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Getting an Online Master's Degree in Museum Studies

written by: Sonal Panse•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 6/20/2010

This article takes a look at how to get a museum studies online masters degree. A master's degree in museum studies is essential for a high level career in museums and related institutions. People with this degree can work as museum directors, curators, archivists and conservators.

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    Online Master's Degree in Museum Studies

    You should consider getting an online master's degree in museum studies if you are interested in pursuing a museum-related career or, already having one, are seeking to acquire additional skills for career advancement.

    The master's degree program generally takes two years to complete, and students can select courses appropriate to their field of interest---art, history, science and nature---and specialize in a specific area.

    Students can expect to study some of the following topics:

    • Human culture
    • Ethics of collecting
    • Educational aspects of museums
    • Financial management of museums
    • Administrative duties of museums
    • Art history
    • Art appreciation
    • Anthropology
    • Archeology
    • Sociology
    • Organization and management of museum collections
    • History of museums
    • Art education
    • Copyright law
    • Digital technology
    • Human resource management
    • Studio art
    • Conservation and preservation
    • Chemistry
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    Getting an Online Master's Degree in Museum Studies

    The requirements for admission to an online master's degree in museum studies are:

    • A bachelor's degree in fine art, art history, history, archeology, anthropology, science, or any other related field.
    • Minimum of five years of professional experience may sometimes be considered in lieu of an undergraduate degree.
    • Field work experience.

    To get started, it will certainly help to:

    • Research colleges offering a museum studies online masters.
    • Find out courses that will help with the career you hope to pursue.
    • Find out about eligibility and admission criteria.
    • Find out about course curriculum and tuition fees.
    • Find out about mode of learning.
    • Find out if course is completely online or will require some onsite attendance and field trips.
    • Find about assignments and dissertation.
    • Complete and send in your application on time.
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    Colleges Offering Online Master's Degree Programs in Museum Studies

    Master of Arts in Museum Studies

    John Hopkins University

    Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences

    Advanced Academic Programs

    To obtain the M.A. degree in museum studies, students are required to complete ten courses, consisting of five core ones and five electives ones, within five years of beginning the program. They can take nine classes online and must attend one summer seminar onsite. The onsite seminar, which is intended to give students a hands-on learning experience, can be taken in Washington D.C. or any suitable venue abroad. John Hopkins University can arrange for students to get a supervised learning experience in museums in their area.

    While admissions are taken throughout the year, students are advised apply, by mail or online, by the early application date listed on the Academic Calendar. They need to include the following for admission:

    • Completed admission form
    • Completed recommendation letter
    • Non-refundable application fee of $75
    • Academic records
    • Professional credentials
    • Resume
    • Student visa and TOEFL certification if from outside the USA

    After application submission, the admissions committee will assess the application and supporting documents and notify applicants in about four weeks. Students can then register online for their selected courses. Enrollment can be deferred for up to one year; after that, a new admission application will be required. The courses must be completed within a period of five years. Tuition fees are $2,715 per course, and the graduation fee is $100.

    The following courses are included in the progra:

    • Exploring Museum Professions
    • Museums in the Digital Age
    • Introduction to Museum Education
    • Exhibition Strategies
    • The Business of Museums
    • Museums in a Global Perspective
    • History and Philosophy of U.S. Museums
    • New Technologies, Old Dilemmas: Ethics and the Museum Professional
    • Evaluation Theory and Techniques for Museums
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    Museum Studies (distance learning)

    University of Leicester

    School of Museum Studies

    The master's program at the University of Leicester is for a duration of twenty-four months. Applications are taken twice a year, in April and in October. The entry requirements are as follows:

    • A second class honors degree from a recognized university or equivalent qualification.
    • Minimum five years work experience is also accepted instead of an undergraduate degree.
    • Some museum work experience.
    • TOEFL or IELTS certification.

    Tuition fees for the course for UK and EU students is £5,650 and £9,450 for International students.

    To get the M.A. degree, students must complete four modules and a dissertation. The modules are:

    • Museum Communities and Contexts
    • Managing Resources in the Museum
    • Museum Communication and Audiences
    • Museum Projects: the Case of Exhibition and Interpretive Planning
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    Benefits of Studying Museum Studies Online Masters

    • A master's degree is often a valuable asset for high profile and management positions.
    • Students can study under international professors and museum professionals.
    • Students can interact with students from around the world.
    • Students can get proficient in the latest computer technologies.
    • Students can participate in virtual field trips and work with students from around the world
    • Students have the flexibility to study in their own time.
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    Career Prospects

    Possible careers with a Masters Degree in Museum Studies include:

    • Museum Director
    • Museum Curator
    • Archivist
    • Museum Technician - archive technician
    • Museum Conservator - art conservator, object conservator
    • Art Educator
    • Museology Professor
    • Art Historian
    • Art Dealer
    • Insurance Appraiser
    • Auction house professional
    • Marketing and Advertising professional
    • Anthropologist
    • Museum guides
    • Museum exhibit designers

    To do well in a museum career, it will help to:

    • Be interested in art, history, and culture
    • Have excellent oral communication skills
    • Have excellent writing skills
    • Have excellent interpersonal skills
    • Have excellent interpretive skills
    • Have a keen eye for detail
    • Have efficient work ethics
    • Have computer skills

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts an eighteen percent increase in jobs for archivists, curators, and museum technicians in the period of 2009 to 2016. However, with qualified applicants outnumbering the available jobs, competition will be keen. Earnings will depend on specialty as well as work institution. In May 2008, according to the Bureau, median annual earnings for archivists were $48,220, for curators they were $51,540, and for museum technicians and conservators they were $40,750.

    Please also see Masters Degrees in Museum Education here on Bright Hub.

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    Resources

    • Johns Hopkins University Master of Arts in Museum Studies: http://advanced.jhu.edu/academic/museum/index.cfm
    • University of Leicester Museum Studies (distance learning): http://www.le.ac.uk/ms/study/museumstudies%28dl%29.html
    • U.S. Bureau of Labor: http://www.bls.gov/oco/ocos065.htm