Interview with Kate Warfield for the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Kate graduated with an M.A. in History and a concentration in Museum Studies in 2013. Currently, she works as a Collection Specialist for a history museum. Thank you, Kate, for providing this look into your graduate school experience!

 

Why did you choose the University of Missouri-St. Louis?

I choose UMSL for a few reasons, but the most important reason to me was that they placed me into an assistantship with a museum partner in the community.  I was given the opportunity to work with one-on-one with a curator that has since become a professional role model at the Missouri History Museum on meaningful exhibit work.  It gave me years of experience and helped me make connections in the museum world that are still beneficial to me today – all with the added benefit and helping me pay for school.  It really was the best option for me.

 

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

My favorite class was on museum curatorship taught by the Director of the Mercantile Library (the oldest library west of the Mississippi!).  In the class, we gained hands-on experience in artifact handling, exhibit design, public programs execution, and student engagement.  Mr. Hoover, the professor, still makes me smile to this day.  He is one of those people that you find yourself still thinking about on an almost weekly basis and remembering something he taught you, either about museums or about life.  The best teachers teach life.

 

What particular skills were taught in the program?

Exhibit design, public programming, museum evaluation, critical thinking.

 

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

I completed a capstone project – I made an interactive map for the exhibit I was working on with the Missouri History Museum – a map that tracked the flow the American Revolution westward through artifacts placed in their area of significance through time.  You could watch the action move westward through the years and track patterns of movement and events through artifact “pins” on a map.

 

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.?

We actually came from all walks of life.  I was coming from an entry level position, there were some that came just out of undergrad, a couple that were from completely different fields, and 2 international students.

 

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

I feel that my education was a good mix of theory and application—it was fairly balanced I’d say.  It definitely prepared me for real museum work on many different aspects.  I can write programs, I can critically evaluate content and theory, I can gather, interpret and present museum evaluation data, I can interact with kids and adults on a mixed level.  It was a varied education and I’d definitely recommend it for most serious museum applicants.

 

Many of the skills you list seem to be geared toward visitor services and exhibition based. Is this your personal passion or is this a general focus by the program?

I think my interview was skewed because that’s what I’m really into. The program was pretty well rounded–my particular assistantship was centered around exhibitions and visitors experience because that what I went into the program wanting to do and they did their best to put me in a position to do that.

 

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

I found my own housing and I think there were grad apartments on campus.  Housing wasn’t that big of a challenge, but my family was close, I was working 2 jobs (more $ to pay expenses) and I did take out a couple student loans to make ends meet.

 

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

Every one of us worked, some of us worked multiple jobs.

 

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

You’re not going to get rich working in museums, but it will provide you with the most meaningful career anyone could ask for.

Thank you again to Kate for these helpful responses! If you’re interested in learning more about this program, check out the blog post and the program’s website.  As always, feel free to contact me if you have any feedback.

University of Illinois at Chicago

This is the review for the MA Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If you didn’t know already, here are some facts about the university and the program:

  • The program does not require the GRE
  • The program requires students to complete a thesis or capstone project
  • The program partners with the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and Gallery 400
  • UIC is among the nation’s top five most diverse campuses

These facts were found here and here.

uic-map
The University of Illinois at Chicago is a public research university in Chicago, Illinois.

So far, I have received four responses about this program. All of the respondents graduated less than a year ago up to five years ago.

The advantages of the program are:

  • Director active in social justice for museums and society
  • Program is social justice based; classes deeply reflect that foundation
  • Incredibly helpful about finding funding
  • Supportive professionally and personally
  • Class times usually in the later evening but not too late
  • Diverse group of students from all walks of life
  • Networking
  • Practical, hands-on experience
  • Strong theoretical component
  • Proximity to cultural programming, museums, and galleries in Chicago that classes use to their advantage
  • Small cohort / class-size (one year had 17 students)
  • The program is embedded in the larger university structure, so students may take classes in other departments. One graduate spent the bulk of their time in the Disabilities Studies Department.

