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Making Art Work

Arts Management is the professional practice advancing the business, social, and civic sides of artistic expression and experience. In short, arts managers make art work.

As a purpose-driven arts manager, you help artists share their voice, audiences find their bliss, organizations build their funding, and communities grow into thriving places to live, learn, and work. American University’s master’s degree and graduate certificates in Arts Management will prepare you to make a positive difference in the visual, performing, media, community, online, or emerging arts, and position you to change the arts world for the better.

Learn and work in the global cultural hub of Washington, DC, alongside business-savvy arts leaders, a diverse network of local and global professionals, and world-respected and innovative faculty. Explore the powerful intersection of research and professional practice through a curriculum that blends them both with hands-on work experiences and real-world insights of alumni and other leading practitioners.

Explore our Master of Arts degree or our focused Graduate Certificate in Arts Management and Graduate Certificate in International Arts Management. Learn about our semester abroad opportunity with Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. And contact us to share your purpose and find your fit.


Malik BurnettMA Arts Management '21

Malik Burnett

I’ve had the opportunity to merge my love of dance with applied knowledge in the arts management field.

As assistant manager of dance programming at the Kennedy Center, Malik Burnett ties his experience as a dancer to building community-centered dance programs. Dance came naturally to Burnett as a student growing up in Prince George’s County in Maryland. After graduating from Suitland High School and majoring in dance at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, he returned to the area to figure out his next steps. “I did some soul searching and realized that I didn’t want to be a full-time performing artist.” While working as a facility manager at a local community center, Burnett realized the potential for a career. “I was managing everything from hiring instructors and conducting grassroots marketing to nearby schools to creating a curriculum—that started my journey in arts administration.”  

To take the next step in his career, Burnett applied to the Arts Management program at AU. “When applying to programs, it stood out to me that I could participate in an internship or fellowship with arts organizations in the area as a student at AU.” Burnett held fellowships in AU’s Dance Program and in the Education Department at the Kennedy Center. The connections he made during the fellowship helped him transition to a full-time position after graduating from AU. “Whether it was fundraising, governance, or marketing classes, there was so much that AU instilled in me in those two years.” 

Burnett recently had the opportunity to swap his dress shoes for dance shoes. He organizes the Kennedy Center’s Local Dance Commissioning Project, which provides monetary support for DMV-based artists or companies to premiere a new production of their work at the Kennedy Center. Recent awardee Tariq O’Meally presented Good Grief: Songs of the Moon and The Unbroken Circle at the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater in May. In addition to working on programming, Burnett also appeared on stage as a dancer. “It was a great full circle moment—combining my experience as an administrator and a performer.” 

Photo: Kyle Andercyk

A Powerful and Proven Curriculum

Our 34-credit Master of Arts program has been crafted and refined over four decades to provide a solid foundation in arts-management essentials along with flexibility to fit your career goals.

You will take 21 credits of strategy-level core requirements in arts management, marketing, fundraising, financial management, governance and leadership, cultural policy, and legal issues. Six elective credits allow you to focus your studies on a particular discipline, role, or topic area – within arts management or across any relevant graduate courses at American University or the Consortium of Universities of the Washington Metropolitan Area. Finally, seven capstone credits result in a significant research or portfolio project that integrates and demonstrates your specialized expertise to peers and prospective employers.

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 the business of visual art or on art museums, galleries, and curating.

Full-time students complete the MA program in two years, with the final semester designed to work either in-person or remotely. Part-time study is also available, and all Arts Management classes meet in the evenings, making this program a perfect fit for career switchers and working professionals. See the complete MA Admission & Course Requirements.

In addition to the MA, we offer two Graduate Certificates that can be completed in a single academic year. Our 15-credit Graduate Certificate in Arts Management is designed for experienced professionals seeking a career boost or change. The 18-credit Graduate Certificate in International Arts Management, offered in conjunction with AU’s renowned School of International Service, provides instruction that is balanced between arts management and international communication.

Arts Leaders Dedicated To Your Success

Our faculty bring deep expertise and demonstrated commitment to student and alumni success. As one example, all three of our full-time faculty have been elected by an international membership of arts management faculty to serve as President of the Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE). Our entire 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.

We have a program-wide commitment to providing individual student support, academic advising, and career coaching. You will receive individual mentorship from our expert professors throughout the program.

See more about Arts Management Faculty.

A City Devoted To The Arts

Home to national and international institutions and a thriving local visual, performing, media, and community 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, leading practitioners and policy makers, and area institutions ranging from grass-roots 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 Washington Ballet, and the Washington National Opera.


