A young boy is wearing a blue shirt standing next to an interactive exhibit. Photo credit: Visit Philadelphia

Museum Studies (MA)

Beginning fall 2022, the Museum Studies program will have two emphases: Education and Engagement. 

University of the Arts offers a reimagined Master of Arts in Museum Studies, with dual-degree emphases in Education and Audience Engagement. Students of various content specialties are engaged in a cohort and community learning environment, in which they seek to build a career and are passionate about the mission-driven impact only museums can deliver.

Our master's program reflects the collaborative nature that is prevalent in professional museum settings. Coursework spans the broad landscape of museum work and is designed to be hands-on in the construction of knowledge and solutions to issues facing museums today, including diversity, equity, accessibility and inclusion, and emerging technologies in cultural institutions. Choosing either our Education or Engagement emphasis allows you to deepen your knowledge in rewarding museum career fields.

Careers

Students choose this master's degree to get their foray into the field, and to work as educators and advocates for museums and other cultural institutions. Our alumni lead the development and delivery of educational programs, craft and execute strategic plans, and pursue funding initiatives to financially secure the ongoing work of museums.

Multidisciplinary Programs

Our Museum Studies master’s degree programs are purposefully multidisciplinary. Working alongside students in our MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design, students from across disciplines work and learn together in collaborative coursework. Students have opportunities to develop a personalized learning experience with graduate-level courses through the School of Graduate and Professional Studies.

Facilities

Having access to premier facilities on campus, students can utilize the Center for Immersive Media, the Makerspace, the Philadelphia Art Alliance and campus galleries to take their coursework from a theoretical realm to the physical, as they are challenged to prototype and evaluate their ideas.

Overview

The Masters in Museum Studies program prepares students to apply critical thinking and strategy in the museum field. As expert storytellers, creators and designers, our grads lead the way for museums, creative agencies, and nonprofits to communicate their missions, expand their audiences, reach out to communities and increase their financial resources.

This 36-credit master's program takes one year, full time, to complete, featuring two-degree emphases, Education and Engagement. The program allows for greater networking opportunities and a scaffolded approach to experiential learning—from coursework and curriculum integrated in museums and cultural institutions, to a culminating internship that can take place anywhere. Our cohorts model provides a boutique educational experience: Class sizes are kept small to allow for personalized attention from an impressive faculty of working museum professionals. Studies frequently delve into current topics such as diversity advocacy, accessibility for all, emerging technologies, and staff equity. Students will engage in design and strategic thinking in order to generate solutions and applications to the current challenges facing museums.

Students put theory into action through inclusive practice with opportunities to work with real-world clients and in cross-disciplinary teams. Our classroom is Philadelphia, the nation’s first UNESCO World Heritage City, with behind-the-scenes access to hundreds of museums, cultural institutions, and historical sites—the latter of which are as lively and active today as they were in the 1700s. Our national network of alumni and partnering museums provides students with valuable and practical internship experiences.

Museum Programs at UArts

MA Museum Studies

Museum Studies students become powerful advocates for museums and other institutions. Our graduates craft and execute missions and strategic plans, expand and educate audiences through education, marketing and community outreach, write grants and raise money to fund vital museum efforts. This 36-credit master's degree program takes one year, full time, to complete.

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 graduates are expert storytellers, content creators and designers for a broad range of audiences, and go on to work in museums, creative agencies and nonprofits. This 60-credit master's degree program takes two years, full time, to complete.

Explore the MEPD curriculum.

Who Should Apply?

Museum Studies students include those who love museums and nonprofit institutions. We look for team-oriented people with a strong desire to successfully connect museums and similar cultural organizations with diverse audiences, external stakeholders and partners. Students might focus on education, public programs, marketing, development and visitor services. Students gain a skill set that is easily transferable to other sectors by focusing on audience studies, collaborative work and opportunities for practice in professional communication and writing.

Our students recognize the need for interdisciplinary and cross-functional skills and approaches in museum workplaces. Some students come directly from college; others have been in the workforce in related fields (sometimes in the for-profit sector). We want you to bring your own perspectives, experience and academic expertise to our program.

Apply now.

Events

Every fall semester, the Museum Studies Department leads a field trip to renowned institutions in New York or Washington, DC to provide further connections to professionals working in the field and gain a behind-the-scenes perspective.

