University of Kansas

This is the review of the Master’s Museum Studies program at the University of Kansas (KU). To begin, here are some facts about the program:

  • In addition to the Master’s degree, the department also offers a graduate certificate available to those in pursuing a graduate program in another area of study or those outside of the university.
  • The program is 36 credits with only fall admittance. Applications are due January 1st.
  • To graduate, students must complete a final project which is incorporated into their final comprehensive exam taken during their last semester.

These facts were found here, and here.

 

KU map.JPG
The University of Kansas is a public research university in Lawrence, Kansas. This is about 45 minutes from Kansas City, Missouri and an hour from Topeka, Kansas.

So far, 13 alumni have submitted responses about the Museum Studies program at KU. Twelve of these alumni graduated between less than a year ago up to five years ago and one graduated over 16 years ago.

They found the following advantages to the program:

  • Allowed many traditional disciplines to study museums together
  • Most museum-based classes were taught by professionals in the field who were enthusiastic about their courses and invested in their students
  • Customizable program with courses that allow you to learn the different positions in the museum field and establish a field of focus within the museum field
  • Museum Students Organization (MSO) goes on several trips throughout the year to various museums and cultural institutions, meeting with industry professionals, and also occasionally offers opportunities for students to volunteer together at local museums.
  • Dr. Welsh (Department chair) is a great mentor who really believes in his students and pushes them in positive ways
  • Small cohort size (about 10 each year)
  • Great museum-related opportunities nearby (on-campus, in Lawrence, and in surrounding areas like Kansas City)
  • Hands on learning experiences plus, the program requires students to complete an internship
  • Independent department that still collaborated with other academic departments
  • Core courses draw on theory external to the museum and strengths overall knowledge base
  • As a non-thesis track program, you have more flexibility with your final product and can focus on what you’re really interested in
  • Close cohort experiences, a reliable network
  • Affordable (about $408/credit for Kansas residents, $950/credit for nonresidents for the 2017-18 year)
  • Excellent job placement

The respondents found the following disadvantages to the program:

  • Coursework requirements were fairly rigid and not all directly useful
  • Location
  • Not a lot of funding resources
  • It is what you make it. You can make it really special and worthwhile, or float by and do the bare minimum and not get as much out of it.
  • Program depends largely on Lecturers, which can make putting your master’s committee together while meeting university requirements difficult
  • More interdisciplinary coursework could be included in the program
  • KU struggles to integrate grad students well but has initiatives in place for 2017-2018 to improve
  • Track system doesn’t fit everyone
  • Small program with only a few core professors and limited selection of practical museum-related courses so students have to look outside the department
  • Very small class sizes, resulting in fewer people to share ideas with and less diversity
  • Internships are difficult to find

Based on these points, the program was rated 7.77/10.00.

Eight of the thirteen respondents do live near KU.

These respondents are well spread out inside and outside the museum field with two respondents working in libraries,  two in historical societies, two in natural history museums, and two outside of the museum field. One respondent works in a specialty museum, one at a history museum, one at an art museum, one at a cultural center and one at a university.

When answering the question, “Which best describes the aspect of work you do in museums currently?” six respondents included education, five included collections management, and curatorial duties, four included archival/library duties, three included exhibitions and administration, and two included conservation and visitor services/membership.

Some current job titles of these respondents are:

  • Associate Professor
  • Assistant to the Director
  • Curator and Education Coordinator
  • Library Assistant
  • Park Historian

Some dream jobs are:

  • Director of Public Programs
  • Library Director
  • Collections Manager
  • Curator
  • Professor

My Summary:

Based on these responses and my own brief tour around the program website, this museum studies program looks like a pretty solid generalist program. The courses look to lean toward application and with the theory noted as an advantage, KU’s program sounds like it excels in balancing both. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr.Welsh in passing at the AAMG conference in Eugene and he left the impression of genuinely caring about his students and the program as a whole. Plus, the Museum Student Organization looks like an excellent resource (to find people who will also nerd out about museums in their spare time-yes please!).

