The M.A in Museum Professions program within the College of Communication and Arts is uniquely structured to provide students a specialized education in the museum field, through an applied theory lens. Students in the program select one of four professional tracks including Museum Registration, Museum Education, Museum Management and Exhibition Development. The Museum Education track provides relevant coursework for real-world applications, and prepares students for careers as museum educators, public program managers and more.
The education track uses a mixture of experiential learning opportunities and the study of theory to provide students with real-world museum teaching and program development experiences. Students learn educational theory, human development, museum programming and audience research. Additionally, students discuss the growing civic role of the museum and explore modern museum technologies as they develop strategies to plan engaging museum learning that is meaningful to individuals, families, schools and participants of all diverse backgrounds and abilities. Finally, students on the education track complete a internship that puts their classroom skills into practice, giving them real-world education experiences in a museum of their choice.
Anthony Caruso, a current B.A./M.A. student on the education track, shared how his decision to study in the Education track has changed his perspective on the work of museum educators. "I have learned many academic and professional skills in this program," Caruso shared. "However, a connective theme between all my coursework is the idea of putting the visitor first. Interaction with visitors and understanding what interests them and how they learn is an essential skill for a museum educator."
Museum Education students complete five courses specific to the track, including Museum Education I, Museum Education II, Museums and Communities, Audience Research and Project Evaluation and Advanced Psychology of Learning. Katie Himics, a Museum Education student, shared that her favorite class so far has been Audience Research. "Museums have a lot to offer a wide, diverse set of communities," Himics said. "In order to serve and support those communities, we as museum professionals need the ability to research, evaluate, and therefore understand our audiences' wants and needs."
Alumni from the program also recognize the importance of education in a museum setting. Mackenzie Witter M.A. '17, shared that education is central to everything a museum does. "If people are not learning something or taking anything away from our exhibits, then what’s the point?" Witter asked. "Whether it's through a program, an interactive display, or a lecture, a museum educator seeks to engage the public, make them think, and hopefully make them consider learning more about the subject when they leave."
Museum Education students pursue many different careers following the program including positions as educators, public programmers, community advocates, project managers and more. Witter, for example, obtained a position as a Museum Educator at the Glenn H. Curtiss Museum in Hammondsport, NY before she graduated. Witter is confident that she has a positive impact on the educational opportunities at the museum. "There was no educational programming before I started, so I was tasked with creating a department from scratch," Witter said. "It was hard work, but so rewarding. We now have programming based on state standards, a teen volunteer program and a high school enrichment program. Every day brings new challenges and chances to better the museum and myself as an educator."
The College currently offers three Master's-level programs, including Museum Professions, Strategic Communication, and Public Relations. In addition, four dual-degree options, including three accelerated B.A./M.A. programs and a dual M.A. degree with the School of Diplomacy and International Relations are offered.
For more information about Graduate Studies within the College of Communication and the Arts, please contact Dr. Ryan Hudes at email@example.com.
This story is part of a series highlighting the professional tracks within the M.A. in Museum Professions program.