MA in Visual Arts Administration


Program Description


Established in 1971, the MA program in Visual Arts Administration was the first in the nation to focus specifically on management careers in the visual arts, in both traditional and alternative contexts. Taking into account the cultural and economic impact of the visual arts, nationally and internationally, as well as the challenges facing the arts today, the program prepares students to become leaders in a broad range of arts organizations.

The Visual Arts Administration MA program addresses the whole art ecology, including the cultural environment in which art and arts organizations operate; the role of the artist in society; how artwork is documented, presented and interpreted; the structure and management of organizations that display artwork – both non-profit and for-profit; and the role of art theorists, critics, curators, and collectors.

The program curriculum also considers how education in arts organizations expands knowledge and builds audiences, the increasing role of art in urban development and public spaces, and new approaches and tools for encouraging access and participation. A strong emphasis is placed on acquiring the theoretical and practical tools for fundraising, financial management, marketing, and knowledge of new media and technology in the visual arts. While the program is primarily oriented toward the non-profit segment of the field, it also offers a strong for-profit concentration.

Emphasis is placed on collaboration across the visual arts administration field. The program takes advantage of its position in New York City to utilize the variety of arts organizations and professionals available through case studies, focus groups, site visits, and examples of theory applied to practice. Using the program's extensive internship component and alumni networks allows students access to a wide range of individuals and organizations in the field and increases the depth of their understanding of the complexities of this challenging area.

Since its beginnings, the program has taken an extensive and integrated international outlook. The curriculum fosters a global perspective within course readings and discussions and through several studies abroad options. In London, for example, students analyze the exhibition and display of art in material culture through a dynamic curriculum that blends classroom sessions and site visits. In the Netherlands and Berlin, Performing Arts Administration and Visual Arts Administration students compare and contrast the management of cultural institutions in the U.S. and Europe, with an emphasis on cultural policy, cultural diplomacy, funding mechanisms, globalism and mobility, and cultural identity and diversity.

Student Learning Outcomes

Upon completion of our program, our students will:

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the creative process, how art and artists function in society.
  • Analyze the economic, political and social environment in which artists and arts organizations operate, including legal, ethical and policy issues.
  • Identify and evaluate how artwork is interpreted, presented, documented and archived.
  • Critique and compare the structure, operations, and management of organizations that present or produce artwork on various scales.
  • Outline strategies for marketing, audience development, outreach and community development in the arts.
  • Acquire business skills in accounting, finance, organizational theory, and management as well as arts-related media and technology.
  • Develop an expansive and inclusive world view of the field that values different global perspectives, identities, concerns, and goals.

The Curriculum

51 points of coursework are required for graduation. The course sequence is determined by advisement and tailored to the needs of each individual student. Courses are offered on a rotating basis so that part-time students can finish the program in three years.

Students take entry-level business courses at the NYU Leonard N. Stern School of Business and the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and fulfill at least 3 points of internships with a range of sponsors, including galleries, museums, and other arts organizations.

In addition to business and internship requirements, students in both areas of the program must complete a substantial, well-researched master’s thesis. Research focuses on a particular interest or issue in the visual arts administration field; this is a two-semester sequence that begins with an interactive seminar. Students complete the thesis during their last semester in the program.

The program enrolls up to 35 students each academic year (about 1/2 of this number elect the for-profit concentration).

  • Admission is for the fall semester only.
  • Students may participate in the program on a full- or part-time basis.
  • Two years are required for completion of the full-time program, generally including one summer.
  • Most students already work in the arts or arts-related fields.

Visual Arts Administration Alumni

The Alumni Council of the Visual Arts Administration MA Program takes an active interest in the careers of its graduates. It is a group composed of nearly thirty mentors who work in the field and take a special interest in placing students and graduates in internships, giving insider advice through information sessions and counseling, and helping all those who seek their expertise to obtain the jobs where they can succeed.

The Council achieves these goals through educational, professional and social programs and events with awards, scholarships, mentoring and guidance to students and graduates of the Program.

The Alumni Council seeks to promote and further the status and visibility of the Program and its students and alumni and advance the field of visual arts administration. We encourage all our alumni, both here and abroad to remain in touch, keep involved with our ongoing activities and offer new ways to support our continued efforts.

Last updated Dec 2019

About the School

NYU Steinhardt's one-of-a-kind integration of education, health, the arts, and media studies puts us at the heart of a movement: education for social change.

NYU Steinhardt's one-of-a-kind integration of education, health, the arts, and media studies puts us at the heart of a movement: education for social change. Read less