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How to Apply

Students are admitted to the M.A. program only in the fall semester. The deadline for submitting applications is February 1. The Museum Studies Admissions Committee seeks to notify applicants of admission decisions by early March. Only in exceptional circumstances will we consider applications submitted after the deadline.

Potential applicants are encouraged to correspond with our director, Dr. Nicole Hodges Persley (hodgespersley@ku.edu), and to visit the campus to discuss their interests and the program with faculty and current students.

To be considered for admission to regular graduate status in the program, a student must hold a bachelor's degree and have earned at least a B (3.0) grade-point average in previous academic work. Acceptance in the program is determined by the Museum Studies Admissions Committee. A complete application for admission must include:

1.   A completed application, along with a non-refundable application fee, submitted online through the Office of Graduate Admissions.

2.   A copy of your transcript, issued by the registrar’s office of the institution from which you have (or will have) earned your bachelor’s degree (and master’s degree, if applicable). You can obtain an official transcript from your registrar’s office (typically marked “Issued to Student”), copy it, and upload it with your application. IMPORTANT: Records accessed through a student portal are NOT official transcripts, and we are unable to accept them.

3.  Short essays in response to three (3) of the following questions. All three essays combined – which do not need to be of equal length – should total 10 to 15 pages, double-spaced. Our goals are to better understand how you think about museums, how you approach issues in museum studies, and how well you write.

In your essays, we do not expect you to demonstrate expertise – that is what you will gain in graduate school. Similarly, we do not expect you to conduct new research or include citations in your essays; however, we do encourage you to refer to any literature, individuals, or institutions that you feel will strengthen your responses. Cogency and clarity are at least as important as content.

  1.  What are some ways a museum might engage with its various audiences, stakeholders, or communities? Feel free to draw from personal experiences, current events, or other instances of museum engagement you have learned about in your studies – and to be analytical or critical.
  2.  Reflect on the importance and significance of objects and collections for museums. You may frame your response using any sort of object or collection – art, science, history, anthropology, you name it. Topics you might consider – but you are certainly not limited to these: ethical responsibility to the community, programming surrounding collections and holdings, collections’ potential for research; how material culture can expand or challenge public understanding of other times, places, and people; the role of objects in deepening people’s capacity for self-awareness.
  3.  How might a museum balance the multiple – and sometimes conflicting – considerations impacting its responsibility for collection preservation? Offer some thoughts on how a museum might balance competing concerns.  
  4.  What are your ideas about the potential of new technologies for museums? You may respond from the perspective of collections and collections care, research, audience development, exhibitions, or any area you choose.
  5.  Has a museum experience shaped your outlook on the world? It may have been a public program such as an exhibition, it may have been something that took place behind the scenes, or it may have been simply “being there.” Feel free to provide details.
  6.  What museum exhibitions (or other museum public programs) have you found to be particularly impactful – either positively or negatively – in conveying ideas, values, or events? You may draw on your own experience, or on exhibitions or programs you have learned about. Feel free to be analytical or critical. 
  7. What are some ways that you might recognize whether or not a museum or a museum program is a success – recognizing that “success” can have many interpretations?

4.   A personal statement, 2 pages total, double-spaced. The statement should cover: (a) those aspects of museums and museum studies that particularly interest you, (b) your professional goals, including the area of museum work that most attracts you, (c) your relevant experience and background, (d) how you believe KU's Museum Studies Program matches your interests, and (e) anything else you think is important for us to know. If you believe your academic record does not reflect your potential to perform well in the KU Museum Studies Program, please provide an explanation.

5.   Three letters of recommendation. Please use KU’s online letter of recommendation system. We strongly recommend that at least two of your letters of recommendation come from professors,  instructors, or other individuals who can speak directly to your academic ability.

6.  A resume or curriculum vitae that lists your education, employment history, volunteer experience, internships, scholarships/fellowships, and academic awards. Please calculate and include your junior/senior GPA and include it on your resume. IMPORTANT: The KU Museum Studies Program Admissions Committee pays particular attention to applicants’ museum experience (paid or unpaid) prior to applying to the program.

7.  If an applicant is not a native speaker of English, they must verify their English proficiency. Please see Graduate Admissions' English Proficiency Requirements webpage for additional information.

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June 2020 Newsletter
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