The Master of Liberal Arts, Museum Studies degree field consists of 10 courses (40 credits), with a minimum of two courses on campus. Weekend options available.
- Review the details below to learn more about the curriculum and course selection.
- Determine your initial admission eligibility.
- Complete the 2 courses for admission.
10 Graduate Courses
The museum studies program is customizable. Within the program curriculum, you choose the museum studies electives that support your learning goals.
- Introduction to Museum Studies
- Six electives from any of the following areas:
- Business of museums
- Collections care
- Exhibition design
- Museum education
- Optional internship or additional elective
- Precapstone tutorial (noncredit)
Your specific capstone topic is approved by your assigned research advisor. You enroll in the precapstone and capstone courses in back-to-back semesters and in your final academic year.
Below are our initial eligibility requirements and an overview of our unique admissions process to help get you started. Be sure to visit Degree Program Admissions for full details.
- Prior to enrolling in any degree-applicable courses, you must possess a four-year regionally accredited US bachelor’s degree or its foreign equivalent. Foreign bachelor’s degrees must be evaluated for equivalency.
- You cannot already have or be in the process of earning a master’s degree in museum studies or a related field. Check your eligibility.
The Admissions Office makes all final determinations about program eligibility.
Earning Your Way In
To begin the admission process, you simply register—no application needed—for the following two, graduate-level degree courses (available online):
- MUSE 100 Introduction to Museum Studies
- MUSE 102 Proseminar: Introduction to Graduate Studies and Scholarly Writing in Museum Studies
- Before registering, you’ll need to pass our online test of critical reading and writing skills or earn a B or higher in the EXPO 42a Writing in the Humanities (counts as an elective).
- You have two attempts to earn the minimum grade of B in the proseminar (a withdrawal grade counts as an attempt). The proseminar cannot be more than two years old at the time of application.
The two courses don’t need to be taken in a particular order or in the same semester, but each course must be completed with a grade of B or higher, without letting your overall Harvard cumulative GPA dip below 3.0.
Applying to the Degree Program
During the semester of your second degree course, submit the official application to the program.
Don’t delay! It is critical to prioritize the two degree courses for admission and apply before completing subsequent courses. By doing so, you’ll avoid the delayed application fee or the loss of credit for expired course work, while gaining access to exclusive benefits (see below).
Eligible students who submit a complete and timely application will have 8 more courses after admission to earn the degree.
For details about eligibility, the application process, and application fees, visit Degree Program Admissions.
The Harvard On-Campus Experience
Most courses can be taken online, but the degree requires a Harvard campus experience. You come to Cambridge for at least two courses (8 credits), which offers you in-person access to faculty, campus resources, and the academic community.
On-campus requirements can be completed through any combination of the following:
- Courses that combine weekly online classes over a semester with an intensive weekend on campus.
- Three-week January courses that meet only on campus.
- Three- or seven-week summer courses that meet only on campus.
- Active-learning weekends (two credits each; complete two to earn full course credit).
Accelerated on-campus path: two or three intensive weekends.
International Students Who need a Student Visa
To meet the capstone requirement, you complete an independent study, and to meet the on-campus requirement, you study with us in the summer. You can easily request an I-20 for the F-1 student visa through Harvard Summer School’s three- or seven-week sessions. For more information, see International Student Study Options page.
To Complete Your Degree
Required GPA, Withdrawal Grades, and Repeat Courses
GPA. You need to earn a B or higher in each of the two degree courses required for admission and a B– or higher in each of the subsequent courses. In addition, your cumulative GPA cannot dip below 3.0.
Withdrawal Grades. You are allowed to receive two withdrawal (WD) grades without them affecting your GPA. Any additional WD grades count as zero in your cumulative GPA. See Academic Standing.
Repeat Courses. We advise you to review the ALM program’s strict policies about repeating courses. Generally speaking, you may not repeat a course to improve your GPA or to fulfill a degree requirement (if the minimum grade was not initially achieved). Nor can you repeat a course for graduate credit that you’ve previously completed at Harvard Extension School or Harvard Summer School at the undergraduate level.
Your capstone project needs to focus on one of the five concentrations: (1) business of museums, (2) collections care, (3) exhibition design, (4) museum education, or (5) technology. Whatever focus you choose, you must have at least two courses completed in that concentration before you propose your capstone idea. If not, the project will not be approved.
You can complete an 4-credit internship in a museum here in Cambridge (e.g., in a Harvard University or Boston-area museum) or in a museum near your home. In lieu of the internship, you complete an additional four-credit elective.
Finish Your Coursework in Under Five Years
Courses over five years old at the point of admission will not count toward the degree.
You have five years to complete your degree requirements. The five-year timeline begins at the end of the term in which you complete any two degree-applicable courses, regardless of whether or not you have been admitted to the degree program.
Potential degree candidates must plan accordingly and submit their applications to comply with the five-year course expiration policy or they risk losing degree credit for completed course work. Additionally, admission eligibility will be jeopardized if, at the point of application to the program, the five-year degree completion policy cannot be satisfied (i.e., too many courses to complete in the time remaining).
Graduate with Your Harvard Degree
When you have fulfilled all degree requirements, you will earn your Harvard University degree: Master of Liberal Arts (ALM) in Extension Studies, Field: Museum Studies. Degrees are awarded in November, March, and May, with the annual Harvard Commencement ceremony in May.