Graduate Studies

Museum Studies

Admission | Courses | Program | Requirements | Integrated Program | Certificate | Profile

Director:  Pamela J. White
Graduate Committee Chairperson: Pamela J. White
Office:  WIU-Quad Cities Campus
Telephone: (309) 762-3999 or (309) 298-1618 Fax: (309) 762-6989
Location of Program Offering: Quad Cities

Graduate Faculty

Faculty teaching in the Museum Studies program are full, associate, and temporary members of the graduate faculty from the Department of Art; Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration; and museum professionals at the Figge Museum of Art and other institutions.

Learning Outcomes

For student learning outcomes, please see

 Program Description

The purpose of the Museum Studies Program is to educate students as to the history of museums, the various aspects of museum work to include administration, collections management, exhibition development, education, community development, tourism, and fund raising. Also, the program strives to acquaint students with the opportunities and problems faced by museums and museum personnel, and to create career opportunities for students who might seek employment in a museum. Emphasis is placed on practicum experiences involving such basic museum functions as exhibition, curatorial research, cataloging, acquisition, community service, education, and administration.

This program offers coursework through the departments of Art, and Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration working in conjunction with museum professionals at the Figge Art Museum in Davenport, Iowa.

 Integrated Baccalaureate and Master's Degree Program

Please refer to Integrated Programs for details and program offerings.

 Admission Requirements

  • A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 OR
  • A 3.0 or higher GPA for the last two years (60 s.h.) of undergraduate work
  • Official transcripts indicating a Bachelor’s degree (or foreign credentials equivalent to the U.S. bachelor’s degree)
  • TOEFL score of 100 (internet based) or minimum 7.0 on IELTS, or better for international applicants
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • A current resume
  • An essay, professional in appearance and content, explaining your academic goals while pursuing graduate study in Museum Studies at WIU, and how your immediate and long-term plans will be met through this program

It is expected that students enrolled in the program will be seriously committed to a career in museums, historical agencies, preservation organizations, or related institutions. No prior museum experience is required.

Preference will be given to applicants who come from backgrounds in the following areas:  art; recreation, park and tourism administration; anthropology; education; and history.

After being accepted to the program but before beginning the program, students must purchase a “Museum Studies” membership at the Figge Art Museum. This fee will be paid to the Figge Art Museum to cover incidental expenses and admission to workshops held at the museum. The fee will include a 2-year membership to the Figge Art Museum. Students who do not complete the program in two years must purchase another 2-year membership.

 Degree Requirements

The Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies requires 34 semester hours of coursework including workshops, a portfolio, and a ten-week internship/special project.

I. Core Courses: 22 s.h.

MST 500 Introduction to Museums: Purpose, Function and History (3)
MST 501 Museum Administration (3)
MST 502 Museum Exhibition (3)
MST 503 Museum Collections Management (3)
MST 515 Introduction to Museum Education (3)
MST 516 Visitor Studies (3)
MST 600 Internship and Special Project (4)
MST 601 Workshops in Museum Studies (0)

II. Directed Electives: 12 s.h.

RPTA 424G Fund Raising and Volunteerism in Leisure Services (3)
RPTA 448G Interpretation of Cultural and Environmental Resources (3)
RPTA 460G Sustainable Tourism Development (3)
RPTA 467G Event Planning and Management (3)
ARTE 439G High School Art Methods (3)
ARTH 485G Research in Art History (3, repeatable to 9)
ARTH 496G History of Contemporary Art (3)
MST 520 Independent Study in Museum Education (1–3, repeatable to 6)
MST 560 Practicum in Museums (1–3, repeatable to 3)
MST 599 Special Topics in Museum Studies (3)


Post-Baccalaureate Certificate Program

The department offers a post-baccalaureate certificate in Museum Studies. For program details, go to the post-baccalaureate certificates page.

 Course Descriptions

Museum Studies (MST)

500 (cross-listed with RPTA 500) Introduction to Museums: Purpose, Function and History. (3) This course will provide students with an overview of the purpose, function, and history of museums and their role in society. Students will be introduced to all of the disciplines within the museum and will discuss recent issues in the field.

501 Museum Administration. (3) This course will provide students with an overview of management history, theory and practice focusing on the issues involved in managing a non-profit organization. Topics to be covered include strategic planning; ethics and governance; membership; earned income; and marketing and non-profit finance. Students will complete a finance assignment and an in-depth museum management case study. A variety of topics will be covered including the concepts of project management, team building, group problem solving, and managing change. Case studies of actual projects in museums.

502 Museum Exhibition. (3) This course will focus on the development of interpretive museum exhibitions including theory, planning, research, methodologies, design, construction and installation, and the application of new technologies.

503 Museum Collections Management. (3) This course will provide an introduction to the basic theories, methodologies, and current issues relating to archives management. Establishing collections policies; laws, regulations, conventions, and codes that bear on acquisitions, deaccessions, loans and collection care; accountability; access problems. The implementation of collections policies: establishing and managing collections; management procedures and systems; documentation of collections; records preservation; tax codes; data bases; collections access and storage; restitution and repatriation laws and controversies; handling, packing and shipping; inventory control; and responsibilities of a museum registrar.

515 Introduction to Museum Education. (3) Public education is at the core of the service that museums provide. This course focuses on all aspects of the educational role of museums from the mission through an exploration of museum learning, the use of new technologies, and the development of public programs and evaluation.

516 Visitor Studies. (3) The purpose of this course is to introduce evaluative methods used to design and implement museum visitor studies. Students will explore the uses of front-end, formative, and summative evaluation approaches to better understand visitor experience and improve museum program offerings.

520 Independent Study in Museum Education. (1–3, repeatable to 6) Students may take up to three hours of independent study per semester in areas related to museum studies; art; history; or recreation, park and tourism administration. Students must design the study in consultation with the appropriate faculty member, complete an Application of Independent Study form, and have it signed by the program director before enrolling for the course. Prerequisite: Nine semester hours of completed coursework.

560 Practicum in Museums. (1–3, repeatable to 3) This course is designed to give supervised practical experience in museums.

599 Special Topics in Museum Studies. (3, repeatable under different special topics) A special topics course acknowledges the changing environment of museums. This course focuses on emerging issues in museum professional practice. Students will explore the chosen topic through current research, theory, and practice in museums. Practical application of ideas will take place in museum settings.

600 Internship and Special Project. (4) Students are required to complete an internship of at least ten weeks in a museum or related organization. As a part of the internships, students will undertake and complete a special project approved by the host museum and the program director, and make periodic reports to the program director on their experience. Students are responsible for finding their own internships, although the program director assists by informing them about opportunities. The program reserves the right to reject any student-arranged internship. The overall internship program is coordinated by the program director, but individual interns are supervised by museum professionals at the host institution. Prerequisite: Completion of at least 21 s.h. in the program.

601 Workshops in Museum Studies. (0) Students are required to attend five workshops and/or conferences, approved by MST Director and produced through museums, museum associations or by museum professionals. Workshops/conferences must be paid for by the student and pre-approved by the MST Director. Graded S/U.