Master of Arts in Arts Administration

A University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School Program



About the program: The Master of Arts in Arts Administration offers students an opportunity to earn a University of Michigan Degree granted by the highly prestigious Rackham Graduate School. Offered on the University of Michigan-Flint campus, this graduate degree trains you to be an arts professional, to work with the best and brightest in community, commercial, and non-profit arts organizations, in either the performing arts or the visual arts. Graduates of this degree go on to careers that are meaningful and fulfilling, becoming integral members of administrative teams in the art world.


Length: The program is designed as a 2-year full-time program. However, students may complete the program part-time with completion dates being flexible and guided by their academic advisors.


Curriculum Tracks: Students choose between a museum track, for those wishing to work in the visual arts, and a performing arts track, for those seeking a career in the performing arts world of music and theatre. Students with an interest in both areas should consult with the program Director and academic advisors in each area to find the best fit.


Courses: A significant component of learning to be an arts professional and administrator is based upon learning to work with people in person and on site. This program offers many evening courses and some online, mixed-mode, and distance-learning formats, but it is primarily completed on campus over four semesters. The experience of being in a cohort of fellow students working with faculty and local arts organizations is essential to developing the networking and inter-personal skills needed to be successful in future careers. Many of our students go on to find jobs because of relationships that they have developed with fellow professionals with whom they have worked in program courses, internships, and thesis research. Even for those planning a career outside of Michigan, these connections provide the strongest references for competitive job opportunities. Courses in the program cover a wide range of theoretical to practical applications, and teach research, writing, and presentation skills to succeed in almost any part of an arts organization, from writing grants to overseeing stage production and galleries. Students in both tracks take some shared core courses to establish a standard of research proficiency and familiarity with theories associated with the arts, in addition to courses tailored to their selected track.

For descriptions of the program’s courses go to the UM-Flint course catalogue.


Thesis or Research Project: Arts administrators vary in their career options from positions that involve academic research to more managerial positions. This degree prepares students for both types of opportunities. The thesis or research project, for which students take 6 credits of directed research credits with their thesis advisor, allows students to have flexibility in their course schedule since research can be done anywhere instead of having all of the courses as structured classes. Moreover, the thesis/project (as well as internship requirement) allows students to apply expertise from career training that may have already been achieved prior to the degree and to tie a project or thesis to skills and interests that the student brings into the program. Most importantly, the thesis/project ensures that each student leaves with a product to help him/her get a job. Many careers in the arts require that students submit writing samples, publications, or even unpublished but original research in order to demonstrate skills that they will need to demonstrate on the job. Having a completed thesis or project provides prospective employers with concrete evidence of the student’s ability and potential in a way that a transcript of completed courses does not. The thesis/project research works like a portfolio, advertising the student’s interests, skills, and accomplishments to prospective employers. Students in this program have used the thesis/project to accomplish amazing things from founding new non-profits to launching signature community events. This scholarship is a powerful way to build connections in the community and to mature as an arts professional. Students who complete the thesis are also eligible to apply for PhD programs. Finally, the thesis/research project feature also expands funding opportunities for students, who are eligible for UM-Flint’s thesis research assistantships in the GRSA program, and for internal and external research funding for graduate students.


Faculty: Professors who have program faculty status in this program are recruited and approved for such status based upon rigorous industry and higher-education standards, including holding the highest degree in their fields and teaching experience at the graduate level. In the museum track this is a PhD in art history, museum studies, or a related field, while in the performing arts track this is a Master of Fine Arts. When appropriate community arts professionals contribute as guest instructors or speakers. For profiles of individual faculty please see our faculty page.


Academic Advising: Students in this program are advised by an assigned full-time program faculty member with professional expertise in the field. Assistance is also provided when needed by the program director and staff. Advisors provide assistance with course scheduling as well as mentorship and career planning.


Thesis or Research Project Advising: Each student in the program is supported by a team of faculty whose members work with the student over the course of his/her degree to ensure the student’s success. The student’s thesis/research project committee chair acts as a mentor and supporter for his/her advisees, making sure that they know about opportunities and have a strong support network to complete the degree.


Funding: Students in this program often secure assistantships and funding through a variety of ways, but most typically as Graduate Research Assistants through the GRSA program. GRSAs work with faculty at UM-Flint on research projects in the faculty member’s areas of expertise. Additional GRSA positions are available to support the student’s own thesis research. Additionally, a Rackham fellowship for UM-Flint students is also available. The program also provides support to students to travel for conference presentations and thesis research.


The Advantage of Study in Flint: The city of Flint’s rich and diverse arts community is an invaluable source of inspiration, information, and ideas. UM-Flint’s longstanding relationship with such community partners as the Flint Institute of Arts, Flint Institute of Music, Sloan Museum, and others provides our students with endless opportunities to explore new possibilities. Also, as part of the world renowned University of Michigan system, UM-Flint can tap additional resources, expertise, and contacts at our sister campuses in Dearborn and Ann Arbor to assist our students, their research, and other initiatives.