Museum Studies

WIU Museum Studies

The Museum Studies Graduate Program prepares future museum professionals for a variety of leadership roles within museums and cultural institutions.

The program builds upon each student’s previous studies while teaching about the educational efforts, collections, and collaborative partnerships that make museums essential to our communities. Students gain a foundational understanding of the history of museums, knowledge of the best practices, and problem-solving strategies needed to meet the challenges of a dynamically changing field. Emphasis is placed on experiential and professional learning opportunities tailored to each student’s area of interest and needs.

Faculty leading and teaching in the program have academic and professional experience in museums and related disciplines, and are recognized nationally and internationally for their teaching, research, publications, and professional service.

In addition to courses in museum studies, the program offers coursework through other departments including Recreation, Park and Tourism Administration and is further enhanced by partnerships with locally situated museums and cultural institutions that serve as the program’s training laboratories.

With a degree in Museum Studies, you can work in a wide variety of settings including:

  • Art museums
  • History museums
  • Children's museums
  • Zoos and aquaria
  • National and state park museums and visitors centers
  • Science and technology museums
  • Outdoor education centers

As a practicing museum professional your work can include:

  • Managing and caring for museum collections
  • Hosting exhibitions and special events
  • Engaging in educational outreach
  • Designing exhibits
  • Providing interpretive programming for visitors
  • Performing research and publication activities
  • Administrating museum resources and personnel

The Western Illinois University Master's/Certificate program in Museum Studies focusses on professional preparation and requires an internship rather than a thesis as the exit option for graduation. Admission to the program does not require the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and instead is based on grade point average, current resume, letters of recommendation, and an essay statement of academic and professional interest.

Preference will be given to applicants who come from the following background areas:

  • Art
  • Recreation, Park & Tourism Administration
  • Anthropology
  • Education
  • History

Western Illinois University offers instate tuition for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin residents. The Museum Studies Master's program requires 34 semester hours, and the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate program requires 18 semester hours. A majority of Master's seeking students complete the Master's degree in 18 months.

  • Executive Director - Campbell Center for Historic Preservation Studies
  • Director, Pentacrest Museums at the University of Iowa
  • Administrator - Bishop Hill Heritage Association
  • Curator - Amana Colonies
  • Adult Programming Coordinator - Nelson - Atkins Museum of Art
  • Assistant Director and Curator - German American Heritage Center
  • Manager - Member and Donor Relations Development - Shedd Aquarium
  • Membership Coordinator - Science Museum of Minnesota
  • Visitor Services Manager - Milwaukee Art Museum
  • Museum Outreach Educator - Figge Art Museum
  • Assistant Curator - Herbert Hoover Presidential Library and Museum
  • Associate and Museum Internship Coordinator - Albright - Knox Art Gallery
  • Collections Assistant - National Mississippi River Museum
  • Executive Director - Pella Historial Society and Tulip Time Festival
  • Preparator - Northern Arizona University Art Museum
  • Educator - Play Museum of Illinois State Museum
  • Account Manager/Special Events - Field Museum
  • Museum Educator - Putnam Museum and Science Center
  • Research Assistant - Grout Museum District


The Museum Studies Program offers several semester-long assistantships that provide a full tuition waiver and a monthly stipend. Students receiving an assistantship are required to work 13 hours a week doing a variety of administrative and/or research tasks. Assistantships are hosted at variety of Quad Cities area museums and cultural organizations.

Inquiries about assistantships should be made to:

Heidi Lung, Ph.D.
Director, WIU Museum Studies