I will be looking for more information on some of the points listed above such as exact stats on job placement, funding, the average amount of museum courses offered per semester.

Overall, sounds like this program is a solid generalist program that will prepare students for their next step, whether or not it is still in the museum field. Due to the in-state tuition, this program would probably best work for those already living in Kansas. If you would like more information, check out their website.

 

Interview with Jesse Dutton-Kenny for the University of Colorado-Boulder

This is the first interview for the University of Colorado at Boulder’s Museum and Field Studies program. This alumnus graduated in May 2016. Her emphasis was in Collections Management as well as Anthropology and Indigenous Arts. She currently works as the Museum Preparator at the San Francisco Airport Museums. Thank you, Jesse, for answering these questions!

 

Why did you choose the University of Colorado-Boulder?

There were a number of factors, as there are for most people. I mostly applied to schools on the West Coast, where I’m from, so at first, Colorado seemed so far and like such a leap from my comfort zone. However, after I went to visit the school for an interview I realized it was the perfect fit for both my experience and my future goals as a museum professional. The top 3 reasons were: 1) They offered me a Graduate Assistantship position in their museum, so I graduated with two years of paid work experience for my resume in addition to the degree and got tons of hands on collections work. 2) The program is very interdisciplinary as the campus has a natural history museum (with anthropology, paleontology, botany, etc.) plus the library, archives, art museum, history museum, and local museums in Boulder… so there was lots of exposure to the museum field as a whole. Students come to the program focused in all different departments, and although I focused in anthropology, I got to learn from students and teachers who were studying dinosaurs, contemporary art, lichens, etc. And finally 3) The mentorship is INCREDIBLE. All the staff for the program, the advisors, the supervisors for your work positions, and the faculty are just beyond amazing. It is a super small program (usually no more than 10 students a year) so you get a ton of one on one attention and help with career development, and that was super important to me.

Continue reading “Interview with Jesse Dutton-Kenny for the University of Colorado-Boulder”

Interview with Emily Anstey for Tufts University

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.

Continue reading “Interview with Emily Anstey for Tufts University”

New Project

Introducing a new survey and project created partnership with NEMPN.

It’s been quiet here at Museum Masters Review for a few reasons, one of which is that I’m beginning work on a new project with the National Emerging Museum Professionals Network (NEMPN). We are working together to start a critical discussion about Museum Studies programs and are seeking input from everyone who wants to be involved in that process including the universities and programs.

Our first step is this survey. We want to know what Museum Professionals think is important when attending Museum Studies programs.  We have listed various aspects and space to add other factors that are critical to a graduate program that we didn’t mention. If you are considering a museum studies program, are a current student, or an alumni, we want your input. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please contact me or the president of NEMPN, Michelle Epps.

Interview for Wright State University

This is the first interview for Wright State University. This alumnus graduated in 2014 and currently works as an Archivist. Thank you for answering these questions!

 

Why did you choose Wright State University?

It was close to home and affordable for me.

Continue reading “Interview for Wright State University”

Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

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.

Continue reading “Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis”

University of Colorado-Boulder

Updated on April 22, 2017, to include information from the director of the program, Jaelyn Eberle.

This is the review for the Museum and Field Studies program offered at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Here are some facts about the program and university:

  • The degree earned is a Master of Science
  • The program gets 50-75 applications a year and accepts 8-12 students
  • To earn said degree, students must complete the two-year program with a thesis or capstone project and a final exam
  • Three different tracks are available, collections/field, public/administration, and art history
  • The Director of the program considers the program to be a “museum immersion program” where students work at the Natural History Museum for two years, and complete an additional 150-hour internship. Then add in some classes and that thesis or project.
  • The majority of graduates find employment within six months after graduation

These facts were found here and here. Continue reading “University of Colorado-Boulder”