The Museum Studies Program builds upon students’ previous academic studies in museum-related disciplines by emphasizing practical experience, professionalism, and important developments in the field

Museum Studies students include mid-career museum professionals, people from other professional career fields and recent Bachelor of Arts graduates. The Museum Studies Program graduated more than 500 alumni, many of whom have found employment at all career levels throughout the U.S., from the Getty to the Smithsonian. 

SF State began offering Museology classes in 1974, one of the first universities in the Bay Area to do so, and officially inaugurated its Master of Arts degree program in Museum Studies in 1987. The M.A. in Museum Studies is unique to SF State, and is the only one of its kind in a public university in the state of California, either in the California State University or University of California systems. In any given year, approximately 40 – 50 students are enrolled in the program.

Why SF State Museum Studies?

  • One of the most established, well-known and highly regarded museum studies programs in North America

  • One of the top five producers of original research in the field

  • Vibrant, outward-looking urban campus focused on social justice

  • Affordable tuition, with opportunity for scholarships, work-study and student assistantships

  • Low student-to-teacher ratio

  • Faculty are experienced teachers, scholars and museum professionals

  • Comprehensive curriculum integrates theory, practice and career development

  • New Global Museum allows practical training and mentorship between graduate and undergraduate students

  • Access to relevant courses on campus, from Business and Cinema, to History and Art

  • Capstone experience options include the thesis, creative work project (an exhibit), or the written comprehensive examination (effective Spring 2019)

  • Engaged network of students and alumni

  • Over 90% of recent alumni employed within one year of graduation

Master of Arts in Museum Studies

The Master of Arts degree in Museum Studies is a 33-unit curriculum that can be completed in two to three years, if attending full-time with the thesis or written comprehensive examination option. The program is designed to provide professional training in major areas of museum work, building upon students’ previous academic studies in museum-related disciplines by emphasizing practical experience, professionalism and important developments in Museum Studies.

Areas of emphasis include Museum Management and Fundraising, Curatorship, Registration/Collections Management, Exhibition Design, Cultural Property Law and Protection and Museum Education and Public Programming.

SF State Museum Studies is designated a Distinctive, High-Quality Program by the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education (WICHE) and a participant in the Western Regional Graduate Program (WRGP), which offers tuition reciprocity to applicants who reside in the 15 westernmost states.

Minor in Museum Studies

Established in 2016, the undergraduate Minor in Museum Studies is rigorous, interdisciplinary and pre-professional in nature. Coursework emphasizes acquiring knowledge in museum practice and theory to understand the public service role of museums and to apply this knowledge to support the work of museums in creating exhibits, educating the public and caring for collections through collaborative efforts.

Students gain a useful set of pre-professional skills in museum practice and relevant information about museum theory and history. They learn about future careers in museums and informal educational settings. Written, oral and critical thinking skills are developed to evaluate the work of museums.

The Museum Studies minor prepares students for the terminal M.A. degree in Museum Studies or for additional on-the-job training for work in museums. Graduates will appreciate the role and power of museums in the world as centers of learning, enjoyment and community engagement, and as stewards of cultural and natural heritage.

Course Offerings at SF State Museum Studies

View a complete listing of all courses in Museum Studies in the SF State Bulletin.