Museum Studies Certificate — Online Program

The Museum Studies certificate program unites history, theory and practical learning in a curriculum that prepares participants for professional or volunteer careers in administration, collections and specialty disciplines within museums, zoos, aquariums, parks and botanical gardens.

We offer courses online every quarter, so you can complete your Museum Studies certificate on your own terms.

 

Summer 2022 Registration closes:
MUSEUM 370-DL Museum Origins and Issues June 19, 2022
MUSEUM 371-DL Successful Museum Management in Today's Environment June 19, 2022
MUSEUM 372-DL Learning and Museums June 19, 2022
MUSEUM 373-0 The Exhibit: From Concept to Opening and Beyond (on-campus) July 5, 2022

 

 

Register here

 

About the Museum Studies Certificate Online Program

Student Profile

Robert Caragher, Vice President of Finance and Operations, Autry Museum of the American West

Student Profile: Robert Caragher
robert_caragher.jpg After spending much of his career managing finances in higher education, Robert Caragher was ready to switch to a different sector within the not-for-profit world. Caragher knew he’d have to reposition himself to make the transition, so to gain a leg up, he enrolled in the Museum Studies Online Certificate Program at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies.

“This was my first experience with a certificate program and with mostly online instruction. I would recommend both of those aspects to anyone, especially at Northwestern, because of the way this program is packed with content.”

Find out more about how the Museum Studies Certificate helped Caragher become the Vice President of Finance and Operations at the Autry Museum of the American West.

Program Goals for Museum Studies Online

Through lectures, discussions, guest speakers and field trips to area museums, students learn about:

  • History of museums
  • How collections and community inform museum missions
  • Ethical challenges
  • Building audiences
  • Maximizing learning opportunities
  • Fundraising, finance and management
  • Organizational development

Program Audience for Museum Studies Online

The Museum Studies certificate program is useful for a wide-range of careers inside museums as well as those preparing for a graduate program in museum studies.

  • Curatorial
  • Administrative
  • Collections Management
  • Education
  • Pre-Graduate School

Museum Studies Program Courses

Explore all the Museum Studies Program Courses for details on the program's offerings.

Certificate Requirements Museum Studies Online

To earn a certificate of completion in Museum Studies, students must successfully complete three courses. Students typically graduate in one year. Classes can be taken in any order.

The required courses are:

  • Museum Origins & Issues (MUSEUM 370-DL)
  • Successful Museum Management in Today’s Environment (MUSEUM 371-DL)
  • Learning and Museums (MUSEUM 372-DL)

Optional Two-day Exhibit Symposium

The Exhibit: From Concept to Opening and Beyond

As a supplement to the certificate program, or as a stand-alone experience for museum professionals and those who are interested in furthering their knowledge of the exhibit process, this course presents an in-depth study of the components that make a museum exhibit successful. 

Museum site-visits, guest speakers, case-studies and experiential learning activities will give students ample opportunities to model best practices of the field. 

Topics include concepts, interpretation, design, lighting, accessibility, loans, advertising, education, visitor satisfaction and sponsorship controversies, and above all how to ensure that multiple voices are heard, multiple stories told, and all peoples represented and welcomed. 

Please note: this offering will return in Summer 2022.

Tuition and Financial Aid for Museum Studies Online

Tuition for each Museum Studies core course is $1,225. Complete details can be found on the Tuition and Financial Aid for Museum Studies Certificate page.

Museum Studies Faculty

Instructors for this program have a range of expertise, specializations and work experience. Read about their qualifications on our Museum Studies Faculty page.

Museum Studies Career Options

Read more on the Museum Studies Career Options page.

Find out more about Northwestern's Museum Studies Certificate Online Program

Contact SPS Enrollment Advisers

SPS Enrollment Advisers at Northwestern University School of Professional Studies can be a resource to you for inquiries regarding our certificate programs.

