Interview with Hillary Hanel for the University of Leicester

Below is the first interview for the University of Leicester off-campus Museum Studies degree. A huge thank you to Hillary for providing these answers. She graduates soon; she submitted her masters dissertation a few weeks ago. Congratulations Hillary!

 

Why did you choose the University of Leicester?

I did some research on a variety of schools that I could attend both in person and online/distance learning. I liked the great reputation of Leicester, and that I could continue working full time while earning my degree. The opportunity to attend summer school on campus was an attractive feature, too, since I have always wanted to travel to the UK.

 

What was your favorite class and/or professor and why?

The distance learning program doesn’t have specific classes – it is broken up in to 4 modules and a dissertation. I really loved the modules in which the focus was education and exhibit design. As a high school teacher and museum educator, I loved thinking more deeply about museum education and reading about many great theories and techniques. The exhibit design project was a lot of fun. It really got me thinking about how much goes into developing a new exhibit.

 

For those in the States, do modules break down more into different chapters or is it more like one intensive course?

The four modules are on different topics or themes. When each module begins, Leicester ships a big box of books which contains the module guide and all textbooks and sometimes a few other materials. It was great the the textbooks were included in tuition and were automatically sent to me. The module guide is broken down by chapter and tells you what to read and what types of activities to complete. It is very helpful in that it suggests how long you should spend on each task so that you can plan your study time.

 

What particular skills were taught in the program?

The Museum Studies MA covers a broad spectrum of skills. Much of the work was theory based, but there were also “hands-on” activities even though it was distance learning. There was a mini lab on collections management and conservation in which we could see how the environmental conditions of our homes affect objects. Other skills included marketing, working with the community, education, and exhibit design.

 

Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?

I completed a masters dissertation of about 12,000 words. There was a 6 month dissertation term in which I researched my topic, conducted surveys and interviews, and wrote my paper. My topic was about museum education, specifically how museums should respond to the Common Core State Standards. It was really interesting to analyze the survey data from museums around the country and my research was very relevant to my career.

 

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.?

Because of the Distance Learning factor, I only “met” a few classmates on the discussion boards online. When I attended summer school near the end of my studies, I met some classmates in person and we were all at different places in our careers – the program is really for any level. I started grad school 9 months after I finished undergrad. I had spent over 4 years working at a children’s museum, with the last year being in the role of education director. I had worked in several other museums for internships, part-time jobs, and volunteer positions. When I started grad school, I had just moved and started two new jobs that week, so it was a big transition.

 

Related, who would you recommend your program for?

I would recommend this program for anyone who wants to start or further their museum career. It works especially well for people who need to continue working full-time because the program is very flexible.

 

Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?

As a distance learner, I continued living in my own house and was excited when each new module’s big box of books showed up on my doorstep!

 

Any other insider information you would like to provide about your program or university?

If you attend University of Leicester as a distance learner, I highly recommend taking advantage of the summer school. It was great to be on campus and meet classmates and professors in person. I wish that I had gone earlier in my program, instead of within a couple of months of finishing my dissertation, because it was so helpful.

 

Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?

Continue reading “Interview with Hillary Hanel for the University of Leicester”

Interview for the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University

The first interview for the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University. This individual attended the GWU in 2014 and currently works at an art museum. Huge thank you to him for providing answers to some additional questions about his experiences in graduate school. 

Why did you choose the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University?

I chose GWU because it is known as the best in the field. Their faculty and alumni network is great for networking.

What particular skills were taught in the program?

The program has three different focuses: collections management, museum management and leadership, or exhibition design.
Was the program a balance of theory and application or do you feel it was heavy on one or the other? Were you able to choose how much education you received in either?
The program is somewhat heavy in theory. It is augmented by it’s two required internships. In the collections track, Collections I is all theory, whereas Collections II is a mix of theory and practice. Both Collections I and II as well as the two internships are required in order to graduate. The program is roughly 15 credits of required Museum Studies courses and 15 credits of electives in your chosen field (i.e. art, history, zoology, american studies, etc.)

Did you complete a thesis or capstone project? If so, what was your topic?

I I did not complete a thesis. The program requires the completion of two internships that have accompanying final projects, as well as a comprehensive exam at the end of the graduate program.

