Critical Museum Studies MA

Art gallery.
Cravens Collection display.
Anderson Gallery.

What is Critical Museum Studies?

Critical Museum Studies offers a theoretically informed and politically engaged perspective on the current museum field.

Critical Museum Studies is a pre-professional interdisciplinary MA program under the aegis of Anthropology, Art, Arts Management, Classics and Media Study. Students take core and elective courses through the participating departments and programs, thereby insuring that an interdisciplinary perspective is built into the program.

The museum world is in the midst of new pressures and is struggling with shifting paradigms, attempting to negotiate perhaps the most seismic changes since its 19th century origins. Today, as museums negotiate a digital shift in a newly globalized museum world, a host of new pressures have arisen. The demands of social media and edutainment as well as digital heritage and repatriation are among only the most visible of these rapidly shifting paradigms. As private capital increasingly pours into the new genre of the private or single benefactor museums, traditional city museums are correspondingly impoverished. A series of recent “culture wars” turned on museum exhibitions, making the museum not only the newly politicized arbiter of official culture, but placing it in the cross hairs of as yet unresolved cultural skirmishes. Adding to these woes, newly vocal populations are beginning to question their invisibility within traditional museums, even as new “identity” oriented museums continue to develop.

A newly emerged for-profit museum model, with vastly different standards of educational import, and even historical accuracy, is drawing visitors who view the museum exclusively in terms of entertainment. Even some non-profit museums have begun to operate as entertainment complexes. Increasingly communities view museums as an integral part of the local economy, a reliable generator of tourist dollars, increasing the pressure on museums to be more widely popular and less the preserve of the specialist. Yet even as new museums proliferate, these pressures go largely unaddressed.

The MA in Critical Museums Studies, a new museum studies degree for the 21st Century, will instead place these issues front and center.

MA Program Plan

The MA will consist of a minimum of 36 credit hours and will be entirely self-funded. No TA support is available for this program. All students are required to take core and elective courses offered by the participating departments/programs, write a thesis and complete an internship program.

Program Admission

February 15 is the application deadline. Applications received after February 15 will be considered on a rolling basis, thus to maximize your chances for admission submit your application before February 15.


A Bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution with a GPA (or equivalent) of 3.2 or above unless a compelling explanation justifies a lower GPA.  

Application Instructions:


To be reviewed for admission you must fill out the supplemental questions on the application for international students and upload the following documentation to your application.

These documents should be uploaded to your applicant status portal.

International applicants must also provide the following:

  1. Complete the Financial Form with supporting bank documents;
  2. Officially verified TOEFL score from ETS;
  3. English translation of transcript;
  4. Proof of degree; and
  5. Copy of passport.

If you have questions about these documents, please ask - we are happy to help!

Jaume Franquesa

Interim Director of Studies, Critical Museum Studies

Department of Anthropology

380 Academic Center, Ellicott Complex

Phone: (716) 645-0402


Maria Portera

Graduate Program Coordinator

Department of Anthropology

380 Academic Center, Ellicott Complex

Phone: (716) 645-6242