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Become an Arts Business Leader

As a passionate and purpose-driven arts manager, you help artists find their voice, audiences find their bliss, organizations attract and animate their funding, and communities build thriving and creative places to live, learn, and work. AU’s Arts Management Program 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 vibrant and diverse network of 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 professionals.

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.

Spotlight

Austin T. Farrow MA Arts Management and
Legal Studies

Austin Farrow.

Austin T. Farrow is an arts leader determined to impact the entertainment industry through Pan-African and LGBTQ+ stories, narratives, and conversations.

My dreams are uniquely big, and that is why I am putting in all the groundwork and effort to actualize them. I plan on impacting the world on a global scale—beginning through art and ending only God knows where!

He holds a BFA in Theatre with a concentration in Acting from Howard University and acting certificates from the British American Drama Academy in London. At American University, where he is working towards an MA in Arts Management and Legal Studies, Austin is a graduate arts ambassador, focusing on conversations about diversity, equity, and inclusion. He has also received a highly competitive Kennedy Center fellowship, where he works in the Social Impact Department.

Austin’s goal is to create his own art collaborative, merging the four artistic disciplines of theatre, dance, fine arts, and music. “I want to successfully start up and run a nonprofit in every facet and phase,” he says. “AU is equipping me with the necessary tools and network to make it happen. I am just beginning my second year, and I have gained so much clarity and understanding in nonprofit organization and operation.”

Austin’s dreams don’t end there. He thinks about owning his own television and radio network and film studio, engaging in philanthropic work, and even creating fashion and product lines.

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 Admissions & 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.

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News Notes

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 won the award for Graduate Humanities Final Work at the Mathias Student Research Conference.

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

See our Alumni Q & A Profiles.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Still have questions? Send us an email: artsmanagement@american.edu