This is the review for the MA Museum and Exhibition Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago. If you didn’t know already, here are some facts about the university and the program:
- The program does not require the GRE
- The program requires students to complete a thesis or capstone project
- The program partners with the Jane Addams Hull-House Museum and Gallery 400
- UIC is among the nation’s top five most diverse campuses
So far, I have received four responses about this program. All of the respondents graduated less than a year ago up to five years ago.
The advantages of the program are:
- Director active in social justice for museums and society
- Program is social justice based; classes deeply reflect that foundation
- Incredibly helpful about finding funding
- Supportive professionally and personally
- Class times usually in the later evening but not too late
- Diverse group of students from all walks of life
- Practical, hands-on experience
- Strong theoretical component
- Proximity to cultural programming, museums, and galleries in Chicago that classes use to their advantage
- Small cohort / class-size (one year had 17 students)
- The program is embedded in the larger university structure, so students may take classes in other departments. One graduate spent the bulk of their time in the Disabilities Studies Department.
The disadvantages respondents noted are:
- Tuition differential of $6,000 annually. We had one of the highest tuition differentials of the entire campus.
- Few required classes
- More practical, hands-on experience
- Additional coursework and workshops related to how to get a job
- Workshops for practical tools and skills
- Less art focus and more history and natural history, particularly a cooperative effort with other departments such as anthropology, archaeology, history, etc.
The overall score of the program as it was when the respondents attended is 9.00/10.00
The overall score of the program as it is now is 8.67/10.00
The change in score is due to a hands-on course that is no longer offered.
Three of the four respondents do live near the University of Illinois at Chicago.
Two respondents work at an art museum, one at a mobile app start-up, and one is a freelancer.
Two graduates have responsibilities that include curatorial duties and exhibitions. One person’s work includes education, one includes administration, and one includes content development and design.
Some examples of current job titles are:
- Chief Curatorial Officer
- Founder of Museum Accessibility Toolkit
Some dream jobs are:
- Director of Public Programs
As often is the case, I would prefer more responses before passing judgment on this program. However, do want to point out a couple of things about the Museum and Exhibition program at UIC.
The social justice aspect seems to be unique to this program. The partner institutions sound like great resources to have and seem to be integrated into the program since one member from each museum is listed on the faculty page.
Although one respondent mentions that cooperation with different departments is lacking, students have to take 20 credits of electives which sounds like can be in any department. So if a student wanted to focus more on history or natural history, it would be possible. I contacted the director, Dr. Therese Quinn and she provided a plethora of information. Scroll down to her comment to read her response to this post. Here are the links to the two syllabi: the first is for a Public Engagement in Museums class and the second is for a class titled, “Museum Genres, Practices and Institution.”
On the downside, it looks like the five required museum exhibition courses that are required are the only museum exhibition classes offered. This may mean many graduates gain the majority of their museum experience through internships. Do you agree? Let me know by commenting below, contacting me, or filling out the survey. If you would like to check out the program for yourself, here is the website. In addition, check out their most recent program handbook which includes program and course descriptions.