University of Washington

Updated on March 12, 2017, to incorporate additional responses and information from the Student Experience Coordinator at the University of Washington.

This is the review for the University of Washington’s Museology degree program. It is a two-year, full-time, on-campus program. Here are some other facts about the program and university:

  • Offers the country’s only evaluation specialization
  • A thesis or capstone project is required to graduate
  • Partners with the American Alliance of Museum’s Curators Committee to organize the Excellence in Exhibition Label Writing Competition for 2017 and the Kirkland Arts Center every year for one graduate student to create an exhibition. You can read more about it here.
  • 44% of students qualified for work study in the 2015-2016 academic year
  • No higher, out-of-state tuition rate!

The University of Washington is a public research university located in Seattle, Washington.
The city of Seattle has a population of about 600,000 people and is one of the fastest growing cities in the U.S.

So far there have been eight responses for this program, seven of whom graduated less than a year ago to five years ago and one respondent who graduated six to ten years ago.

Advantages of the program were:

  • Great ties to Seattle-area museums and national network
  • Collections management classes and programs were incredible and the Visitor Service classes were growing
  • Faculty all had real-world museum experience with connections to people in the field and dedicated to the program and students
  • Lots of guest speakers and hands-on experience to boost learning
  • The program is well-known and well-regarded in Seattle area with the University of Washington known as a prestigious public university overall.
  • Two-year program
  • It’s not track focused (meaning you choose the path you want)
  • It’s is a self-sustaining program, also known as a fee-based degree. There is no out-of-state tuition rate and all tuition funds (generally referred to as course fees) go to support the Program
  • Several local internship/work-study/student job opportunities. The program requires 180 hours of internship which allows for multiple internships so you can try out different museum positions at different institutions.
  • Offers a Museum Evaluation specialization and saved spots in the Non-Profit as well as a Certificate program in the business school

The disadvantages they found were:

  • The program is not part of a university department (part of the interdisciplinary school) so logistics can be weird and feel disconnected from the rest of the university. The program has connections to on-campus museums, but at times it’s clear that they are separate entities
  • No student area or lounge
  • There may be too many people in each cohort
  • Scholarships were few and far between and given randomly
  • Opportunities for work study were also few
  • The number of museums is also a disadvantage because students have a lot of competition for jobs and internships in the immediate area. Students may be better off temporarily relocating to Seattle for the program and looking elsewhere for work after you get your degree.

The overall rating of the program as it was when these alumni attended is a 9.13/10.00

All of the respondents do not work near the University of Washington of the respondents work in a history museum,  1 in a natural history museum, and 1 in a cultural center

Four of the respondents work in a history museum,  one in a natural history museum, one in a cultural center, and two work outside of the museum field.

Four of the respondents have duties that include education, three of the respondents have duties in their job that includes collections management, two respondents hold jobs with duties that include evaluation, exhibitions, and/or visitor services/membership. One of the respondents have duties in their job that includes curatorial, registration, administration, and/or archival/library.

Some current job titles are:

  • Evaluation and Audience Development Coordinator
  • Museum Technician
  • Assessment and Research Analyst
  • Museum Education Specialist

Some dream jobs are:

  • Manager of Audience Research and Development
  • Museum Director
  • Collections Manager
  • Director of Education

My Summary:

Based on these responses and a brief look around the website, I’d say this program looks promising. The way they approach the generalist program is something that stands out and though 60 credits is a lot, it means students have a thorough, well-rounded museum studies education.

I was able to follow up with the program to ask some questions about the disadvantages. The Director and Student Experience Coordinator were helpful and sent me some more information that is not available on the website. According to the Student Packet, the program usually receives 110-145 applications a year and accepts 30-35 students.

If you have some of your own information to share about the program, fill out the survey, contact me, or comment below! The website link is above if you would like more information.


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