Museum Studies Course List

Core Courses:Course Detail
Museum Origins and Issues <> MUSEUM 370-DL

This course explores the diverse origins of the major types of museums, and contemporary issues and ethical challenges facing those museums today. It will also explore how the primary public mission is established and interpreted as well as an overview of museum organization. Planning for exhibitions, community inclusion, and diversity are also addressed. Students are encouraged to make weekly field trips, visiting subject-appropriate museum sites in their own area and reporting back to the class. Students will also participate in discussion boards on the assigned topics and research the origins and mission of a museum in their local community.

There is no live/real-time component to this class. Students participate in all aspects of the learning experience, within each week, around their own life/work schedules. 


Course Materials:

Students may purchase these books from any retailer where they are available, in any format. Additional course materials will be provided via the online course site.

 

Registered students can access their online course site here. An activated NetID and password is required for login. *Please note: It may take up to 24-hours for registered students to be added to the online course platform.


View MUSEUM 370-DL Sections
Successful Museum Management <> MUSEUM 371-DL

This interactive course explores the organization, governance, and management of museums, with a focus on real-world problem solving. We consider the role of the board, the museum president, staff, and volunteers. Topics include team building, strategic planning, governance, organizational structure, fundraising and membership, marketing and public relations, collections management, exhibit development and design, evaluation, budgeting and finance, risk assessment, government affairs, and museum relevance. Students, instructor, and museum guest lecturers together critically examine current issues in the museum world, such as technological impacts, funding strategies, relevance to new audiences, virtual museums, and economic impacts. With guidance from museum professionals, students take on real projects at real museums. Past projects have ranged from marketing plans to volunteer recruitment strategies to exhibit development to retail planning.

Students have the option to participate in a live weekly synchronous session with the instructor and fellow students, as well as one or two guest museum experts. This session will be as announced. Those whose schedules don’t allow them to participate live can access the session recording. The instructor is available via phone, email or online office hours to help students keep up with the brisk pace of this course and its practical applications. Get ready to have fun, network with museum professionals, and either advance your museum career or explore whether a museum career is right for you.

 

Course Materials:


Course materials are included in the cost of tuition and will be provided via the online course site.

 

Registered students can access their online course site here. An activated NetID and password is required for login. *Please note: It may take up to 24-hours for registered students to be added to the online course platform.


View MUSEUM 371-DL Sections
Learning and Museums <> MUSEUM 372-DL

This course explores theories and practices of education and learning in museums for all visitors, of all ages, through a combination of weekly readings, presentations, videos, assignments, and virtual class discussion questions assigned on Canvas. In addition to studying the theories of education, students will research a museum in their own geographic area to examine theories in action and other practical applications of museum education OR design a family-oriented museum activity, incorporating all the theories of family learning.

There is no live or real-time component to this class. Students participate in all aspects of the learning experience, within each week, around their own life-work schedules.

 

Course Materials:

Students may purchase these books from any retailer where they are available, in any format. Additional course materials will be provided via the online course site.

Registered students can access their online course site here. An activated NetID and password is required for login. *Please note: It may take up to 24-hours for registered students to be added to the online course platform.

 


View MUSEUM 372-DL Sections
Elective Courses:Course Detail
The Exhibit: From Concept to Opening and Beyond MUSEUM 373-0

Museum exhibits create memorable experiences for their visitors, and museum staff must consider many factors to determine what an exhibit says to their viewers to ensure a successful museum exhibition.

Through case studies, guest lecturers, and Chicago area museum site visits, this course explores the components that make a successful museum exhibition, whether permanent or temporary, from concept, opening, and beyond.

The topics this course will survey are: concepts, interpretation, design, lighting, accessibility, loans, advertising, education, visitor satisfaction and sponsorship controversies. The course will also consider diversity and inclusion, such as how museums and their exhibits ensure multiple voices are heard, multiple stories are told, and that all people are represented and welcomed.

This two-day symposium can be taken as a supplement to the Museum Studies certificate program or as a stand-alone experience for museum professionals interested in furthering their knowledge of the exhibit process. 

Registered students can access their online course site here. An activated NetID and password is required for login. *Please note: It may take up to 24-hours for registered students to be added to the online course platform.


View MUSEUM 373-0 Sections