Informal Education and Interpretation

Are you passionate about education? Do you dream of becoming an educator who works outside of the traditional classroom? The informal education and interpretation integrated learning program at Canisius University will give you the expertise and hands-on experience to excel in a diverse field and inspire generations of forever learners throughout your career.

$725 per Credit Hour
1.5-2 years
Fall 2024

Step Outside the Classroom With the Informal Education and Interpretation Program at Canisius

Educate the public on natural history. Lead classes through the wild world of zoos and aquariums. Dive into history and share your passions with thousands of forever learners of every age. It’s all at your fingertips with an M.A. in informal education and interpretation from Canisius’s integrated learning program.

The engaging courses you’ll take and expert faculty you’ll work with in our informal education and interpretation program will prepare you for meaningful careers in continuous learning throughout the country. Interested in art? Perhaps you want to help conserve natural habitats? Whatever your interests are, our integrated learning program is interdisciplinary and offers you the freedom to pull from multiple fields to create a career path that’s uniquely you.

After a week-long, in-person introduction to the field and community of Canisius, you’ll benefit from the freedom of fully online courses. We’ve designed our information education and interpretation program for working professionals to earn their degree without sacrificing their personal or professional schedules. Pursue your passions and educate others in our highly respected lifelong learning degree program.

Informal Education and Interpretation Master’s Program Highlights

  • Learn directly from experts working in organizations such as the Niagara Falls National Heritage Area and the Buffalo Museum of Science as part of a professional residency.
  • Learn from faculty mentors who are currently working in the field of informal education.
  • Take flexible synchronous and asynchronous classes.
  • Earn a lifelong learning degree founded on a strong belief in social justice and conservation.
  • Tailor your coursework, internships and research project to your career goals.


Featured Courses in the Informal Education and Interpretation Program

  • Grant Writing — Museums, zoos and historical sites depend on the generous donations of organizations. That’s why grant writing is the foundation of nonprofit work. In this course, you’ll learn strategies in researching, proposing and securing small and large grants for education and institutional support.
  • Natural, Cultural and Historical Interpretation — An introduction to the history, theory and contemporary research involved in informal education and continuous learning. Lead and participate in discussions about the role of informal education in addressing social, cultural and ecological issues.
  • Exhibit Design and Development — Focus on galleries, exhibits and even digital learning spaces to better understand how the space itself can shape teaching and continuous learning. Drawing from the core of our integrated learning program, this course will teach you how storytelling and design can impact the experiences of forever learners.

First Year Immersion 

This introductory, one-credit, on-campus course runs in the first summer of a student’s program experience. Over this week, students will travel to Canisius where they will attend classes and workshops, hear from guest speakers, and take field trips to various museums, zoos, and historical sites. This introductory course helps students build community and familiarizes them with practical experiences and lessons on informal education and interpretation. Note: Fall 2024 cohort will have their on-campus immersion experience in 2025.

Capstone Experience

The capstone experience serves as an opportunity for students to further develop their skills, network outside of Canisius, and apply new course-based knowledge in real-life settings.  Students are carefully advised prior to and during their capstone experiences to help them choose the option that best suits their current and future needs. Students who have completed at least 27 credit hours of coursework choose between an internship or service project under the supervision of program faculty (IEI 699).

Career Opportunities for Informal Education and Interpretation Graduates

Our informal education program will prepare you for the diverse and exciting world of continuous learning. You’ll get to work with forever learners of every age and from every social, cultural and ideological background. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in informal education and continuous learning in museums is projected to grow by 12% between 2021 and 2031 — that’s much faster than the average for all other occupations in the nation.

When you graduate from our lifelong learning degree program, you’ll be prepared for careers in curation, archiving, tourism, design, conservation and protection and nonprofit leadership — to name only a few of the exciting opportunities you’ll have. Whether you’re a current professional or you’re looking to begin a rewarding career in continuous learning, our program will set you on a path of success.

Career opportunities around the world

Laurel Wreath
12% employment growth
for museum workers (2021–2031)