Museum Leadership

Museum Leadership

The M.S. in Museum Leadership program covers the full range of museums—art, history, science, archaeology, zoos, aquariums, arboretums, historic houses, children’s, and folklore. It offers courses that are interdisciplinary, encompassing multiple areas of knowledge and expertise within Drexel and beyond. In addition, the program combines theory, history and practice, and stays on the cutting edge of knowledge and practice in the museum field, in part by hiring instructors who are current leaders in the field of museum leadership. Furthermore, this program addresses the need for increased diversity in the museum workforce, management, collections and programs, and it covers both U.S. and international museum practice. Lastly, it deliberately and thoughtfully includes all members of our communities, cultivating leaders of a range of ages and backgrounds with an awareness and appreciation for diversity in all of its meanings.

The program will require a core of nine 3-credit courses, plus a two-term, 6-credit practicum culminating in a final paper. In addition, students will take four 3-credit electives drawn from those offered by Museum Leadership as well as approved electives in other programs. The practicum will be developed in collaboration with the Academy of Natural Sciences and other area museums.

Required Courses

MUSL 500 Museum History and Philosophy
Examines the scope of the field, the history of museums, museums’ role in society, and recent developments in the 21st century. Examines the evolution of museums, their cultural function, a museum’s obligation to its public, and ethical issues facing museums. 3 credit hours-Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 510 Museum Leadership
Museum boards, governance, board/staff relations, strategic planning and evaluation, individual leadership development, organizational theory and development, working with staff/volunteers, understanding the philanthropic process, and the changing philanthropic and socio-political environment. 3 credit hours-Lecture/Discussion.

MUSM 500 Foundations of Informal Education in Museum Settings
This course explores the goals and importance of learning in contextual environments and how people learn in museum settings. Students study the history and function of informal education in various types of museum settings. Important aspects of the contextual model of learning and strategies for engaging audiences in meaningful learning are explored. Both theoretical and practical dimensions of museum education are included. 3 credit hours-Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 530 Inside the Museum
This course will examine roles in museums including curators, conservators, registrars, educators, programmers, audience development, fundraising, volunteers, etc. Individual roles will be studied as well as the interactions within internal systems in museums. 3 credit hours-Lecture/Discussion.

AADM 610 Financial Accounting for Nonprofit Arts Organizations
This course will cover nonprofit accounting, budgeting, capitalization, stewardship, investment policies, and other topics relevant to the financial management of nonprofit organizations. Students will take this course through the Arts Administration program. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion

AADM 650 Fund Development for the Arts
This course will cover fundraising, development, board management, organizational development, organizational dynamics, entrepreneurism and complex corporate structures, and community relations including the funding and political environment. MUSL Students will take this course through the Arts Administration graduate program. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion

MUSL 670 Museum Communications and Marketing
This course will build students’ communications skills, especially writing for internal and external audiences; building/evaluating websites; interactivity; presenting both live and online; use of social media and other new forms that may arise; use of video/tv live, archived and online. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion

MUSL 710 Bricks and Mortar
This course will prepare students for managing the physical needs of museums. The course will cover real estate, master planning, and project management; the entire built environment including new buildings, renovations, accessibility, wayfinding, green museums, interior design, and building flow. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

INFO 748 Museum Informatics
This course will cover applications of technology in museums; digital archiving; the relationship of physical to digital collections. Prerequisite for MUSL students: MUSL 530 and 650. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 750 Practicum I
First term of practicum in which students work in supervised teams on administrative projects in collaboration with local museums. 3 credit hours – Applied

MUSL 755 Practicum II
Second term of practicum in which students work in supervised teams on administrative projects in collaboration with local museums. Concludes with a final end of term paper. 3 credit hours – Applied


Students will choose 4 electives.

MUSL 630 Exhibitions and Programming (elective)
This course focuses on what goes into planning an exhibition and how different departments in a museum contribute to this kind of project--from curatorial conception to educational programming to design and marketing. Students will gain an understanding of the processes of working with curators, telling a story through an exhibition; and collaborating with other institutions. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 640 The Museum in the Community (elective)
Museums as community builders, not just buildings - examines how museums interact with their communities; changing models for that interaction; culturally specific museums. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 660 The Museum in the Age of Technology (elective)
This course will explore the role of technology in the museum, with an historical overview of the museum's cultural function. How does technology change the visitor's interaction with the object? When does it enhance visitor experience and when does it detract from it? How does technology change basic exhibition concepts? How have new technologies changed the role of the curator and the notion of an authoritarian voice? 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

MUSL 720 Overview of Curatorial Practices (elective)
Students will gain an understanding of curatorial practices, including handling objects, managing collections, conservation, scholarship. The course will review how to inventory and catalogue a collection; conservation issues; legal and ethical obligations pertaining to housing a collection; and professional standards of the field. 3 credit hours – Lecture/Discussion.

Pre-Approved Electives from Other Drexel Programs

Arts Administration Offerings

AADM 620 Law and the Arts
AADM 660 International Cultural Policy
AADM 670 Audience Development
AADM 680 Trends in Fund Development
AADM 710 Strategic Planning and Evaluation
AADM 731 Human Resource Management in the Arts
AADM 753 Visual Arts Organizations Management
AADM 754 Museum Management
AADM 759 Cultural Organizations in Transition
AADM 780 Applied Research Methods

Other Westphal College Offerings:

TVMN 620 Audience Measurement

School of Education Offerings:

MUSM 504 Current Research in and Evaluation of Learning in Museum Settings
MUSM 506 Technology in Museum Education

Other Drexel University Offerings:

INFO 552 Intro to Web Design for Information Organizations
INFO 643 Information Services in Organizations
ENVS 511 Evolutionary Ecology
ENVS 528 Conservation Biology
ENVS 530 Aquatic Ecology
ENVS 538 Biodiversity
ENVS 590 Marine Ecology
ENVS 622 Tropical Ecology
ENVS 670 Evolution
ENVS 708 Environmental GIS
ENVS 726 Environmental Assessment
GEO 522 Vertebrate Paleontology