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Academic Programs

Museum Studies: Learning and Engagement in Museums and Cultural Organizations


  • Program Overview

    Are you ready to invest in building your capacity to make change happen?

    Our Learning and Engagement in Museums and Cultural Organizations degree offers you an opportunity to prepare for new and exciting professional opportunities to help organizations strengthen civil society through innovative programming, educational resources, community engagement initiatives, and visitor programs for a diversity of people, including both children and adults. The program introduces you to the field and its many dimensions, advances your professional and educational practice, and builds your capacity to make change happen, both at an institution and within our communities.

    This is a blended program. Coursework is done mostly online, complemented by five short, face-to-face weekend meetings in each of the two years, plus one weeklong summer session. During the face-to-face meetings, we visit organizations, observe programs, hold small workshops, and meet with professionals at their worksites.

    This program will prepare you to work as an educator or public programmer who designs and implements a variety of learning and community engagement programs for cultural and non-profit organizations with educational missions. The range of organizations include art, history, nature, science, and children’s museums, historic sites, gardens, parks, performing arts centers, zoos, aquariums, libraries, and community centers, among others.

    This New York State approved program, launching in fall 2021,  culminates in a Masters in Science in Education and requires 36 credits.


    bank street graduate students on a class field trip to a museum

  • Admissions Requirements

    In addition to admissions requirements applicants to this program should note:

    Ideal applicants are actively seeking regular work in the sector or are several years into their career. They should demonstrate involvement or connections with a museum, library, community or cultural (non-profit) organization, either through full-time, part-time, or as-needed employment, or through volunteer work, undergraduate coursework related to education in the arts/museums, classroom teaching or internship experiences that includes a history of interactions with museums or cultural organizations, or a combination of the above. If you have questions about your eligibility, you are encouraged to contact the Program Director.

    This NYS-approved program will launch in fall 2021.

    bank street graduate students visit a museum

  • Coursework

    This is a blended, two-year program, approved by New York State. Courses are mostly held online to accommodate students from the New York City area, as well as students who live at a distance. To complement your online studies, students will also come together for in-person learning in New York City during one summer weeklong session and up to five weekends per year. Your courses, both online and in person, will be led by faculty with teaching and museum backgrounds and will include working museum professionals.

    In the first year, you’ll build your understanding of the range of education-related work at a variety of institutions and the theories and best practices that support these endeavors. These foundations include the nature of learning and human development, diversity and access, teaching with objects, designing educational spaces, and technology-enabled learning.

    In the second year, you’ll build practical skills for the profession, including developing curricula and programs, preparing grant proposals, and conducting visitor research. You’ll have many opportunities to intern and/or shadow more experienced educators and will be encouraged to focus on your individual goals and abilities while increasing your capacities for leading change, working collaboratively with others, and advocating for greater diversity and inclusion.

    Here is a list of course topics*:

    • Educational and Social Role of Museums and Cultural Organizations
    • Learning Theories
    • Human Development (children, adults)
    • Teaching and Learning with Objects
    • Digital Learning
    • Programming with Diverse Publics
    • Designing Educational Spaces and Exhibits
    • Partnerships and Collaborations
    • Understanding Users/Audiences
    • Curriculum Planning
    • Leadership Workshop
    • Grant Writing Workshop
    • Organizational Dynamics
    • Professional Development
    • Internships/Shadowing Professionals


    • Individual Advising and Conference Groups each semester
    • One Summer Institute (on campus)
    • 10 two/three day meetings in NYC every other month fall/spring


    museum studies graduate students on a field trip to a museum

  • Supervised Fieldwork/Advisement

    Supervised fieldwork and advisement experiences are a significant part of all of Bank Street’s programs, which is one of the ways this program stands apart in this niche field of graduate education. Through advisement and on-site visits from program advisers—many of whom are professionals working in the field—and close collaboration with peers and alumni in your region, you’ll connect theory learned in class to your own hands-on practice. You’ll also build community through student-to-student conference groups that provide a forum to reflect deeply on your own practical training and your growth as educators. Supervised fieldwork experiences will include:

    • Coaching and advisement sessions from an educational leader with extensive experience working in museums and cultural institutions
    • Sharing work experiences with your peers through small conference groups held online and in person
    • Visits to your work site from your advisor (and/or possibly Bank Street alumni working in your region) to observe you at work and offer direct feedback
    • Opportunities to shadow experienced professionals and alumni in the field

    Our program has received New York State approval.

    Graduate students in a museum

  • Career Opportunities

    Graduates of our programs have gone on to work in the following types of positions:

    • Coordinators, managers, and directors of education and public programs at non-profit cultural organizations
    • Museum (and related organization) educators working with students and K-12 teachers in schools, as well as with educators working in university museums
    • Educators working with volunteers/docents and public tour guides in a range of organizations
    • Teachers (K-12 and college-level) who enrich their courses with field trips to museums and other cultural organizations
    • Public programmers creating events in a variety of formats for visitors, tourists, children and families, adult learners, and community groups
    • Educators in health, health access, wellness, and empathy programs
    • Professional roles with skills in visitor research, program evaluation, marketing, visitor services; education-related fundraising and development, or education-focused philanthropy
    • Professional roles in exhibition interpretation, interactive spaces, experiential activities, maker spaces, and resource centers
    • Educators designing online content, resources, and print materials
    • Professional roles in visitor services or in work related to learning and non-profit organizational development (i.e., staff training programs)

    This program is New York State approved.

    museum studies graduate students visit a museum

  • Faculty

  • Guest Instructors

    • Marianna Adams, Audience Focus, Dallas
    • Melanie Adams, Minnesota Historical Society
    • Swarupa Anila, Detroit Institute of Arts
    • Leslie Bedford, author, The Art of Museum Exhibitions
    • Lucy Bernholz, Stanford University
    • Jessica Blum-DeStefano, Bank Street College of Education
    • Rika Burnham, Director of Education, Frick Collection
    • Ken Chabotar, Guilford College (r.)
    • Donna Walker Kuhne, author, Invitation to the Party
    • Kathy McLean, Independent Exhibitions, Berkeley
    • Janet Rassweiler, Independent Consultant, NYC
    • Laura Roberts, Consultant, Strategic Planning, Cambridge, MA
    • Gary Schneider, Director, Grounds for Sculpture
    • Deborah Schwartz, Brooklyn Historical Society
    • Marsha Semmel, National Endowment for the Humanities
    • Lois Silverman, author, The Social Work of Museums
    • Emily White, Bank Street College
    • and other guest speakers!
Bank Street taught me about reflection, to know yourself first. I used to come back after classes all fired up. I learned how to manage change, to get to know my colleagues, be receptive to new ideas and methods. Our visit to the Queens Museum taught me the importance of being embedded in a community, of being hyper local, making people feel this space belongs to them.
Leah Golubchick, Teen Programs Coordinator at Brooklyn Public Library, formerly Manager of Middle/High School Programs at AMNH
Grad students in class at a museum

Why Bank Street?

Professional training in this field is a niche educational experience, and Bank Street has a 30-year history of actively training museum educators and leaders who work in a variety of capacities across our nation. Education is our specialty and this program builds on Bank Street’s strengths—active learning through practice, finding your voice, reflecting on learning and experience, and advocating for diversity, change, and equity at the organizations for which we work. In this NYS-approved program, you’ll become part of the Bank Street community and connect with an extensive network of hundreds of alumni across the country.