Master of Arts in Museum Studies


Program Description


Our master of arts (M.A.) degree program in museum studies offers a curriculum based on hands-on training, research, scholarship, and design that prepares you for a wide range of positions in various types of museums. We shape alumni to be resilient, adaptable, and competent working professionals. At the center of the program is the belief that the museum professional serves as the liaison between the viewing public and the museum object.

The program is structured in a manner that enables you to develop an understanding of the relationship between theory and practice. The Syracuse University Art Galleries, the Special Collections Research Center, and the Sue Ann Genet Costume Collection and Sue & Leon Genet Gallery at Syracuse University's Nancy Cantor Warehouse provide major settings for education and training. You gain additional experience through internships. We believe that this combination of academic and professional training prepares you for your chosen field and sustains you throughout your career.

An important aspect of the program is the availability of courses in a wide variety of departments and colleges, including VPA's School of Art and Department of Transmedia; the Department of Art and Music Histories and Department of Anthropology in the College of Arts and Sciences; the School of Information Studies; and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. A significant number of students pursue concurrent or sequential degrees in such fields as art history, anthropology, arts administration, arts journalism, and information studies.

You also have opportunities to study in other U.S. cities by taking a MAYmester course in New York City and Washington, D.C., where you visit significant museums, galleries, and contemporary artist studios to hear from prominent artists, curators, and gallery owners, many of whom are accomplished SU alumni.

The faculty is composed of working professionals from the University and the local museum community. They bring a wide range of expertise and experience. Faculty and staff organize field trips to museums and conferences and bring professionals to campus as visiting speakers.

Our alumni are resilient, adaptable, and competent working professionals. Graduates of the program work in a wide variety of institutions, including the National Gallery, National Museum of the American Indian, the Air and Space Museum, the Morgan Library, the Museum of the City of New York, Palm Springs Art Museum in California, and the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon.

Why our program?

  • You can benefit from the availability of courses in SU's other schools and colleges. Many students pursue concurrent or sequential degrees.
  • You will gain valuable professional experience through required internships. Organized field visits allow you to experience first hand the variety of places and positions where your education can take you.
  • You can spend a week visiting cultural institutions and participating in meetings and private tours with museum professionals in Washington, D.C., or New York City through our Museums and Contemporary Practices MAYmester course.
  • You will engage with an impressive array of nationally and internationally known visiting professionals.
  • Our alumni are known to be resilient, adaptable, and competent working professionals. They are the best ambassadors from the program to the museum and cultural field, and their education and personal values have been the foundation of many successful careers.


The graduate program in museum studies is located in SU's Nancy Cantor Warehouse, home of the School of Design. The building, located in downtown Syracuse, features professional studio facilities for each design program; two shared computer labs; a printing lab; and Design Works, a fabrication lab that holds a variety of tools and technology for wood, metals, and plastic work. There is a dedicated space used for framing and matting.

The administrative offices for museum studies are located on the first floor of The Warehouse, as is the Sue & Leon Genet Gallery, where our student's design, fabricate and install exhibitions throughout the year.

Visiting speakers

The graduate program in museum studies organizes and sponsors private and public lectures with professionals from a wide variety of institutions and diverse backgrounds. They are a critical component of your growth as a professional and offer a unique opportunity to deepen your understanding of the broad possibilities of careers the field. Past guests have included:

