Frequently Asked Questions

General Information

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, English/Professional writing and Rhetoric , History and Anthropology. Students work closely with faculty to develop individuated plans to maximize career goals.

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.

Due to COVID, all University courses shifted to online modalities in March 2020. Since that time, courses are now being offered in hybrid formats, due to an increase in vaccinations in the area and implementation of rigorous safety protocols at the SF State campus. In Museum Studies, hands-on courses that relate to collections care, exhibits, and public programming are conducted on-site. Review the current class schedule online for details regarding course modalities; enter "M S" in the subject/course number field and select the term you wish to view to return a listing of Museum Studies courses.

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.

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".

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.

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

Depending on funding, teaching assistantships may be available to support the undergraduate minor courses in Museum Studies. Similarly, limited student assistant positions may also be offered with the Global Museum, the research service unit of the Program.

More broadly, 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 strongly recommend that you apply for the FAFSA very early on in your application process, around November-January, to receive a financial package by the time admissions recommendations are finalized in mid-late March.

Yes, we hold several, free admissions events per academic year, when most faculty and key staff are available, either in person or online. Sessions cover basic program and application information, and Q&A with faculty, staff and students, when available. Check back often for forthcoming events.

We cannot defer admission to a later semester, because Museum Studies is an impacted program, meaning there are many more applications than seats available. Please apply for the term you wish to attend.

About the Application

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.

The major code for Museum Studies is 49036.

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.

No, but you will be asked to 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.

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.

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

We welcome all applicants from different disciplines and with diverse work experiences, and encourage you to apply! We only suggest certain areas of study because most museums span these subjects. In fact, some aspects of museum work also encompass business administration, finance, human resources, marketing, environmental studies, and the like. 21st century museum practice increasingly relies on universal, transferable skills, and SF State Museum Studies facilitates connections between your strengths and the range of museum operations.

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.

Some experience in museums is recommended, at least three months of 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. If you're local, you could even volunteer with the Global Museum prior or concurrent to your formal application! Contact us at to inquire about potential volunteer opportunities.

For Fall 2022 admissions, we do not require the GRE for admission, but you can submit scores if you wish.

However, if you are an international applicant, the University requires 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. SF State's TOEFL ETS code is 4683.

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

Confidential letters of recommendation are uploaded by your recommenders through Cal State Apply. Applicants need to provide the email address for at least two recommenders on the CalStateApply application. Recommenders will receive an e-mail from the system 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, and kept confidential from the applicant. It is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure that recommenders upload letters well before our published application 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.

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

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.

    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.

      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.

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