There are additional weekly field trips embedded in certain core courses. During Museum Studies Research, students take weekly field trips to some of Philadelphia’s iconic museums and hidden cultural and historic gems. This encounter during the first semester of the program introduces students to future mentors, internship supervisors, and/or future employers in the museum field.

Every spring semester, the first-year cohort takes a field trip as part of their Collaborative Exhibition Project to a group of museums and historic sites relating to the special collection of their exhibition development experience.

About the Curriculum

The bedrock of the Museum Studies (MA) program is learning to listen, engage and understand your audiences. You’ll connect with them through marketing and special events and examine the empathy needed by museum fundraisers and grant writers in order to raise money for the important work museums do. You will hone your skills in crafting and communicating content of all kinds to youth in Pre-K through grade 12, teachers, young adults, seniors, and others. You will practice being a community advocate and partner with underserved audiences.  

Students learn from experience designer Ben Baker about accessibility in museums.
An accessibility workshop with experience designer Ben Baker.

Small class sizes, robust faculty interactions and individual relationships with the program director allow for customization in the academic plan. Students learn from and network with industry professionals through seminars and guest lectures.

You will be encouraged to follow your passions and interests through your projects, internships, and thesis.

Skill-building is balanced with real-world challenges through partnerships with museums, nonprofits and other cultural institutions. Weekly field trips provide behind-the-scenes experiences through Philly’s wealth of amazing museums. Our national network of alumni and partner museums provide students with valuable and practical experiences.

Designed for collaboration, UArts’ program offers you the opportunity to apply all you will learn about traditional and contemporary approaches to full, complex team-based projects—the professional standard of the museum field.

Sample Curriculum

Total Credits: 36
Duration: 1 year, full-time

Expand all Collapse all
Education Emphasis

Fall Semester: 10.5 credits
Museums: History and Theory (1.5 c)
Museum Learning: Theory and Practice (3 c)
Museum Audience and Evaluation (3 c)
Creative and Cognitive Development (3 c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Collaborative Exhibition–Museum Studies (3 c)
Art and Inclusion (3 c)
Thesis/Capstone Research (3 c)
Exploring Education in Philadelphia Museums (Practicum) (3 c)
Community and Outreach (3 c)

Summer Semester: 9 credits
Museum Internship (3 c)
Museum Management (3 c)
Museum Studies Thesis/Capstone (3 c)

Open: 1.5 credits
Elective in studio (1.5 c) (fall or summer semester)

Engagement Emphasis

Fall Semester: 10.5 credits
Museums: History and Theory (1.5 c)
Museum Visitor Experience Seminar (3 c)
Museum Audience and Evaluation (3 c)
Museum Graphic Principles (3 c)

Spring Semester: 15 credits
Collaborative Exhibition–Museum Studies (3 c)
Branding and Marketing Principles (3 c)
Thesis/Capstone Research (3 c)
Museums and Society (Seminar) (3 c)
Community and Outreach (3 c)

Summer Semester: 9 credits
Museum Internship (3 c)
Museum Management (3 c)
Museum Studies Thesis/Capstone (3 c)

Open: 1.5 credits
Elective in studio (1.5 c) (fall or summer semester)

Facilities

As a student in Philadelphia, you’ll have access to everything the city has to offer. The Museum Studies program provides behind-the-scenes access to hundreds of museums, cultural institutions and historical sites. During your studies, you’ll gain hands-on experiences through field trips and internships.

A student tests out motion-capture technology with projections.
Motion capture software demonstration at CIM.

Philadelphia Art Alliance

Housed in the historic Wetherill Mansion on the perimeter of Rittenhouse Square in Center City Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Art Alliance offers an intimate, audience-focused setting with which to engage with the work of contemporary makers, performers and practitioners.

Learn more about the Philadelphia Art Alliance.

Center for Immersive Media 

UArts’ new Center for Immersive Media (CIM) is a 5,600-square-foot facility dedicated to exploring the fields of virtual and mixed reality, performance motion-capture, and human-computer interaction. The space includes

  • optical motion capture system for full body performance capture and location-based VR applications;
  • a four-channel audio system, multiple video projectors and lighting, as well as a control station;
  • 16-station computing classroom with PCs optimized for real-time graphics rendering; and
  • two large project rooms with ceiling grids for the development of installations and virtual environments.

Learn more about CIM.
 

UArts students works with 3-D rendering machines in the Makerspace
3-D printers in the Makerspace.

