History: Museum Studies (M.A.)

History: Museum Studies (M.A.)
History student and professor

Why get an M.A. in history with an option in museum studies?

The museum studies option combines practical museum experience with solid academic training. Gain an advanced understanding of how societies, cultures, economics, politics, science and arts of the past have shaped today’s world. Enhance your academic training with two internships, where you’ll learn to research and design exhibits, catalog and interpret collections, develop and implement education programs for elementary and secondary school students, conduct oral histories and prepare public programming. In this graduate program, you’ll be trained in historical research methods and writing that will prepare you for a variety of positions in museums and other forums for public history.

Why choose UNH for your degree?

UNH’s internationally recognized history faculty have won some of the most important prizes in the profession, including the Pulitzer and Bancroft prizes and Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships. Surveys of scholarly productivity among faculty at comparable research universities have placed us among the top 20% of history departments nationwide. Internships at local historical sites put your academic knowledge into practice while introducing you to a network of museum professionals. Located near the New Hampshire Seacoast and southern Maine, within easy driving distance of Boston, central and northern New England, UNH is ideally situated to take advantage of numerous historical sites and museums.

Potential career areas

  • Academia 
  • Cinema/theatre 
  • Collection management 
  • Government humanities programs 
  • Historic site management/preservation
  • Historic trades skill and practice 
  • Journalism 
  • Museum administration/education
  • Museum/historic site curator/interpreter
  • Nonprofit management
  • Publishing 
  • Private fine arts services

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  • Sofia standing in front of museum
    History: Museum Studies M.A. | Museum Director
    Sofia Thornblad is executive director of the Horatio Colony House Museum in Keene, NH. She was previously an intern at the museum and was able to learn many of the position’s responsibilities during that time.
    Learn More

Curriculum & Requirements

The Department of History at the University of New Hampshire offers an option in Museum Studies for students pursuing the Master of Arts degree in history. The Museum Studies program combines practical museum experience with solid academic training to prepare students for a variety of positions in museums and other forums for public history. Located near the seacoast of New Hampshire and southern Maine, within easy driving distance of Boston as well as much of central and northern New England, the University of New Hampshire is ideally situated to take advantage of its close proximity to numerous historical sites and museums.

The MA in History: Museum Studies requires the completion of at least 30 graduate credits.  Students pursuing the option in museum studies will be required to take ten courses in the History Department, including HIST 871 Museum Studies, either HIST 872 Studies in Regional Material Culture or HIST 880 Special Topics in Museum Studies/Material Culture, and two internships at museums or other historic sites. In developing academic concentrations, students work with a nationally recognized faculty with a broad range of expertise.

The final requirement is either a one-hour oral examination demonstrating competence in museum studies and another field of history (e.g. Early American History, the Atlantic World, Women's History, etc.) chosen by the student in consultation with the Graduate Director OR completion of a major project related to the student's interest in Museum Studies. Both require a three member supervisory committee of UNH History faculty.


As part of the Museum Studies program, students enhance their academic training through internships offered at local historical sites. In the past, interns have worked side by side with museum staff on a variety of singular projects as well as regular museum work, including:

  • researching and designing exhibits
  • cataloging and interpreting collections
  • developing and implementing education programs for elementary and secondary school students
  • conducting oral histories
  • public programming

The internships allow students to put their academic knowledge to work in specific settings while introducing them to the network of museum professionals. The internship coordinator for the department will help place students in suitable sites.

Please consult the History Department's Graduate Student Handbook for additional details.

Professional Opportunities

Many of our students earning masters and doctorate degrees have gone on to careers in museums and other public history venues. In recent years, one student completing his doctorate took a position as assistant director of the Margaret Chase Smith Library; several graduates of the masters program work in local museums, including the American Independence Museum, Canterbury Shaker Village, the Currier Museum of Art, Strawbery Banke Museum, and the Wright Museum. One doctoral student has been hired as a Program Officer with the New Hampshire Humanities Council, and several others have participated in public lecture series. Given the past success in placement and the continued interest in public history, the Museum Studies option provides exciting professional opportunities for graduate students at the University of New Hampshire.

