Museum Exhibition Planning + Design (MFA)
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.
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.
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.
MFA '10 (Museum Exhibition Planning + Design)
MA '12 (Museum Communications)
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.
JEWISH MUSEUM, NEW YORK
Christine McMonagle ‘09
THE BARNES FOUNDATION, PHILADELPHIA
Anne Baker, ‘13
FLEISHER ART MEMORIAL, PHILADELPHIA
Leah Gelb, ‘15
DELAWARE ART MUSEUM
Amy Hussey, ‘11
THE FRANKLIN INSTITUTE, PHILADELPHIA
Allison Aubrey, ‘13
MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK
Allegra Burnette ‘95
SOUTHEASTERN CENTER FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, CHICAGO
MAGIC GARDENS, PHILADELPHIA
Ellen Owens ‘06
THE NEW 42ND STREET, NEW YORK
Karl Allens ‘12
UPENN MUSEUM OF ARCHAEOLOGY & ANTHROPOLOGY, PHILADELPHIA
Layla Ballner ‘13
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY ART MUSEUM
Louise Barrett ‘14
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF HEALTH & MEDICINE, SILVER SPRING
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.
Total Credits: 60
Duration: 2 years, full-time
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.
How to Apply
Application Deadline: The University of the Arts operates on a rolling admissions basis, meaning there is no specific application deadline. However, graduate programs are filled on a space available basis, and applicants are encouraged to apply early as some programs may fill. Additionally, certain scholarship awards may have priority consideration deadlines. Please review Graduate Tuition, Financial Aid and Scholarship information here.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
In addition to the requirements listed above, international applicants or those with foreign credentials must submit:
- Official Transcripts and Transcript Evaluation
- All applicants with transcripts from outside the United States are required to submit transcripts officially translated into English. A transcript evaluation by a NACES-approved evaluator is required in order for an application to be complete, and a decision made. A Course-by-Course report is required and it is the applicant's responsibility to contract directly with the agency for this service and provide the necessary documents. While applicants may use any NACES-approved accredited evaluating agency, the University recommends World Education Services (WES) or Educational Credential Evaluators (ECE).
- Proof of English Language Proficiency
- International applicants whose primary language is not English must submit the results of the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), or the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). A minimum TOEFL score of 92 (iBT) or 580 (PBT) or higher, an IELTS score of 6.5 or higher is required for unconditional admission.
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 or IELTS can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted in writing and include the reason for opting not to take the TOEFL or IELTS exams. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and may require an interview.
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, International Student Programs, with any questions regarding your I20 or F-1 visa.
Start your application
Begin your application today. Our admissions team will help you throughout the process.
See UArts for yourself
The best way to get to know UArts is by visiting our campus in person. Come see a show, visit a gallery, and get to know the neighborhood.
Not sure where to start?
We're glad you want to learn more. Our admissions team is happy to send additional information about our school.