Makerspace

The University of the Arts’ Albert M. Greenfield Makerspace is a 3,500-square-foot digital and traditional fabrication studio that brings together the entire university community and serves as a catalyst for the collaboration, experimentation and innovation that’s characteristic of UArts.

The Makerspace houses state-of-the-art digital and analog equipment that allows students to create virtually anything they can imagine. It is outfitted with

  • 3-D printers and scanners;
  • a router and a mill;
  • laser, vinyl and substrate cutters;
  • printed circuit board and decal printers; and much more.

Learn more about UArts’ Makerspace.
 

Faculty

Our faculty are all working museum professionals who are well-known in their respective fields and have extensive networks with prominent professionals and institutions.

Program Leaders

Mickey Maley
Mickey Maley

Museum Studies (MA)
Museum Studies and Museum Education Program Director
Museum Exhibition Planning & Design program leader Stephanie Reyer
Stephanie Reyer

Museum Exhibition Planning & Design (MFA)
Museum Exhibition Planning & Design Program Director

Featured Faculty

Michael Adams
Mike Adams

Museum Studies (MA)
Director of Education at the National Constitution Center who commits to serving the small museum community.
Richard Cress
Richard Cress

Museum Studies (MA)
Principal of Alusiv design studio with over 30 years of experience in design services.
Stacey Mann
Stacey Mann

Museum Studies (MA)
Interpretive strategist and learning experience designer with over 20 years of experience in the museum industry.
Dana Schloss
Dana Schloss

MFA '06 (Museum Exhibition Planning & Design)

Museum Studies (MA)
Prototyper and exhibit developer in science and children's museums.
Robert Vosburgh headshot
Robert Vosburgh

Museum Studies (MA)
Director of Gift Planning at the University of Pennsylvania.
Mira Zergani headshot
Mira Zergani

Museum Studies (MA)
Director of Development at the Morris Arboretum with over 25 years of experience in fundraising and non-profit management.

Career Preparation

A student talks to a museum working professional during an information fair.

The small cohort size in the Museum Studies program allows for personalized mentorship from faculty and the program director in order to guide you toward your anticipated career path. 

Internships are an opportunity for students to gain practical experience and mentorship outside of the program in a variety of museum fields. Seminars and guest speakers allow students to learn from and network with industry professionals. Over the course of the program, students’ portfolios are developed through projects, internships and thesis.

Internships

Students listen to a museum professional at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.
A trip to the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Internships, including a required six-week summer internship, foster important professional experiences, including networking, tackling real-world problems and the role museums play in solving them, and making a social impact. These workplace experiences provide students with professional insight and connections.

Under the guidance of faculty, students receive individualized support as they seek out and apply to internships at professional organizations that range from museums to firms to other cultural organizations. A number of alumni have found mentors and permanent employment with internship sponsors after graduation.

Students have explored concepts such as crowdfunding as a millennial donor cultivation and engagement tool, the benefits and drawbacks of social coupons and discounts, and professional development and training for museum volunteers.

Recent summer internship sites include

  • Art-Reach, Philadelphia;
  • Baltimore Museum of Art;
  • Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston, MA;
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art;
  • Philadelphia Magic Gardens;
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia; and
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

The Museum Studies von Hess Internship Fellowship

With the generous support of the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, UArts is pleased to offer three, fully funded internship opportunities to UArts Museum Studies students in partnership with three acclaimed institutions: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and the Walters Art Museum, both in Baltimore.

Benefits

Successful students professionally benefit from a ten-week internship experience tailored to their area of study, as well as a living stipend of $7-$8K, depending on the internship placement.

How to Apply

Graduate students must be enrolled and be in good standing (3.0 or above) in one of the two Museum Studies degree programs. Students apply at the start of their second semester (February) and complete the Von Hess application by the due date (resume, essay of professional purpose and goals, 2 letters of recommendation from MS faculty, and an official UArts transcript). Grad students are put forward by the department to the host museums that make the final decisions.

Community Engagement and Social Impact

Students pose for a picture in front of their pop-up exhibit.
Students test out their interactive pop-up exhibit.

Museums have an important role to play as a catalyst for new dialogue and potential action. In addition to each semester’s coursework, students participate in an annual design sprint. The sprint is a carefully choreographed three-day process for answering critical questions and coming up with innovative solutions through the design, prototyping and testing of ideas. Students will be given a unique opportunity to professionally collaborate with content experts, local organizations and members of the community on real-world problems. They then develop and design community engagement materials for public audiences. The design sprint provides students with a powerful context for applying concepts and principles from their course of study.

