For over a quarter century, the Master of Fine Arts in Museum Exhibition Planning + Design (MEPD) program, the only one in the country, has grown and progressed to stay at the vanguard of the rapidly and ever-evolving museum field. The program is focused on community-centric practice that includes the design of interpretive experiences as driven by inclusive content and audience engagement. Students learn concepts such as environmental psychology, visualizing/systems design, storytelling and sensory perception, as well as drawing, digital skills, documentation, prototype testing, and building techniques all in service to redefining material culture and social impact.

The city of Philadelphia is a key creative incubator, with endless opportunities to attend art openings and to take field trips to large, formal museums and smaller eclectic ones. Students of the MEPD program hail from academic and professional backgrounds as diverse as the museums, firms, and institutions they go on to intern and work for; the MEPD program accepts students with varied backgrounds not limited to the design fields.

3 Distinct Programs, 1 Great Department

MA Museum Studies

Our students recognize the need for interdisciplinary and cross-functional skills and approaches in the museum workplace. You'll explore the conception, planning, design, creation, and delivery of museum content and programs, as well as understand the many audiences they seek to engage.

Explore Museum Studies Curriculum

MFA Museum Exhibition Planning + Design

The MEPD Program prepares students to be critical and strategic thinkers in the world of exhibition and program development and design. Our grads are expert story-tellers, content creators and designers for a broad range of audiences, and go on to work in museums, creative agencies and non-profits.

Explore MEPD Curriculum

MAT Museum Education

Museum Education produces graduates with the depth and flexibility to work in all types of museums—history, art, science, natural history, archaeology, anthropology, culturally specific, and children’s—in a range of capacities from educator and engagement officer, to program and department directors.

Explore Museum Ed Curriculum

Program Leaders

Karen Pollard, Acting Director, Museum Studies
Karen Pollard

Museum Studies (MA)
Acting Director, Museum Studies Program Leader
Stephanie Reyer
Stephanie Reyer

Museum Studies (MA)
Museum Exhibition Planning + Design Program Leader
Ellen Owens
Ellen Owens

Museum Studies (MA)
Museum Education Co-Program Leader
Michael Adams
Michael Adams

Museum Studies (MA)
Museum Education Co-Program Leader

Featured Alum

Mary Bailey with an owl perched on her arm
Mary Bailey

MA '10

Museum Studies (MA)
Manager of Public Engagement, Academy of Natural Sciences
Ken Davis MFA '10 (Museum Exhibition Planning + Design)
Ken Davis

MFA '10 (Museum Exhibition Planning + Design)

Museum Studies (MA)
Exhibit Planner, National Parks Service
Jessica Jenkins MA '12 (Museum Communications)
Jessica Jenkins

MA '12 (Museum Communications)

Museum Studies (MA)
Manager of Marketing & Public Relations, Delaware Art Museum
Claire Cossaboon MA '13 (Museum Communications)
Claire Cossaboon

MA '13 (Museum Communications)

Museum Studies (MA)
Membership Manager, Grounds for Sculpture

Our Recent Grads are Sought After.

It doesn't take long for our new grads to land careers - many are hired before they even walk in commencement! Alumni of the program are leaders, shapers and decision-makers in museums and cultural institutions around the country and abroad. Below is a short list of recent graduates and institutions for which they have worked.

Christine McMonagle ‘09

Anne Baker, ‘13

Leah Gelb, ‘15

Amy Hussey, ‘11

Allison Aubrey, ‘13

Allegra Burnette ‘95

Michael Christiano

Ellen Owens ‘06

Karl Allens ‘12

Layla Ballner ‘13

Louise Barrett ‘14

Helaina Blume ‘14

Our Grads Love What They Do.

Alumni Spotlight: Connecting with Claire is a portrait of alumna Claire Cossaboon MA ‘13 (Museum Communication), currently the membership manager at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, New Jersey.  

Want More? Explore Our Network. 

Our 25+ year legacy at UArts means we have over 300+ graduates practicing in the field. Below is a partial list of some of our graduates, with links to their LinkdIn Profiles. You can also request to join our LinkdIn Group. We invite you to explore the array of careers our graduates secure.

Throughout the program, students investigate museums and their role in broader society, furthering the museum as a catalyst for new dialogue and potential action. Skill building is balanced with real-world challenges by partnering with museums, non-profits, schools and cultural institutions. Students develop and refine skills in sketching, model-making, environmental graphic design, design research, audience research, prototyping, pilot testing, sustainable design practices, accessibility, universal design, exhibition writing, information architecture and community engagement.

Sample Curriculum:

Total Credits: 60
Duration: 2 years, full-time

Year One

Museum Exhibition Design Studio (4.5c)
Visitor Research & Evaluation (3c)
Museum Environmental Graphics (1.5c)
Architectural Drawing as a Visualizing Tool (1.5c)
Team Building (1.5c)
Elective (3c)

Year Two

Design Seminar: Concepts & Context (3c)
Museum Exhibition Design Studio (6c)
Thesis Development (3c)
Elective (3c)

Design Research & Synthesis (3c)
Museum Seminar: Museums & Society (3c)
Museum Exhibition Design Studio (6c)
Museum Lighting (1.5c)
Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD): Vectorworks (1.5c)
Exhibition Materials and Methods (1.5c)

Media for Museum Communication(3c)
Thesis (3c)
Elective (3–6c)

Museum Internship (3c)



In addition to the coursework each semester, students are involved in a “charrette” in which they interrogate a museum issue. Grads are given 24 hours to brainstorm and innovate possible design solutions for an existing museum or institutional client and present their concepts to decision-makers in those organizations. Past charrette workshops have been conducted for the National Park Service, William Way Foundation, Design Philadelphia, Philadelphia Museum of Art and Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and have tackled issues such as homelessness, mass incarceration, racial issues, and urban planning and interpretation. Partners for the charrette have been the public historians from Temple University, thought leaders from New York Hall of Science and Science Museum of Minnesota, as well as Elaine Heumann Gurian, James W. Volkert, Marsha Semmel, Leslie Bedford and Mark O’Neill from Glasgow Museum.


