Interview with Emily Anstey for Tufts University

This is the first interview for Tufts University’s Museum Education program. This alumnus graduated in August 2015 and currently works as a National Park Ranger. Thank you, Emily, for answering these questions!


Why did you choose Tufts University?

I chose Tufts because of how it blended both the theoretical and academic viewpoint of museums with the practical applications (internship and professionals as instructors). I also loved that it was located in the Greater Boston area, an area rich with so many museums of every type. Finally, I wanted something more general in terms of types of museums that the program focused on. I knew I wanted to work in museums, but I wasn’t sure if art, children’s, or history museums would be where I wanted to end up. This program looked at the museum field holistically and prepared me no matter what type of institution I wanted to work for.


What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?

My favorite class was the Proseminar in Museum Interpretation taught by Program Director, Cynthia Robinson. Cynthia is a wonderful facilitator of discussion, which was really the crux of this class. More than that it was the perfect blend of the theories and trends in the field with the experiences of my and my fellow classmates. The class challenged my thinking while affirming that I had gone into the correct field.


What particular skills were taught in the program?

I think the biggest skill that is taught in this program is how to think critically through the issues and apply theory, trends, and creativity to come up with a solution. This is seen in the assignments which forced us to articulate our thoughts about museum governance, ethics, evaluation, interpretation, exhibition planning, etc.


Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?

The internship is the sort of capstone experience. I did mine at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I created some self-guided activities for field trip groups, an inventory of school field trip program logistics in the field, and training activities for docents that used museum education techniques.


Where were you and your classmates in your career? Just out of undergrad, or coming from an entry-level museum position, or coming from outside of the field, etc.?

One the BEST part of the Tufts Program is that the classes are a mix of recent grads, entry-level professionals, and even some mid-career folks. I was in the Master’s program which tended to skew towards more emerging professionals, but many of our classes were with certificate students in the Museum Studies program and that was where you met professionals from every museum department, many of whom were mid-career professionals. Additionally, in my elective courses which I took in the education and child development departments, I interacted with graduate students from other fields and areas of interest, which is a huge benefit.


Related, who would you recommend your program for? Any particular focus or for those interested in theory vs. application?

I would recommend this program for those who are looking to blend theory and application. The Tufts’ program truly strives and succeeds at that.


Did you find that many of your peers or the alumni network was mainly based in the New England region or do you feel that alumni are well spread out all over the country?

I feel like there is the highest concentration of Tufts graduates in the New England Area. I run into them at NEMA conferences. That being said, there are people in museums around the country and even as professionals across the globe!


Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?

No housing provided, but the program was willing to work with us to find it through the graduate services at Tufts.


Did you or any of your peers work while pursuing their degree?

Yes, many of us did. During my degree, I worked with Jumpstart (a national Americorps preschool literacy program), the Museum of Science (part-time in the evaluation department), and the USS Constitution Museum (part-time Educator).


Any other insider information you would like to provide about your program or university?

Take advantage of the network that is available to you through so many museums, museum professionals, and Tufts Graduates in Boston!


Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?

Do it. I feel like my theoretical background from my Master’s Program gives me the credentials and qualifications to really excel at my job as a National Park Ranger at a National Historical Site. I also feel more confident to execute my programs and projects because of the education I received at Tufts.

Thanks for sharing more information about your graduate school experience, Emily! If you’re interested in learning more about the program, check out their website and the blog post. If you’re looking to add your own input, fill out the survey or contact me!

New Project

Introducing a new survey and project created partnership with NEMPN.

It’s been quiet here at Museum Masters Review for a few reasons, one of which is that I’m beginning work on a new project with the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network (NEMPN). We are working together to start a critical discussion about Museum Studies programs and are seeking input from everyone who wants to be involved in that process including the universities and programs.

Our first step is this survey. We want to know what Museum Professionals think is important when attending Museum Studies programs.  We have listed various aspects and space to add other factors that are critical to a graduate program that we didn’t mention. If you are considering a museum studies program, are a current student, or an alumni, we want your input. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact me or the president of NEMPN, Michelle Epps.

Interview for Wright State University

This is the first interview for Wright State University. This alumnus graduated in 2014 and currently works as an Archivist. Thank you for answering these questions!


Why did you choose Wright State University?

It was close to home and affordable for me.

Continue reading “Interview for Wright State University”

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

This is the review for the Museum Studies program at Indiana University-Purdue Universiy Indianapolis (IUPUI). To begin, here are a few facts about the program and university:

  • The program offers not only an MA but a graduate certificate and undergraduate certificate in Museum Studies
  • A variety of courses to pick from with pre-approved electives outside of the Museum Studies program
  • Capstone project at the end which means students’ may not be required to write a thesis but complete an equally impressive project
  • Five of the Museum Studies professors hold the title of Public Scholar. Click the link, to learn more, I’m not quite sure how to explain it better than how IUPUI wrote it.


uipui map.JPG
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is a public research university located in Indianapolis, Indiana.

So far, I have received four responses from alumni who graduated less than a year ago up to ten years ago. Three of the four respondents graduated 0-5 years ago, one respondent graduated 6-10 years ago.

