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Grad Program: Arts Education

Basic Information

While many Americans fight to revamp arts programs around the country, there is a shortage of qualified instructors in music, art, dance, and theatre programs. In addition to the traditional arts, there is an increasing demand for teachers in alternative programs such as music and theatre therapy. An advanced degree in Arts Education will give you the skills to work as an instructor, administrator or advocate of arts education. However, a degree in Arts Education is not limited to those who want to become instructors in the arts. Programs also integrate research, alternative forms of education, and incorporating arts education into regular classroom instruction.

Arts Education programs are generally designed to develop the studio, intellectual, and professional skills of future art/music educators or administrators. Depending on the medium, studio work is combined with independent research and regular coursework to complete both the master’s and doctoral programs. Arts Education programs may encompass many mediums simultaneously, such as fine art, music, dance and theatre. As hands-on work in the arts is a large part of Arts Education training, many programs are taught through art and design colleges, as well as traditional universities. Prospective students are expected to have a background in the arts and a portfolio is required for admission to and completion of graduate programs. In addition, fieldwork is also an important aspect of the program; most require students to participate in internships that will provide real world insight into the field.

Degree Information

Master’s degree programs in Arts Education are designed for both new teachers looking to begin a career in arts education, or current educators looking to advance in their field and enhance their skills and opportunities. In most programs, incoming students are not required to be credentialed teachers and may pursue a credential concurrent with their studies in art education.

Doctoral programs in Arts Education are highly individualized and self-directed. Doctoral students generally focus on research in a certain area and study the impact of arts education on young students. Arts Education Ph.D. graduates usually go on to careers in research, administration, museums, and schools.

Questions to Ask Yourself When Choosing a Degree Program
  • Can students concurrently pursue a teaching credential and the M.A. in arts education?
  • Is the program a part of a university or a school of art?
  • Are students allowed to cross-register for courses in other academic/art departments?
  • Where do students do their fieldwork?
  • How does the curriculum combine theory, research, and methodology?
  • What concentrations/specialties may students choose?
  • Does the program incorporate alternative teaching methods or other specialized fields, such as art therapy?

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