Graduate Curriculum

The Program requires 12 credit hours of coursework plus a practicum experience distributed as follows:

  • A required two-semester proseminar in theoretical, historical and methodological issues in museum studies. This proseminar is overseen by the Program faculty, and engages university faculty and museum practitioners from across the disciplines. This seminar sequence accounts for six hours and is offered each year in the fall and winter terms. Students must commit to enrolling in the two-semester proseminar for the academic year following admission to the program.
  • Six hours of elective study from courses that have been approved by the UMMSP Steering Committee.
  • An internship (practicum) which may be configured as an internship, independent study, or research assistantship, to be carried out within a museum or related institution at the University of Michigan and/or off-campus.


The museum studies proseminar is a year-long course that serves as an introduction to a range of historical and contemporary issues associated with the museum. As such, it provides an intellectual framework for engaging the institution — a means for thinking critically and creatively about museums —  that serves as a foundation for further study and preparation for work in the museum world. In addition to weekly readings and discussion, students meet with members of the U-M faculty, visiting faculty and practitioners from regional museums to explore a set of questions that are central to understanding a complex and dynamic institution. The capstone experience of the proseminar assigns teams of students to work with the staff of a host museum to develop a detailed proposal for an exhibition or related-project, thus offering an opportunity to apply some of the theoretical thinking that has been acquired over the course of the year.

Cognate (Elective) Courses

Cognate courses are intended to allow students to delve more deeply into specific aspects of museum studies. Students are advised to enroll in these courses after completing the proseminar so that they can bring the knowledge and critical perspective acquired in the proseminar to these courses. The current list of Winter 2021 elective courses provides a sampling of courses that can be used to fulfill this requirement. There are many courses that may fulfill the cognate requirement, and students are encouraged to present the course for consideration to the Director of the MSP.

Internship (Practicum)

While the proseminar and cognate courses provide important historical and theoretical grounding, the internship experience (also referred to as a practicum) can offer an opportunity to acquire first-hand experience working in a specific museum setting. The internship requirement is often completed through a field internship, undertaken at a regional, national, or international museum after completion of both terms of the proseminar sequence.

Financial Support

Students admitted to the Museum Studies Program enjoy access to a number of forms of financial support:

MSP Internship Stipend

Students pursuing the MSP Internship are eligible to receive an Internship Stipend awarded to defray travel and living expenses associated with the field internship.

Professional Development Award

Students who have completed the Museum Studies proseminar are eligible to receive a one-time Professional Development Award. For most students, these funds will be used to support attendance at professional meetings.

Fellowship for Doctoral Research in Museums

Three grants of up to $10,000 are awarded each year to MSP students whose dissertation research is explicitly situated in or around museums and related institutions.

Time to Completion

The certificate program can be completed in as little as one calendar year. The Rackham School of Graduate Studies guidelines state that all requirements for the program must be completed within four years. It is recommended that students pursue their practicum as soon after completing the proseminar sequence as possible.