MASTER OF ARTS
Established in 1976, the Master of Arts in Museum Studies at the George Washington University responds to the evolving museum profession by combining hands-on training with future-focused theoretical engagement. Students gain foundational knowledge about the state of museum work today, practical skills and the ability to critically engage with developments in the field. Our location in the nation’s museum capital offers a unique opportunity to connect to national and global conversations at the cutting edge of museum practice.
Coursework offers both breadth and depth in Collections Management, Museum Management, Exhibitions and Visitor Experience, and Public Engagement. Our students come from a range of academic disciplines, from history and anthropology to art history and the natural sciences.
WHAT YOU'LL STUDY
The MA program of study is flexible so students can personalize their academic experience to help accomplish their own goals. Our 36-credit program can be completed by full-time students in two academic years. Part-time study is also permitted, but the program must be completed in a maximum of four years
All students will complete:
one core course entitled Museum Ethics & Values
five (5) courses as required in the selected concentration
five (5) electives which may be drawn from within Museum Studies (including a second internship) or from outside the program. Up to four (4) non-museum studies courses are permitted.
Throughout your program, you should work with your advisor to ensure that you will meet program requirements and your own career and educational goals.
MUSEUM STUDIES CONCENTRATIONS
Every student in the MA program selects a Museum Studies concentration in one of four areas of concentration:
- Museum Management (PDF)
- Collections Management (PDF)
- Exhibitions and Visitor Experience (PDF)
- Public Engagement (PDF)
Students must complete a Museum Studies comprehensive exam in their concentration, fulfill the graduate writing requirement and complete an oral presentation related to their internship.
Students interested in submitting a paper for the Marie C. Malaro Excellence in Research & Writing Award may submit the same paper for both the Writing Requirement and Malaro Award.
- Choose a paper you wrote while in graduate school or choose a research topic for your paper.
- Meet with the professor for whom you wrote the original paper or meet with a faculty member who has an area of expertise in your research topic.
- Revise or write the paper, incorporating notes and comments from the faculty member who has an area of expertise in your research topic
- Once the faculty member says the paper is sufficient for your writing requirement, fill out the Writing Requirement Form and have that faculty member sign it.
- Turn in your paper (with the signed Writing Requirement Form) by the due date.
Students may select a content area related to their interests and/or previous academic experience for up to four (4) of their classes. While you may select a particular department (history, anthropology), the content area specialty is not necessarily defined by a discipline. You can create your own "interdisciplinary" area and pick courses throughout GW and its consortium schools that support that subject. Some examples include American Studies, African American and diasporic studies, material culture, and nonprofit management.
All students are required to complete at least one internship. Students typically intern within their area of concentration (Museum Management, Collections Management, Exhibitions and Visitor Experience, or Public Engagement) and may choose to intern in the D.C. area or in another location.
Utilizing the connections of our faculty and the proximity of our campus, our students have found opportunities at many acclaimed cultural institutions. While we recommend that most students take two 3-credit internships, we recognize that this will not be appropriate for everyone.
NON-PROFIT MANAGEMENT CERTIFICATE OPTION
Master’s candidates who focus on museum management are eligible to receive a certificate in Nonprofit Management from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration. This certificate program provides management track students the opportunity to graduate with both an MA in Museum Studies and a Certificate in Nonprofit Management at no extra cost.
Students are required to complete four Museum Studies Program Museum Management track courses and four specified courses from the Non¬profit Management program in the Trachtenberg School (PPPA 6031 and 6032 are required plus any of these two: PPPA 6016, 6033, 6034, 6053, 6058).
Department approval is required. Please speak with your advisor if you are interested in this option.
All applicants must have an undergraduate degree and follow the graduate application process by the appropriate deadlines. The deadline for fall admission is February 1. The deadline for spring admission is October 1.
COSTS & FUNDING
The Student Accounts Office provides up to date cost information on our program. We do offer some partial fellowships to MA students each year. To be considered for a fellowship, you must apply for fall admission. You may also find fellowships through the Office of Fellowships & Assistantships. The Office of Student Financial Assistance also has more information on aid opportunities.
WHERE YOU'LL GO
STRONG NETWORKING OPPORTUNITIES
Our students benefit from a strong alumni network working in museums throughout the world. In addition, practitioners from some of the nation’s leading museums and policymakers at the forefront of cultural debates are frequent participants at discussions in the classroom. The program’s affiliations with more than 60 museums and cultural organizations enables students to immerse themselves in world-class venues as they learn from some of the nation’s leading museum professionals.
THROUGH INTERNSHIP EXPERIENCES, MUSEUM STUDIES STUDENTS HAVE WORKED ON
- Film preservation at the Archives Center at the National Museum of American History;
- Collections management at the British Museum in London and at the National Museum of Natural History;
- Exhibition development and marketing at the Newseum and George Washington’s Mount Vernon;
- Curatorial research for exhibits at the National Postal Museum;
- and provenance research at the National Gallery of Art.
WHERE OUR ALUMNI WORK
FINE AND DECORATIVE ART MUSEUMS
- Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
- Mitchell Museum of Western Art (Illinois)
- Glenstone Museum
- DAR museum
- Textile Museum
- National Gallery of Art
- National Museum of Women in the Arts
- Hillwood Estate, Museum and Gardens
- Albright Knox Museum (Buffalo, NY)
- Philadelphia Museum of Art
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- J. Paul Getty Museum
- Peabody Essex Museum
- Walters Museum (Baltimore)
- San Francisco Fine Arts Museum
- Portland (OR) Art Museum
GOVERNMENT AGENCIES & SITES (WASHINGTON, DC)
- United States Supreme Court
- United States Capitol
- White House
- State Department, Diplomacy Museum
- National Archives and Records Administration
- Historic Congressional Cemetery
- Institute of Museum and Library Services
- Library of Congress
- National Museum of the US Army
- National Museum of the Marine Corps
HISTORY MUSEUMS, CENTERS, AND HISTORICAL SOCIETIES
- Virginia Historical Society
- Montgomery County (MD) Historical Society
- Jewish Historical Society of Greater Washington
- Ramsey County Historical Society
- Cincinnati Museum Center
- Peoria Riverfront Museum (Ill)
- National Museum of American History
- National Museum of African American History and Culture
- US Holocaust Memorial Museum
- The Octagon
- Abraham Lincoln Museum (Ill)
- History Miami
- History Colorado
- LA County Museum
- Heinz History Center (PA)
- President Lincoln’s Cottage
- Dumbarton House
- Tudor Place
- Mount Vernon
- Ford’s Theater
- 6th Floor Museum (Dallas)
- Lower East Side Tenement Museum
- Intrepid (NY)
- Molly Brown House (Denver)
- American Alliance of Museums
- Association of Children’s Museums
- Museum Field, For Profit
- Gallagher & Associates
- D&P (Exhibition design and fabrication)
NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUMS, SCIENCE CENTERS, AQUARIA
- National Museum of Natural History
- Field Museum (Chicago)
- Denver Museum of Nature and Science
- Bay Area Discovery Museum
- New England Aquarium
- National Aquarium
- Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History
- Musical Instrument Museum (Phoenix)
- Children’s Museum of Rochester (Minnesota)
- Children’s Museum of Atlanta
- National Air and Space Museum
- National Building Museum
- International Spy Museum
- National Firearms Museum
- Baseball Hall of Fame
- NASCAR Museum
2036 H Street, NW, 3rd Floor
(Enter through Corcoran Hall, 725 21st St, NW. Take elevator or stairs to the second floor and enter Samson Hall through the door to your right.)
Program Head, Associate Professor for Museum Studies,
Director of Graduate Studies