Image of the Tempietto in Kogan Plaza during cherry blossom season

Exhibit Design

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Graduate Certificate
Location(s): Mount Vernon Campus - Northwest DC, Other

Program Overview

The Museum Studies, Interior Design, and Theatre & Dance programs at GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences are part of an exciting collaborative learning initiative to provide working professionals the tools needed to meet the increasing demand for top tier exhibits. From corporate and convention center spaces on showroom floors to sophisticated displays in museums and high-end department stores, the new Graduate Certificate in Exhibit Design is cutting across disciplines to teach traditional techniques using modern tools and digital technology.

The 18-credit graduate certificate draws on the study of lighting design, color theory, architecture, 3-D modeling, interior space creation, scene staging, computer-aided drafting—in other words, the training needed to create dynamic, engaging, and informative exhibits. This cross-disciplinary approach will place graduates of the program a notch above their peers in terms of skill level and career marketability.

The program takes full advantage of GW’s long-term collaborative relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, and students design and install a minimum of two exhibits at the National Air and Space Museum and on the GW campus. Students may replace one of the 6 required courses with an internship in one of the Smithsonian’s exhibition design offices, working directly with the top designers in the museum field, while building a professional-quality portfolio and resume.

Each of the program’s disciplines provide their own unique offerings to create sophisticated exhibits:

  • Museum Studies provides the programmatic backbone to collaborative exhibit development, including organizational and theoretical best practices, and content interpretation..
  • Interior Design supports the design process with an aesthetic as well as a practical understanding of ergonomic, architectural, and ADA considerations.
  • Theater & Dance supports the exhibit process with a design approach that emphasizes spatial environments and narrative development.

The program’s urban location in the heart of the nation’s capital provides one of the best learning environments in the world. The plethora of museums, research centers, and art venues—many of which are engaged in active partnerships with the University—is an opportune environment for internships and other hands-on educational pursuits.

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines:

PLEASE NOTE: The Exhibit Design certificate program is not currently accepting applications.

Recommendations required:

One (1) recommendation

Prerequisite requirements:

A bachelor’s degree in interior or architectural design, museum studies, graphic design, fine arts, theatre, or a related field.

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 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in the field. Include your research interests, and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application.

Additional requirements:

Portfolio of approximately 10 pieces (or statement of experience) and resumé required.

International applicants only:

Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on English language requirements. Please note: international students who require a student visa from GW are not eligible to apply for admission to this program.

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 107
Washington DC 20052

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