The requisite summer internship provides students with an extended opportunity to gain hands-on experience in world-renowned institutions such as the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Franklin Institute, the American Museum of Natural History and Guggenheim in New York, the Field Museum in Chicago, DeYoung in San Francisco, a paid fellowship at Walters Art Museum in Baltimore or the Isabella Stewart Gardner in Boston, and in a wide range of smaller science museums, zoos, gardens, aquariums, children’s museums, historic houses and societies. Students have also interned in design and development firms such as Ralph Appelbaum Associates, Jane Clark Chermayeff & Associates, Lee Skolnick Architecture+Design Partners and many more.

Community Engagement & Social Impact

The Spark-Fuel-Ignite! project provides the opportunity for Museum Studies students to engage in meaningful collaboration with the Franklin Institute, History Truck and high school students from the String Theory High School, Science Leadership Academy at Beeber and Hallahan High School. The initiative helps further Philadelphia’s citywide mission of building a diverse creative economy by fostering younger generations’ education, employment and creativity. By implementing design thinking, UArts grad students work with high school students, community groups and external institutions to collaboratively develop and design interpretive “pop-up” exhibits for public audiences. Located within the communities, these exhibits provide students a powerful context in which to apply concepts and principles from their course of study.

Start your application, view the complete curriculum with course descriptions on the Registrar's Course Catalogue site, or return to Museum Studies home page.

Apply Now    Visit Course Catalogue

How to Apply

Application Deadline

Fall 2020: The University is currently reviewing applications to this program on a rolling basis. Students may continue to apply after the February 1 priority deadline and will be considered for admission and scholarships on a space-available basis. Please review Graduate Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarship for further information.

To apply, the following materials are required:

  • Application Fee of $60 (nonrefundable; submitted with your application)
  • Official Transcripts
    • Official transcripts from all prior undergraduate and graduate schools attended are required. Transcripts should be issued directly by the Registrar's Office at the college(s) attended and sent to the Office of Admissions, The University of the Arts, 320 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, PA 19102 or via email to For transcripts from outside the United States, please refer to the instructions provided below for international students.
  • 3 Letters of Recommendation
    • Letters of recommendation may either be requested through the online application form, or mailed to the Office of Admissions. At least two must come from professors or professional in your field familiar with your capabilities and credentials. The third may be from a colleague, collaborator or a peer.
  • Statement of Intent & Resume
    • Your Statement of Intent and your Resume are uploaded and submitted as part of your online application. Statements should be a minimum of one- to two-pages and detail your professional plans, interests and goals. What do you hope to gain by your studies at the graduate level? Your resume should highlight all of your professional accomplishments including employment, internships, honors, exhibitions and publications.
  • Creative Portfolio
    • A portfolio of professional work samples submitted through the UArts Graduate SlideRoom Portal is required for all Museum Studies applicants. Specific criteria varies by program (Museum Exhibition Planning & Design, Museum Studies, or Museum Education), and further instructions can be found at the UArts Graduate SlideRoom Portal. There is a $10 fee to submit a portfolio in addition to the $60 application fee.
  • Personal Interview
    • After the application has been processed, each applicant is contacted for a personal interview conducted by the program director. For applicants who cannot interview at the university, interviews can be conducted via telephone or Skype.

International Applicants

In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants or those with foreign credentials must submit:

  • Official Transcripts
    • All transcripts from outside the United States must be in English and must be official. The Office of Admissions may request that international students obtain a transcript evaluation from a third-party credential evaluation service (such as World Education Services or Educational Credential Evaluators) in cases where further information is required to assess international credentials. 
  • Proof of English Language Proficiency
    • International students whose native language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the Duolingo English Test. A minimum TOEFL score of 79, IELTS score of 6.0, or Duolingo English Test score of 100 is required for admission. In lieu of the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test, completion of Level 9 in the University of the Arts ESL Institute will be accepted.   


Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study may receive an offer of conditional admission that first requires enrollment in the University of the Arts' English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete Level 9 of ESL study in ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies.

In special circumstances, applicants who have not taken the TOEFL, IELTS, or Duolingo English Test can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted in writing and include the reason for opting not to take the exams. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require an interview. A waiver may be considered for those applicants who enrolled full-time in an accredited college or university in the U.S. and successfully completed two semesters of college-level English, not taken in conjunction with ESL study, and earned a minimum GPA of 3.0 in those classes.

I20/F-1 International Student Visa Information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by the University of the Arts International Student Programs Office regarding visa counseling and all materials required to create an I-20 in order to obtain an F-1 visa. Contact Mara Flamm, Director of International Student Programs, with any questions regarding your I-20 or F-1 visa.

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