University of North Carolina-Greensboro

This is the review for the History program at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro. For starters, here are some facts about the program and the university:

  • The degree offered at UNCG is an M.A. in History with a concentration in Museum Studies and is a 36 credit degree.
  • Graduates of the program automatically become members of the Museum Studies/Historic Preservation Graduate Student Group (MSHP) which organizes community and recreational activities for the group.
  • The GRE is required to apply and there is a required capstone project to complete to graduate.

These facts were found here, here, and here.

uncg map.jpg
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro is a public research university in Greensboro, North Carolina.

So far, there has been four responses from graduates from this program. Three respondents graduated 0-5 years ago and one respondent graduated 11-15 years ago.

The advantages reported of the program are:

  • Generous financial aid packages and assistantships
  • Director of the program, Dr. Benjamin Filene, has extensive museum experience
  • Adjunct professors are currently employed in the field
  • The program structures assignments around real-life museum projects, including a capstone project instead of a written thesis
  • Small cohort
  • Low cost of the program
  • has a positive reputation
  • Required internship


The disadvantages reported of the program are:

  • All projects centered around 20th century history. Professors seemed to disregard the importance of earlier stories
  • For a generalist program, there was surprisingly little work related to material culture, the interpretation of objects and collections management
  • Very little practical instruction/practice in topics related to museum administration (human resource management, working with governing boards etc)
  • While we studied best practices for museum exhibits for three semesters, none of our exhibit work ended up reflecting these best practices and there are no workroom facilities set up for such projects
  • Limited alumni network
  • Professors are very closed minded about people that want to work in public serving roles or interested in niche positions
  • The program is not as much of a practical hands-on program as presented
  • Small faculty with inexperienced professors
  • Too strong of community/collaborative focused instruction
  • Inconsistent quality of cohort projects

The overall rating of this program as it was is 4.75/10.00

The overall rating of this program as it is now is 7.00/10.00*

This change is based on being the first year to experience a new project and more focus on students obtaining professional experience.

*only two of the four respondents responded to this question

None of the graduates live near UNCG.

One graduate works at a history museum, one works at a living history museum, one works at a historic house, and one works at culture and history center.

Three respondents have jobs that include collections management, two graduates work in education and administration, and one works in historical costuming, curatorial, and registration.

Some current job titles are:

  • Curator of Education and Interpretation
  • Accessories Craftsperson
  • Manager of Interpretation and Collections

Some dream jobs are:

  • Working in education at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Historical Interpreter

My Summary:

From these four graduates, the program does not sound too great. After browsing the website, the program is presented as hands-on and highlights the large projects completed every year. So it could be different adjuncts have different connections and therefore the projects offered change year to year. Or maybe students would appreciate more, smaller, projects throughout their time at UNCG.

As a potential student, it worries me that the professors are so black-and-white about certain aspects of museums. I understand professors not covering certain parts of history when that time period is not their focus.However, generally, museum professionals do some aspect of everything in a museum at some point in their career. I feel programs that bill themselves as generalist should support the exploration into a variety of departments and opportunities available and if this program isn’t doing that, it’s not cool.

One aspect of the courses offered was a little weird. The program states it’s an MA in History but there are quite a few classes that are called public history or cover historic preservation. After reading the disadvantages over and looking over the course descriptions, it seems to me that the program might be spreading itself a little thin or having an identity crisis. I haven’t been able to find anything on a Public History concentration at UNCG but Dr.Filene’s title is “Director of Public History.” Was the Museum Studies concentration once a Public History concentration? From my understanding, museum studies and public history programs can be similar but are not the same. This difference could be the underlying problem these graduates had with the program.

Do you feel there’s a difference between Museum Studies and Public History? Am I misrepresenting the Museum Studies concentration at UNCG? Let me know your input by commenting below, contacting me, or taking the survey. The website link is in the first paragraph.


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