Museum Studies  {SF State Bulletin 2011 - 2012}

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Museum Studies

College of Arts and Humanities

Dean: Paul Sherwin


Museum Studies Program

HUM 515
Phone: 415-405-0599
Fax: 415-338-1775

Director: Linda Ellis
Graduate Coordinator: Linda Ellis



Professors: Ellis, Luby
Lecturers: DeMouthe, Fogarty, Fox



M.A. in Museum Studies



Program Scope

The museum studies program is designed to provide graduate professional training in major areas of museum work—museum administration, fundraising, collections management, exhibition design, museum educational programming, and curatorship. The museum studies degree also assists those students who plan to continue graduate studies in conservation, law school or in doctoral programs.


The museum studies program operates a series of specialized facilities where students may obtain training: The University Museum (public exhibit gallery for visiting archaeological exhibitions and collections storage for the permanent Sutro Egyptian Collection), exhibition preparation workshop, conservation laboratory, microscopy lab, documentation center, and object photography.


Career Outlook

The museum studies program prepares students for employment in all types of museums, cultural arts centers, arts commissions, historical sites and houses, science centers, environmental education centers, libraries with exhibition programs, exhibit design firms, auction houses, planetaria, aquaria, zoos, and botanical gardens.


Master of Arts in Museum Studies

Graduate Advisers: Ellis, Luby


Admission to the Program

Students are admitted in this program for fall terms only. To be admitted to classified status, a student must meet all general university requirements. No more than 6 units of work taken in post-baccalaureate status are transferable to M.A. degree credit in the museum studies program.


To be eligible for consideration, applicants must:

  • Have an undergraduate degree from an accredited college or university in one of the following or related fields: anthropology, archaeology, art history, classics, design, education, history, biological or physical sciences, or public/art administration. Additional museum experience beyond the minimum required is expected when a student has a degree in a field not listed.
  • Have at least a minimum grade point average of 3.20 in the last 60 semester units of upper-division courses completed.
  • Be able to demonstrate understanding of the work and profession of museum studies, gained through paid or volunteer experience (minimum of six months) in a museum or related setting. Experience can be completed prior to or concurrent with application to the program.
  • Submit to the Museum Studies program two letters of recommendation from faculty or supervisors knowledgeable of the applicant’s academic or professional ability. At least one of these letters should be from a museum supervisor.
  • Submit to the Museum Studies program a current resumé and written statement of purpose, outlining background, intentions, and goals as specified in the program’s admissions procedures. Each applicant is encouraged to specify as closely as possible the emphasis s/he wishes to pursue.
  • Send one set of transcripts of all prior academic work directly to the Museum Studies program. Another set is required by the university graduate admissions office.
  • Submit GRE scores with a minimum of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section, and a 550 or better on the verbal section. Past scores will be accepted if taken within five years of the semester the applicant wishes to attend.
  • Submit a paper TOEFL score of at least 550 or a computer-based score of 213 to the graduate admissions office, if an international applicant is from a non-English speaking countries.


For admission, applications are due February 1. Domestic applicants are contacted by the Museum Studies program for interviews on a rolling basis on limited dates beginning November through February, only if the following are on file: the application for post-baccalaureate study to the university graduate admissions office, official transcripts, and resumé. Local applicants are also required to attend one of the program’s regularly scheduled open house dates (November or February) as part of the admissions process.


Written English Proficiency Requirement

Level One: GRE scores with a minimum of 4.5 or better on the analytical writing section, and a 550 or better on the verbal section. Level Two: grade of B+ or above on final research papers for M S 800 and M S 860 successful.


Advancement to Candidacy

Besides meeting all general requirements for advancement to candidacy, applicants must, in addition, have completed with a grade of B or better each of the following courses: MS 700 and MS 880.


Courses are 3 units unless otherwise indicated. On-line course descriptions are available.


Core Requirements

Course Title
M S 700 History and Organization of Museums [required during first semester of program]
M S 860 Museum Fundraising
M S 880 Museum Internship

Total for Core: 9 units


Area Requirements

3 units of coursework selected from each of the following three groups:


Collections Care and Conservation

Course Title
M S 740 Museum Conservation and Restoration
M S 794 Museum Collections Management and Registration
M S 791 Integrated Pest Management in Heritage Facilities
M S 792 Museum Security and Protection
M S 793 Museum Facilities Management


Museum Management

Course Title
M S 800 Museum Management, Law, and Ethics
M S 830 Museum Governance
P A 745 Administration of Nonprofit Organizations


Exhibition Design

Course Title
ART 719 Exhibit Design
M S 720 Museum Curatorship and Collecting

Total area requirements: 9 units


Area Emphasis

Select four electives relevant to the following areas. No more than 6 units of non-museum studies courses may count towards electives in the area emphasis. Courses must be chosen in consultation with a museum studies faculty adviser.



Exhibition Design

Cultural Property Law and Protection

Museum Management and Fundraising

Museum Education and Public Programming

Registration/Collections Management


Total for emphasis:12 units


Culminating Experience Requirement

Course Title Units
M S 894
M S 898
Creative Work Project
Master’s Thesis

Minimum Total: 33 units


If students do not complete their culminating experience in either MS 894 or MS 898, they must thereafter continue to be enrolled in one course during one semester each academic year until graduation.


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