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Degree Programs
Museum Studies

The Museum Studies Program provides an integration of mu­seum history and theory with hands-on instruction in museum techniques and practices. It encompasses the scholarly explora­tion of museums, including their history, operations, ethics and role in society from interdisciplinary perspectives, while also training students in the technical aspects of museum work such as collections care and management, administration, educa­tion, exhibit planning and design, curatorial practices, visitor studies and technology. The program offers a master’s degree and a graduate certificate. Students considering application to the certificate or degree program are welcome to take classes prior to formal admission. Students admitted to the graduate program may apply to count credits earned as a non-degree student toward their graduate credential (up to 6 credits toward the graduate certificate and up to 9 credits toward the Master's degree). Please see the Web site for admis­sions deadlines and current course offerings.

As an urban university, IUPUI is part of a community with a rich heritage of museums and cultural arts. Faculty appointed as Public Scholars of Civic Engagement craft relationships and sustainable partnerships with area museums and cultural in­stitutions and involve undergraduate and graduate students in meaningful ways in those collaborations. The Museum Studies Program has an extensive network of adjunct faculty and guest lecturers who bring state-of-the-art museum practice to the curriculum. The program also offers opportunities for student learning through the resources of the museum com­munity with experiences such as internships; collaboration on exhibit development and design; exhibition- and collections-fo­cused projects; collections research; collaboration with faculty on museum research projects; and participation in museum-sponsored seminars, lectures, and professional meetings. The integral role of Indianapolis museums in the Museum Studies curriculum fosters a critical, reflective, and scholarly discourse on museums that is applied to current practices and issues in the field.

The Master of Arts in Museum Studies curriculum (36 credit hours) consists of a required introductory course, a set of integrated core courses which provide a broad-based interdisciplinary training in museum practice, a choice of elective courses that allow the student to develop a particular specialty, and a capstone colloquium course preparing students for entry into the museum workforce. The course work is complemented by an internship that provides an opportunity for an intensive applied learning experience in a museum. The interdisciplinary curriculum and flexible structure allow stu­dents to achieve either a generalist breadth suitable for those working in smaller museums or to focus on a particular area of museum practice appropriate for a specialist on the staff of a larger museum.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students completing the Museum Studies M.A. curriculum will:

  • Develop their abilities as critical thinkers by questioning the role of museums in society and think critically and creatively to evaluate and improve that role.
  • Develop self-reflective understanding of their own vocations and professional ethics in the museum field.
  • Develop mastery of professional skills through using a variety of approaches to create original products, such as educational programs, exhibit concepts, strategic plans, of relevance to museums in the community.
  • Develop necessary knowledge and skills to meet professional standards in one or more areas of museum practice including collections, education, exhibit development, administration, curatorial practices, evaluation, and interpretive planning.
  • Engage in and conduct creative research problems that, over time, yield new insights into museums, their missions, their collections, and their engagements with communities and
  • Engage in hands-on learning in an area of the museum field through an internship experience.
  • Become skilled at effectively presenting their work through oral presentations and in written work in formats relevant to the museum profession (ex. exhibit concept documents, object labels, press releases, research papers, catalogue entries, curriculum).

Program requirements (36 cr.)

The Master’s degree program consists of 36 credit hours of course work.

Core courses (18 credits): 

  • MSTD-A 503: Introduction to Museum Studies (3 cr.) 
  • MSTD-A 510: Museum Education (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 512: Exhibit Planning and Design (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 516: Collections Care and Management (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 548: Museum Administration (3 cr.)

Internship (6 credits): Proposals must be approved by internship advisor prior to registration.

  • MSTD-A 508: Museum Internship (1-6 credits)

Capstone (3 cr.) MSTD-A 530: Museum colloquium 

Electives (12 credits) 
Select 4 courses from the following list of approved courses. Electives not included in the list below must be approved by your academic advisor.

