Exhibition Design

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Arts (M.A.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Exhibition Design is one of the few accredited graduate programs in the nation devoted to interpretive exhibition design. The curriculum is a balanced integration of academic, technical and design courses. Students obtain the professional skills needed to create experiences and narrative environments that engage, educate and entertain audiences.

At the core of this curriculum is the consideration of human factors in relation to exhibition design. Students leave the program ready to assume the responsibilities of visual storytellers, communicators and visitor advocates.

Graduates of this multidisciplinary program are equipped to pursue a variety of careers with private design firms and museums focused on art, history, natural history, science and children. With job placements of graduates at preeminent museums and design firms across the country, the Master of Arts in Exhibition Design program is nationally and internationally recognized as one of the most comprehensive and forward-thinking degrees of its kind.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:

Fall – April 1 (February 1 for fellowship consideration)

Standardized test scores:

GRE is not required.

The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 

Minimum scores for the M.A. program are:

  • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0; or
  • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based;  or
  • PTE Academic: 53

Please note that applicants admitted to the program who are required to take an English for Academic Purposes course (EAP) must be available to complete the EAP course in the summer preceding start of the MA program. 

Recommendations required:

Two (2) recommendations

Prior academic records:

Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.

If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.

Statement of purpose:

In an essay of no more than 750 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field at GW in particular, including your academic objectives and career plans.

Additional Requirements:

Design portfolio required. For applicants without backgrounds in art or design, portfolios can include photography, inspirational images, sketches, or any other media that visually represent the applicant. Interview with the program director. 

Portfolios can be submitted as PDF or web link to the online application and should fit one of these descriptions:

1) Traditional Design or Fine Art portfolio including images and brief descriptions of 2D and 3D work.
2) A visual narrative that illustrates and describes an experience, a project, or something about you that is relevant to the field of exhibition design.

International applicants only:

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.

For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.

Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 215
Washington DC 20052

Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) ~ 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday