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Become an Arts Business Leader

AU’s MA in Arts Management will prepare you for prominent management roles at the world’s best arts organizations by providing the managerial, ethical, financial, marketing, fundraising, and communication skills you need to successfully run an arts organization. While mastering the business side of the visual and performing arts, you will learn to make art happen by developing and supporting artists, artistic communities, and arts institutions.

Our graduates are business-savvy arts leaders. At AU, you will become part of a vibrant network of global professionals and benefit from our local and global connections with major foundations and arts institutions.

Our intensive curriculum is informed by research and professional practice, and we incorporate both into your program. You will get hands-on experience working with leading organizations in the DC area or travel to London to work with the Sotheby’s Institute of Art. You will receive a first-rate education and gain professional experience while continuing to practice your chosen art discipline.

Flexibility To Fit Your Career Goals

In this 39-credit program, you will take courses in arts management, marketing, fund-raising, financial management, governance and leadership, and cultural policy. To fit your course of study to your career goals, you will complete 12 credits of electives from a broad array of course offerings. Your 5-credit capstone experience is another opportunity to tailor the program to fit your needs. Students interested in pursuing a doctorate or work in a research field can write a traditional master’s thesis. The directed research project option involves research with practical analysis or application. With the master’s portfolio, you will complete an internship and develop a creative professional portfolio.

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 art and business or on art museums, galleries, and curating.

Full-time students complete the MA program in two years. Part-time study is available, and all 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 a 15-credit Certificate in Arts Management, which is designed for professionals seeking a career change. The 18-credit Certificate in International Arts Management, offered in conjunction with the School of International Service, provides instruction that is balanced between arts management and international communication.

Arts Leaders Dedicated To Your Success

We have a program-wide commitment to providing individual student support, academic advising, and career coaching to ensure your success. You will receive individual mentorship from our expert professors throughout the program. Our 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.

See more about Arts Management Faculty.

A City Devoted To The Arts

Home to national and international institutions and a thriving local visual and performing 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, and area institutions ranging from small community 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 Department of State, the Washington Ballet, and the Washington National Opera.


Opportunities To Make Art Happen

With an AU education, a city full of opportunities, 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. Our alumni include the senior director of external affairs at the Barnes Foundation, the government relations and communications manager of the Broadway League, the head of marketing for original content at Netflix, the arts education manager at Step Afrika!, the major gifts officer for the Washington Ballet, an arts education specialist at the National Endowment for the Arts, the deputy director of the Global Cultural Districts Network, the executive director of the Chicago Youth Symphony, and the director of artistic administration of the Arizona Opera. See recent alums' jobs and data from the AU Post-Graduation Survey.

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News & Notes

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.

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Austin Farrow

Austin T. Farrow MA Arts Management and Legal Studies

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.

Mark Mills

Mark MillsMA Arts Management '06

Mark Mills developed relationships at AU that continued as his classmates became colleagues. As vice president of external affairs at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, he works with the board of trustees and oversees fundraising and government relations.

To an aspiring arts manager, I would say that we have the best jobs!

He urges aspiring arts managers to take the time to appreciate the art and the impact arts organizations have on the community and the world.

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

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.

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