Fossils, Artifacts, and Higher Education

Today’s Museums are Delving into Academics, and Giving out Graduate Degrees.

Though museums have always been known to be educational havens, they have never been quite as educational as they are today.  As mentioned in a previous post, many undergraduate students have been looking to further their occupational prospects by pursuing higher education.  In an era where young people are finding it difficult to secure jobs, new and innovative education facilities in the form of museum degrees are opening up across the country.  These degrees are not the well-known curator or museum director degrees that can be earned in conventional universities, but are doctorate programs created by the museums themselves.

At the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, the Richard Gilder Graduate School has been attracting the attention of recent college graduates.  The doctorate program allows students to study comparative biology, and focuses on providing degrees in a more narrow scope of the biological sciences.  With only thirteen students currently taking part in the program, the museum supports its students in all their endeavors.  Students are given full tuition, a stipend, $2000 for research, and opportunities to study abroad.  At the end of their studies, graduates from the education program will boast a doctorate degree from the museum.  This is an honor within itself because the American Museum of Natural History is the first museum in the United States to give out an official doctorate in its own name.

A myriad of museums across the U.S. have started to dabble in higher education, and are using their resources in order to help students receive their graduate degrees.  The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago has teamed up with the Illinois Institute of Technology, and students can now take courses at the museum.  Other museums have also partnered up with close by universities, and provide students the opportunity to work with state of the art equipment, knowledgeable curators, as well as ancient artifacts.  A range of museum courses, that vary year by year, can be incorporated into the syllabi of students, and are a genuine treat for graduates who are interested in museum/university programs.

Though museums have always been considered educational centers, they have become even more educational in the sense that they now provide courses, master’s programs, and PhDs.  The fact that museums did not offer such opportunities before, and the fact that many degrees given are for extremely narrow fields of studies is rather interesting.  It appears that as the job field becomes more competitive and bleak; museums are offering students an edge.  New degrees from places like the American Museum of Natural History are eye-catching on resumes, and have the ability to open up new career opportunities.  Furthermore, doctorate and master’s degrees from museums proves that higher education is evolving and transforming on an almost yearly basis.

It is interesting to see new degrees popping up all across the country in various fields of studies.  The saying that one learns something new every day is especially true in this regard since students are being recognized in these innovative fields.  However, whatever can be said about the difficult road of employment, the new doctorate and master’s museum programs should be applauded.  Educational facilities of all sorts should share their knowledge as well as resources, and aid young people on their quest to become prosperous intellectuals.  It is nice to see museums transform into places that are not just tourist spots and field trip locations.


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