Featured Alumni

Graduates of the program hold exciting jobs in the highly competitive museum field, recently taking on such roles as director of public engagement at Christ Church Preservation Trust, (Hannah Wallace MA ’18); marketing and public relations coordinator at the Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology in Hangzhou, China (Xinyi Fang MA ’18); public programming coordinator at the Barnes Foundation (Bailey Gamberg MA ’19); communications coordinator at the National Portrait Gallery (Gabriela Samá Fernández MA ’19); associate curator at The African American Museum in Philadelphia (Zindzi Harley MA ’20).

Alumni Spotlights

Zindzi Harley, UArts Museum Studies MA graduate, seated at an outdoor stage and speaking into a microphone. she is wearing black glasses and is looking to her right, and is wearing a brown lacey dress.
Zindzi Harley

MA '20 (Museum Studies)

Museum Studies (MA)
Assistant Curator, African American Museum in Philadelphia
Rachel Kiskaddon smiling and standing in front of a tree and green background. She is wearing a floral shirt with dark blue, teal, and white streaks.
Rachel Kiskaddon

MA '20 (Museum Studies)

Museum Studies (MA)
Education & Public Relations Manager, American Swedish Historical Museum
headshot of Nhi Nguyen. She is standing against a blurry background of a grey brick wall and is smiling at the camera. she has long dark hair and is wearing a chartreuse turtleneck sweater
Nhi Nguyen

MA '19 (Museum Studies)

Museum Studies (MA)
Early Childhood Programs Specialist, Barnes Foundation
Claire Cossaboon MA '13 (Museum Communications)
Claire Cossaboon

MA '13 (Museum Communications)

Museum Studies (MA)
Director of Membership, Grounds for Sculpture
Mary Bailey Manager of Public Engagement
Mary Bailey

MA '10 (Museum Education)

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 Exhibition Planning & Design (MFA)
Exhibit Planner, National Parks Service

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.  

Museums and institutions in Philadelphia that have hired UArts alumni include

  • Academy of Natural Sciences at Drexel University,
  • The African American Museum in Philadelphia,
  • The Barnes Foundation,
  • Fleisher Art Memorial,
  • The Franklin Institute ,
  • Philadelphia Magic Gardens,
  • Museum of the American Revolution,
  • Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia,
  • Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts and
  • Penn Museum.

Want More? Explore Our Network. 

Our more than 25 years at UArts means we have over 300 graduates practicing in the field. You can see our graduates on LinkedIn. You can also request to join our LinkedIn group. We invite you to explore the array of careers our graduates secure.

Common museums and institutions Museum Studies graduates can become employed at include

  • art museums,
  • corporations,
  • government agencies,
  • history museums and sites,
  • national parks,
  • private organizations,
  • science museums,
  • special topic of themed museums,
  • technology museums and
  • zoos.

Costs, Aid & Scholarships


Museum Studies (MA) Tuition and Fees

Total cost of attendance for 3 semesters (Fall/Spring/Summer)

Tuition: $52,050
Student Services: $180
Housing*: $15,768
Meals*: $6,864
Books*: $1,980
Transportation & Personal*: $3,360
Program Total: $80,316
No FAFSA Total: $80,202
International Total: $84,443

 

*These costs are general estimates for the purpose of budgeting. 

Cost of attendance includes annual tuition and can include on-campus housing, meals, books and supplies, laptops, transportation, a student services fee, lab fees (for certain courses), health insurance, and personal expenses. Many of our graduate students receive financial aid and scholarships to help offset these costs.

See graduate tuition and fees.

 

Scholarships

Graduate merit-based scholarships are awarded based on academic performance and professional experience. We recognize graduate school is a significant and serious investment in your future, and we have increased our merit-based scholarships to aid in your journey. The Trustee’s, Dean’s, and Director’s scholarships are highly selective awards and range in amount up to approximately 46% of tuition.

New to the program is a singular, President Scholarship awarded to a student with exceptional demonstrated talent and academic excellence. This exclusive scholarship is for 75% of tuition.

All scholarships are awarded based on entrance materials, no separate application is required.

The Museum Studies von Hess Internship Fellowship

With the generous support of the Richard C. von Hess Foundation, UArts is pleased to offer three, fully funded internship opportunities to UArts Museum Studies students in partnership with three acclaimed institutions: the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston; the Baltimore Museum of Art; and the Walters Art Museum, both in Baltimore.

