University of the Arts offers the only Master of Arts in Museum Studies that is grounded in a School of Design. Our student body includes designers and non-designers from a wide variety of backgrounds and areas of interest. We seek students who are smart, creative and passionate about the power of museums to change and improve lives. 

People choose this master’s degree program to become advocates for museums and other institutions. Our alumni craft and execute missions and strategic plans, expand and educate audiences through marketing and community outreach, write grants, and raise money to fund vital museum efforts. 

Museum Studies alumni make museums work. Our curriculum teaches students 21st century skills grounded in the principles of design thinking: understanding your audience, seeking solutions and testing ideas. This hands-on work is done in collaboration with and for some of the 100-plus museums and nonprofit institutions in the Philadelphia area and beyond.

Our Museum Studies master’s programs are purposefully multidisciplinary. Students can take coursework in the related programs Museum Exhibition, Planning and Design and Museum Education. They also have opportunities to craft a personalized learning experience with graduate-level courses in the School of Design. 

With premier facilities located on campus, students have access to the Center for Immersive Media, the Makerspace and the Product Design studio to take their coursework from a theoretical realm to the physical, as they are challenged to prototype and evaluate their ideas.

The Museum Studies program prepares students to be critical and strategic thinkers in the world of museum advocacy. 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.

Our program 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 and staff equity. As part of the School of Design at the UArts, we focus on design thinking and creative problem-solving. We encourage applicants from all backgrounds to apply and begin to use their talents and passion to forward the missions and impacts of cultural institutions.

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, 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 marketing and community outreach, write grants, and raise money to fund vital museum efforts. This 45-credit program takes 1.5 years, 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 story-tellers, content creators and designers for a broad range of audiences, and go on to work in museums, creative agencies and nonprofits. This 60-credit program takes two years, full time, to complete.

Explore MEPD

MA Museum Education

The Museum Education program prepares students to lead the way for museums and nonprofits to fulfill their missions, educate their audiences, and implement key educational initiatives. You’ll gain the tools for pursuing knowledge through inquiry, exploring visual arts and digital design, engaging in creative problem-solving, and empowering your community as a collaborative partner. This 45-credit program takes 1.5 years, full time, to complete.

Explore Museum Education

Who Should Apply?

Museum Studies students include those who love museums and nonprofit institutions and who want to work outside museum exhibits and programs. Students might focus on marketing, development or community engagement, as well as anticipate supervisory and management work in their future careers. 

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 the mix. 

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.

Apply now.

Visit our course catalogue.


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 the field and gaining 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.

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 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: 45
Duration: 1.5 years, full-time

Year One

Fall: 15 credits
Museums: History & Theory (1.5c)
Principles of Development & Grant Writing (3c)
Museum Audiences & Evaluation (3c)
Museum Graphic Principles (3c)
Essentials of Graphic Software (1.5c)
Museum Studies Research (3c)

Year Two

Fall: 15 credits
Museum Visitor Experience Seminar (3c)
Museum Governance & Administrative Issues (3c)
Thesis/Capstone (3c)
Internship (3c)
Elective (3c)

Spring: 15 credits
Branding & Marketing (3c)
Museum Seminar: Museums in Society (3c)
Collaborative Exhibition Project (3c)
Thesis/Capstone Development (3c)
Digital Media for Museum Interpretation (3c)

Summer
Internship (3c)

 

Recent summer internship sites include

  • Art-Reach, Philadelphia;
  • Baltimore Museum of Art;
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia;
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art;
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia; and
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

 

Explore the course catalogue.

Students talk with a museum expert at the Baltimore Museum of Art.
A trip to the Baltimore Museum of Art.

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.

Recent summer internship sites include

  • Art-Reach, Philadelphia;
  • Baltimore Museum of Art;
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia;
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art;
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia; and
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

 

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

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.
 

A student points to the 3-D printers 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.
 

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

Karen Pollard, Acting Director, Museum Studies
Karen Pollard

MFA '00 (Museum Exhibition Planning & Design)

Museum Studies (MA)
Acting Director, Museum Studies Program Leader
Mickey Maley
Mickey Maley

Museum Education (MA)
Museum Education Program Leader
Museum Exhibition Planning & Design program leader Stephanie Reyer
Stephanie Reyer

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

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.
Polly McKenna-Cress, Director of Museum Studies
Polly McKenna-Cress

Museum Studies (MA)
Chief Engagement Officer for the Please Touch Museum with over 30 years of experience in museums and design firms.
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.
Ellen Owens
Ellen Owens

MA '06 (Museum Education)

Museum Studies (MA)
Merle-Smith Director of Learning Programs at the Penn Museum and President of Emerging Art Leaders: Philadelphia.
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 opportunities for students to gain practical experience and mentorship outside the program in a variety of museum fields. In addition to internships, students work with local institutions as part of specific class projects. These assignments include producing professional quality work such as audience research, grant writing and marketing. Students can also learn from, and network with, industry professionals during seminars and events featuring guest speakers. 

Over the course of the program, students’ portfolios are developed through projects, internships and theses. Students are encouraged to publish and present work from their theses.

 

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 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;
  • National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia;
  • Philadelphia Museum of Art;
  • Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Philadelphia; and
  • Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

 

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 both the private and the public sectors as managers of marketing and public relations, communications coordinators, multimedia coordinators, directors of development and charitable giving, and managers of external affairs.

Featured alumni include

  • Gabriela Samá Fernández MA ’19 (Museum Studies), communications coordinator, National Portrait Gallery—Smithsonian Institution
  • Xinyi Fang MA ’18 (Museum Studies), marketing and public relations coordinator, Zhejiang University Museum of Art and Archaeology
  • Elena Bras MA ’16 (Museum Studies), marketing and communications coordinator, Museum of the American Revolution
  • Annissa M Gultom MA ’10 (Museum Studies) director of museums, Department of Antiquities and Museums of Ras Al Khaimah
     

Alumni Spotlights

Claire Cossaboon MA '13 (Museum Communications)
Claire Cossaboon

MA '13 (Museum Communications)

Museum Studies (MA)
Membership Manager, 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,
  • African American Museum,
  • The Barnes Foundation,
  • Fleisher Art Memorial,
  • The Franklin Institute 
  • 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.

Scholarships

Graduate merit-based scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence and demonstrated talent. These are awarded based on entrance materials, no separate application is required. The Trustee’s, Dean’s and Director’s scholarships are highly selective awards and range in amount, up to approximately 40% of tuition.

 

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 a living stipend of $7-$8K, dependent 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 three 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.

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.
 

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 gradcredentials@uarts.edu. 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. There is a $10 fee to submit a portfolio in addition to the $60 application fee.
    • The portfolio is intended to showcase your strengths as a potential student. Please provide a curated selection of work you have completed. This may include, but is not limited to, examples of 2D and 3D design, creative or critical writing, event or program plans, etc. Your work should demonstrate design thinking, critical thinking, versatility, and/or collaboration.
  • 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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