Woman sitting on gallery floor

About Museum Studies

The museum studies program teaches the specific attitudes, knowledge, and skills required to work with collections and people in specialized settings, including art, science, and history museums, historic houses, aquariums, and zoos.

This dynamic and diverse multidisciplinary program prepares students to become museum leaders for a rapidly changing world. As socially engaged creative thinkers, our students master the practical skills and ethical values necessary to make positive decisions and choices to uplift their communities through museum work.

Museum Studies, M.A.

Museum Studies, Graduate Certificate

Degree Information

With more than 35,000 museums caring for over one billion objects in the United States, there is a growing need for museum professionals in all areas of museum work. Museums play crucial educational and social roles in communities across the country. 

In New York State alone, it is projected that there will be a need for more than 2,400 new museum workers within the next 10 years. Nationally, the museum industry is experiencing robust job growth, faster than the average for all occupations.

While new museums open every year, many older museums are expanding and creating possibilities for new hires. Positions include:

  • Archivist
  • Collections Manager
  • Community Programming Liaison
  • Curator
  • Development Officer
  • Digital Collections specialist
  • Executive Director
  • Exhibit Designer
  • Exhibit Manager
  • Gift shop and Sales Manager
  • Historic House and Site Interpreter
  • Membership Services
  • Museum  and Historic House Tour Guide
  • Museum Administrator
  • Museum Educator
  • National Parks Service Guide
  • Registrar
  • Special Education Programs Specialist
  • Visitor and Guest Services Manager

 

Employment Projections

  • Archivists, curators, and museum workers expected increase of 13%
  • Librarians and archivists, expected increase of 10% expected
  • (Currently, over 720,000 people are employed by museums in the U.S.)

Select List of Student and Alumni Employers

Brooklyn Museum
Buffalo History Museum
Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village
Buffalo Science Museum
Buffalo State College
Castellani Art Museum, Niagara County
Dolce Valvo Art Center, Niagara County
Explore and More Children’s Museum, Buffalo, NY
Fraunces Tavern Museum, New York City
Graycliff Conservancy, Derby, NY
Herschell Carousel Factory Museum, Tonawanda, NY
Museum of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, MS

 

National September 11 Memorial Museum, New York City
Holocaust Resource Center, Buffalo NY
The Octagon Museum, Washington, DC
Pierce Arrow Museum, Buffalo, NY
Rochester Museum and Science Center, Rochester, NY
Roycroft Campus, East Aurora, NY
Seneca Falls Historical Society
Steel Plant Museum of Western New York
Strong Museum of Play, Rochester, NY
SUNY Fredonia
Telfair Museums, Savannah, Georgia
Underground Railroad Heritage Center Niagara Falls, NY

 

Faculty-Guided Research


Student research includes publishing, creating online resources and poster presentations for conferences, and preparing theses, thesis projects, and related exhibits.

Faculty-Focus Profiles

Cynthia A. Conides
Jill M. Gradwell
Nancy Weekly
Noelle Wiedemer

Publishing Opportunities


Our faculty works with graduate students to prepare research for publication and online presentations. Recent student publications and online resources:

Mark Dabney. 2019. “We Had All We Needed: The African American Presence in Buffalo, NY.”  Paper presented at the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, 104th annual meeting and conference: Black Migrations. Charleston, South Carolina, October 2-6, 2019.

Anna Wachtel. 2019. “There is No Glamour Here: The Overseas Life and Letters of Alice Lord O’Brian.” Western New York Heritage, Spring.  

Christine A. Parker. 2018. “Frederick Douglass: Ten Days of a Fugitive Slave in Buffalo.”
Western New York Heritage, Volume 20, no. 4.

Amy Grimes. 2017. The Story of Oswego Refugees: A Virtual Exhibit

Kelsey Reed. 2017. Witnesses: Holocaust-Era Stories. Online Exhibit for the Holocaust Resource Center, Buffalo NY.

Christine A. Parker and Nancy Weekly. 2015. “John E. Brent: Buffalo’s First African American Architect.” Western New York Heritage, Volume 18, no. 3.

Conferences 

Our students have attended and presented research at statewide and national conferences and have had the opportunity to network and engage with other emerging museum professionals. Examples: American Alliance of Museums (AAM); Master’s Level Graduate Research Program (MaRC); The Museum Association of New York (MANY); Phi Alpha Theta; Gravestone Studies Conference; The Costume Society of America.

"I was drawn to the Buffalo State museum studies graduate program because of its intensive connections to the local museums and cultural institutions."

- Kelsey Reed, '18

"An ideal program for me as a museum professional working full time. I value that the program is designed for professionals already working in their field. All of my classes were scheduled in the evening, which allowed me to attend after work."

- Tara (Lyons" Walker, '15

"I chose Buffalo State because of its diverse class offerings—from curatorial, museum education, to museum administration. Plus, I was able to attend classes after work, which I found incredibly helpful as a professional already working in the field."

- Michaela Worosz,'18

"The museum studies program has shaped my career as an emerging museum professional. I have been given numerous opportunities to advance my skills and will continue to use them to further my career goals."

- Drew Boyle, '18

Academic Rigor

Our program is designed to balance theory and practice and classroom learning with practical experience. Students are guided through research and writing which culminates in a thesis or project that is posted to Buffalo State Digital Commons.

Small Class Sizes

Graduate seminars and workshops usually include 8-12 students. Teamwork and collaboration are integrated into all coursework. 

Networking Opportunities

Service-learning and community partnerships are built into classes, providing networking opportunities and the ability to work with a wide range of collections, installations, and community organizations.

Distinguished Faculty

Our distinguished faculty include individuals with strong academic and professional skills, accomplished teachers and researchers who have also worked as museum directors, curators, exhibit designers, and fundraisers.

Getting Published!

Our faculty works with graduate students to prepare research for publication and online presentations. Recent student publications and online resource.

Attend Conferences

Our students have attended and presented research at statewide and national conferences and have had the opportunity to network and engage with other emerging museum professionals.

Karrie Gash Myers headshot
"My internship at the Brooklyn Museum gave me hands-on experience utilizing what I learned during my courses, and it also helped me obtain my current position at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York City."
Karrie (Myers) Gash, '16