Museum Studies Online Certificate

The Online 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.




  • GW has one of the best regarded Museum Studies graduate programs in the nation.
  • The MCMC Online Certificate curriculum is based on graduate-level courses taught at GW by nationally known faculty.
  • All course materials are delivered online and you never need to visit campus to complete the certificate.
  • MCMC not only provides high-quality education, but does so in a flexible format. You have weekly materials and assignments, but you get to choose when you do the work during the week.
  • MCMC classes focus on current, real world issues facing today's museums.
  • Our courses are competitively priced compared to public and private institutions of higher education.


The George Washington University Graduate Certificate in Collections Management and Care: Is it Right for You?

Madeline Calise, Registrar and Collections Specialist, Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Melbourne, Florida
Originally published in The Newsletter of the Southeastern Museums Conference

What do you do when you luck your way into the museum world and find that your position, or the position you would like to have, requires some skills you have not yet acquired? Maybe you got your undergraduate degree in something different. Maybe you changed from a previous career. Maybe you got your degree in museum studies thirty years ago and now need a refresher or courses specifically in collections care. Maybe your institution has asked you to put on yet another hat. What do you do? You probably become an expert on training resources. You watch free webinars on YouTube, Google workshops, conferences, affiliation certificates, and contemplate a first or second MA in art history, public history, museum studies, or historic preservation. Maybe you just wanted to learn a little more about Integrated Pest Management because you found a mysterious roach on the floor, and it somehow led you down a rabbit hole of conservation degrees.

Before getting overwhelmed, know that you have options. I cannot tell you which program to choose, but I can tell you what I did when I found myself in a collections management and registration role. I got a Graduate Certificate in Collections Management and Care from George Washington University. Read More

Malaro book cover



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.





Our Museum Collections Management and Care Online  Certificate program is entirely online. 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 applicable in real world museum contexts
  • Supplemental reading assignments


Our program provides the education needed to succeed in collections care positions at today's museum. Many of the projects in the MCMC certificate program will 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:

  • Create your own checklist for condition reporting
  • Evaluate the emergency preparedness plan for your institution or outline what should be in an emergency plan
  • Examine and critique your institution’s collections management policy
  • Create sticky monitors to assess dust levels in collection spaces
  • Draft a mock grant proposal using National Endowment for Humanities guidelines


You can apply for this program and find guidelines here. The deadline to apply is July 1.

Tuition Information

When you are looking for your tuition rates, look for the rates for Columbian College of Arts & Sciences.

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

Admissions Requirements

  • One Letter of Recommendation preferably from a museum professional supervisor or from a faculty member.
  • Transcripts from each institution attended, whether or not a degree was conferred. A Bachelor's Degree is required to apply. An undergraduate GPA of 2.75 or above is preferred.
  • Resume
  • Statement of Purpose. In an essay of 250 to 500 words, please state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in the Museum Collections Management and Care program. Describe your current and past experience working with museum collections, academic objectives, and career plans. You should have staff-level access to museum collections and related policies for some of your assignments. Please indicate in your statement which museum will grant you this access.
  • A completed GW Online Application
  • Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is NOT required.

International applicants must complete additional requirements to apply to the program.



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.





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




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