This is the review for the Museum Studies program at Indiana University-Purdue Universiy Indianapolis (IUPUI). To begin, here are a few facts about the program and university:
- The program offers not only an MA but a graduate certificate and undergraduate certificate in Museum Studies
- A variety of courses to pick from with pre-approved electives outside of the Museum Studies program
- Capstone project at the end which means students’ may not be required to write a thesis but complete an equally impressive project
- Five of the Museum Studies professors hold the title of Public Scholar. Click the link, to learn more, I’m not quite sure how to explain it better than how IUPUI wrote it.
So far, I have received four responses from alumni who graduated less than a year ago up to ten years ago. Three of the four respondents graduated 0-5 years ago, one respondent graduated 6-10 years ago.
The advantages they list are:
- Build connections with local museums and museum professionals
- Professors attend conferences and are supportive of you attending
- The department offers a wide range of professors. Each professor has had museum experience prior to getting their PhD and becoming professors. The professors are also public scholars who teach/work beyond the museum studies department in museums, fine arts, anthropology, public history, or education.
- Requires 6 credits of internship which you can spread across multiple internships
- Indianapolis is a very cheap place to live and there are a lot of apartments within walking distance of campus
- IUPUI is inexpensive, particularly for in-state students
- Alumni have spread out across the US and people stay in touch
- Small program, and good rapport with peers (not heavy competition for local internships)
- Very strong support from faculty and alumni network
- Very community involved (with area museums)
- Hands-on experience working in museums and with museum collections, with almost half of the courses held in a museum.
- Required classes in each of the core departments of museums: collections, education, and administration. Students have the flexibility to build their own experience in the program with a large number of additional museum electives and approved electives in many related fields (History, Anthropology, Education, Nonprofit Management, etc.)
- Each course had a service learning project where we would create/conduct projects for area museums.
- The core values of the program (civic engagement, inclusion, collaboration, applied learning, integration, and learning) focus on teaching how museums need to reflect, grow, and work with their local and global communities.
The disadvantages they list are:
- The Indianapolis job market is saturated with IUPUI museum studies graduates.
- Funding is limited. However, the department works hard to find grants and museum partners to either place grad students for part-time work, work/study, or fellowships.
- A more realistic look at the field and a frank discussion about finding a museum career job after graduation
- Professors used to be supportive of working full time while in program, no longer as supportive
- There is a large selection of Museum Studies electives, but most are rarely offered
The overall rating of the program as it was when the respondents attended is 9/10
Three of the four respondents live near IUPUI.
Two of the respondents work in an art museum, one works in an academic museum or gallery and one is currently still in school.
Two respondents’ work involves education. One respondent’s work involves public programs, collections management, registration, exhibitions, archival/library duties, curatorial duties, administration, and visitor services/membership.
Some current job titles are:
- Public Programs Coordinator
- Assistant Director of Education
Some dream jobs are:
- Director of Youth and Family Programming
- Collections Manager
- Director of Public Programming
After a brief browse through the program’s website and reading what these respondents had to say, this program sounds solid. The Public Scholar title stood out initially and then was enforced by the respondents’ feedback about the program’s relationship with local museums and their commitment within classwork to connect their theoretical lesson to practical examples.
At this point, financial aid will always be an issue. The important part to me is how hard the program works to find the funding for students. With the program’s connections with the museums in Indianapolis and the dedication the faculty seems to have to their students, it seems like the program is doing the best with the funding they have.
I would be interested in learning more about specifics though. What are some of the museums where students regularly intern or work? How many students end up receiving funding through fellowships or scholarships offered through UIPUI? How often are the majority of the museum electives really offered? Has the time commitment changed drastically enough that working full-time isn’t an option? If you have answers to any of these question please comment below, contact me, or fill out the survey. I’ll also be contacting the program’s director to see what I can find out.
If you want to check out the program for yourself, here is the link to the website.