The disadvantages respondents noted are:

  • Tuition differential of $6,000 annually. We had one of the highest tuition differentials of the entire campus.
  • Few required classes
  • More practical, hands-on experience
  • Additional coursework and workshops related to how to get a job
  • Workshops for practical tools and skills
  • Less art focus and more history and natural history, particularly a cooperative effort with other departments such as anthropology, archaeology, history, etc.

The overall score of the program as it was when the respondents attended is 9.00/10.00

The overall score of the program as it is now is 8.67/10.00

The change in score is due to a hands-on course that is no longer offered.

Three of the four respondents do live near the University of Illinois at Chicago.

Two respondents work at an art museum, one at a mobile app start-up, and one is a freelancer.

Two graduates have responsibilities that include curatorial duties and exhibitions. One person’s work includes education, one includes administration, and one includes content development and design.

Some examples of current job titles are:

  • Chief Curatorial Officer
  • Founder of Museum Accessibility Toolkit

Some dream jobs are:

  • Director of Public Programs
  • Curator
  • CEO

My Summary:

As often is the case, I would prefer more responses before passing judgment on this program. However, do want to point out a couple of things about the Museum and Exhibition program at UIC.

The social justice aspect seems to be unique to this program. The partner institutions sound like great resources to have and seem to be integrated into the program since one member from each museum is listed on the faculty page.

Although one respondent mentions that cooperation with different departments is lacking, students have to take 20 credits of electives which sounds like can be in any department. So if a student wanted to focus more on history or natural history, it would be possible. I contacted the director, Dr. Therese Quinn and she provided a plethora of information. Scroll down to her comment to read her response to this post. Here are the links to the two syllabi: the first is for a Public Engagement in Museums class and the second is for a class titled, “Museum Genres, Practices and Institution.”

sample-syllabus_1

sample-syllabus_2

On the downside, it looks like the five required museum exhibition courses that are required are the only museum exhibition classes offered. This may mean many graduates gain the majority of their museum experience through internships. Do you agree? Let me know by commenting below, contacting me, or filling out the survey. If you would like to check out the program for yourself, here is the website. In addition, check out their most recent program handbook which includes program and course descriptions.

Interview with Taylor Jeromos for the University of Missouri-St. Louis

Taylor will graduate with an M.A. in History and a concentration in Museum Studies in May 2017. Currently, she works as a Graduate Research Assistant for Public Programs. Thank you, Taylor, for providing this look into your graduate school experience!

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Interview for the University of Missouri-St. Louis

This is the first interview for the M.A. in History, certificate in Musem Studies program at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. Thank you to this graduate for providing insight into her experience!

 

Why did you choose the University of Missouri-St. Louis?
I was already living in St. Louis and the tuition waiver through the assistantship was very appealing.

Continue reading “Interview for the University of Missouri-St. Louis”

University of North Carolina-Greensboro

This is the review for the History program at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. For starters, here are some facts about the program and the university:

  • The degree offered at UNCG is an M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies and is a 36 credit degree.
  • Graduates of the program automatically become members of the Museum Studies/Historic Preservation Graduate Student Group (MSHP) which organizes community and recreational activities for the group.
  • The GRE is required to apply and there is a required capstone project to complete to graduate.

Continue reading “University of North Carolina-Greensboro”

Wright State University

This is the review for Wright State University’s graduate program in History with a concentration in Public History. For starters, here are some facts about the program and university:

  • The concentration is designed by those interested in working in archives and/or museums. Students can focus on either archives or museums studies or are able to take a little of both, according to the Director, Dr. Drew Swanson.
  • The History program offers graduate tuition scholarships for incoming graduate students and graduate assistantships for second-year graduate students.
  • Students are required to complete a capstone project in order to graduate
  • History professors teach the required classes while adjuncts who work in their field (archives or museums) teach the specialized courses
  • Alumni currently have positions all over the U.S. from the National Archives in Maryland to the Jamestown Sklallam Tribe in Washington

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Interview with Amanda Vtipilson for Johns Hopkins University

This is an interview with Amanda Vtipilson who graduated from Johns Hopkins University in 2013. She currently works as the Curator of Education at a history museum. Thank you, Amanda, for providing these insights into your graduate school experience.

Why did you choose Johns Hopkins University?

Continue reading “Interview with Amanda Vtipilson for Johns Hopkins University”