San Francisco State University

This is the review for the Museum Studies program at San Francisco State University. For starters, here are some quick facts about the program and university:

  • Over 90% of alumni are employed within a year of graduation
  • Participates in the Western Regional Graduate Program with offers reciprocal tuition for applicants that reside in 15 western states
  • Requires at least six months of paid or voluntary experience in a museum or related institution
  • Requires GRE and recommends 156 or higher on verbal and 4.5 or above on writing

SFSU map.jpg
The San Francisco State University is a public university located in San Francisco, California.

Of the eight respondents, 50% graduated six to ten years ago, 38% graduated less than a year to five years ago, and 13% graduated at least sixteen years ago.

The most advantageous parts of the program that the respondents listed were:

  • Class schedule allows for part-time students and students who also work full-time jobs
  • Practical skill-set focused as well as academic (required to complete an internship, collections practicum and either a thesis or curatorial cumulative project)
  • Classes visit and involve local museums and students are required to take one course in each topic which can be helpful, especially in smaller museums
  • Professors were engaged and well-connected, and assisted students with finding internships. Some also had archaeological expertise .
  • Location
  • Students were able to attend a conference organized by the professors
  • Has own university museum and collections managed by the program
  • Draws a diverse and ambitious group of students together for each cohort
  • Is one of the oldest museum studies programs in the country
  • Relatively affordable
  • Objects from the university museum’s collection are used in class and the program includes courses that focused on collections

The disadvantages these respondents listed were:

  • Professors had not worked in museums in some time
  • Not always organized
  • Technology was a little behind at the time-could be more up to date now
  • Only one class about Non-profit management required, students could benefit from more administrative and management courses

The overall score of the program as it was when graduates attended is: 8.88/10.00

The overall score of the program as it is now is: 9.13/10.00

This change is due to the new museum, curriculum, faculty member and expanded collection. In addition, graduates say it improved after becoming a part of the College of Liberal and Creative Arts.

63% of respondents do not work near San Francisco State University.

All respondents work in a different type of museum or related institution. Currently, these include Natural History Museum, Historic House, History Museum, Archaeology/Anthropology Museum, Specialty Museum, National Park Service, and Higher Education.

As for the type of work that respondents do, 75% include registration, 50% include exhibitions, 38% include collections management, 38% include curatorial duties, 25% include administration duties, and 13% include Archival/Library duties.

Some current job titles respondents hold are:

  • Collections Manager
  • Registrar
  • Museum Director
  • Licensing Specialist

Some dream job titles are:

  • Education Manager
  • Assistant Registrar
  • Regional Curator
  • Exhibits Registrar


My Summary:

Based on these responses, this program looks like it’s great for those looking to focus in registration and/or collections management but would like a base in other aspects of museum work. It doesn’t seem as though the program focuses on any specific type of museum.

I find the location statistic a bit surprising. The majority of John F. Kennedy University respondents reported working close to the university. However, the opposite is true for San Francisco State University even though they are in the same area. A possible explanation may be that attendees to San Francisco State University choose the university partly based on tuition and may not be able to afford to stay in the Bay area. Another option could be that the alumni network may be more spread out which may lead to current students also spreading out across the nation.

Overall, it seems like a good program that offers flexibility to its students through the option of thesis or capstone project and course schedule. The university museum sounds like an excellent resource. A possible drawback could be the alumni network, mainly because no respondents noted it as an advantage. However, the program does have a Museum Studies Special Interest Group that encourages alumni to stay involved in the program.

If you would like more information about the program, here is a link to their website. If you would like to add your input, fill out the survey, contact me or comment below!


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