Introduction to Programs Week: Combined Degree Program (CDP)

By Samantha Summers (second year CDP, LIS, and ARM student)

The most exciting part of being in the Combined Degree Program (CDP) is having the chance to bring together so many different fields throughout your degree. As you learn about both museums and your chosen concentrations within the Master of Information you will find that your programs overlap and intertwine in interesting and unexpected ways, making your learning that much more fulsome. In addition to learning a great deal from both degrees, you will also get to meet and work with a wide variety of students in both programs. Make sure to get to know people in both degrees, as well as other CDP students.

Take some time to think about which MI concentrations will be best for you, if you decide to pursue a concentration rather than the general pathway. While Archives and Records Management (ARM) is a very popular program for CDP students, as both concern artifacts, each and every concentration will give you a unique perspective on your MMSt learning (and vice versa). You have the chance to create a truly unique skill set by combining your MMSt with the many skills you can learn as part of your MI.

This image is from a Thomas Fisher Monthly Highlight I curated in March 2020, “The Qur’anic Page.” I drew on skills gained in both my MMSt and my MI to curate this exhibition.

The general advice you will receive during your CDP is to take MI courses in your first year, MMSt courses in your second year, and to finish up any required courses and take a few electives in your third year. The general idea behind this is that taking MMSt courses in your second year means that you will take those courses with incoming MMSt students, so when you do the Exhibition Project in your final year you will already be familiar with the other MMSt students taking it. In reality, I found that it suited my schedule better to take some MMSt courses in my first year and some MI courses in my second year. This meant that I got to take courses in a way that suited me, and also I had the opportunity to meet more MMSt and MI students in different years of their programs. Don’t be afraid to go against the suggested course schedule and take these courses in a way that makes sense for you. Additionally, I decided to take two MI concentrations, which also isn’t recommended. CDP students are generally encouraged to take only one concentration as this leaves more room for required MMSt courses and electives. Once again, just find the path that works for you. Official suggestions are just that: suggestions.

My final piece of advice is to get involved in student groups. Writing for Musings is a great way to develop your museum knowledge and practice. In fact, I have used writing my column “(Fun)draising” as a way to meet professionals in my field and to find internship and job offers. The Museum Studies Student Association (MUSSA) is another great way to meet other MMSt students and network. On the MI side of things, the Master of Information Student Council (MISC) is a great resource for students and a great group with which to get involved, and there are countless student groups to help you develop your interests and meet other people with related career goals.

The CDP has been a very positive experience for me, and I’m sure it will be for you, too. Make it your own and you will be so pleasantly surprised by what these two degrees, together, can do for you.

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