I began this blog to decide which graduate school museum studies program was best for my career goals…and to stay sane while working three different part-time jobs in North Carolina. This project culminated at the 2017 AAMG conference in Eugene, Oregon. By then I was working full-time, hired through a grant project by a county historical society in Minnesota. The grant conveniently ended in May, perfect timing if I was admitted to graduate school.
I spent the last two years living in upstate New York, attending the Cooperstown Graduate Program through SUNY Oneonta. Here’s my perspective on the program. I answered the same questions I asked every other alumni featured in an interview on this blog.
I graduated on May 9, 2020!
Why did you choose the Cooperstown Graduate Program?
- CGP is a generalist program. I wanted more experiences in different aspects of museums than what I was getting while working in the field.
- CGP tracks their alumni like no other museum studies program I’ve researched. And that alumni network is loyal. I’ve cold-emailed alumni for classes or personal networking and always received a response. On field trips, we meet CGP alum who show us around their museums or departments. We work with alumni on class projects. Alumni support current students and each other.
- The program is relatively affordable. I was a New York State resident and was able to get that in-state tuition.
What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?
What particular skills were taught in the program?
CGP’s favorite f-word is flexibility. Professors know the reason you move to Cooperstown is to attend CGP and they expect you to act like it. I learned lessons in time management that have changed my habits for the better. There’s plenty of chances to develop leadership skills, inside and outside of the classroom. CGP’s favorite c-word is collaboration. Every class I took required at least one group project. I know my classmates strengths and are better prepared to cooperate with different work flows in the future.
Did you complete a capstone project? If so, what was your topic?
CGP doesn’t require a thesis, but you can write one if you want. The last project of my time at CGP, my classmate and I led a team of five to create an exhibition for the Reher Center of Immigrant History and Culture. Putting a positive spin, it was great experience to learn how to do this work during a pandemic.
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.?
Our class was split with about half coming from straight out of undergrad and half returning to school after spending a year or more in the work force. Museum experience also varied from none to years of internships and entry-level positions.
Related, who would you recommend your program for? Any particular focus or for those interested in theory vs. application?
Come here if you:
Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?
Not officially. Every year, students put together a housing packet for next year’s first years to pick from, or they can find their own around town.
Did you or any of your peers work while pursuing their degree?
Yes, about half of my class worked either through a graduate assistantship or through jobs in Cooperstown.
Any other insider information you would like to provide about your program or university?
Quirks of CGP
Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?
As a person who is trying to find a job in the worst economy since capitalism was widely accepted, remember, let them tell you no. Your self-doubt doesn’t get you a job, your confidence does.
If you want to see our two years, find us on Instagram, @cgp2020grads.