Amanda Gustin brings us our graduate review today, about Tufts University. She is currently working as a Researcher at The Mary Baker Eddy Library, where she handles archival research requests, coordinates the annual exhibition team, and plans and implements public programming for the archives through their First Saturday series. She’s a co-chair of the New England Museum Association’s Young and Emerging Professionals Professional Affinity Group, and a standing member of the American Association for State and Local History’s Religious History Professional Affinity Committee. She also served on the 2012 AASLH Program Committee for the upcoming conference in Salt Lake City. She did undergraduate work in History and French at Middlebury College in Vermont, and received an MA in History and Museum Studies from Tufts University in May 2012. She still edits and writes for the Tufts Museum Studies Blog and blogs under her own name professionally. Thanks for contributing a review, Amanda!
Name of School: Tufts University
Location: Medford, Massachusetts
Program Emphasis: Education, Academics (History, Art History, Classics)
The Museum Studies program at Tufts University – a world-class research university right next to Boston – is one of the oldest in New England, well- respected and well-known at museums throughout the area and beyond. Its alumni are working at every level of the museum field, in every part of the country, across all disciplines.
For the visually inclined, there’s a great video offering an overview of the program, in which yours truly appears a few times. (No, I won’t tell you when.)
Tufts offers a variety of degrees related to museum studies, each with its own strengths andrequirements, so if you have particular questions about the course load for a specialty, make sure to look at its page:
- Certificate in Museum Studies
- MA in Museum Education
- MA in Art History & Museum Studies
- History & Museum Studies
The only two course requirements in museum studies are the foundation course (Museums Today: Mission and Function) and the final internship. Beyond those two courses, Tufts offers a wide variety of topics and specialties, ranging from exhibition planning & design to evaluation, from collections management to philanthropy & fundraising. (Check here for a list of course offerings) Most museum studies courses are in the evenings, making the certificate a particularly attractive option for those who intend to complete the program while working full time.
One of Tufts’ strengths is its series of degrees that pair intensive academic study with professional training in museums. These programs pair an academic discipline with museum studies to offer what is essentially a master’s degree and a certificate rolled into one program. As a graduate of the History & Museum Studies program, I was able to satisfy not only my research interests, participating in graduate reading seminars and conducting an intense final paper, but also my passion for public history and museums. I gained tools both as a scholar and as a museum professional. (The full master’s degrees are trickier, but not impossible, to complete while working full-time, as I did. You’ll need an understanding and supportive boss and many gallons of caffeine, but you can do it.)
Tufts museum studies professors are all active professionals and experts in their field (here are the faculty profiles). Each class also invites guest speakers for outside perspectives and takes field trips to area museums for real-world scenarios and challenges. I had more than one guest speaker or host professional address a class and ask us to brainstorm ideas for current problems facing their institutions. Tufts is particularly good at blending theory and practice, and assignments typically focus on practicing actual skills you’ll need in museums: designing gallery guides from scratch, drafting grant proposals and budgets, writing interpretive plans for groups of objects,aligning education programs with curriculum standards, handling and using conservators’ tools, and navigating the complexities of a nonprofit’s organizational chart and board relations.
The Tufts program is capped by an intensive, 200-hour internship. The program really focuses on finding the right experience for its students, and the evaluation process during and after the internship really trains students to be analytical and honest about their work and their learning, to establish professional contacts within museums, and to do good, useful work. A few days ago, nearly 10 months after I finished my internship at Old Sturbridge Village, I received an email from one of my supervisors following up on a grant that I’d procured and telling me how much it had meant to them in preparing a particular summer program. I was blown away, and felt grateful that I’d been able to have such a meaningful experience. There’s a great list of institutions that have hosted Tufts students here.
For the nitty-gritty details about applying and paying for the program, check How to Apply and the FAQ. Tufts University does offer some financial aid in the form of scholarships to master’s degree students, and certificate students are eligible for federal student loans.
Finally, for those of you who like your information cutting-edge, I am the editor of the Tufts Museum Studies blog, which has gone quieter for the summer but will ramp up again in the fall. We cover museum topics, Tufts-specific events, local networking and learning opportunities, job announcements, and museums in the news.
If you have any further questions about the Tufts program, contact them directly, leave a comment here (I’ll be watching!), or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.