University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

This is the review for the program at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. This is also the first review of a stand-alone Museum Studies Graduate Certificate program! If you aren’t familiar with the program here are some facts about the Graduate Certificate program and university:

  • Established in 1963 by UWM and the Milwaukee Public Museum. Classes are taught off-campus at the Milwaukee Public Museum
  • Any graduate student at UWM may apply. The certificate program is within the anthropology department though students from any department (History, Zoology, Library Science, etc.) may earn the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate.
  • UWM also offers a separate Art Museum Graduate Certificate. To earn that certificate, students must be enrolled in the Art History MA program. I have not received any survey responses concerning this program. If I do, this program will have its own blog post.

These facts were found here.

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The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is a public research university. UWM and the Milwaukee Public Museum is located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
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The Milwaukee Public Museum is less than 15 minutes south of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

So far, there have been five responses from alumni who graduated less than a year ago to fifteen years ago. Three respondents graduated 0-5 years ago, one graduated 6-10 years ago, and one graduated 11-15 years ago.

The advantages the respondents noted about the program are:

  • The museum studies classes take place within the Milwaukee Public Museum with access to various types of collections and other aspects of museum work
  • Many opportunities for internships in and around the city
  • Extremely knowledgeable professors who have worked in the field for decades and professors with an academic background
  • Affordable
  • Hands-on experience with collections and exhibit design including an end project of an exhibit that stayed up in the museum for a year
  • Because it was a certificate program, students with different majors and backgrounds were able to complete the program and add new opinions and ideas.
  • Director of the program and the Curator of Anthropology are supportive and helpful with landing internships and jobs both during and after the program.

The disadvantages the respondents noted are:

  • The museum studies program is a certificate that must be completed with a master’s in another program
  • Some of the UWM’s programs, including anthropology, are not on par with other graduate programs
  • Milwaukee Public Museum provides a good model for work in large museums though the majority grads will work in small museums
  • Class size is becoming too large
  • Needs more specialized class on collections care
  • Because it was not on campus, it was more time consuming to get there (bus) or expensive (had to pay for parking)
  • The professor-led semester did not seem to mesh especially well with the rest of the classes.
  • Very few teaching assistantship or graduate assistantship positions offered

The overall score of the program as it was when the respondents attended is 7.4/10.0

The overall score of the program as it is now is 7.3/10.0

This change is based on a new director of the anthropology department and more practical experience offered at the Milwaukee Public Museum.

Three of the five respondents do not live near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Two graduates work at a history museum, one works at a historical society, one works at an art museum and one graduate works at an academic museum or gallery.

Three graduates have responsibilities that include collections management, two graduates have responsibilities that include curatorial duties, exhibitions, registration, and archival/library duties. One graduate has responsibilities that include education.

Some current job titles are:

  • Curator of Collections
  • Curator of Exhibits and Education
  • Registrar

All of these respondents seem to have reached their dream jobs! Congratulations!


My Summary:

I think this could be a great program for someone who is interested in gaining knowledge in a specific subject and working in museums. As usual, just a couple quick notes about some of the pros and cons listed above.

From the little I know about certificate programs, it seems like what makes this program really unique is that students must pursue a master’s program other than museum studies to apply to earn this Museum Studies Graduate Certificate. This aspect could make this program perfect for someone who knows what kind of museum they would like to work in or someone who is really interested in history or anthropology and wants to have more options after they graduate. I could see this is as a disadvantage if someone was looking for just a certificate program.

I would love more information on the disadvantage about the varying level of different masters programs at UWM. Does this mean that, like many universities, UWM has programs that are well-known within their fields and have generous alumni and other programs that are newer or smaller and therefore receive less funding? Or does this mean that some programs do not hold their students to the same standard, requiring fewer courses and a lower GPA? I’m not quite sure who to contact about that so in the meantime, I will be reaching out to the director of the program for general comment and some useful statistics. If you have any thoughts please feel free to comment, contact me, and take the survey if you haven’t already. Be sure to check out the website if you’re interested in learning more about the Museum Studies Graduate Certificate offered by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee!

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