The Museum Studies master’s degree requires 36 credit hours.

The curriculum provides a comprehensive overview of the discipline, opportunities for grasping core components of museum practice, avenues for exploring the interdisciplinary nature of museums, grounding in current issues facing them, and possibilities for research to develop new and innovative approaches in the field. You’ll also complete 500 total museum experience hours, including at least 250 hours in an approved internship.

Our graduates work as collection managers, educators, exhibit designers, curators, archivists, directors and more at museums and historical agencies across the country and around the world.

The M.A. in Museum Studies requires 36 graduate credit hours. You’ll complete the Museum Studies Core and, with guidance of academic advisors and program staff, craft an individualized, multidisciplinary degree plan to master both general and specific topics appropriate to your interests and relevant to current museum standards.

In addition to courses such as collections management, museum education, exhibits and museum management, you can gain skills as diverse as scenography, learning theory, audience evaluation, nonprofit leadership, psychology and public administration, among others.

You’ll also have access to the staff and resources of several acclaimed museums at KU and in the region. Current museum professionals teach many of our courses.

The program has six elements:  

  • The Museum Studies Core (MUSE 801, MUSE 802, MUSE 803) – 9 credits
  • Museum Professional Areas – 9 credits
  • Museum Conceptual Domains – 6 credits
  • Electives – 9 credits
  • Museum Experience (Internship) – 3 credits
  • Final Product (Research)

Core courses provide a comprehensive understanding of the theories, history, techniques and problems common to museums, historical agencies and related institutions. The capstone course (MUSE 803), taken in your third semester, provides an avenue for you to conduct research or other creative activities that advance the discipline of museum studies.

You’ll develop expertise in one or more of the principal specialties of museum work by completing a minimum of two courses in that area, at least one of which must be a Museum Studies (MUSE) course.

We group museum professional specialties into the following categories. For each specialty, courses incorporate training in best practices, policy development, legal and regulatory concerns, and future trends.

Leadership & Management

Courses cover areas such as administration, policy, fundraising and legal issues related to the management of nonprofit organizations.


Includes developing skills in exhibition design and installation, graphics and marketing, public programs, as well as innovative approaches to new and emerging technologies.


Courses develop expertise in the practices and policies associated with managing and caring for the range of materials in museum collections.

Community Connections

Courses enable you to develop skills in public programming, curriculum planning, visitor studies, audience development and volunteer management.

The conceptual domains of museum work – Materiality, Engagement and Representation – address in depth the conceptual and theoretical foundations of museums. Courses that emphasize conceptual domains place museological subjects in broader historical and intellectual frameworks.

You can take courses focused on one or more of these areas, which are offered outside of MUSE. For instance, if you're interested in natural sciences collections management, taking courses in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology or Geology would be useful.

Want to go into museum public education? Consider courses in educational instruction technology, curriculum development or working with children with autism from the School of Education, or courses from the Gerontology Program.

You’ll choose courses with the help of your faculty advisor and the course instructors. Approval is based on the general relevance of the course and assurance that your work in the class applies to museum studies. 

We expect you to deepen your knowledge of the field by taking courses in a subject area relevant to your area of specialization. You’ll work with your faculty advisor, as well as course instructors, to determine which courses fit your needs. MUSE also offers independent study courses so you can delve into specific topics that don't have a course offered. 

The Museum Studies director advises entering students, but by the end of the first year you should choose a faculty advisor.

Your faculty advisor assists in selecting courses, oversees the development of your final product and serves as the committee chair for your final product examination.