Information compiled by the GradSchools.com team - last updated December 2010
Studying in the field
A degree in museum studies provides students with an opportunity to explore many aspects of culture, politics, and history. In that sense, then, museum studies programs provide the perfect forum from which to study as many aspects of the human experience as one wishes. For contrary to popular perception, students who study in this field are not just limited to working as curators (a fascinating field in its own right). Rather, they may work in a variety of capacities, from advising government agencies to working in the field of art preservation to acquiring pieces of art for galleries. The options are endless, limited only by the imagination and ambition of the graduate.
The coursework for a degree in museum studies is wide-ranging and varied. There are, after all, as many types of museums as there are areas that interest a curious public. Therefore, museum studies programs tend to be rather interdisciplinary, ranging from business courses in the administration of museums and other non-profit organizations to technical workshops on the safekeeping of fine works or art. Students in the museum studies program at New York University, for example, "[obtain] a broad foundation in the history and theory of museums, the creation and maintenance of exhibitions and collections, and museum management. [They also] pursue personal programs of study supporting individual academic and career objectives." In other words, once a certain base of knowledge is achieved, the directions in which a student may go are virtually infinite.
Students who are considering a museum studies program should possess a deep curiosity about the world as well as a desire to explore many aspects of it. For even though a student eventually focuses his efforts on one or two areas of specialization, the best students will have a deep well of academic and intellectual resources from which to draw. The program at San Francisco State University, for example, is "interdisciplinary and hands-on, and integrates students- previous academic studies in Anthropology, Art History, Classics/Classical Archaeology, Design, Education, History, the Sciences or Public Administration." The wider the student's reading, and the deeper his knowledge of a variety of topics, the better he will ultimately be at whatever specific area he focuses on and seeks employment in.
Job opportunities in the field
A graduate in museum studies can maximize his chances for a desirable position by not only successfully completing his coursework, but by gaining work experience while he is still in school. In this sense, then, finding a job after having successfully completed a program in museum studies is similar to many other fields: The more experience the student already has, the more impressive his application will look. If the student is interested in the preservation of oil painting, then he should look for internships or apprenticeships in that field. The same logic applies to eventual employment in art gallery administration, museum curation, or any of the other fields one may choose to pursue. The key, however, is a combination of enthusiasm, academic success, and a passionate curiosity about the world in general and the specific area of desired employment in particular.