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Getting a Master's Degree in Art Education

written by: alisonc•edited by: SForsyth•updated: 3/10/2009

For those who are considering obtaining a Master's degree in Art Education, this article provides an overview of what to expect if you are enrolled in graduate-level art education program.

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    Masters degree programs in art education are currently proliferating in the United States, due to the fact that many states are now requiring their K-12 educators to obtain a master's degree within 3 to 5 years after obtaining a teaching license or certificate. The purpose of this article is to describe what one might expect if enrolled in an art education master's degree program, whether one pursues the degree part time, full time, or online. Art education graduate programs vary, so it is important to consider your needs and purpose for obtaining such a degree.

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    Overview of Art Education Programs

    If one is enrolled in an art education graduate program full time, the length of the program can range from one to two years (if one is enrolled part time, it can take longer). Some programs require one year of coursework, while others require more than one year of coursework, sometimes a year and a half. Most if not all require a final project or master's thesis. Because art education master's programs often cater to working teachers, most classes will be held in the evening. However, some master's programs are extensions of an art education undergraduate degree in that students enrolled in an undergraduate art education program will be "grandfathered" into the graduate program in a 5th year. During this 5th year, the students will take part in their student teaching.

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    What Type of Courses are Offered?

    The type of courses vary somewhat, depending on the size of the program. Larger programs, such as those housed at The Ohio State University and Pennsylvania State University, will have a wider range of course topics to choose from, particularly in the areas of art criticism, cultural influences in art education, the history of art education, and technology in art education. Most if not all art education graduate students, regardless of their area of focus, will be required to take at least one research course that will help them develop a thesis or final project.

    Art education graduate students also have the opportunity to take electives to suit their needs. These electives can include courses in studio art, education, psychology, sociology, art history, cultural studies, and media studies.

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    Who Enrolls in Art Education Graduate Programs?

    As mentioned previously, many art education graduate students are either inservice teachers or preservice teachers. However, other graduate students in art education may include those interested in careers in arts administration, museum education, or academia. Students who hope to obtain work as a professor in art education will be expected to continue their studies and obtain a PhD or EdD.

Graduate degree options for art educators

This series presents graduate program options for those interested in the broad field of Art Education.
  1. Getting a Master's Degree in Art Education
  2. Getting a master's degree in Arts Administration and Policy
  3. Masters Degrees in Museum Education