Museum Studies MA

We are not currently accepting new applications for this program - please schedule a conversation with our advising staff to learn about related programs and opportunities at ASU.

The museum studies master’s program at the School of Human Evolution and Social Change examines how museums produce and reflect culture and the role museums play worldwide. Students in this program develop theoretical questions and applied skills that engage the functions, practices and critical analyses of museums. All graduates gain practical experience while being encouraged to challenge preconceived notions about museums and the way they affect (and are affected by) societies and cultures.

Designed to be use-inspired, one of a kind, socially embedded and trans-cultural, the program ensures that graduates understand the meaning and significance of museums in contemporary society and are prepared for diverse museum careers. In keeping with our unique, interdisciplinary approach, students will study topics that cross the boundaries of museum studies, including anthropology, art history, theory, criticism and public history. Courses are taught by faculty within the school, as well as the Public History Program of the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies; the School of Art in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts; the School of Community Resources and Development; and community professionals.

Additional educational resources for those in the program include the school's Innovation Gallery, the Center for Archaeology and Society's Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve and extensive archaeological and ethnographic collections in its Repository, and a close-knit community of museums across the region. Students are prepared for a variety of museum careers, including exhibit design, collection management and museum administration.

3 museum facilities
3,700 jobs annually
250,000 artifacts

Degree Overview

The program requires 30 credit hours, including an internship and research portfolio. Students will engage with museum studies research and produce at least two scholarly papers. Students also receive hands-on training through 320 hours of internship or practicum experience.

How to apply


Prospective students must submit an application for graduate admission, the application fee and the following required materials:

  • official transcripts
  • personal statement outlining educational and professional goals
  • current curriculum vitae or resume
  • three letters of recommendation
  • proof of English proficiency

Applicants may also submit an optional scholarly writing sample not to exceed 20-30 double-spaced pages. More information on submitting your materials is available from the Graduate College.

To be considered, prospective students must have earned a bachelor's or master's degree from a regionally accredited institution. Applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in the last 60 hours of a student's first bachelor's degree program, or applicants must have a minimum of a 3.00 cumulative GPA (scale is 4.00 = "A") in an applicable master's degree program.

    Suitable backgrounds for admission include disciplines related to museum studies, anthropology, history or art (fine art or art history).

    Job growth for archivists, curators and museum workers is projected to be nearly twice the standard rate by 2026.


    The master of arts in museum studies requires a total of 30 credit hours. Pre-admission coursework may be counted toward the degree with the permission of the degree director in accordance with ASU Graduate College policy.

    Students enter this program with diverse backgrounds and varied career goals, and we remain flexible when helping you plan the most appropriate academic path for you. Curricular tracks will tend to be individualized, and final determination of the most appropriate course of study or how each requirement should be met will be made by your advisory committee in consideration of your research and career goals.


    Core course


    Other required course


    Approved elective courses and research


    Internship or practicum


         Total credits


    Courses and electives

    Students entering the MA in museum studies do so with diverse backgrounds and with varied career goals, so we recognize the need to be flexible in planning the most appropriate path for each student. Core courses build a unifying foundation, and electives provide an opportunity to individualize your course of study.

    All students will take the following course:

    ASB 579 Critical Issues in Museum Studies (3 credits)

    One of the following two courses:

    ASB 500 Museum Studies Research Methods (3 credits) (or equivalent) OR
    ASB 572 Museum Collection Management (3 credits)

    Students will choose the courses that best meet their needs in consultation with their advisor (18 credits). At least six credits of Research are required.

    ASB 592 Research (6 credits)

    Your 320-hour internship (equivalent to six credit hours) must take place in a museum or collection, supervised by an on-site member of staff. It must be approved by the director of our museum studies program and is normally expected to contribute to a project that has real significance to the institution. Up to 160 hours (equivalent to three credit hours) may be fulfilled in the form of an ASU-based practicum that contributes to a project and/or exhibit at an approved ASU museum or collection.

    ASB 580 Practicum (3 credits) and ASB 584 Museum Internship (3 credits) OR
    ASB 584 Museum Internship (6 credits)

    The research portfolio is the culminating experience for your master's program. It comprises two research papers on a museum studies interdisciplinary or disciplinary issue in your particular area of interest in anthropology, history or art.