Preserving the Past, Observing the Present: Museum Studies

An online degree in museum studies prepares students for an exciting career in a museum or preservation environment. Graduates earning a museum studies degree are experts in artifact retrieval, conservation, exhibition, art history and culture. These skills generally apply to the appreciation or investigation of art, science, history and nature.

Museum Studies Degree Information

Students who pursue a museum studies degree will become extremely well-versed in human culture. They will learn the ethics surrounding museum collections and how museums edify, elucidate and enlighten. Students will become experts on art, history and culture and learn how to share their expertise with others.

Study Options

Students who plan for a museum career will usually start by earning a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Fine Arts in a related field, such as art history or history, to give them a base of knowledge to work from. Once they graduate, the student can opt for a master's degree or doctoral degree in museum studies or a related field.

Advanced Studies

Students who are interested in being museum curators can earn a master's degree with a focus on arts administration and management. Those planning to be museum directors may also want to add courses in finance and in management to their curriculum. Those who plan to be museum guides or to acquire pieces for museum collections will need to take additional art history, art appreciation and possibly anthropology, archaeology and/or sociology courses. Students should be prepared to sharpen their research and analytical skills in pursuit of their museum studies degree.

Master Of Arts In Arts Administration

The Master of Arts in Arts Administration or some management degree will be required for museum curators. These degree candidates will become experts in the running of a complex system like a museum and in effective leadership and public relations. Curricula will also touch on fundraising and volunteer management.

Masters Of Library Science

Masters of Library Science degrees teach students how to archive and find collections of items, as well as touching on how to identify, recover and restore deteriorated documents and items. These degrees are ideal for library work, of course, but also for a museum archivist.

Choosing A Degree

Students who grew up enjoying and appreciating museums may wish to pursue a career in museum studies. The four main types of museums are art, science, history and nature, so an individual with an interest in the history, development and current state of any of these areas may enjoy being surrounded by a collection of relevant items in a museum. A museum studies degree is one of the best ways to become a part of this enriching environment.

Career Opportunities

Many students who pursue higher education in museum studies go on to become museum directors or curators. Other museums studies experts may become educators, archivists, conservation specialists, designers of museum exhibits or museum guides.

Earning Potential

Museum curators, who oversee collections and acquisitions, earn an average of around $46,000 a year according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Archivists, who analyze and catalog the collections, earn roughly $40,700 on average. Government archivists make considerably more, with an average annual salary around $79,000 per year. Conservators, who preserve and restore damaged works, reported a median income of $34,340 in 2006.

Getting Your Degree Online

Students who already have a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts degree can usually earn a Masters of Arts in Arts Administration, Master of Arts in Museum Management or Master of Library Science in two years or less with little inconvenience. These degrees are ideal for continuing education students, as they can get a top distance learning education from an accredited online university with little disruption to their current schedule.

Getting Your Degree Offline

Students who are foreseeing a career in the museum world can start with a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Fine Arts from one of the many top brick-and-mortar colleges or universities that offer them. Students should major in a field that best relates to the type of museum they would like to work in and the position they would most like to attain. Once the BA or BFA is earned, students can proceed to a master's degree in arts administration, library science, art history, art management or any related field. Students can consult with departmental advisers to help plan a curriculum that will make them most appealing to potential museum employers. The master's degree is usually obtained within around two years. Some students may choose to move on to a doctoral degree in museum studies or a related field in order to maximize their appeal as a museum employee.

Museum Studies Degree FAQs

What Can I Do With a Museum Studies Degree?

Earning an online museum studies degree is the first step to following numerous career paths. Museum curators are in charge of permanent collections and acquiring new additions. Archivists catalogue and analyze artifacts, paintings, film and other historical items.

Museum technicians and conservationists restore damaged artwork and artifacts. Other potential museum studies careers include professor, art historian, art dealer, insurance appraisers and anthropologist.

What Topics of Study Are Covered in an Online Museum Studies Degree Program?

Students can expect to learn about a variety of museum related topics. Many master's programs allow students to specialize in a particular area of study. For example, some schools may be better suited for a career in art museums, while others prepare students for a job at a natural science museum. Classes often include art history, preservation and art appreciation.

What Skills Are Beneficial for Pursuing a Career in Museum Studies?

An inherent appreciation for art and culture is essential to finding a rewarding career in museum studies. Oral and written skills are effective for promoting the importance, meaning and intrigue of specific artifacts and museum pieces. Archivists and conservationists require a keen eye for detail and inquisitive mindset to deliver the best job results. What Salary Can I Expect to Earn With an Online Degree in Museum Studies? Entry-level salaries for museum studies graduates average approximately $27,000 per year. More experienced archivists earn a yearly median income of $40,700. Museum curators tend to earn a bit more, with an average salary of $46,000 annually. However, government museum employees have the potential to earn much more, with a median income of $79,000 each year.

Online Museum Studies Degree Programs

Museum studies is a specialized fine arts degree. At the baccalaureate level, students typically complete a broad degree program, such as a bachelor's in fine arts.

Museum Studies degree programs tend to be at the master's and doctoral levels. A bachelor's degree may be sufficient for low-level museum jobs. However, competition is tight for high profile and management positions. As such, a master's degree is often a valuable asset.

Museum Studies Student Guide

Museum studies degree holders learn how to organize museum collections and manage museums. The field is also known as museology and students in the field learn the history of museums and information about the key functions and proper administration of museums.

Museum Studies Books

Students looking for books in museum studies should start with the Keyguide to Information Sources in Museum Studiesî by Peter Woodhead and Geoffrey Stansfield, which will provide a good resource to start out with. Other useful museum studies books include ìMuseum Studiesî by Betting Carbonell, ìMuseum Ethics by Gary Edson and The Handbook for Museumsî by David Dean.

Museum Studies Articles And Databases

A terrific site for museum articles is the Artcyclopedia ( The Artcyclopedia contains links to Internet collections from museums all over the world, searchable by artist name, artist type or location. You may also wish to peruse the National Gallery of Art site at or the Smithsonian at

Online Museum Studies Journals

The main journal you will be looking at if you are interested in museum studies is Museum, published bimonthly by the American Association of Museums. You may also be interested in Aviso, which is exclusive to American Association of Museums members.

Other Museum Studies Research Tools

A great site for museum studies students to check out is the American Association of Museums website at The site contains information about career opportunities in museums, publications related to museum studies, information about special projects and collections exchanges and nearly any other resource a museum student might need.

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