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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 11, 2008 | Vol. 37 No. 21
JHU Launches Online Museum Studies Graduate Program

Degree focuses on technology, learning environments, management and collaboration

By Ken Schappelle
School of Arts and Sciences

Students anywhere in the world interested in a career in museums can now earn a Johns Hopkins University master of arts degree in museum studies in an innovative online program.

The program, offered by Advanced Academic Programs in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, received Maryland Higher Education Commission endorsement in October.

"The aim of the museum studies program is to provide a perspective on the theory and practice of museums in a changing technological, social and political environment for current and future museum professionals," said Robert Kargon, the Willis K. Shepard Professor of the History of Science at Johns Hopkins and chair of the new program. "It emphasizes the role of technology as a pervasive aspect in today's museum; examines new models of education, exhibition and business strategies; and explores the role of the museum as an agent of social change."

The associate program chair, Phyllis Hecht, formerly of the National Gallery of Art and co-editor of The Digital Museum: A Think Guide, has recruited faculty from academia and the museum community. "Our students will learn from the experts in the field and will become the visionary leaders of tomorrow's museums," she said. The curriculum features the most up-to-date museum theory and practice, and the online format of the program allows for innovative teaching methods.

Sarah Steinberg, associate dean of Advanced Academic Programs, said, "The university is dedicated to a bold initiative of offering quality distance learning in a robust, interactive and asynchronous online format. The MA in museum studies is particularly exciting because of the vast potential to draw students from around the world, which will create a truly rich dynamic."

Nine online classes and one onsite seminar are required to complete the master of arts in museum studies. All online classes are offered as asynchronous learning experiences, allowing maximum flexibility in a student's schedule. Course content is delivered mainly via text notes, voice-over PowerPoint, streaming video and threaded discussions to provide a connection between students and faculty through visual, auditory and text-driven interactions. Classes are kept small to encourage active community building among students and between students and faculty.

A short but intensive period of on-ground museum experience is required to complete the degree. This face-to-face summer classroom component takes place in Washington, D.C., where students will visit museums, meet high-level museum professionals, attend symposia and participate in a hands-on project. To further encourage working with objects and gaining hands-on experience in a museum, the program will support and help arrange optional supervised projects at museums in a student's home area.

For more information on the program, go to


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