Distance-Education Certificate in Museum Studies

The Distance Education Certificate in Museum Collections Management and Care (MCMC) features a sequence of four graduate-level courses designed for those working or volunteering in museums with collections management responsibilities. The 12-credit certificate program is designed to be completed over the course of four semesters (3 credits per semester), and is available entirely online. There is never a mandatory time that students must log on in order to complete their coursework. Students in the program work at a variety of types and sizes of museums in locations all over the country and across the world.

For inquiries for the Distance Education Certificate, email [email protected].

You can apply for this program and find guidelines here. The deadline to apply is July 1. For tuition information, click here, then click on Columbian College of Arts & Sciences PDF.

For questions about how to apply, email the Corcoran at [email protected].




The courses are ideal for museum professionals either lacking prior formal museum studies training or desiring a refresher. Students complete four 3-credit courses, which include:

  • Preventive Conservation: Concepts (Fall semester)

    Concepts examines the role of preventive conservation in museums by introducing materials commonly found in collections, the cause for their deterioration, and the resources available to identify and mitigate collection risks.

    Topics include object handling, condition reporting and photo-documentation, agents of deterioration, overview of materials, risk assessments, ethical issues in conservation and how to choose storage and exhibit materials for collections.

  • Preventive Conservation: Techniques (Spring semester)

    Techniques delves deeper into issues of preventive conservation and the active role that non-conservators can have in preserving collections. 

    Topics include environmental monitoring of temperature, relative humidity, visible and ultraviolet light, facilities design and renovation, fire protection, physical security, integrated pest management, exhibition and storage design, housekeeping, hosting functions at museums and historic sites, and emergency preparedness.

  • Collections Management: Practical Applications (Summer semester)

    Practical Applications examines the fundamental principles and practices of collections management in modern museums by providing opportunities for students to see how they are applied.

    Topics include accessioning, handling, collection planning, intellectual property rights, management, storage, insurance, shipping, exhibition planning, traveling exhibitions, and unclaimed loans.

  • Collections Management: Legal and Ethical Issues (Fall semester)

    Legal and Ethical Issues examines the legal duties and ethical obligations placed on those who manage museums and their collections relative to standard museum operations, including acquisitions, deaccessions, and loans.

    Topics include stolen art, Nazi-era looting, NAGPRA, restricted gifts, copyright, VARA, rights to privacy and publicity, deaccessions, loans and lending.

This video acts as the program introduction and lecture sample for George Washington University's Museum Collections Management and Care Distance Education Certificate Program.

Each class session includes:

  • Recorded Lectures that run simultaneously with PowerPoint Slides intended to mimic a classroom experience
  • Printable Lecture texts
  • Printable PowerPoint Outlines
  • Focus Questions to help contextualize lectures
  • Self-tests
  • Projects able to be customized to students' own museum experiences
  • Supplemental Reading Assignments

Many of the projects that you will be asked to complete in the MCMC certificate program can have immediate practical implications for your museum.  The more you learn, the more your museum will benefit from your professional growth. Here are a few sample projects that you will complete in the program:

  • Prepare a sample emergency preparedness plan for your institution or a local museum
  • Examine and critique your museum's collections management policy
  • Create sticky monitors to assess dust levels in your museum
  • Draft a mock grant proposal using National Endowment for Humanities guidelines

As you can see, there's a lot more to the Distance Education program than just lectures. The Museum Collections Management and Care Program provides the complete education needed to succeed in today's museum.