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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?

Career Overview

Graduates of Arts Education programs often work in public and private primary and secondary schools. They also find jobs in museums, community-based programs, and alternative educational facilities. In addition to working as instructors, some graduates go on to work as arts administrators, heading studios and art programs.

Graduates of Ph.D. programs in Arts Education may become researchers who study the effects of art on education, therapy, and other conditions. Ph.D. graduates may also head education departments at museums, colleges, or other educational environments.

Career/Licensing Requirements

Students who are pursuing a degree in arts education and plan to teach in a public school must also obtain a state teaching credential. Most arts education programs offer the option of completing course requirements for a teaching credential while enrolled in an M.A. program in Arts Education. In addition to meeting education requirements through the program, teachers must also pass their state's Teacher Certification Exam before they can be employed in a state school.

Salary Information

New teachers in this field, working with a master's degree and the appropriate teaching credential in a public school setting can expect to earn approximately $35,000.

Related Links

The National Art Educational Association
The National Art Educational Association has articles and news about fine art.

The National Dance Council of America
The National Dance Council of America sets forth its thoughts on dance education.

The National Association for Music Education
The National Association for Music Education is a national association representing all forms of music education, including bands, chorus, orchestra, music, and research.

VH1 Save the Music
VH1 Save the Music is a nonprofit foundation dedicated to restoring music education to public schools and increase awareness of the positive impact of music on children.

National Association for Music Education
This organization devoted to advancing music education in schools publishes standards reports and suggested curriculums.


  • Intro To Art And Art Education

  • Advanced Art Therapy

  • Advanced Methods And Materials In Arts Education

  • Advanced Music Therapy

  • Critical Analysis

  • Educational Psychology

  • Fieldwork Note: Courses Vary Depending On A Student's Concentration.

  • Innovative Practices In Teaching Art/Music

  • Inquiries Into Teaching And Learning

  • Managing The Arts Organization

  • Methods Of Teaching Art/Music

  • Research Methods

  • Teaching Of Art/Music In Junior And Senior High School

  • Teaching Of Art/Music In Preschool And Elementary School