Your Opportunity to Make Art Thrive

With an AU education, a city full of opportunities, a powerful professional network, 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. Current or recent placements include Spoleto Festival, Wolf Trap, British Embassy, Hubbard Street Dance, Kennedy Center, Shakespeare Theatre Company, Los Angeles Opera, National Endowment for the Arts, Korean Ministry of Culture, Pittsburgh Symphony, Whitney Museum, Smithsonian, Blackbaud, Library of Virginia Foundation, Toronto Symphony, Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo, Barnes Foundation, Broadway Cares, Netflix, Manhattan School of Music, Chorus America, Lincoln Center, Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, SoundExchange, 92nd Street Y, US Copyright Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation, American Alliance of Museums, Hirshhorn Museum, Round House Theater, and others.

See recent alums' jobs and data from the AU Post-Graduation Survey.

Discover CAS: The Arts


Explore our arts community.

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News and Notes

New full-time Arts Management faculty Dr. Lindsey Barr started at AU in fall 2023.

Alumni Scott Guzielek (CAS '04) has been appointed as the new President and Artistic Director of Academy of Vocal Arts (AVA) in Philadelphia.

Our 16th annual Emerging Arts Leaders Symposium featured Karen Ann Daniels, Director of Programming and Artistic Director of the Folger Theatre

Arts Management alumnae Jasmine Jiang (CAS '19) was appointed Managing Director of Pig Iron Theatre Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Arts Management alumnae Quanice G. Floyd (CAS '16), co-founder and director of the Arts Administrators of Color network, shared her influences, industry outlook, and advice with Inside Philanthropy.

Brookes Pennell (CAS '22) won the award for Graduate Humanities Final Work at the Mathias Student Research Conference.

See our Alumni Q&As.

Associate Professor E. Andrew Taylor released The Artful Manager: Field Notes on the Business of Arts and Culture.

Associate Professor and Program Director Ximena Varela discussed her research, the effects of pandemics on artists, and the COVID-19 Art Stories project.

Arts management alumna Laura Brower Hagood (CAS/MA '04) was named executive director of the Historical Society of Washington, DC.

Associate Professor and Department Chair, Andrew Taylor spoke with the Washington Post about how shutdowns due to COVID-19 are affecting the Kennedy Center and other performing arts venues.

AU alumna in arts management, Jessica Mallow (CAS/MA '16), named Executive Director of Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra.

Washingtonian magazine named alum Monica Jeffries Hazangles one of the most powerful women in Washington.

Graduate students from the Arts Management program co-curated the Moves Like Walter exhibition at the AU Museum, featuring artwork from the Corcoran Legacy Collection.

American University's Arts Management Program and Arena Stage teamed up to host a first-of-its-kind Artistic Director Intensive Program.

Art management students help create Plans to Prosper You: Reflections of Black Resistance and Resilience in Montgomery County’s Potomac River Valley at AU Museum.

photo by Mignonette Johnson

Alumni ·

The Art of Black Philanthropy: Highlighting Alumna Tiffany Townsend

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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.

No GRE or GMAT is required for admission to our program.

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 February 1 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 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.

Yes, full-time students will complete the degree in two full academic years with an online summer course between years.

The curriculum design allows students to complete their final semester either remotely or in person. Part-time study is also available but would follow a different sequence.

Fall (Year 1)

  • AMGT-670 Survey of Arts Management (3)
  • AMGT-673 Fundamentals of Fundraising (3)
  • AMGT-674 Financial Management in the Arts (3)

Spring (Year 1)

  • AMGT-631 Governance and Leadership (3)
  • AMGT-671 Marketing the Arts (3)
  • AMGT-680 Cultural Policy and the Arts (2)
  • AMGT-685 Nonprofit Legal Issues (1)


AMGT-794 Lit Review and Proposal Writing (1)

Fall (Year 2)

  • AMGT-701 Discovery and Decision Making in the Arts (3)
  • AMGT-798 Seminar in Arts Management (3)
  • First Elective (3) – any approved graduate-level course offered by Arts Management, AmericanUniversity, or the Washington Consortium of Universities

Spring (Year 2)

  • AMGT-702 Portfolio (3) or AMGT-793 Directed Research (3)
  • Second Elective (3) – any approved graduate-level course offered by Arts Management, American University, or the Washington Consortium of Universities

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.

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.

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.

To have your organization's internship posted to our student listserv, please send an internship description to

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