SUNY Oneonta

Master of Arts Degree (M.A.) in History Museum Studies

Department: Cooperstown Graduate Program

For more information about the Program, write to:

Director of Admissions

Cooperstown Graduate Program

PO Box 800

Cooperstown, NY 13326

Department phone number: (607) 547-2586

Fax: (607) 547-8926



Faculty: Gretchen S. Sorin, Director, Cynthia Falk, William Walker, Brian Alexander, Carlyn Buckler, Kathryn Boardman, and staff of the New York State Historical Association and the Farmers’ Museum: Paul D'Ambrosio, President and CEO, and Erin Richardson, Director of Collections.

The Cooperstown Campus: Students have full access to the resources and facilities of the College, but attend classes in Cooperstown, a village 25 miles northeast of Oneonta. Best known as the setting for some of James Fenimore Cooper’s novels and for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, Cooperstown is also the home of the New York State Historical Association, The Farmers’ Museum, and Fenimore Art Museum. The Farmers’ Museum interprets agriculture, crafts, and domestic life in upstate New York, ca. 1845. Fenimore Art Museum contains genre and landscape paintings, decorative arts, textiles, Native American art, and one of the nation’s leading collections of American folk art.

Program history: The Cooperstown Graduate Program (CGP) was established in 1964 in a unique public/private partnership between SUNY Oneonta and NYSHA. Many of its more than 950 alumni have attained prominence in museums and related fields as directors, educators, curators, or programming specialists.

Program Mission: The Cooperstown Graduate Program trains creative, entrepreneurial museum leaders committed to programs for the public good.

Premises: Museums should be essential community institutions dedicated to community service. CGP encourages students to use objects and ideas as catalysts for social discourse. CGP is grounded in the study of science, history, and culture. Graduates are scholars dedicated to developing strong institutions that are central to their communities.

CGP does not normally accept part-time or non-degree students.

Admission Requirements

Applicants must submit:

  1. a completed application and the non-refundable fee. Applications must be on the program's on-line form.
  2. official transcripts of all college work showing earned bachelor’s degree.
  3. official scores from the GRE General Test.
  4. two letters of recommendation. Ideally, one will be from a college faculty member who can attest to ability to complete an M.A. program and one will be from a supervisor or individual qualified to evaluate relevant work experience.

Materials must arrive by January 10 to be considered for the class beginning the following August.

Admission is competitive. The Program accepts up to 30 students each year from three times as many applicants. CGP looks for people who are committed to public service in museums, science centers, historical organizations, and related institutions; who can succeed in an intensive program; and who can work cooperatively with others. The Admissions Committee considers applicants’ grade point average, GRE scores, recommendations, communication skills, and museum experience. A major or minor in history, science, or a related field is helpful, but not required. After reviewing all files, the Committee invites candidates for a weekend of orientation and interviews in Cooperstown in March. The Committee makes its final decisions by late March.

Curriculum: The curriculum is organized around a sequence of required courses in museum studies, material culture, historical research, and the humanities. Students also attend a professional seminar in leadership each semester in residence. Real projects for regional museums provide students with practical experience and capstone projects.

Elective courses in American history, material culture, science and society, art, and folk art; class, race, and gender; museum management; science learning; digital technologies, special topics; and independent study are also offered.

Field trips, guest speakers, attendance at conferences, formal and informal involvement with the activities of area non-profits, career counseling, and internships supplement the curriculum.

Students must take a minimum of twelve credit hours each semester, earn a grade of "B-" in all required courses, and maintain an overall grade point average of 3.00.

Additional General Information

Students pay the State University Tuition and specified College Fees. CGP assesses its own Student Activity Fee.

Fellowships are awarded to students in residence, based on need and academic excellence. Paid assistantships and some tuition waivers are also available.

Degree Requirements: M.A. in History Museum Studies (Regular Track)

Required Courses:

HMUS 500 Introduction to Museums

3 s.h.

HMUS 501 Collections Care & Management

1 s.h.

HMUS 502 Museum Administration

3 s.h.

HMUS 503 Introduction to Museum Education and Interpretation

3 s.h.

HMUS 505 Museum Exhibition

4 s.h.

HMUS 510 Professional Seminar (1 s.h. in each of the four semesters)

4 s.h.

HMUS 515 Museum Project Management

1 s.h.

HMUS 520 Research and Field Work

3 s.h.

HMUS 521 Material Culture Methods

3 s.h.

HMUS 522 Culture and Collections

3 s.h.

HMUS 580 Internship I

1 s.h.

HMUS 698 Thesis Research

3 s.h.

HMUS 699 Thesis Writing

3 s.h.


Required Total: 34 s.h.

Humanities Courses (choose two):

5-6 s.h.

ARTC 530 American Folk Art


ARTC 540 American Art


HISC 502 American Cultures I


HISC 503 American Cultures II


HISC 530 Identity and Activism


HMUS 530 American Material Culture: Gender and Domesticity


HMUS 531 American Material Culture: Modernism and Anti-Modernism


HMUS 536 Major Historical Issues for Museums



9-10 s.h.


Total: 49 s.h.

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