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.?

The program has students from all walks of life. Just out of undergrad, trying to advance in their museum career, or making a career change.

Related, who would you recommend your program for?

The GWU program works best for those that have had no experience working in museums in the past.

Was housing provided for grad students or did you find your own housing and was it a challenge?

Housing is not provided. DC has some of the highest rent prices in the nation.
Did you end up living outside D.C then? How was your commute?
   I did end up living outside of DC. My commute to class was about an hour via public transportation.

Any advice for those looking into graduate school and beginning a career in museums?

The only thing I would impress upon those looking into grad school is that they need to be realistic about career opportunities and pay. Getting a job in this field is extremely difficult and tend not to pay well. Grad school is incredibly expensive, and GWU offers little financial aid, and debt could become a crippling thing to a student.

Thank you again for providing these answers! If there are additional questions you would like answered about the GWU Museum Studies Program or other graduate programs in the future, let me know. If you would like more information on this program, head over to the blog post or their website

University of Leicester, Museum Studies

Updated on January 18, 2017, to incorporate additional responses.

This post is the review for the University of Leicester’s Museum Studies Program. Though there are various programs you can attend here, they are all within the same department and responses from these various programs will be included in this one post. So far, there has been 15 reviews of the Museum Studies program as a whole: five reviews for the distance learning MA, and ten for degrees earned on-campus.

To get started, here are some quick facts about the University of Leicester and its Museum Studies program:

  • It’s pronounced Less-ter
  • There are 2 museum-centered degree options on campus, Museum Studies or Art Museum and Gallery Studies. Off-campus degree options are Museum Studies, Heritage and Interpretation, and Socially Engaged Practice
  • ranked in the top 1% of universities in the world by Times Higher Education (found here)
  • Offers a 10% discount if you got your undergraduate degree at Leicester OR a 10% discount if you are related to a Leicester graduate.

Continue reading “University of Leicester, Museum Studies”

Interview for the Cooperstown Graduate Program

Interview for the Cooperstown Graduate Program.

The first interview for the Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP) and the Museum Masters Review as a whole! This individual attended the CGP in 2002 and now works as an Executive Director at a small art museum. Huge thank you to her for providing answers to some additional questions about her experiences in graduate school. 

Why did you choose the Cooperstown Graduate School?

I wanted a program that was specifically focused on museums and museum management, covering all aspects of museum work. I also really liked the practical aspect of it. Most of the programs I investigated were very specific to a certain kind of museum or didn’t offer anything nearly as comprehensive.

Continue reading “Interview for the Cooperstown Graduate Program”

George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Updated on November 29, 2016

This is the review for the Museum Studies Program at George Washington University (GWU) based on 16 responses. GWU offers two entirely separate museum related master’s degrees, Museum Studies and Museum Education. If you would like to learn more about their Museum Education Program go here. If you are looking for information on the Museum Studies Program, continue reading.

To begin, here are some facts about GWU and its Museum Studies Program:

  • was established in 1976
  • fellowships are offered specific to the Museum Studies Program. There are partial scholarships, awarded for incoming students in the fall semester only, and must submit the application by January 5th
  • offers a program called “Grad2Grad” with the highlighted benefit of 10% tuition discount for GWU undergraduates from 2015 and 2016. You can read more about it here.
  • Besides the MA in Museum Studies, a Campus-Based Museum Studies Certificate, and Distance Education Certificate* is also available.

Continue reading “George Washington University, Columbian College of Arts and Sciences”

State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta

Updated 9/26/2016

This is the review of The Cooperstown Graduate Program based on 24 responses.

For some context, here are some quick facts about The Cooperstown Graduate Program:

  • The Cooperstown Graduate Program is an academic division of SUNY Oneonta
  • approximately 15 students are accepted into The Cooperstown Graduate Program per year
  • on average, graduates have a 90-100% success rate in finding a job within 12 months after graduation
  • there are 4 full-time faculty with additional adjunct professors teaching about 30 students
  • partnered with the New York State Historical Association (NYSHA)
  • part-time assistantships are available as well as grants and scholarships

Continue reading “State University of New York (SUNY) at Oneonta”