MA in Museum Studies

A student, viewed through a window, stands in a gallery

The Master of Arts program combines academic and museum studies courses with practical museum training. Students enrolled in the MA program can concentrate in collections management, exhibitions and visitor engagement, or museum management. Students may select a content specialization outside the Museum Studies program in an area of their choosing. To apply for the MA program, applicants must hold a bachelor’s degree.

Full-time students complete the program in two academic years and one summer. Part-time study is allowed. The Museum Studies Program adheres to the time limitation guidelines set forth by the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences of the George Washington University. A student has four years to complete the requirements leading to a Master’s degree.

General Program Requirements

  • 42 total credit hours of coursework:

    • 24 credit hours of Museum Studies courses

    • 12 credit hours of content area courses

    • 3-6 credit hours of internships*

  • Completion of the Museum Studies comprehensive exam

  • Fulfillment of the graduate writing requirement

*Please note: MSTD highly recommends that all students take two 3 credit internships. However we recognize that will not be appropriate for all students. Therefore, with permission of their advisor, students may opt to substitute the second internship with either a Directed Research project or another graduate class. This policy is effective Fall 2017.


To complete the MA in Museum Studies, students complete 42 total credit hours (one course = 3 credit hours):

  • 36 course credits (12 classes) (distribution explained below)
  • 6 credit hours of internship training (2 internships)

In order to complete the MA students must also satisfactorily complete the Museum Studies comprehensive exams and fulfill the Graduate Writing Requirement.

Students are required to take at least six (and can take as many as eight) classes in the Museum Studies program.  They select a concentration from the following: Museum Management, Collections Management, or Exhibitions and Public Engagement.  Each concentration has recommended core courses and well as related courses. Beyond the required courses, students are not limited to the courses in their chosen concentration.

It is recommended that students begin their programs with the introductory class for the concentration --- Introduction to Collection Management, Museum Management, or Museum Exhibitions, Curatorial Practice.

Students must take at least four classes (and can take as many as six) outside Museum Studies in an area of study of their choosing.  These courses provide content-area expertise and may be from a single department or from various departments inside or outside CCAS.  Students may also take courses at other universities in the Consortium. (Note: Tuition credits cannot be used for classes taken outside GW.)

The following are some suggestions of areas of study (and relevant departments at GW), but the areas listed are only possibilities. Students are welcome to design their own concentrations outside Museum Studies.

African Studies (History, Music); Anthropology; Art History; Asian Studies (History, Art History, East Asian Languages and Literature); Biological Sciences (Anatomy, Biological Sciences, Hominid Paleobiology); Business/Non-profit management (Public Administration, Business and Tourism, Organizational Science);  Classics and Archaeology (Classical Studies, Anthropology, Art History); Design/Design History (Interior Design, Art History, Theatre);  Education and Child Development (Sociology, Curriculum and Pedagogy, Museum Education (School of Education)); History (may focus on a region or time period, History, American Studies, Women’s History); Islamic Studies (Religion, History, Art History); Judaic Studies (Judaic Studies, History, Religion, American Studies); Material and Visual Culture (Art History, American Studies); Natural History (Astronomy, Anthropology, Geology); Performance (Theater, Music, English); Race, Gender, Ethnicity (Women’s Studies, History, American Studies, Sociology, Anthropology); US History and Culture (American Studies, History, School of Media and Public Affairs, Sociology, English, Film Studies, Religion, Music); Science and Society (Environmental Sciences, Geography, Public Health); Women’s Studies (Women’s Studies, History, American Studies)

Nonprofit Management Certificate Option

MSTD Master’s candidates who focus on museum management are eligible to receive a certificate in Nonprofit Management from GW’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. This certificate program will allow our management track students the opportunity to graduate with both an MA in Museum Studies and a Certificate in Non­profit Management.

Eligibility: Department approval is required. In order to undertake the certificate, students admitted to the MSTD MA program must apply to the Trachtenberg School and be accepted into the certificate program. Students will be required to complete four Museum Studies Program Museum Management and Leadership track courses (see course list) and four courses from the Non­profit Management program in the Trachtenberg School (PPPA 6031 and 6032 are required plus any of these two: PPPA 6016, 6033, 6034, 6053, 6058). Museum Studies students will also complete four additional Museum Studies courses, complete two museum internships, submit a paper for the writing requirement and pass a comprehensive exam. A plan of study will be completed during the first semester.