  • Linda Achimore, Former Director of Loss Control, Onondaga County
  • Professor Douglas V. Armstrong, Department of Anthropology, archaeology and public policy
  • Duane Blue Spruce, Public Spaces Planning Coordinator, the National Museum of the American Indian in New York
  • Sean Corcoran G'99, Curator of Prints and Photographs, Museum of the City of New York
  • Emily Dittman, Syracuse University Art Galleries Collections and Exhibitions Coordinator
  • Ann Drumheller, Registrar, National Museum of American Indian, Smithsonian Institution
  • Magdalena Garcia G'94, Founding Director, El Museo Latino
  • Kelly Gardner, Educator, Museum of Science and Technology
  • Diana Goodsight, Director, Erie Canal Museum
  • Victoria Gray, Acquisitions Cataloger, Strong Museum, National Museum of Play
  • Lynda Greig, Former Director, the Loretta Howard Gallery
  • Sam Gruber, Curator of the Plastics Collection, the Special Collections and Research Center
  • John Haworth, Director, the National Museum of the American Indian in New York
  • Cara Howe, Assistant Archivist and Curator, PanAm 103 Collection
  • Harvey Kaiser, H.H.K: A Consulting Firm Specializing in Architecture, Urban Planning and Facilities Management
  • Peter Kenny, Ruth Bigelow Wriston Curator of American Decorative Arts and Administrator, the American Wing, the Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • William LaMoy, Special Collections Librarian
  • Professor Immaculada Lara-Bonilla, Languages, Literatures and Linguistics
  • Trish Lowney, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President of Strategic Research Development
  • Mark Nerenhausen, Founding Director, Janklow Arts Leadership Program
  • Diana Pardue, Chief, Museum Services Division, Statue of Liberty National Monument & Ellis Island
  • David Prince, Syracuse University Art Galleries Associate Director
  • Keith Routley, Curator and Division Chief, Division of Cultural Resources, Fort Stanwix National Monument
  • Jack Rutberg, Dealer, Curator, Collector and Consultant, Jack Rutberg Fine Arts, Los Angeles
  • Deb Ryan, Senior Curator, Everson Museum of Art
  • Joe Scala, Executive Director, Stone Quarry Hill Art Park
  • Deborah Schwartz, President, the Brooklyn Historical Society
  • Tom Shannon, Director of Facilities, the Morgan Library & Museum
  • Ann Skiold, Fine Arts Librarian
  • Lauren Sodano '04 G'07 G'08, Collections Manager, Strong Museum, National Museum of Play
  • David J Stokoe, Rare Book and Paper Conservator, Bird Library
  • Kim Szewczyk , Chief of Interpretation, Fort Stanwix National Monument
  • Dan Umstead, Park Ranger, Fort Stanwix National Monument


Students enrolled in the graduate program in museum studies come from a variety of academic backgrounds, including anthropology, art history, design, history, library science, philosophy, religion, and studio arts.

Students are required to complete a minimum of 33 graduate credits, including four core courses, two concentration courses, and three electives. An immersion internship is also required, and this experience refines technical proficiency, develops professional confidence, and bridges the gap between the University and the professional world.

A significant number of students enrolled in museum studies pursue concurrent or sequential degrees at Syracuse University. Common degrees sought include a certificate of advanced study in cultural heritage preservation, a master of arts in art history, and a master of science in library and information science. For prospective students, a separate application for each of these programs must be completed, and admittance into one program does not guarantee admission to the other. Students follow the general curricula for both programs and earn separate degrees. For current students that are already enrolled in a graduate program at Syracuse University, an internal application form must be submitted.

Core requirements

(All courses required)

  • Introduction to Museum Studies (Fall - 3 credits)
  • Museum Preparation and Installation (Fall/Spring - 3 credits)
  • Museum Graphics and Communications (Fall/Spring - 3 Credits)
  • Collections Management: (Fall/Spring - 3 credits)
  • Museum/gallery internship (experience credit): (3 credits)

Total: 15 credits

Concentration requirements

(Minimum of three)

  • Curatorship of Historic and Ethnographic Collections: (Spring - 3 credits)
  • Fine Art Curatorship (Fall – 3 credits)
  • Public Learning in Museums: (Spring - 3 credits)
  • Museum Management: (Fall - 3 credits)
  • Museum Development: (Spring - 3 credits)
  • Museums, Heritage, and Tourist Sites (Spring – 3 credits)
  • Introduction to Cultural Heritage Preservation (Fall – 3 credits)
  • Historic Interpretation (Spring – 3 credits)

Total: 9 credits

General Academic or Studio Electives

Total: 9 credits


Last updated Jun 2018

About the School

Our faculty offers rigorous and multi-faceted learning experiences that prepare student-artists for professional and entrepreneurial careers.

Our faculty offers rigorous and multi-faceted learning experiences that prepare student-artists for professional and entrepreneurial careers. Read less