Graduate Program

MFS Graduate Program - Requirements for the Master's Project

A project should be an original development of materials, procedures, programs, or other practical information relevant to the student's specialty discipline and intended for direct museum application (past thesis and project titles).

Project Proposal

A project must be developed in consultation with the student's committee, and a brief written project plan should be approved by the committee and the Museum and Field Studies Program Director, for review by the Museum Director by the end of the third semester in residence.

The plan should detail the problem addressed, the methods to be employed, the criteria for assessment, and a schedule for completion. This plan can be amended by consent of the committee. The project differs from the thesis in that a thesis presents original research with full scholarly apparatus, while a project develops an original product or process of demonstrable value to museum or field professionals.

The project should produce a concrete product, of immediate use to scholars or museum professionals. In some cases, this may be a paper, but the product can include kits, collections, exhibits or other media. In cases where the project produces a product or activity, that project should also produce full documentation of the problem addressed, the methods employed, and the results.

Examples of projects might include: a new system for field sampling or trapping, a new technique for field recording, a GIS application, an evaluated program proposal, an exhibit plan, an innovative collections re-housing project, a conservation assessment—any concrete product or process which is innovative, useful, and communicable to other professionals. Just as theses vary in length and quality, projects will vary depending on the student's professional goals and the committee's input.

A project must:

  • Deal with a topic or problem related to the student's museological and/or specialty disciplinary interests.
  • Be innovative or experimental.
  • Demonstrate broad knowledge of the state-of-the-art in the appropriate methodological areas.
  • Contribute substantively to a museum, a field discipline, or the museum profession.
  • Be of sufficient value and interest that it could be communicated to a wider audience in a journal article.
  • Represent the equivalent of three (3) semester hours of work.

Project Defense

The project defense, parallel in format to the thesis defense, will constitute the final approval of the project. The student will present the project and the project paper to the committee for formal review and evaluation. The committee will find the project satisfactory or unsatisfactory, and may recommend additional steps for the student to correct deficiencies in the project and/or the paper. The decision will be reported to the Museum and Field Studies Director on a Project Defense form, and forwarded to the Graduate School.

A short final paper, describing the project's goal, methods, materials, and evaluations, should be produced for the project defense. That paper should be considered as a draft for publication as a journal article, in either a scholarly or a museum journal. A copy of the project paper will be kept on file in the Museum and Field Studies office.