Certificate in Museum Studies

Did you know that there are over 150 museums in the state of Alabama alone?

  • Are you majoring in art, history, anthropology/archeology, art history, natural science, literature, or theatre?
  • Have you ever wanted to work in a history, science, or art museum, national park, historic site, gallery, auction house, library, zoo, aquarium, or the cultural non-profit sector?
  • Do you want to be an educator, curator, public historian, conservator, arts administrator, designer, interpreter, archivist, gallerist, appraiser, grant writer, or public relations, digital technology, or development officer for a museum or cultural non-profit?

If you said “yes,” the Museum Studies Certificate is for you!

What is “Museum Studies”?

A museum is an institution that cares for (conserves) a collection of artifacts and other objects of artistic, cultural, historical, or scientific importance. Broadly speaking libraries and archives, along with National Parks, fall under the umbrella of museums. There are about 35,000 museums in the United States and over 850 million visits to American museums per year. Museums directly contribute more than $21 billion to the national economy. Over 400,000 people nationwide are employed by museums and museums invest more than $2 billion a year in education. Museums are operated by nonprofits and for-profits, colleges, universities, and every level of government.

“Museum studies” considers all aspects of the theory and practice of museum operations, including the history and background of museums, their role in society, their general organizational structure, and specifics regarding best practices for museum operations, collections care, collections management and registration, conservation, and administration, along with professional standards for research, education, and interpretation.

Museum work is a highly specialized field, which requires significant specialized knowledge about the care, maintenance, interpretation, and preservation of collections. Practical knowledge of how museums work and best practices in collections care and management, along with hands-on experience working in a museum through an internship, is integral to employment in this area. Students who complete the Museum Studies Certificate will be uniquely qualified to enter a variety of cultural positions and museum employment. Museum Studies positions include educator, curator, conservator, arts administrator, designer, interpreter, archivist, gallerist, appraiser, grant writer, or public relations, digital technology, or development officer for a museum, in the cultural non-profit sector, or government agencies related to the arts and humanities.

Our flexible, interdisciplinary Museum Studies Certificate program gives students the knowledge, skills, and information they need to succeed in the non-profit sector. The program trains students in the history, theory, organization, and best practices of collections-based institutions and museums. There is also a focus on historical and archival research and writing methods. Students enroll in four courses – Historical Methods, Theory and Method of Museums, and two electives – plus an internship, gaining practical hands-on experience in the field. Our program is accredited for undergraduate and graduate degree-seeking students and post-professionals.


Who are we?

  • We are the only Museum Studies Program in Central Alabama
  • Our required classes are project-oriented with low caps on enrollment
  • We work with you to select elective courses that fit your career goals
  • We have internship partnerships with numerous regional institutions
  • We employ area collections, professionals, and resources in the classroom
  • Our students utilize the University Art Collection to curate exhibitions
  • Our program Director is an art historian with 10+ years of museum experience

We teach you how museums work and set you up with an internship so that you gain hands-on experience – a must in order to land a museum job. We have Internship partnerships with over 15 area institutions, but students can also look further afield. For example, our students have held competitive summer internships at the High Museum in Atlanta, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Historic Deerfield in Massachusetts, the Dallas Museum of Art, and with The Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection of the University of Virginia.

Museum Studies Certificate Program (15 credit hours)

Five 3-credit hour courses: 2 Required Courses; 1 Internship; 2 Electives

  1. HIST 3940/6930 Historical Methods– An examination of the techniques and methods employed in the research and writing of history with an emphasis on developing research skills using archival sources and government documents. (offered every Fall semester)
  2. VISU 3600/6600 Theory and Method of Museum Studies– A survey of the history, function, and organizational structure of art museums. Focuses on the philosophy of museum collecting and the museum’s relationship to the larger community. (offered every other Spring, odd years)
  3. VISU 4922/6922 Internship – Museum Studies students are required to successfully complete 3 credit hours of internship (the equivalent of 140 work hours) in an approved museum or institution.
  4. Advanced elective selected in consultation with the Museum Studies Certificate Coordinator
  5. Advanced elective selected in consultation with the Museum Studies Certificate Coordinator

Remember to keep in regular contact with the Museum Studies Certificate Coordinator. They will help you map out your Museum Studies Certificate courses and select appropriate electives. They will also help to plan your Internship, guiding you through the application process, pairing you with an institution, and overseeing your experience.


When you declare your intention to graduate from AUM, you will need to file this signature form with the Registrar’s Office. This form demonstrates that you have successfully completed all of the requirements for the Museum Studies Certificate, which will be awarded to you upon graduation.

For more information, contact the Fine Arts Department: [email protected]

*Museums include all types of “collections-based institutions,” including:

  • Aquarium
  • Anthropology Museum
  • Arboretum
  • Art Museum
  • Archive
  • Botanical Garden
  • Children’s Museum
  • Culturally Specific Museum
  • Hall of Fame
  • Historic House
  • Historic Site
  • Historical Society
  • History Museum
  • Library
  • Military/Battlefield
  • National Park
  • Nature Center
  • Natural History Museum
  • Planetarium
  • Presidential Library
  • Science/Technology Museum
  • Specialized Museum
  • Transportation Museum
  • Visitor Center
  • Zoo

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