Master’s Degree in Museum Studies
Today there are many options to consider when preparing for a museum career. You can choose a Master’s degree in museum studies, history, art history, museum education and many other programs. There are a variety of certificates you can earn, both in traditional educational settings and online.
I chose a two-year Master’s degree program in History Museum Studies that combined practical museum training and academic scholarship. And here’s why.
A museum studies program trains students in all areas of museum work. I took classes on collections management, education and exhibitions. While I always knew I wanted to become a curator, some classmates did change their minds about their career goals after trying something new. A typical museum studies curriculum is like a “liberal arts” education. One of the most valuable exercises we participated in was a role-playing project in a fictional museum. I was given the role of Chief Financial Officer, which is not exactly my forte (to say the least!). But it was invaluable for me to understand how that part of a museum works.
I also took classes that provided context for my career, including social history, architecture and material culture. I was required to write a thesis too, which is not required of many museum studies programs. Completing a thesis project shows a potential employer you can complete a large research project, so it actually is relevant to your museum career goals.
My graduate program was a two-year program, and we were required to do a full time internship during the summer in between. Internships and volunteering provide invaluable experience! I simply cannot stress that enough. Practical experience will help distinguish your resume from the others in the stack.
One of the most valuable benefits of earning a Master’s degree is the network of alumni across the country after graduation. You will have access to more job listings, and networking and professional opportunities.
Even if a position announcement does not require a Master’s degree, you will always be a more attractive candidate if you have one. And you will not be excluded from positions that do require a Master’s degree.
I know I was job hunting in a pre-9/11 world, but I was offered a position as curator of a small historical society one month before graduation. I know my Master’s degree played a role in landing that job, and it just might work for you too!
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Content copyright © 2019 by Kim Kenney. All rights reserved.
This content was written by Kim Kenney. If you wish to use this content in any manner, you need written permission. Contact Kim Kenney for details.