George Washington University, Graduate School of Education and Human Development

Updated January 18, 2017, to incorporate additional responses.

This is the review for the Museum Education Program at George Washington University (GWU) based on six responses. GWU offers two entirely separate museum related master’s degrees, Museum Studies and Museum Education. If you would like to learn more about their Museum Studies Program go here. If you are looking for information on the Museum Education Program, continue reading.

To start here are some facts about GWU and the Museum Education Program offered there:

  • application deadline is March 1st but if you would like to be considered for scholarships, the deadline is January 15th. As long as you submit by this date, you are considered for half-tuition merit scholarships
  • the degree is a Master of Arts in Teaching
  • the graduate school has a Twitter (@gwGSEHD)
  • the program is only 14 months long and begins in the summer
  • only 10-15 students are accepted a year
  • the GRE is not required

These facts can be found here.

George Washington University is a private university located in Washington, D.C.

The alumni graduated less than a year up to 10 years ago. Three respondents graduates 0-5 years ago and the other three graduated 6-10 years ago.

Some advantages they listed were:

  • High job placement
  • Ease of program gave time to focus on career development
  • Entire classes on interview prep and career management
  • Access to many museum professionals as guest speakers
  • Location in DC, close to many well-established museums
  • Because the program is only 14 months, students are back in the workforce quickly
  • Well-connected alumni network and professors who are invested in their students
  • Dedication to intentional, reflective practice with real-life experience
  • Places students in advantageous internships
  • Many part-time museum jobs available
  • Students can take classes in the Museum Studies Program at GWU and at the Corcoran
  • Small cohort can lead to strong connections between faculty and students and between peers
  • Visitor/audience-focus, not just didactic transfer of information

However, participants listed these disadvantages:

  • Expensive tuition with a lack of funding for most students
  • Cost of living in DC is high, forcing many students to leave soon after graduating
  • Not very rigorous. The program is short so the internship forms the core of the program which means the quality of experience and learning depends on the internship and there isn’t a lot of quality control in the internships
  • Only focused on museum education without other aspects of museum work or focus on building an academic core, though students can take electives outside of the education department.
  • Geared mainly towards professionals working in large museums
  • Promotes one set way to do museum education and contributes to a museum field that may be wary of alternative forms of training
  • Museum education program is not integrated with the museum studies program, thus replicating aspects of the silo culture that plagues the museum field at large

The overall rating of this program as it was 0-10 years ago: 7/10

The overall rating of this program as it is now: 8/10

The change in rating is due to the professors changing and the program being responsive to feedback.

Half of the respondents work near GWU.

100% of participants work in education and 50% of the participant’s work involves evaluation.

2 of participants work at history museums, 2 graduates work outside of the museum field, 1 works at an art museum and another works at a variety of types of museums.

5 of the 6 respondents work includes education duties.

Some current job titles are:

  • Historian
  • Education Coordinator
  • Director of Education

Most everyone (4 of the 6) dream of holding the title Director of Education.


My Summary:

Going off of the reviews and the little research I have done, this program could be great for the right person. Their website lists a few of the museums where their alumni work and the list is geographically wide-spread and the type of museum varies as well. If an individual knows they would like to focus on education, has some money to burn, networks well, and finds a high-quality internship, this program may be perfect.

However, it always confuses me when organizations limit themselves by seemingly unnecessarily dividing themselves up. The fact that I haven’t found any evidence of the Museum Education Program and Museum Studies Program collaborating their information and resources seems…unhelpful to either program. I have contacted this program and students can take classes in the Museum Studies Program as electives. However, it’s up to the students to make use of that option. If you would like to add your input or explain why such departmentalizing happens or is a good thing, go take the surveycontact me or comment below.

If you would like to learn more about the program or contact them yourself, here is the website. Here is the link to the graduate school admissions page as well, if you’re looking for financial aid information and such.

I will be updating this post as I receive more responses and here back from the program, so be sure to check back. As always, your feedback is welcome!

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