The advantages they list are:

  • Build connections with local museums and museum professionals
  • Professors attend conferences and are supportive of you attending
  • The department offers a wide range of professors. Each professor has had museum experience prior to getting their PhD and becoming professors. The professors are also public scholars who teach/work beyond the museum studies department in museums, fine arts, anthropology, public history, or education.
  • Requires 6 credits of internship which you can spread across multiple internships
  • Indianapolis is a very cheap place to live and there are a lot of apartments within walking distance of campus
  • IUPUI is inexpensive, particularly for in-state students
  • Alumni have spread out across the US and people stay in touch
  • Small program, and good rapport with peers (not heavy competition for local internships)
  • Very strong support from faculty and alumni network
  • Very community involved (with area museums)
  • Hands-on experience working in museums and with museum collections, with almost half of the courses held in a museum.
  • Required classes in each of the core departments of museums: collections, education, and administration. Students have the flexibility to build their own experience in the program with a large number of additional museum electives and approved electives in many related fields (History, Anthropology, Education, Nonprofit Management, etc.)
  • Each course had a service learning project where we would create/conduct projects for area museums.
  • The core values of the program (civic engagement, inclusion, collaboration, applied learning, integration, and learning) focus on teaching how museums need to reflect, grow, and work with their local and global communities.

The disadvantages they list are:

  • The Indianapolis job market is saturated with IUPUI museum studies graduates.
  • Funding is limited. However, the department works hard to find grants and museum partners to either place grad students for part-time work, work/study, or fellowships.
  • A more realistic look at the field and a frank discussion about finding a museum career job after graduation
  • Professors used to be supportive of working full time while in program, no longer as supportive
  • There is a large selection of Museum Studies electives, but most are rarely offered

The overall rating of the program as it was when the respondents attended is 9/10

Three of the four respondents live near IUPUI.

Two of the respondents work in an art museum, one works in an academic museum or gallery and one is currently still in school.

Two respondents’ work involves education. One respondent’s work involves public programs, collections management, registration, exhibitions, archival/library duties, curatorial duties, administration, and visitor services/membership.

Some current job titles are:

  • Directory
  • Public Programs Coordinator
  • Assistant Director of Education

Some dream jobs are:

  • Director of Youth and Family Programming
  • Collections Manager
  • Director of Public Programming

My Summary:

After a brief browse through the program’s website and reading what these respondents had to say, this program sounds solid. The Public Scholar title stood out initially and then was enforced by the respondents’ feedback about the program’s relationship with local museums and their commitment within classwork to connect their theoretical lesson to practical examples.

At this point, financial aid will always be an issue. The important part to me is how hard the program works to find the funding for students. With the program’s connections with the museums in Indianapolis and the dedication the faculty seems to have to their students, it seems like the program is doing the best with the funding they have.

I would be interested in learning more about specifics though. What are some of the museums where students regularly intern or work? How many students end up receiving funding through fellowships or scholarships offered through UIPUI? How often are the majority of the museum electives really offered? Has the time commitment changed drastically enough that working full-time isn’t an option? If you have answers to any of these question please comment below, contact me, or fill out the survey. I’ll also be contacting the program’s director to see what I can find out.

If you want to check out the program for yourself, here is the link to the website.

University of Colorado-Boulder

Updated on April 22, 2017, to include information from the director of the program, Jaelyn Eberle.

This is the review for the Museum and Field Studies program offered at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here are some facts about the program and university:

  • The degree earned is a Master of Science
  • The program gets 50-75 applications a year and accepts 8-12 students
  • To earn said degree, students must complete the two-year program with a thesis or capstone project and a final exam
  • Three different tracks are available, collections/field, public/administration, and art history
  • The Director of the program considers the program to be a “museum immersion program” where students work at the Natural History Museum for two years, and complete an additional 150-hour internship. Then add in some classes and that thesis or project.
  • The majority of graduates find employment within six months after graduation

These facts were found here and here. Continue reading “University of Colorado-Boulder”

Tufts University, Department of Education

This is the review for the Museum Education program offered by Tufts University. This is a two-year program through the Education Department that includes Museum Studies courses in its curriculum. This program includes the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate program that can also be completed by itself.

  • About 35 students are accepted yearly
  • The two-year program requires students to complete five museum studies courses, two education courses and four elective courses on a topic of the student’s choice
  • The GRE is required

This information was found here and here. Continue reading “Tufts University, Department of Education”

Tufts University, Museum Studies Certificate

This is the review for the Museum Studies Certificate offered at Tufts University. Students can earn the Certificate by completing five courses, including one internship course. This is built for working professionals with classes offered in the evening and the option to complete the program as a part-time student. The University also offers combination options with the Department of Art and Art History, History, and Education.

  • Recently, the program has admitted two-thirds of its applicants
  • The program does not require the GRE and only requires one letter of recommendation
  • The internship course requires students to complete 200 hours of the internship
  • Offers four different concentrations, History, Art History, Education or Classics.

This information is found here, and here. Continue reading “Tufts University, Museum Studies Certificate”