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Tips for Applicants


Strong applications demonstrate academic potential, convey professional experience, and assure an active contribution to the Program, evidenced by:

  • An academic focus that is well aligned with the Program’s areas of expertise.
  • Evidence of analytical thinking, quality writing, and a passion for the museum field.
  • Considerable, relevant experience related to your interests, the museum field, and the Program’s areas of expertise.
  • A clear understanding of our Program and why it’s a good fit for you.
  • A desire to create an inclusive environment in our Program and the museum field.
  • Interests and expertise that make a significant contribution to the Program and/or museum field.
  • Strong letters or recommendation, application essays, academic record, and resume/CV.

Letters of Recommendation Tips

Accessible Accordion

Who should write my letter of recommendation?

Choose recommenders who know you and your work and can write enthusiastically and persuasively about why you would excel in a graduate program.  It’s more important that your references know you than it is for them to be a “name” in the field.

Museology requires three letters of recommendation from both academic and professional sources. We require at least one academic letter of recommendation from faculty members from your previous undergraduate or graduate degrees and recommend two such letters. Professional letters of recommendation should be from a supervisor, manager, or mentor from your previous professional experience relevant to your interests in the museum field.

How can I ask for a letter of recommendation?

We suggest applicants reach out for letters of recommendation as early as possible. Make it a goal to ask for your letters at least six weeks before the application deadline to give your recommenders enough time to write their letter.

Begin with telling them you are applying to our program with a short explanation of what our program is and why you are interested in applying. When asking if they would be willing to write you a letter of recommendation, make sure to give them a polite way to decline, such as: “Do you feel that you know me well enough to write me a strong letter of recommendation?” Make sure you get a confident yes before proceeding. A half-hearted recommendation could jeopardize the hard work you put into your application, so it is worth the extra effort to find three strong recommenders.

Once you have a positive response, follow up with an email confirming your conversation, reiterating the deadline information, and providing the supplemental materials for your recommender to write the letter (see below).

I have been out of school for some time, and am not sure if my professors will remember me. What should I do?

Museology requires at least one academic letter of recommendation to provide the admissions committee an indication of your ability to succeed in an academic graduate program. We recommend reaching out to your former professors as early as possible to request letters of recommendation. Be prepared with supplemental information to remind them of your work – grades, papers you wrote for them, or other examples of your academic work.
If, however, you are not able to find a former professor who is able to write your letter of recommendation, please email us at for recommendations on how to proceed with your application.

How can I help my recommenders write a strong letter?

Once you’ve selected your recommenders, make it easy for them to write you a strong letter of recommendation. After they have agreed to be your recommender, provide them with:

  • Your resume or CV.
  • Your transcripts.
  • Your personal statement or a summary of why you are applying to our program.
  • The application deadline.
  • Suggestions in bullet form for what they could highlight about you in their letter.

  • Unless you have a strong reason to do so, we recommend waiving your right to review the letter of recommendation.
  • Don’t be afraid to follow-up with reminders about the application deadline.
  • Send your recommenders thank you cards.
  • If you have further questions, email us at

Advice from Recent Graduates

“Talk through your personal statement and essay with someone you trust. Ask for honest feedback about gaps or fluff. Keep thinking about it and keep talking about it. It will be easier to write a solid statement and essay if you’ve done this footwork first.”

“While it’s important to discuss your museum-related experience in your application, it’s just as important to highlight other traits and experiences that make you unique.”

“Take the time to have professors and employers/supervisors review your application. Those are the people who know your strengths and typically have valuable experience in both writing and reviewing applications.”

“Scour graduate program websites to review course offerings and descriptions to make sure your top programs are the best match. This will inform your application and give the admissions committee insights into why this is the best program for you.”

“Don’t just talk about how much you love museums in your statement of purpose – we all do! Focus on your passion for the work of museums and how you would like to make an impact while in graduate school and in your future career.”