Anthropology Museum Studies Graduate Programs

Oct 08, 2018

Museum studies are often found in the anthropology department. However, there are also many universities that offer graduate degrees in museum anthropology. Here, we'll look at some common admittance requirements as well as typical courses within this degree.

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More often referred to as a museum anthropology or museum studies, the anthropology museum graduate degree mentioned in the title of this article looks at museum studies through an anthropological lens. For the rest of this article, we'll take a look at some courses and admittance requirements for this program.

Museum Anthropology Admittance Requirements

When applying to a graduate program, you'll find there are a few common requirements, no matter the program. The first, will be a completed bachelor's degree program. Whether or not this matches the graduate study depends on what you want to do with it. For a museum anthropology program, your undergraduate major is typically not as important as the other application requirements. Keep in mind each university may require slightly different requirements.

  • Some museum experience preferred
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing sample
  • GRE scores
  • Typically 3.0 GPA
  • Interview (phone or in person)

Museum Anthropology Graduate Degree Program

Many museum anthropology programs are built similarly across universities. You will likely always be required to complete a thesis adding something original to the field, and you will complete an internship, likely with a museum, to put into practice your skills and learned knowledge. Along with these requirements, you'll find many similar courses; however, your degree program may focus more on anthropology or on museum studies, depending on the university.

Exhibit Development

Within this course, you'll study what it takes to create a museum exhibit. You'll study proposals for exhibits and collections as well as look at borrowing acquisitions, and the policies that surround these procedures. You'll look at collection storage and how to best organize an exhibit to present items and history through the use of lighting, layout, and visual aids. You may also look at what goes into planning traveling exhibits and learn about branding and creating an audience for your exhibits.

Museum Management

This course will prepare you for a leadership role within a museum. You may look at some case studies of successful and unsuccessful museums to learn effective ways to manage a museum. You'll look at budgeting, operational costs, and museum policies. On top of this, you'll look at essential pieces for working in a unique environment like a museum, such as heightened security measures, emergency protocols, and fundraising to supplement funds.

Museum Theory

In the museum theory course, you'll likely study the history of museums, as well as the cultural and political importance of them. You'll look at the different kinds of museums, from art and science, to natural history and culture. Along with the study of these museum types, you'll learn about the development of modern museums. You may also look at how education uses museums as a resource and tool, including exhibition interpretation and learning from an item or piece of art.


Though there are programs dedicated to conservation of art and artifacts, you'll spend some time learning about conservation for a breadth of knowledge. You will look at preventative care and common techniques for conserving and refreshing acquisitions. Along with these techniques, you'll study the processes for conservation, condition assessments, appraisals, and authentication.

Cultural Heritage

In this course, you'll study how heritage is preserved through museums. You'll look at how some cultures are ignored and often forgotten when creating museum exhibits. You'll study how the public and culture can assist in community planning for heritage centers. Finally, you'll study what heritage is, and how it develops and is recognized over time.

Material Culture

As an anthropology course, you'll study how cultures are built around material objects. You will look at the meanings of objects and how material culture develops. This course focuses more on culture and society than museum studies. You will look at how we interpret certain material symbols, such as the U.S. flag, and how certain items take on significant relevance, such as the crucifix.

Through the many anthropology and museum studies courses, you'll learn how to manage a museum of nearly any type. Admission requirements vary per school, but common ones you may typically encounter in graduate programs include letters of recommendation, GRE scores, writing samples, and interview/s.

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