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Professional Development

Have you been considering ways to increase your knowledge on important museum topics and skills? Beyond just getting a degree, there are many ways that someone can improve their knowledge in the museum sphere. From general museum certificates, collections care courses, to volunteer management certificates, the opportunities are bountiful. Check out some of the opportunities below to earn certificates, take classes, and build your resume.* 

Collections Care

AIC & FAIC - For Collections Care Professional

"Looking for free webinars for small to mid-sized cultural institutions through our Connecting to Collections Care Community? Register for upcoming webinars or access an archive of over 125 recordings at www.connectingtocollections.org."

To learn more click here.

Educational Resources

Gilder Lehrman Institute

"The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History was founded in 1994 by Richard Gilder and Lewis E. Lehrman, visionaries and lifelong supporters of American history education. The Institute is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to K–12 history education while also serving the general public. Its mission is to promote the knowledge and understanding of American history through educational programs and resources.

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. Drawing on the 85,000 documents in the Gilder Lehrman Collection and an extensive network of eminent historians, the Institute provides teachers, students, and the general public with direct access to unique primary source materials.

As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit public charity the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History is supported through the generosity of individuals, corporations, and foundations. The Institute’s programs have been recognized by awards from the White House, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Organization of American Historians, the Council of Independent Colleges, and the National Daughters of the American Revolution."

To learn more click here.

Certification in Interpretation

National Association for Interpretation - NAI Certification 

"As you may already know, becoming a successful interpreter takes practice, study, and sometimes years of experience. At NAI, we understand this journey and are here to support you every step of the way. We offer a range of certification and training programs designed to help you grow and develop the skills needed for your job or avocation. Whether you are just starting out or have years of experience, our programs are tailored to meet your needs and help you succeed in your interpretation career. Join us on this exciting journey of professional development!"

To learn more click here.

Certification in Volunteer Management

Council for Certification in Volunteer Management - CVA 

"Take the next step in your career as a leader of volunteers and obtain a Certification in Volunteer Administration (CVA).

Leaders in non-profit organizations and community groups increasingly understand that volunteers can be a critical resource for delivering on a mission. Effective people management and community engagement is imperative – whether they be paid or unpaid. As a result, employers expect that those individuals tasked with mobilizing and coordinating volunteer engagement demonstrate a thorough knowledge of effective practices and an understanding of how to apply that knowledge in support of real-world organizational priorities.

Certified in Volunteer Administration (CVA) is an international professional certification in the field of volunteer resources management

During these sessions, you will learn about the CCVA, why the CVA certification may be right to you, how the exam is created, what the application, preparation, and certification process is, and when you will be ready.  All the sessions have the same content and you may attend them as many times as you like."

To learn more click here.

Membership Associations

National Council on Public History

"The National Council on Public History (NCPH) is a membership association dedicated to making the past useful in the present and to encouraging collaboration between historians and their publics. Our work begins in the belief that historical understanding is of essential value in society.

NCPH establishes professional standards, ethics, and best practices; provides professional development opportunities; recognizes excellence in a diverse range of public history activities; fosters networking and a sense of community among public history practitioners; and supports history education. Our quarterly journal, The Public Historian, is the definitive voice of the public history profession in providing historians with the latest scholarship and applications from the field. The NCPH Annual Meeting each spring brings together several hundred members and non-members for workshops, sessions, tours, special presentations, and other events. Our quarterly newsletter (Public History News) and History@Work blog, as well as this web site, keep members and others interested in public history up-to-date with current developments and issues.

NCPH is involved in numerous cooperative relationships with other organizations and institutions, including the National Coalition for HistoryOrganization of American HistoriansAmerican Association for State and Local History, and American Council of Learned Societies."

To learn more click here.

Museum Studies Certificate Programs

AASLH - Small Museum Pro! 

"Small Museum Pro! (SMP!) is a professional certificate program for history practitioners who work or would like to work, in small history organizations. It provides practical guidance and education on a variety of topics. To receive a certificate, applicants must complete and pass five courses from the program. Eligible courses are listed below.  

Eligible SMP! Courses:

  • Caring for Museum Collections
  • Collections Management
  • Developing Exhibitions: Planning
  • Developing Exhibitions: Design (Newly Added!)
  • Introduction to Financial Management
  • Leadership and Administration for History Organizations
  • Museum Education and Outreach

Each course is offered twice a year, but class sizes are limited to provide for an engaging experience. Please visit the course catalog for individual course descriptions and more information on course style and requirements."

To learn more click here.

AASLH - History Leadership Institute 

"The History Leadership Institute (formerly “Developing History Leaders @SHA” and the “Seminar For Historical Administration”) is the best professional development opportunity for mid- and advanced-career professionals at history organizations of all types and sizes. Since 1959, HLI has provided people at all management levels tools, ideas, and connections to enhance their ability to lead institutions and the field. Today, the History Leadership Institute offers a suite of programs to meet the evolving needs of today’s professionals."

To learn more click here.

Northwestern University - Museum Studies Certificate Program

"The Museum Studies certificate program unites history, theory, and practical learning in a curriculum that prepares participants for professional or volunteer careers in administration, collections, and specialty disciplines within museums, zoos, aquariums, parks, and botanical gardens."

To learn more click here

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign - Undergraduate Certificate in Museum Studies

"Museum Studies is an interdisciplinary program that serves multiple departments in the Colleges of Liberal Arts & Sciences, Fine and Applied Arts, and Education, and the School of Information Sciences. It is housed in the Department of Anthropology. The program offers a graduate minor in museum studies, effective Fall 2009. It also offers an undergraduate curriculum and serves as an informal hub of museum-related research on campus.

Museum Studies courses are offered each fall and spring term. The full range of courses is described below. Please check the university course information pages to see which courses are available for a specific term. If you become aware of other course offerings relevant to museum studies, please contact us at museumstudies@illinois.edu.

The Certificate in Museum Studies is designed for undergraduates in Liberal Arts & Sciences, Fine & Applied Arts, Information Science, or Education who wish to complement their degree program with interdisciplinary study in museum theory and practice. The certificate is designed to provide students with a working knowledge of museum institutions and operations and promotes museum-related perspectives and skill sets that cross-cut disciplines.

This program is a total of 15 Credit Hours."

To learn more click here.

The University of Iowa - Museum Studies Certificate Program

"A certificate prepares students for entry-level positions in museums or for advanced studies in graduate school.  Employment in zoos and botanical gardens; historical houses and science centers; local, state and federal parks and monuments; and libraries and archives are all possible. 

In large institutions a graduate with a BA/BS degree combined with a certificate may find employment supporting the head of department (e.g., assistant collection manager, education coordinator, exhibit artist); in smaller institutions, the same credentials may enable entry with a higher title (e.g., curator, exhibit manager, director)."

To learn more click here.

Seeking Accreditation


STEPS is AASLH’s self-study, self-paced assessment program designed specifically for small- to mid-sized history organizations, including volunteer-run institutions. Through a workbook, online resources, and an online community, the 1,100+ organizations enrolled in STEPS review their policies and practices and benchmark themselves against national museum standards.

As your history organization makes progress in the program, you will earn progress certificates from AASLH that communicate those achievements to your community and stakeholders.

To learn more click here.

*Note: The Illinois Association of Museums doesn't endorse or recommend one program or the other. This is for informational purposes only. Please review all opportunities at your own discretion. 

If you would like to have something added to this list please email us at illinoismuseums@gmail.com

Illinois Association of Museums
P.O. Box 31155

Chicago, IL 60631


Email: illinoismuseums@gmail.com


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