Benefits

Successful students professionally benefit from a ten-week internship experience tailored to their area of study, as well as a living stipend of $7-$8K, depending on the internship placement.

How to Apply

Graduate students must be enrolled and be in good standing (3.0 or above) in one of the two Museum Studies degree programs. Students apply at the start of their second semester (February) and complete the Von Hess application by the due date (resume, essay of professional purpose and goals, 2 letters of recommendation from MS faculty, and an official UArts transcript). Grad students are put forward by the department to the host museums that make the final decisions.

Financial Aid

Most graduate students enrolled on a full-time basis are eligible for some type of need-based aid. Additionally, some scholarship opportunities take need-based criteria into account. All students who are US Citizens or eligible non-citizens and are enrolled in a degree program are encouraged to apply by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Learn more about graduate financial aid.

How to Apply

MA in Museum Studies applicants must select either the Education or Engagement emphasis when completing their application.

Application Deadline

Fall 2022 priority deadline: Our fall 2022 priority deadline to apply has passed, but we will continue to accept applications as space remains available in each program. We cannot accept fall 2022 applications after Aug. 12, 2022.

Review graduate tuition, financial aid and scholarship information.

Application Requirements

  • Start or resume your application.

  • $60 nonrefundable application fee

    • If the cost of the application fee is a barrier, contact Admissions to request a fee waiver code.

  • Official undergraduate transcript

    • Official transcripts must be sent directly from the college where you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree by mail, email or a secure electronic document-delivery service. 

    • If you have earned, or will earn, your undergraduate degree outside the U.S., see our transcript requirements for international graduate applicants below.

  • Two letters of recommendation

    • Two letters of recommendation from professors or professionals in your field, who are familiar with your capabilities, are required. In the case that these recommenders are not available, you may request letters from colleagues, collaborators or peers, if necessary.

    • Applicants must enter contact information for their recommenders on the application. An email will be sent to recommenders providing a link for them to upload their letter. Letters of recommendation may also be submitted by the recommender via email to gradcredentials@uarts.edu.

  • Statement of intent

    • 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 statement of intent may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal.

  • Museum Studies Critique

    • In addition to your statement of intent, Museum Studies applications must provide an additional written piece, approximately two pages long, addressing the following prompt.

      • Visit, virtually or in person, a museum exhibit of your choice. Describe and critique the exhibit, drawing upon your experiences as a museum visitor to support your commentary and discussing the mission of the museum and how the exhibition supports it.  

  • Résumé

    • Your résumé should highlight all your professional accomplishments, including employment, internships, honors, exhibitions and publications.

    • Your résumé may be uploaded during the application process or added after submission via your applicant status portal. 

  • Interview

    • After the application has been processed, each applicant is contacted for a personal interview conducted by the program director. Interviews may be conducted on campus or by phone or Zoom.

International Applicants

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

  • Official undergraduate transcripts

    • Applicants who have academic documents from institutions outside the U.S. are required to provide original, attested or certified true copies of academic records from the institution where they have earned, or will earn, their undergraduate degree. These records should be in the original language in which they were issued.

    • For postsecondary school records that are not in English, applicants must also submit an official translation of all their academic documents. Translations must be a complete, literal, word-for-word translation in the same format of the original academic document. Transcripts cannot be translated by the student or any members of their family. Acceptable translators include English teachers or other school officials, professional translators, or a local EducationUSA office

    • Admissions might request that students obtain a course-by-course credential evaluation if we are not able to confirm the equivalent level to a U.S. undergraduate degree.

  • Proof of English proficiency

    • For international applicants whose primary language is not English, and who have not completed two semesters of college-level English in a college/university where the language of instruction is English, proof of English proficiency is required. 

    • Recommended minimums for English proficiency exams are as follows. 

    • Applicants who meet the academic and creative requirements for admission but whose scores do not meet the English proficiency requirement for degree study might receive an offer of conditional admission that requires enrollment in the university’s English as a Second Language Institute (ESLI). Applicants who successfully complete ESLI will then be able to begin their degree program studies in the fall semester.

    • In special circumstances, applicants who do not have access to the TOEFL, IELTS or Duolingo English tests can request a waiver of this requirement. The request should be submitted by email to admissions@uarts.edu. Requests will then be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and might require an interview.

  • I-20/F-1 international student visa information: Upon acceptance, students will be contacted by 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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