Potter College News
WKU's Folk Studies Graduate Program Announces New Concentration in Museum Studies
- Monday, August 17th, 2020
The Department of Folk Studies and Anthropology is happy to announce the establishment of a new Museum Studies Concentration in the MA Program in Folk Studies, formalizing a longstanding strength of the program in preparing students for a variety of museum careers. Students engage in hands-on training—from exhibit development to education and outreach—and have the option to complete an internship, capstone project, or thesis related to museum studies. Unique among MA programs in museum studies, this program offers students the opportunity to develop expertise in folklore studies, focused on the engagement of local communities, as they prepare for careers in museums.
Key to this concentration are the ongoing collaborative efforts between Folk Studies and the Kentucky Museum, which has strengthened its vision to be “a teaching museum with premier cultural collections utilized to complement, support, and challenge the academic experience.” The Museum provides a learning lab for students in our program—through coursework, capstones, graduate assistantships, internships, and community-focused events staffed in part by Folk Studies students—in which they can apply and demonstrate the skills they are developing. A recent grant awarded to the Kentucky Museum from the Henry Luce Foundation will support the digital documentation of the Museum’s folk art collection over a three-year period and will include full funding of a Folk Studies Graduate Assistant for two years.
An increasing number of our graduates are hired by museums, so designating this as an official concentration will meet a growing demand. According to the KY Statewide Occupational Employment Outlook, jobs in museums are predicated to rise in Kentucky by 13.5-15.1%. Nationally, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in archives and museums will “grow 13% from 2016 to 2026, faster than the average for all occupations.” Graduates of our program work in museums around the country as well as right here in Bowling Green.
The MA Program in Folk Studies at WKU began in 1972 and is a national leader in preparation for folklore careers in government and non-profit employment, as well as doctorate programs. In addition to the concentration in Museum Studies, Folk Studies MA students can choose from concentrations in Public Folklore, Historic Preservation, or a traditional research thesis based on the student’s interests. Applications to the MA program in Folk Studies are accepted on a rolling basis, and more information can be found here.