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Become an Arts Business Leader

AU’s MA in Arts Management will prepare you for prominent management roles at the world’s best arts organizations by providing the managerial, ethical, financial, marketing, fundraising, and communication skills you need to successfully run an arts organization. While mastering the business side of the visual and performing arts, you will learn to make art happen by developing and supporting artists, artistic communities, and arts institutions.

Our graduates are business-savvy arts leaders. At AU, you will become part of a vibrant network of global professionals and benefit from our local and global connections with major foundations and arts institutions.

Our intensive curriculum is informed by research and professional practice, and we incorporate both into your program. You will get hands-on experience working with leading organizations in the DC area or travel to London to work with the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. You will receive a first-rate education and gain professional experience while continuing to practice your chosen art discipline.

A Flexible Program To Fit Your Career Goals

In this 39-credit program, you will take courses in arts management, marketing, fund-raising, financial management, governance and leadership, and cultural policy. To fit your course of study to your career goals, you will complete 12 credits of electives from a broad array of course offerings. Your 5-credit capstone experience is another opportunity to tailor the program to fit your needs. Students interested in pursuing a doctorate or work in a research field can write a traditional master’s thesis. The directed research project option involves research with practical analysis or application. With the master’s portfolio, you will complete an internship and develop a creative professional portfolio.

With the study abroad option, you will study for three semesters in DC and one semester with Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, focusing your studies either on art and business or on art museums, galleries, and curating.

Full-time students complete the MA program in two years. Part-time study is available, and all classes meet in the evenings, making this program a perfect fit for career switchers and working professionals. See the complete MA Admissions & Course Requirements.

In addition to the MA, we offer a 15-credit Certificate in Arts Management, which is designed for professionals seeking a career change. The 18-credit Certificate in International Arts Management, offered in conjunction with the School of International Service, provides instruction that is balanced between arts management and international communication.

Arts Leaders Dedicated To Your Success

We have a program-wide commitment to providing individual student support, academic advising, and career coaching to ensure your success. You will receive individual mentorship from our expert professors throughout the program. Our world-class faculty is internationally respected for its thought leadership and agenda-setting role in arts and culture. They conduct important research, publish widely, present internationally, and bring practical experience with prestigious arts venues to their instruction.

See more about Arts Management Faculty.

A City Devoted To The Arts

Home to national and international institutions and a thriving local visual and performing arts scene, DC is an exceptional place to study arts management. In this city, you will have access to global performers and thinkers, artists from every country in the world, and area institutions ranging from small community art groups to world-renowned venues.

In DC, the local is global. Our program collaborates with Sotheby’s of London, the Department of State, and major foundations from around the world. We also have a powerful local network, connecting our students to internships, partnerships, fellowships, and practicum placements among DC area’s leading cultural institutions, including Americans for the Arts, Arena Stage, Ford’s Theater, the Smithsonian Institution, the Helen Hayes Awards, the Kennedy Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Gallery of Art, the National Symphony Orchestra, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, the Department of State, the Washington Ballet, and the Washington National Opera.

 

Opportunities To Make Art Happen

With an AU education, a city full of opportunities, and the practical experience gained during your practicum, you will graduate fully prepared for a position in mid-to upper-level management. We combine career coaching and academic advising throughout the program to support your career goals and ensure your success.

Our graduates go on to executive leadership positions in arts and cultural organizations across the country and around the world. Our alumni include the senior director of external affairs at the Barnes Foundation, the government relations and communications manager of the Broadway League, the head of marketing for original content at Netflix, the arts education manager at Step Afrika!, the major gifts officer for the Washington Ballet, an arts education specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts, the deputy director of the Global Cultural Districts Network, the executive director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, and the director of artistic administration of the Arizona Opera.    

 

Internship Questions?

Contact the Internship Advisor:
artsmgtinternships@american.edu

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Alumni Spotlight

To an aspiring arts manager, I would say that we have the best jobs!

Mark Mills developed relationships at AU that continued as his classmates became colleagues. As vice president of external affairs at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, he works with the board of trustees and oversees fundraising and government relations. He urges aspiring arts managers to take the time to appreciate the art and the impact arts organizations have on the community and the world.

Arts Management FAQ

The arts management program focuses across all arts disciplines, including the visual arts. Typically an incoming class consists of 20-30 percent visual arts students. The Katzen Arts Center and its 30,000 square-foot gallery space offers vast opportunities for those interested in visual arts. With this individually-designed curriculum, visual arts students may take electives and rotating topic courses in museum management, art history, etc.

Applicants must take the GRE or GMAT. However, there is no minimum score required; the DPA simply must have a score on file. Individuals with 8 years or greater professional experience may request to have the GRE/GMAT requirement waived.

The DPA offers a limited number of competitive fellowships for areas, including graduate recruitment, dance facilities manager, and teaching. Students interested in being considered for fellowships must submit a complete application no later than January 15 and include his or her request for consideration in the personal statement. Students are encouraged to pursue other areas of financial aid, including outside scholarships, federal loans, etc. Please visit the College of Arts and Sciences admissions Web site for more financial aid information.

Arts management students may participate in any of the DPA or university ensembles and performances. One credit per semester for a maximum of 3 credits may be applied to his/her academic program.

Each student application is reviewed individually, so no specific weight is placed on professional experience. Applications are evaluated in a holistic manner.

Comprehensive exams are a required component of the graduate programs in the DPA. The four-hour exam consists of three questions - 1 two-hour question and 2 one-hour questions. Each student selects two topic areas in addition to the general question. The comprehensive exam packet has additional information.

As a capstone project, students must register for 6 credits of Master's Thesis PERF-797, Directed Research PERF-793, or Master's Portfolio PERF-792. The Master's Thesis is a traditional research-based academic exercise designed for those interested in pursuing a PhD or work in a research field. The Directed Research project involves research with practical analysis or application, for example a case study or marketing plan. The Master's Portfolio involves an additional 200 hours of internship and the development of a creative professional portfolio.

To have your organization's internship posted to our student listserv, please send an internship description to artsmgtinternships@american.edu.

The graduate certificate in arts management is a recognized form of continuing education. Students gain knowledge and experience in non-profit arts management, including fundraising, marketing and public relations, and Board of Director interactions through 15 credit hours of coursework. View the Certificate page for more information.

80+ applications are received each year. A maximum of 18 MA students and 4 certificate students are admitted each year.