Wright State University

This is the review for Wright State University’s graduate program in History with a concentration in Public History. For starters, here are some facts about the program and university:

  • The concentration is designed by those interested in working in archives and/or museums. Students can focus on either archives or museums studies or are able to take a little of both, according to the Director, Dr. Drew Swanson.
  • The History program offers graduate tuition scholarships for incoming graduate students and graduate assistantships for second-year graduate students.
  • Students are required to complete a capstone project in order to graduate
  • History professors teach the required classes while adjuncts who work in their field (archives or museums) teach the specialized courses
  • Alumni currently have positions all over the U.S. from the National Archives in Maryland to the Jamestown Sklallam Tribe in Washington

This information was found here, here, and here.

 

wright state map.png
Wright State University is a public research university in Fairborn, Ohio.

 

There have been four responses about the Public History concentration from alumni who graduated less than a year ago to over 16 years ago. So far, two respondents graduated 0-5 years ago and two respondents graduated 16 or more years ago.

The advantages of the program are:

  • Professional guidance in the form of resume workshops and interview workshops
  • Very hands on with a lot of real world experience including internships, projects, and field trips to other museums and archives
  • Almost all the teachers are adjuncts because they worked full time at a local museum or archive (the only ones who aren’t are professors in the History Department)
  • The program is over 40 years old and is well established
  • The program offers a wide range of classes so that graduates are well rounded and therefore more marketable
  • The program allows you to select a focus: collections management or archival management or both!

The disadvantages of the program are:

  • The program was under the traditional History department, which caused tension
  • No way to take everything so maybe require more credits
  • It can be difficult to get a full time job in Dayton and the surrounding area because it’s saturated with graduates. Students should be willing to work hard, wait or move.
  • Few people have heard of Wright State University (it’s named after the Wright Brothers)

The overall rating of this program as it was is 9.25/10.00

The overall rating of this program as it is now is still a 9.25/10.00

The reasoning for this rating is the hiring of a new director of the program, more course options in different departments, and a higher acceptance rate of students.

Three of the four graduates live near Wright State University.

Two graduates work in history museums, one works at an arboretum, and one works at a historical society.

In answering the question, “Which best describes the aspect of work you do in museums currently? ” all four graduates included curatorial duties, three graduates included collections management and archival/library duties, two graduates included exhibitions and registration, and one graduate included education and administration.

A couple current job titles are:

  • Director of Museum Collections
  • Archivist

A couple of dream jobs are:

  • Manuscript Curator
  • Collections Manager

My Summary:

I think this program could be a good fit for someone looking to work in history museums and/or archives. I had not heard of this school and program before reading these responses though that may be due to my personal focus on museum studies. The school may not be widely known in the U.S. but could be better known in Ohio or that region of the country.  This may also be the reason three of the four graduates work near Wright State University.

I heard back from Dr. Drew Swanson, Director of Public History.  He mentioned that this Public History program is one of the oldest in the country. Many students are from Ohio and stay within the state after graduating working at institutions such as the Ohio History Connection or the National Football League Hall of Fame. There are also alumni that work outside of Ohio at institutions like the Library of Congress and the Smithsonian. If you have any feedback, please contact me, comment, or fill out the survey. If you would like more information about the program, check out their website.

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