  • MSTD-A 509: Applied research in museums (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 514: Museums and Technology (3 cr.) 
  • MSTD-A 518: Museums and Audiences (3 cr.) 
  • MSTD-A 511: Object-based learning (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 513: Curatorial Practices (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 521: Museum Theatre (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 531: Critical Approaches to Museum Education (3 cr.) 
  • MSTD-A 540: Issues in Cultural Heritage (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 560: Current Topics in Museum Studies (3 cr.) (may be repeated)
  • MSTD-A 560: Ct. Tpcs. in MSTD: Community Curation (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 560: Ct. Tpcs. in MSTD: Caring for Native Objects (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 560: Ct. Tpcs. in MSTD: Museum Communication Strategies
  • MSTD-A 560: Ct. Tpcs. in MSTD: Museum Education Research Methods (3 cr.)
  • MSTD-A 560: Ct. Tpcs. in MSTD: Museum Ethics
  • MSTD-A 595: Indep.. Learning in Museum Studies (1-4 cr.) (may be repeated)

Approved electives from other departments

Please discuss electives with your advisor or other faculty member.


  • ANTH-A 560: Variable Topics in Anthropology
  • ANTH-A 565: Anthropological Thought
  • ANTH-E 501: Fundamentals of Applied Anthropology 
  • ANTH-E 509: Modern Material Culture
  • ANTH-E 521 Indians of North America
  • ANTH-P 501

Journalism/Public Relations

  • JOUR-J 528: Public Relations Management
  • JOUR-J 531: Public Relations for NonProfits

Library and Information Science 

  • LIS-S 502: Acquisitions and Management of Knowledge and Information
  • LIS-S 511: Database Design
  • LIS-S 548: Archives and Records Management


  • HER-H 560: Visual Culture: A Visual Studies Approach
  • HER-H 590 Topics in Art History
  • HER-H 610: Art Theory and Criticism
  • HER-V 501: Intro to Design Thinking (1.5 cr)
  • HER-V 502 Introduction to Human Factors in Design (1.5 cr.)
  • HER-V 511: People-Centered Design Research (1.5 cr)
  • HER-Z 508: Issues in Art Education

NonProfit Management

  • SPEA-V 522: Human Resource Management in Nonprofit Organizations 
  • SPEA-V 525: Management in the Nonprofit Sector
  • SPEA-V 526: Financial Management for Nonprofit Organizations (V525 pre-req recommended) 
  • SPEA-V 557: Proposal Development and Grant Administration
  • SPEA-V 558: Fund Development for Nonprofit Organizations 
  • SPEA-V 652: Managing Workforce Diversity


  • HIST-H 542: Introduction to Public History
  • HIST-H 546: Topics in History
  • HIST-H 547: Special Topics in Public History: Historic Preservation 
  • HIST-H 547: Special Topics in Public History: Archival Practices
  • HIST-H 547: Special Topics in Public History: Historic Site Interpretation
  • HIST-H 547: Special Topics in Public History: Digital Public History

Philanthropic Studies 

  • PHST-P 521: The Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector
  • PHST-P556: Grant Making and the Role of Foundations
  • PHST-P558: Principles and Practices of Fundraising


  • SOC-R 551: Quantitative Methods in Sociology
  • SOC-S 659: Qualitative Research Methods in Sociology


