
COMS 855Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
COMS 855Qualitative Research Methods in Communication Studies3
HIST 601Oral History3
VAE 750Introduction to Art Museum Education1-4

3. Courses focusing on Museum Conceptual Domains (6 credit hours)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         The conceptual domains of museum work address in depth the conceptual and theoretical foundations of museums. Courses that emphasize conceptual domains will place museological subjects in broader historical and intellectual frameworks. Students may take courses which may be offered in one or several disciplines. Courses will be selected based on the general relevance of the course, and assurance that the student’s work in the class will be applicable to museum studies. Please see Museum Studies website for examples of possible courses.

4. Electives and Other Museum Studies Courses (9 credit hours)
Students are expected to deepen their knowledge of the field by taking courses in a subject area pertinent to their area of specialization. Courses will be selected with the approval of the student’s committee chair, as well as the course instructor.

5. Museum Experience (3 credit hours)
While enrolled in the Museum Studies program, students are required to gain at least 500 hours of museum experience, of which at least 250 hours must be in an approved, professionally supervised internship MUSE 799 Museum Internship

6. Final Product and Examination
Each student will be responsible for a final product, developed through research or other creative activity, that contributes to museum studies and demonstrates the student’s ability to engage conceptually and professionally with the discipline of museum studies.