CUNY SPS to Offer Museum Studies Master’s Degree

image of the NY Historical Society

Photo of New York Historical Society by April Moore, The Kiosk Photo Editor

The School of Professional Studies is once again introducing new initiatives in higher education for emerging fields, partnering with the New-York Historical Society to offer a Master’s in Museum Studies. It will be a degree like no other museum studies degree.

This collaboration joins a strategic plan to increase a worldwide understanding of how museums work and educate the public through exhibitions, public programs, online outreach, and research that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today.

Some of the goals will be to educate future professionals in how to engage the public, and how to promote groundbreaking exhibitions with dynamic, user-friendly space for the general public for also the disabled, to better showcase exceptional collections and exhibitions.

Photo of Dr. Otte
Dr. George Otte, Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at CUNY SPS.

“The development of any degree program at CUNY is a process; and frankly SPS seeks to have a more nimble and responsive process than some institutions, which can take years; we seek to get it done inside a year,” said by Dr. George Otte, Senior Associate Dean, CUNY School of Professional Studies. “The current process starts with a concept paper reviewed by the Curriculum Committee, which later reviews the full proposal. After all the input from that body, a revised version goes to Government Council; if approved there, the proposal goes to the Committee on Academic Program Policy and Review (CAPPR), the appropriate Board of Trustees committee, and then on to the Board itself. The Museum Studies proposal has gone through all those levels of approval and now has been sent on to the New York State Education Department for its approval.

Something interesting to note is that this partnership was first broached with CUNY School of Professional Studies by Dr. Louise Mirrer, President and CEO of the New-York Historical Society. Dr. Mirrer once served as Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at the City University of New York; for which she designed the CUNY Honors College, introduced American history as a graduation requirement for all 200,000 undergraduate students, and established a major hiring initiative to increase the number of American history faculty throughout the CUNY system.

According to Dr. Otte, “We were struck by how well this opportunity fits the School of Professional Studies, which attempts to bring forward degrees that are pathways to new and emerging fields. This idea came to light after seeing how many museums are being established in our time, how there was no clear pipeline to professionals to work in this area, and how the proposed program could provide be of special interest to working adults, and providing them flexibility in earning a degree. With much of the degree offered online, there is also the opportunity to expand to a national and international reach.”

The projected curriculum is expected to have three foundational “practicum” courses, each with 4 credits. These courses will be designed to give students practical hands-on experiential learning as well as a grounding in theory.

This initiative found support in the Occupational Outlook Handbook for Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers by the U.S. Department of Labor from the Bureau of Labor Statistics; in which the overall national average job employment growth is set at 13 percent, while the New York state average for job employment growth is set at 18 percent from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations. It is also noted: “The need to store information in archives and public interest in science, art, and history, may continue to spur demand for archivists, curators, museum technicians, and conservators.”

Credit: April Moore, Museum of Natural History 79th Street View.
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2 thoughts on “CUNY SPS to Offer Museum Studies Master’s Degree”

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