The University of the Arts

Updated on February 11, 2017 to incorporate additional responses.

This is the review for the Museum Studies Department at The University of the Arts (UArts). This review is based on eight responses for this university. Here are some quick tidbits on the school and department:

  • The Museum Studies Department offers three different programs, a MFA in Museum Exhibition Planning and Design, a MA in Museum Communication, and a MA in Museum Education.
  • All three degrees require a thesis or capstone project as well as an internship
  • Required to submit a portfolio or example of academic writing in addition to the Statement of Purpose.
  • The campus has 10 galleries
  • There are 103 graduates enrolled in the College of Art, Media and Design, the college that the Museum Studies Department is part of.

UArts Map.jpg
The University of the Arts is a private university located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

These eight respondents graduated less than a year ago to over 16 years ago. The breakdown is two graduated 0-5 years ago, two 6-10 years ago, three 11-15 years ago, and one 16+ years ago.

The advantages these respondents listed were:

  • Choice of focus area: Education; Exhibition Planning and Design; Communications
  • Excellent opportunities for assistantships, internships, and networking
  • Rigorous theoretical framework coupled with hands-on application in museums
  • Access to cultural organizations around Philadelphia through field trips and internships
  • Faculty helped to integrate students into professional networks
  • Museums professionals as teachers, critics, and guest speakers & generous with their time
  • For Education: collaborations with the Exhibit Design students
  • For Education: practicum as part of program
  • For Exhibition Planning: understanding and practice in exhibition content development in a team-driven environment
  • For Exhibition Planning: understanding of not only the process of designing an exhibition (visual interpretation) but exposure to the language of design
  • For Exhibition Planning: strong exposure to creating non-object based exhibitions, particularly in science and technology centers

The disadvantages to their programs were:

  • Cost
  • Course requirements were intense for a 1.5 year program and not flexible with needs of students
  • The schedule of classes made it difficult to hold a job while completing the program
  • Too many classes required outside of focus area
  • Lack of depth in faculty in museum education area.
  • One year education M.A. could have had stronger intellectual component
  • Little exposure to and understanding of how to work with collections
  • Little to no background in museum history and theory

Overall score as it was when respondents attended: 7.63/10.00

Overall score of the program as it is now: 8.33/10.00*

This change was based on a change in courses and the additional options for students to create a capstone, complete independent study work, and internships. There has also been an increase in cohort size and staffing changes.

*This score is an average of three of the eight respondents

Half (4) of the respondents do not work near the University of the Arts.

Three of respondents work in art museums, one in a natural history museum, one in an academic museums or gallery, one in a specialty museum, one in a research library, and one in non-museum related work.

Four of the respondents’ work involves Administration, four includes in Curatorial Duties, three includes Education, three includes Collections Management, two includes Exhibitions, one includes Registration, and one includes Archival/Library Duties.

Some current job titles of graduates are Assistant Curator, Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Part-time Museum Educator, and Manager of Marketing and Public Relations.

The respondents are dreaming about being a Director of Engagement, Senior Curator, Exhibition Director, and two respondents have their dream jobs!


My Summary:

This program looks pretty cool for those of you looking into the public side museums. The portfolio requirement probably makes it a bit more difficult for students just out of undergraduate to apply, especially if you are looking into this program with no previous experience in those fields. However, it sounds like an undergraduate thesis or a project you completed as an intern or volunteer may suffice depending on what program you are most interested in and what your background is.

Also a quick note on how intensive the Exhibition Planning and Design degree could potentially be. Many of the graduate programs I have previously covered have a total of between 35 and 55 total credits required to complete the degree. The Exhibition Planning and Design MFA requires 60 credits. That may be normal for MFA programs or the degree may be expected to take longer than two years. If you know something I don’t, contact me or comment below!

If you are looking for more information about UArt’s various museum studies degrees check out their website. If you know which track you would like to know more about, check out the link for each degree’s course list below.

Museum Education

Museum Communication

Museum Exhibition Planning and Design

Thanks for reading and I’m always looking for more respondents!


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