Museum Studies Distance Certificate


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.




Colonel Robert Dalessandro

"The program set me on a path to success in every aspect of museums operations and focused on issues I faced daily. I have frequently told people that the Museum Collections Graduate Certificate Program was the single most relevant academic program I have ever undertaken.”

- Colonel Robert Dalessandro, Chief of the U.S. Army Center of Military History, Washington, D.C.



Program of Study


The courses we offer in our MCMC program are ideal for museum professionals either lacking prior formal museum studies training or who desire a refresher. You’ll complete four 3-credit courses.

(Fall Semester)

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.



(Spring Semester)

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 events at museums and historic sites; and emergency preparedness.

(Summer Semester)

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.



(Fall Semester)

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.




Learning at a distance requires considerable self-discipline and determination. You will need to create your own learning environment and schedule (e.g., a few hours in the morning, after dinner, or weekends). There is no one approach to distance learning that works for everyone. You should experiment with different approaches to discover what works best for you.

In every class you will have a chance to interact online with individuals from all over the country and sometimes around the world who represent a diverse range of museum professionals and organizations. This represents a tremendous resource that you should take advantage of as much as possible.

You will have a great deal of interaction with our faculty. The instructor for your course will oversee your progress by grading your assignments and sending you individualized assessments of your work. You are free to contact the instructor by email at any time for additional help. If you need a longer conversation, you can set up a time to chat. On the course site in Blackboard, there is also a feature entitled, “Ask the Professor” to ask for clarification on assignments or content questions on the week’s topic. Professors, on average, spend more time interacting individually with the students in a distance education course than a traditional classroom.

While you have a great deal of flexibility for scheduling when you work and study, you are expected to meet all scheduled deadlines. To keep up with work, be sure that you know due dates at the beginning of a course. From time to time, you may have technical, work, or personal problems that make it difficult for you to participate normally in your courses. If this occurs, send a message to your instructor explaining the situation. Do not wait until you get far behind in your coursework to let someone know that you have a problem; your instructors may be able to help you, or at least make allowances for your circumstances.


Two women pull an artifact from temperature-controlled archives



Gelman Library provides online access to GW students through the research system. All registered students may access resources without charge at Gelman Library's online site. This includes electronic journals, databases, e-books and many other research resources. In case of technical difficulties, please contact your Teaching Assistant at [email protected]. He/she will assist you directly or put you in contact with one of our technical assistants.



The Distance Education Program is very flexible and experienced professors help you in understanding every issue. With this program I was able to offer many changes to the museums in my country. It contributed a lot during my volunteering period and helped me in becoming a better professional.”

- Nino Tabeshadze, International Student from Tbilisi, Georgia



For inquiries about the distance education certificate, email [email protected].