What Can You Do With a Museum Studies Degree?


What Can You Do With a Museum Studies Degree?

Museums aren’t just old, stale buildings full of dusty artifacts. Today’s museums can be both engaging and entertaining. Due to quickly changing forms of technology and entertainment, the role of museum professionals is also growing and changing in order to keep up.

Whether you are looking to advance in your current job or planning to start a new career with a museum, a Master of Arts in Museum Studies will help you achieve your goals by preparing you to face the real-world challenges of today’s museums.

“Most people seeking a degree in museum studies want to go into curating, collections or archiving,” said Christine Young, recruitment specialist with PACS. “But because we have such broad-based programs, you could really go into any museum field.”

Here is a brief description of a few of the most popular museum jobs:

  • Curator: Oversees museum collections, including the care, display and information about exhibit pieces. Curators also use their expertise to conduct research and write exhibit text and program copy.
  • Collector: Inventories items in collections, oversees the physical care of artifacts and display items, monitors temperature and other conditions and ensures the proper storage of the collections. Collectors also may help acquire new works or objects.
  • Archivist: Authenticates and appraises historical documents and archives materials, preserves and maintains documents and objects and organizes and classifies archival records.
  • Exhibit designer: Plans the layout and display of objects, decides on wall colors and arrangement of objects and helps install and hang artwork.

Other museum jobs include registrars, educators and librarians.

Young said for students who have no museum experience, volunteering at a museum is a good place to start.

“I always ask students what they are wanting to do. If they don’t know, I tell them to volunteer,” Young said. “Volunteering is the key to determine if this is the field you want to go into.”

Once in a program, classes and internships can give students more experience, ultimately helping them land in a field that interests them most.

“We have a required course called Museum Project that allows students to work at a local museum,” Young said. “You spend a couple of hours a week there learning a trade and getting hands-on experience.”

As museums continue to evolve, the need for knowledgeable leaders will continue to grow. Young said in addition to being a part of a changing and exciting field, the best part about getting a Master of Arts in Museum Studies is that you can do it from anywhere on the planet, and you can do it affordably.

“Our program is comparable to John Hopkins, but we are more affordable, even for out-of-state tuition, and it’s 100 percent online,” she said. “You can be anywhere—the beach or your house—and complete our degree. There’s never a need to come to campus unless you just want to.”

Learn more about OU’s Master of Arts in Museum Studies.

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Tami Althoff

Tami Althoff holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She is a reporter with more than 20 years’ experience working for newspapers, including The Oklahoman. She has covered everything from breaking news to local music and art. She loves sports, especially OU football and basketball games, where she often embarrasses her children by yelling too loudly.