  • MSTD-A 503 Introduction to Museum Studies (3 cr.) This survey of museology introduces students to the history of museums and to debates on the philosophical nature of museums and their roles in society. The course covers the types and definitions of museums, traces the history of museums, discusses contemporary museum practice, and examines current issues in the museum profession.
  • MSTD-A 505 Museum Methods (3 cr.) This survey of museum practice introduces students to methods, skills, and resources in three areas of museum work: artifacts, interpretation, and organizational administration, as well as to the ethical ramifications of these methods.  Course counts toward the Graduate Certificate but not toward the Master's Degree.
  • MSTD-A 508 Museum Internship (1-6 cr.)P: MSTD-A 503 and two other museum studies courses or consent of the instructor. An arranged learning experience in museum work appropriate to individual career goals focusing on an aspect of museum practice and working with a museum mentor. May be repeated for credit.
  • MSTD-A 509 Applied Research in Museums (1-6 cr.) An interdisciplinary research practicum conducted in collaboration with museum studies students, faculty and museum partners. The course provides students with an opportunity to work in conjunction with museum professionals to conduct research and carry out public projects in museum settings. The course may focus on exhibition planning, public programs and symposia, curatorial projects, and national collaborations.
  • MSTD-A 510 Museum Education (3 cr.)Core course. P: MSTD-A 503 or consent of the instructor. This survey of museum education introduces students to a variety of professional skills through exercises, projects, museum visitor observation, and in-museum classes. It covers education theory most central to museum practice, the duties of museum educators, and current issues in museum education.
  • MSTD-A 511 Object-Based Learning (2-3 cr.) The class will examine the multiple ways that people learn from and with objects in museums using a range of disciplines including education, history, semiotics, material culture, anthropology, and psychology.
  • MSTD-A 512 Exhibit Planning and Design (3 cr.)Core course. P: MSTD-A 503 or consent of the instructor. This course offers a survey of museum exhibit planning and design through an integration of theory and practice. The class introduces students to exhibit development, including exhibit administration, design, and evaluation, and to a variety of professional skills through hands-on exercises, exhibit critiques, museum observations, and in-museum classes.
  • MSTD-A 513 Curatorial Practices (3 cr.) This seminar course will examine current and historical curatorial practices in museums and other exhibition contexts. Case studies will introduce a range of approaches to the storytelling practices involved in curatorial work.  Over the course of the semester students will also develop and execute their own curatorial project.
  • MSTD-A 514 Museums and Technology (3 cr.) P: MSTD-A 503 or consent of the instructor. This course surveys the growing use of technology in museums. It examines applications for information management in collections, conservation science, and archives. It examines critically the use of technology in the service of education both in exhibit contexts and in the variety of educational programs and Web-based dissemination of knowledge.
  • MSTD-A 516 Collections and Care Management (3 cr.) A survey of techniques for the management and care of collections in museums. It covers documentation, management of collections, processes, administrative functions, risk management, and ethics and legal issues. The course also covers the physical care and conservation of collections.
  • MSTD-A 517 Preventative Conservation (3 cr.) This course offers theoretical and practical investigations of preventive conservation of artifacts which aims to eliminate or modify conditions that encourage deterioration. Topics include measures that prevent or reduce the potential for damage and loss including proper storage, environmental management, agents of deterioration, risk and analysis, emergency preparedness, and planning.
  • MSTD-A 518 Museum and Audiences (3 cr.) This course examines the ways museums seek to better understand their audiences, serve them more effectively, and strive to reach new audiences. The course looks at a broad range of visitor studies and the ways in which museums and audiences interact.
  • MSTD-A 521 Museum Theatre (3 cr.) The purpose of this course is to provide an in-depth look at the use of museum theatre and live interpretation in museum settings to advance the educational mission and nature of museums. The class examines theatrical techniques, program development and management, and interpretation approaches for a wide variety of museum exhibits and audiences. Students will observe, develop, and implement original museum theatre and interpretation projects as a synthesis and practical application of the knowledge gained.  The course will include field visits and observations of various techniques in museum theatre and live interpretation.
  • MSTD-A 530 Museum Colloquium (3 cr.) This course provides graduate students with the tools and knowledge necessary to assess, understand, and utilize the links among their education, goals, and career opportunities. It supports graduate students approaching the end of their degree program in 1) exploring the connections between the museum knowledge they have mastered and the skills they have developed, 2) framing and articulating their knowledge and skills as well as their vocational goals to others, including prospective employers, 3) developing critical competencies for community-focused museum work, and 4) creating professional plans as they transition into or advance in the work force or pursue further education.
  • MSTD-A 531 Critical Approaches to Museums (3 cr.) P: MSTD-A 503 or consent of the instructor. This class examines the potential of applying critical pedagogical methods to curatorial practices, interpretation, museum education, and exhibition development as a way to focus on engaging the visitor with artifacts, opening up civic discourse, and promoting deeper connection to community.
  • MSTD-A 540 Cultural Heritage (3 cr.) This course explores a variety of issues related the stewardship of cultural property on a local, national, and global scale. Through readings, case studies, discussion, and a semester-long project, students will explore ethical, economic, legal, political, and pragmatic issues related to tangible and intangible heritage and will increase their understanding of the practices and processes of cultural heritage management.
  • MSTD-A 548 Museum Administration (3 cr.) This course presents an overview of issues faced by administrators and mid-level managers who work in museums, historical societies, archives, special collection libraries, and other cultured resource agencies. Topics, speakers, and readings are focused on issues that are unique to agencies that collect, preserve, and interpret historical resources.
  • MSTD-A 560 Current Topics in Museum Studies (3 cr.) Intensive graduate-level study and analysis of selected topics in museum studies. Topics will vary from semester to semester. May be repeated for up to 9 credit hours.
  • MSTD-A 595 Independent Learning in Museum Studies (1-6 cr.)A supervised, in-depth examination through individual reading and research on a particular museum studies topic selected and conducted by the student in consultation with a faculty member. May be repeated for no more than 6 credit hours total.