MA Arts Management

Arts management students at the Kennedy Center

Make art work: Arts Management is the professional practice that helps artists share their voice, audiences find their bliss, organizations build their funding, and communities thrive as creative places.

Our master's degree and graduate certificates in Arts Management will give you the skills, experience, connections, and community you need for a successful career in the business of arts and culture.

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At a Glance

  • Mode of Study
    On campus
  • Time to Complete
    18 mos. or your own pace
  • Course Scheduling
    Most classes start 5:30
  • Requirements
    34 credits

Alumni Network

Our graduates go on to executive positions around the world: the British Embassy, Kennedy Center, LA Opera, Smithsonian Institution, Shakespeare Theatre, NEA, and more — see our Alumni Profiles.

Committed Faculty

Our Faculty are thought leaders in the field and innovators in the classroom. They work closely with every student to ensure success. 


Explore our hands-on, paid Fellowships with AU arts centers and external posts with the Kennedy Center, Strathmore, and more.

A Powerful and Proven Curriculum

Arts community panel at AU Katzen Arts Center.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.

Spotlight: Tiffany Townsend

Tiffany Townsend, AU Arts Management alum.What I loved most about AU was the caring professors who supported me during the completion of my master’s degree, along with the deep friendships I developed....What I love most about my current job is collaborating with colleagues around finding new ways to support a museum devoted to black history and culture, which I am deeply passionate about.
Tiffany Townsend, Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

See more alumni profiles and Q & As.

Careers Making 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, including

  • Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
  • American Alliance of Museums
  • Barnes Foundation
  • Blackbaud
  • British Embassy
  • Broadway Cares
  • Chorus America
  • Hirshhorn Museum
  • Hubbard Street Dance
  • Kennedy Center
  • Korean Ministry of Culture
  • Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo
  • Library of Virginia Foundation
  • Lincoln Center
  • Los Angeles Opera
  • Manhattan School of Music
  • National Endowment for the Arts
  • National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Netflix
  • 92nd Street Y
  • Pittsburgh Symphony
  • Round House Theatre
  • Shakespeare Theatre Company
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • SoundExchange
  • Spoleto Festival
  • Toronto Symphony
  • US Copyright Office
  • Whitney Museum
  • Wolf Trap

What You'll Walk Away With

  • All the moving parts an arts leader wrangles daily, honed in a real-world capstone project for a real-world client: marketing and cultural policy, fundraising, governance, law, financial management, human resources and organizational management, comms and PR strategy.
  • Experience developing and manage budgets, tracking financial performance, and preparing financial reports: how do successful organizations — or fledgling ones — manage macro fiscal health and short-term project budgets?
  • Governance and leadership experience: how to craft governance for successful organizational evolution; how in practice do arts management pros work with their governing boards?
  • Grounding in non-profit legal issues: how do you form a non-profit 501C3; what are specific issues and challenges you'll likely face?
  • How to develop and implement marketing and promotion plans, create and manage websites and social media accounts, and write effective press releases — within a team and governing structure.
  • Practical advocacy and community engagement: how to advocate for the arts with policymakers, funders, and the public, in ways responsive to specific community's tacit and overt needs. 
  • DC local and global connections, amplified by the reach of American University’s alumni network.

Ready to dive in?
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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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