This graduate program is approved to be taken on an accelerated basis in articulation with certain undergraduate degree programs.

General Accelerated Master's policy, note that some programs have additional requirements (e.g. higher grade expectations) compared to the policy.

Please see the Graduate School website and contact the department directly for more information.

N.B. MA students with a concentration in Museum Studies/Public History are reviewed twice, since they are members of the regular MA program and are assessed there, as well as being evaluated under the following assessment:

In addition to demonstrating mastery of the requirements for the MA in History--historical content knowledge, familiarity with historiography in US, European, or a field of their choice, critical inquiry, research and writing skills—museum studies/public history students will be able to do the following:

  • understand and adhere to the highest and best practices of the field.
  • demonstrate knowledge of the sub-discipline of museum studies, its history, its historiography and the current, overarching paradigms, theories, and ethics that define professional practice.
  • master current methods and skills in historical documentation and interpretation to make history accessible and useful to the public, including basic technology skills and/or use of experiential archaeology.
  • embody a set of professional dispositions and abilities critical to the success of museum professionals, including: flexibility, empathy, leadership, and diplomacy. They will be able to work collaboratively, organize and manage projects, and communicate effectively both orally and in writing.
  • understand the institutional landscape of public history, including a familiarity with the governance and organizational structures and funding support for non-profits and the federal sector.
  • become active members of their professional communities by undertaking two formal, professional internships.

Apply now


Applications must be completed by the following deadlines in order to be reviewed for admission:

  • Fall: Feb. 1; April 10 (for UNH juniors/seniors applying to the Accelerated Masters program only)
  • Spring: Nov 10 (Spring only allowed for UNH juniors/seniors applying to the Accelerated Masters program and other approved applicants)
  • Summer: N/A
  • Special: N/A

Application fee: $65

Campus: Durham

Accelerated Masters: Yes (for more details see the accelerated masters information page)

New England Regional: CT ME VT RI

New Hampshire Residents

Students claiming in-state residency must also submit a Proof of Residence Form. This form is not required to complete your application, but you will need to submit it after you are offered admission or you will not be able to register for classes.


If you attended UNH or Granite State College (GSC) after September 1, 1991, and have indicated so on your online application, we will retrieve your transcript internally; this includes UNH-Durham, UNH-Manchester, UNH Non-Degree work and GSC. 

If you did not attend UNH, or attended prior to September 1, 1991, then you must upload a copy (PDF) of your transcript in the application form. International transcripts must be translated into English.

If admitted, you must then request an official transcript be sent directly to our office from the Registrar's Office of each college/university attended. We accept transcripts both electronically and in hard copy:

  • Electronic Transcripts: Please have your institution send the transcript directly to grad.school@unh.edu. Please note that we can only accept copies sent directly from the institution.
  • Paper Transcripts: Please send hard copies of transcripts to: UNH Graduate School, Thompson Hall- 105 Main Street, Durham, NH 03824. You may request transcripts be sent to us directly from the institution or you may send them yourself as long as they remain sealed in the original university envelope.

Transcripts from all previous post-secondary institutions must be submitted and applicants must disclose any previous academic or disciplinary sanctions that resulted in their temporary or permanent separation from a previous post-secondary institution. If it is found that previous academic or disciplinary separations were not disclosed, applicants may face denial and admitted students may face dismissal from their academic program.

Letters of recommendation: 3 required

Recommendation letters submitted by relatives or friends, as well as letters older than one year, will not be accepted.

Personal Statement/Essay Questions

Prepare a brief but careful statement regarding:

  1. Reasons you wish to do graduate work in this field, including your immediate and long-range objectives.
  2. Your specific research or professional interest and experiences in this field.

Additional Department Requirements

All applicants must submit a writing sample with their application.

Important Notes

All applicants are encouraged to contact programs directly to discuss program-specific application questions.

International Applicants

Prospective international students are required to submit TOEFL, IELTS, or equivalent examination scores. English Language Exams may be waived if English is your first language. If you wish to request a waiver, then please visit our Test Scores webpage for more information.

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