This is the first interview for Tufts University’s Museum Education program. This alumnus graduated in August 2015 and currently works as a National Park Ranger. Thank you, Emily, for answering these questions!
Why did you choose Tufts University?
I chose Tufts because of how it blended both the theoretical and academic viewpoint of museums with the practical applications (internship and professionals as instructors). I also loved that it was located in the Greater Boston area, an area rich with so many museums of every type. Finally, I wanted something more general in terms of types of museums that the program focused on. I knew I wanted to work in museums, but I wasn’t sure if art, children’s, or history museums would be where I wanted to end up. This program looked at the museum field holistically and prepared me no matter what type of institution I wanted to work for.
What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?
My favorite class was the Proseminar in Museum Interpretation taught by Program Director, Cynthia Robinson. Cynthia is a wonderful facilitator of discussion, which was really the crux of this class. More than that it was the perfect blend of the theories and trends in the field with the experiences of my and my fellow classmates. The class challenged my thinking while affirming that I had gone into the correct field.
What particular skills were taught in the program?
I think the biggest skill that is taught in this program is how to think critically through the issues and apply theory, trends, and creativity to come up with a solution. This is seen in the assignments which forced us to articulate our thoughts about museum governance, ethics, evaluation, interpretation, exhibition planning, etc.
Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?
The internship is the sort of capstone experience. I did mine at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. I created some self-guided activities for field trip groups, an inventory of school field trip program logistics in the field, and training activities for docents that used museum education techniques.
Where were you and your classmates in your career? Just out of undergrad, or coming from an entry-level museum position, or coming from outside of the field, etc.?
One the BEST part of the Tufts Program is that the classes are a mix of recent grads, entry-level professionals, and even some mid-career folks. I was in the Master’s program which tended to skew towards more emerging professionals, but many of our classes were with certificate students in the Museum Studies program and that was where you met professionals from every museum department, many of whom were mid-career professionals. Additionally, in my elective courses which I took in the education and child development departments, I interacted with graduate students from other fields and areas of interest, which is a huge benefit.
Related, who would you recommend your program for? Any particular focus or for those interested in theory vs. application?
I would recommend this program for those who are looking to blend theory and application. The Tufts’ program truly strives and succeeds at that.
Did you find that many of your peers or the alumni network was mainly based in the New England region or do you feel that alumni are well spread out all over the country?
I feel like there is the highest concentration of Tufts graduates in the New England Area. I run into them at NEMA conferences. That being said, there are people in museums around the country and even as professionals across the globe!
Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?
No housing provided, but the program was willing to work with us to find it through the graduate services at Tufts.
Did you or any of your peers work while pursuing their degree?
Yes, many of us did. During my degree, I worked with Jumpstart (a national Americorps preschool literacy program), the Museum of Science (part-time in the evaluation department), and the USS Constitution Museum (part-time Educator).
Any other insider information you would like to provide about your program or university?
Take advantage of the network that is available to you through so many museums, museum professionals, and Tufts Graduates in Boston!
Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?
Do it. I feel like my theoretical background from my Master’s Program gives me the credentials and qualifications to really excel at my job as a National Park Ranger at a National Historical Site. I also feel more confident to execute my programs and projects because of the education I received at Tufts.