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Unique Museum Studies Degrees

Many graduate-level museum studies programs take a “liberal arts” approach to their curriculum. This option is perfect if you are interested in a museum career but are unsure if you want to specialize in exhibitions, collections, education, or administration. The required courses usually allow you to sample a variety disciplines within the museum field, while your electives allow you to specialize.

However, if you know exactly what you want to pursue for your museum career, you might want to consider one of the following specialized programs:

1. Corcoran College of Art + Design
Washington DC
Exhibition Design


This program is one of only a handful of master’s degrees in interpretive exhibition design. Coursework includes classes on lighting, construction, materials and finishes, AutoCAD, digital graphics, museum management, conservation, and the history of architecture. Graduates will be prepared for careers in any type of museum with an exhibition department or private museum exhibition design firms.

2. Cornell University
Ithaca, NY
Historic Preservation Planning


Cornell was one of the first institutions to offer courses in the field of historic preservation. Required courses for this program include American architecture history, economics of neighborhood conservation, real estate development, urban history, preservation law, and building materials conservation. According to the program’s website, possible careers include positions in state historic preservation offices, local planning agencies, landmarks commissions, and private architecture and restoration firms.

3. Bankstreet Graduate School of Education
New York, NY
Museum Education


If your heart is set on working in museum education, a specialized graduate program might work for you. Museum Education: Childhood prepares students to work in a museum education setting AND as a certified classroom teacher in grades 1-6. For those who want to focus only on museum education, a non-certification track in museum education is also available. A third program – Leadership in Museum Education – offers a non-traditional “one weekend a month” approach for people who are already working in the museum education field, as well as “aspiring leaders.”

4. Winterthur / University of Delaware
Newark, DE
Art Conservation


This three-year degree program provides students with art conservation training that will allow graduates to “carry out the examination, analysis, stabilization and treatment of art and artifacts, speak to general principles of collection care, and have a broad academic background in science and the humanities,” according to the program’s website. Students earn a Master of Science degree in this program.

5. Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo, MI
Public Administration


If you want to pursue a career in museum leadership, a program like this will be a good fit for you. WMU’s program is one of the largest in the country and provides training for a wide variety of public administration fields. Graduate work includes courses on grant writing, fundraising, budget development, governance, human resources, and program planning. There is also a certificate program in Non-Profit Leadership and Administration which is less intense than the Master’s degree program.

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