Today we have a lovely post from Carolyn Corrigan, looking at the Certificate in Museum Studies program from Boston University. For the most part we’ve only had posts about full MA programs, so I’m pleased to have a review of a certificate program to provide more diversity. Carolyn is currently in the process of setting up her final internship for the spring semester. This past summer she interned at two museums in Cleveland, OH: in the collections management department of the International Women’s Air and Space Museum, and the education and public programs department of the Western Reserve Historical Society. While her program has great reach in museums across the country, Carolyn was pleased to attain her internships without such networking. I can also say from the summer I lived in Boston that she’s not wrong about the Peabody Essex Museum being worth the trip to Salem!
School: Boston University
Degree: Certificate in Museum Studies
Location: Boston, MA
Program Emphasis: Museum History and Theory, Curation, Arts Administration, Practicum
While the museum certificate at Boston University is open to non-degree students, the majority of people in the program pursue the certificate in combination with other course work. In my case, a master’s degree in the History of Art and Architecture. The certificate program is also open to undergraduate students. Because of this, this program brings together a varied group of students from archaeology, fine arts, art history, and arts administration.
The certificate is awarded after the completion of four courses: The Museum and Historical Agency, a curatorship seminar, an internship and an elective which is often filled with another internship. If you choose to pursue the certificate in conjunction with a M.A. in art history you will have to complete an internship during the summer in order to graduate in two years. Fortunately, if you do this you get a bit of a price break and it gives you the freedom to look for internships outside of Boston if you wish.
Now on to the practical part: money and jobs. BU doesn’t have a lot of money and what they do have goes towards the PhD students so you probably won’t get funding. However, BU has just been named one of the top 10 schools in the US for job placement and 17th worldwide (see article here). I have also been told by more than one source that BU M.A. students from the History of Art and Architecture program go on to get good jobs and that the certificate makes you more likely to get an interview. As a part of the Museum and Historical Agency class that I was in, we went to the Institute of Contemporary Art and met with an alum of the program who stressed that the certificate was instrumental in gaining her current position.
Probably the best thing about this program is its location, especially if you love American art as I do. The Museum of Fine Arts is colossal and recently completed a renovation which includes brand new galleries for its American and contemporary collection. As a BU student you get in for free! Right next door to the MFA is the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum which is a must-see. The Institute of Contemporary Art is also in a brand new and quite impressive building. In addition to these institutions, there are also the museums at Harvard and MIT, the Boston Public Library, the Boston Athenaeum and New York City is just bus ride away! I personally recommend taking the train up to Salem to see the Peabody Essex Museum.
The reason this program appealed to me was that I knew I wanted to get my master’s in art history, but also wanted to make myself an attractive candidate for museum positions. This program does just that. If you’re looking for a program that is all museum work all the time, then this isn’t the program for you.
I find that the certificate program at BU gives you a nice balance between pursuing academic interests and research, and developing practical skills.