General Information
About the Application
About Admissions Requirements
About Student Life

General Information

Where is Museum Studies housed at SF State?

The master of arts degree in Museum Studies is an independent, interdisciplinary professional program housed in the School of Art, a division in the College of Liberal & Creative Arts at SF State. We build upon students’ previous academic experiences with current museum research, best practices and pre-professional training across all museum functions.

Students also benefit from taking elective courses in other programs campuswide as part of their program, such as Art and Art History, Classical Archaeology, Public Administration, Technical and Professional Writing, History and Anthropology. Students work closely with faculty to develop individuated plans to maximize career goals.

Do you offer a certificate in Museum Studies?

No. Our program terminates in a master of arts degree, which can be completed within two to three years with a thesis option, if attending full time.

Since Fall 2016, we also offer an undergraduate minor in Museum Studies, to bolster undergraduate academic training with practical, pre-professional experiences and general museology to expand career outlooks toward museum or other nonprofit work. View information for the Minor in Museum Studies in the SF State Bulletin.

Do you offer online courses or distance learning?

Not at this time, but there are online courses offered at SF State that can be used towards Museum Studies degree requirements. If you are looking for a fully online Master's program in Museum Studies, you may want to do an Internet search using the keywords “Museum Studies” and “distance learning” to find a program that fits your needs.

Can I complete two Master’s degrees concurrently while enrolled at SF State?

No: SF State’s policy precludes any graduate student from enrolling in two Master’s programs concurrently. You must enroll in and complete one program at a time. Contact the Division of Graduate Studies directly for more information about this policy.

Can I transfer credit from other institutions to your program?

With prior consultation and approval from the program director during the application process or at the time of admission, applicants can transfer a maximum of six units (or two, three-unit classes) completed in post-baccalaureate status, including Open University courses taken at SF State, toward SF State Museum Studies degree requirements. This process is not automatic and still requires a formal application to SF State Museum Studies. View more information on the policy “Transfer Credit From Other Institutions.”

What is the tuition rate for graduate studies at SF State?

View current tuition rates. Tuition rates are based upon the total number of units per semester enrolled (part-time, 0 – 6 units; full-time 6+) and residency status. State residents pay a base tuition price, while out-of-state and international students pay the base tuition and an additional fee per unit enrolled, which usually amounts to double the base price for California residents.

Note: The total annual tuition price for a master’s degree in Museum Studies at SF State is still about half the tuition offered at comparable programs in California or nationally.

Where do I find more information about scholarships?

View the resources available at SF State's Office of Financial Aid. Be sure to view all the requirements and complete any separate applications.

Does the Program offer teaching assistantships?

Not at this time. When available, we do offer limited student assistant positions with the Global Museum, the research service unit of the Program. Moreover, the University offers various scholarships, work-study awards and loan opportunities, for which you can apply when you submit a financial aid application (FAFSA). We recommend that you apply for the FAFSA by February 1 or sooner to receive a Financial Aid Offer by April 1, when admission decisions are finalized.

Does the Museum Studies Program have an open house?

Yes, we hold several, free admissions events per academic year, when most faculty and key staff are available. Each session covers basic program and application information, and Q&A with faculty, staff and students, when available. Attendance is recommended for all domestic applicants, but not required as part of the application process. RSVP is first-come, first served until all spots are filled.

I cannot attend your admissions event dates. Can I still visit the program?

Due to our heavy teaching and administrative obligations, we cannot accommodate requests for individual visitations outside of our scheduled admissions events. However, you can still visit the Global Museum during operating hours, and the campus, as SF State offers orientation tours of the campus throughout the year. Generally, the best time to visit SF State is during the academic year, September to mid-May. For a self-guided visit to the program, check our website for updates to current public exhibitions or programs. Note: From June to August, Museum Studies faculty and students are on break, and the Global Museum offers limited hours. Research requests to the Global Museum must be arranged at least two-three weeks in advance; requests can be sent to globalmuseum@sfsu.edu.

Do you offer deferred admission?

No. You must apply for the year you plan to attend.

About the Application

Where do I obtain a Graduate Studies application?

Effective June 1, 2017, SF State uses the Cal State Apply online application system. Applying to SF State is a two part process: first, you apply to the University, and second, you upload supplemental program materials in the "Program Materials" portal while you are in the Cal State Apply system. SF State Museum Studies accepts applications for a fall admit only.

What is the CSU major code for the M.A. in Museum Studies?

The major code for Museum Studies is 49036.

How do I know if my Cal State Apply application has been submitted successfully?

At the end of the application process, you should receive a confirmation reply automatically generated by the online system. We are not responsible for online applications that are still in progress (saved in the system) or not submitted correctly. If you still feel that your application was submitted correctly, then contact Graduate Admissions directly for troubleshooting. The program does not need confirmation of your Cal State Apply submission; we monitor all submissions online.

Does the program require an additional application?

No, but we do require that you compile and upload supplemental documents for your program file in the "Program Materials" portal while you are in the Cal State Apply system. We suggest that you gather all your documents and scan as PDFs or prepare electronic copies before beginning the Cal State Apply application, to expedite the upload process. We no longer accept hard copy application materials.

How do I submit letters of recommendation to my Cal State Apply application?

The Cal State Apply system will require you to provide e-mail addresses of your recommenders. Once you complete and submit your application, the system will send your recommenders an email with a summary of what is happening and a link, which will bring them to a private portal for adding their letter. Once recommenders submit their letters, they are merged with the applicant's account, but kept confidential from the applicant. Applicants will only receive confirmation that the letter was submitted.

Will I be contacted if my application to the program is incomplete?

