The following is the review for the University of Missouri-St. Louis (UMSL). This university offers a MA in History with a concentration and graduate certificate in Museum Studies. The certificate is included in the two-year, full time, program.
To begin, here are some facts about the program:
- UMSL partners with various institutions in St. Louis: Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis Science Center, Missouri Botanical Garden, and St. Louis Zoo. Students complete assistantships at other institutions in the area such as the World Chess Hall of Fame and Campbell House Museum
- There are scholarships and graduate assistantships specifically for the Museum Studies concentration
- The program requires a separate museum studies application
- According to Dr. Maris Gillette, the director of the Museum Studies program, of the last two graduating classes, 83% of graduates from the program found a job in their field in three months, 100% in six months.
Six graduates responded about the program at UMSL. 66% graduate less than a year ago to 5 years ago, 17% graduated 6 to 10 years ago, and 17% graduated 11 to 15 years ago.
Some advantages the respondents listed are:
- 2-year, Graduate Research Assistantships awarded to every student admitted to the program
- MA in History as opposed to MA in Museum Studies
- Small program (no more than 12 students to a cohort) so learning and advising is individualized
- Ability to undertake internships for class credit
- St. Louis has an amazing plethora of museums to visit and learn from
- Classroom focus was on current trends in museology and the history of museums
- Ability to focus classes or choose a more generalized approach
- Close mentorship and involvement with professors and local museum staff
- Practical hands-on experiences (especially at the Mercantile Library) with application of museum theory
- Evening classes to facilitate working students
However, some disadvantages are:
- Classes aren’t always taken with other cohort members so it’s harder to connect with classmates
- Tuition remission no longer offered
- Some of the theory classes are rather vague/not terribly applicable to a career in museums
- Could use more networking training/opportunities
- Several faculty listed on the website no longer taught courses in the program
- Difficulty finding core history courses that fit with schedule and academic interests
- Small selection of museum related courses
- Unlikely chance that sponsoring museum will have a job available after graduation
- Instructors don’t always have teaching experience
The overall rating of the program as it was when the respondents attended: 8.5/10.0
The overall rating of the program at is it now: 8.2/10.0
This is based on the removal of the tuition assistance that was provided in addition to working as graduate assistant. It could be that they were not able to offer this due to budget constriction just for that year. I will work on confirming this detail with the program.
Update: I spoke with the director of the museum program who stated that the University of Missouri-St. Louis underwent budget cuts that affected the availability of the full tuition remission. Currently, there is a small scholarship offered in addition to the Graduate Research Assistant stipend. The director is hoping that the “funding will be restored in the future.”
Half of the respondents do work near UMSL and the other half do not.
33% of respondents work at a history museum, 17% at a historic house, 17% at an art museum, 17% at an academic gallery or museum, and 17% work in higher education
50% of respondents have jobs that include working in Collections Management, Curation, and Exhibitions. 33% work in Education, Administration, and Registration. 17% of respondents are involved in Visitor Services/ Membership, Archival/Library duties, and Social Media/Technology.
Some current job titles are:
Some dream job titles are:
- Director of Adult Learning
- Museum Crusader
Based on clicking through the website and these responses, this program looks like it has a great relationship with the community that works in the favor of its students. If you already know you’re interested in history and want to work in a museum, or want some more flexibility with your degree, this seems like a solid program.
A couple of things to note though. First, that full tuition assistance. When I read that every respondent listed that as an advantage I couldn’t believe it! However, I’m not sure if it’s available currently. On the website it states that tuition assistance is offered “when funding is available.” Currently, the full tuition coverage is not available however the program does still offer a smaller scholarship and stipend.
Another quick note is the class offerings. There are few, which makes sense for the size of classes but are generalist and most likely supplement students’ experience in their Graduate Research Assistantships.
Overall, this school looks like a great option for an individual looking for an inexpensive option (yay in-state tuition!) and really wants to work in a history museum. Check out their website if you’re looking for more information. Here is the link to the History department page as well. If you feel I’m missing something, take the survey, contact me, or comment below!