No. It is your responsibility to ensure that the materials you prepare for the program are completely uploaded to your Cal State Apply application. Please review our application procedures for detailed information. You can also monitor the status of your Cal State Apply application online.

Can I have my application materials returned to me after the admission cycle closes?

No. Once you submit materials, including confidential letters of recommendation to SF State Graduate Admissions and to the program, they become property of SF State — no exceptions.

When can I schedule an interview?

Interviews are optional and at the discretion of our Admissions Committee. We will only contact applicants for interviews if we have additional questions outside of their submitted materials, so not all applicants will need an interview. Interviews can be conducted by phone or on site; any contacts for scheduling would occur between February 1 and March 30.

Note: The Museum Studies Program reserves the right to contact only qualified applicants who meet all eligibility requirements and have submitted complete applications. 

About Admissions Requirements

My previous major isn’t listed in your suggested areas of study. Am I still eligible to apply?

We suggest certain areas of study because the content of most museums in general come from them. We understand that some aspects of museum work also encompass related areas of study, such as business administration, human resources, marketing and the like. We know that applicants also have diverse experiences, so in general, if you meet our other Admissions Requirements, we encourage you to apply.

My GPA is just below your 3.2 minimum. Am I still eligible to apply?

Yes, we do still encourage you to apply! It is important to understand that the CSU calculates your GPA from the most recent 60 units (or two years) of study completed, and that duration includes any post-baccalaureate courses completed (e.g., courses taken for professional development), which is why Graduate Admissions requires official transcripts from all institutions attended.

You must at least meet the CSU’s minimum GPA of 3.00 required for graduate study. If you still do not meet that requirement, then we suggest you contact Graduate Admissions for advising on improving your GPA.

You might also be able to enroll in post-baccalaureate courses for professional development and/or in available SF State Museum Studies courses through Open University. Up to six total units taken through Open University or other post-baccalaureate status can be applied to Museum Studies degree requirements, with director approval, should you happen to be admitted to the program later on. Note that taking Open University courses does not guarantee your admission to SF State Museum Studies. Applicants must still meet admissions requirements, and reapply to the University and to the Program. View more information about Open University at SF State.

Do you require prior experience in museums?

Yes. We require at least six months paid, volunteer, or internship experience within a museum or related setting prior to your program application. Experience in progress at time of application is OK. This not only gives you a behind-the-scenes look at museum operations and areas of work, but also helps you determine an emphasis and streamline your courses when matriculated into the Program.

Do you require the GRE?

Yes. We refer to the verbal and analytical writing scores only. We will also accept GRE scores taken within five years of the semester you wish to attend. No substitutions for the GRE are allowed (e.g., GMAT, CBEST). The GRE measures standards in writing ability that other tests do not provide us in the application review process. The ideal candidate will have:

  • a qualititative score of 156 or better; and
  • an analytical writing score of 4.5 or better.

If your scores are slightly lower than recommended benchmarks, we will still consider your application based upon the strength of the your submitted application materials.

If you are an international applicant, the University also requires you to submit TOEFL scores of 550 or better, or an iBT (Internet-Based Test) TOEFL score of 80 or better, and taken within two years of the semester you wish to attend — no exceptions.

What are the ETS (GRE) codes for SFSU and Museum Studies?

SF State's school code is 4684. There is no additional code for Museum Studies.

Do you accept letters of recommendation by e-mail?

Confidential letters of recommendation are uploaded by recommenders through Cal State Apply. Each applicant must provide an email address for at least two recommenders on the online applicaition. Recommenders will receive an e-mail requesting a letter to be uploaded at a private link. Recommenders and applicants will receive separate email confirmations from the system once letters are uploaded. Uploaded letters will be merged to the applicant’s file, but kept confidential from the applicant. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that recommenders upload letters well before our February 1 deadline. Please, no phone calls or inquiries to our office asking if letters have been received; you can monitor online through Cal State Apply when documents have been uploaded.

Is there a standard format for letters of recommendation, or an additional form that my recommenders need to complete?

There is no standard format for writing letters of recommendation, and there is no special form needed for your application. The best advice we can give you is to choose recommenders who are knowledgeable of your academic and professional backgrounds, and can speak to your aptitude and abilities for graduate work in Museum Studies.

About Student Life

How many classes is a full-time load?

A full-time load for graduate students is eight to nine units, which is about three classes. Expect about one to two hours extra per class for assignments, group work or other course requirements.

I have to work while going to school. Can I attend on a part-time basis?

Yes, you can attend classes part-time. We have many students who juggle work and family schedules around their classes. If registered for 0 - 6 units, you will also be eligible for reduced rates for part-time loads. Each of our classes meets once a week for three hours, and scheduled so that required courses are taught in the early-late evening hours (4 - 7pm or 7 - 10pm), and electives in the afternoon hours, between 12:30 and 4pm, so depending upon your circumstances, you can arrange work hours on those days you’re not in class.

What can I expect from your internship program?

We work with many museums and related institutions in the Bay Area, nationally, and even internationally. Quite a few of our students obtained paid positions after completing internships at our partner sites. 

Faculty work closely with students on placements that are best suited to individual areas of interest and professional development, and provide support and mentorship on cover letters and applications. One internship is required in the Master of Arts degree, but many of our students complete an additional or more internships to refine skills or build experience in a complementary area (e.g., curation + education, or education + fundraising).

The minimum number of hours to complete for an internship is 144 hours (about nine hours per week over a 15-week semester, or full-time over one month in summer/winter breaks) for three units of credit. Students may count a second internship as an area emphasis elective in the M.A. degree.

Can I contact current students or alumni about their experiences in the program?

Yes! Our students and alumni are active and engaged participants in the program and would welcome hearing from you.