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Master of Art Education | Context - Context
Online Master of Art Education
Master of Art Education In Context

With an estimated 3.1 million teaching jobs currently available in the U.S. and a projected job growth of 6% from 2014 to 2024, the career outlook for teachers appears promising. [1] [2] [3] However, the demand for teachers varies dramatically from state to state, with some schools reporting a shortage of teachers and others being overwhelmed with applications from qualified teachers struggling to find jobs.[4]

With such uncertainty in the profession, many qualified or aspiring teachers are considering how to gain an edge in this competitive industry. By specializing in a field and enhancing their education to the master’s level, educators can unlock more career opportunities.

A Master of Art Education program could be an excellent way to boost your credentials and learn more about the valuable nature of arts education and how it can unleash the potential of K-12 students. Covering various aspects of the arts in education, it can help current or aspiring teachers, or those with a passion for art and education, to develop their understanding of key art education principles, conduct their own research into the benefits of art education, and become experts in the policies that are shaping the arts curriculums of modern schools.

What is a Master of Art Education degree?

A Master of Art Education program can appeal to educators who are both new or experienced in teaching. It can help individuals specialize their expertise in arts education and incorporate alternative forms of education into their classroom environment, or become an administrator or advocate for the arts in education.

Those who undertake the art education master’s degree are usually not required to be certified teachers, but they may choose to pursue these credentials alongside studying for the master’s degree. In other cases, students may pursue the appropriate credentials after graduating from the Master of Art Education program.

Why earn a Master of Art Education?
Aside from the personal satisfaction of learning about a subject you’re passionate about, an art education master’s program could provide you with an excellent return on investment.

Greater salary potential

Art teachers at the postsecondary level where a master’s degree is a common qualification often enjoy higher earnings, with average salaries reported in 2016 at $81,050. [6] Compare that with salaries for high school art teachers where a bachelor’s degree is a more common qualification and the average salary is $58,030. [7] There may also be increased opportunities for administrative positions which could involve salaries in the region of $90,000. [8]

Opportunity to specialize

Art education programs are often very flexible, with a variety of electives that allow students to tailor their education to their interests. This can increase job prospects, particularly to higher paying positions as teachers, instructors, or administrators.
Students can also expect to gain practical skills that they can carry directly to the classroom. This type of expertise is highly sought after in education environments and is also in high demand in non-education environments which require expert knowledge to help formulate art education programs and policies.

Make a difference for young students

The National Art Education Association (NAEA) highlights the incredible benefits of art education for students of all ages. [9] The arts can offer therapeutic relief for young people as well as help to shape their understanding of the world. Student growth can be expanded through the arts, and by specializing in art education, master’s students can be at the forefront of delivering valuable arts instruction to young people.

Expand your knowledge of education

A master’s in art education allows students to discover new methods for teaching that can help their pupils develop problem-solving skills, creativity, and innovative thinking.

The NAEA explains that art can help children achieve a better understanding of the world around them, better express their feelings, and understand that there is often more than just a right or wrong answer to a problem. [10] With a degree in art education, graduates can incorporate this expertise into their classrooms and have more opportunity to unlock their students’ potential.

Those more interested in administrative or managerial positions can also develop a strong understanding of past and current art education policies and will be able to use this knowledge to influence change in art education, whether in schools or other organizations. Their knowledge of education could be put to work developing curriculums, managing art education budgets, or overseeing outreach programs.

Master of Art Education Career Advancement
Elementary, middle, and high school teaching jobs are expected to grow by 6% [1] [2] [3] between 2014 and 2024, which is as fast as the average growth rate for all occupations, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. This equates to around 180,500 new jobs. With promising rates of job growth, students can look at a master’s in art education as an excellent investment for their career, particularly since it can help them access more specialist jobs.

Types of Art Education Careers

Graduates can expect to have access to a wide variety of lucrative and satisfying job roles, both in and out of the classroom.

Duties: Teach young students, typically up to fourth or fifth grade, basic subjects and prepare them for future schooling.
Median salary: $52,620
Top salary: $81,210
Projected job growth: 6%

Duties: Teach students, typically in sixth to eighth grade, about more advanced subjects in preparation for the more complex curriculum of high school.
Median salary: $56,720
Top salary: $89,120
Projected job growth: 6%

Duties: Teach in a specialist subject area such as art, music, or theater to prepare ninth to twelfth-grade students for standardized tests and college education.
Median salary: $58,030
Top salary: $92,920
Projected job growth: 6%

Duties: Oversee teaching standards and school curriculums in various educational environments including schools and colleges.
Median salary: $62,460
Top salary: $100,320
Projected job growth: 7%

Duties: Plan, direct, and manage the administrative department of an education facility or an art department.
Median salary: $90,050
Top salary: $159,30
Projected job growth: 8%

Duties: Plan, direct, and coordinate arts and recreation-based treatments for people with illness, disability, or injury.
Median salary: $46,410
Top salary: $72,340
Projected job growth: 12%

Who is a Master of Art Education degree for?

Although the majority of awarded degrees related to teaching art are bachelor’s degrees, 42% are master’s, which suggests that many educators are eager to advance their skills and knowledge with a postgraduate degree. It also suggests that art education master’s graduates could be at an advantage in terms of job prospects. [5]

Current teachers looking to achieve higher-level positions, such as in school administration, are ideal candidates for a Master of Art Education. Having a master’s degree can allow teachers to achieve higher salaries, and higher paying managerial or administrative positions could offer more responsibility and the opportunity to influence policy, which can appeal to those who feel passionate about the value of the arts to children’s development.

Those who are not teachers and don’t plan to go into teaching, but simply have a background in the arts, can also benefit from a Master of Art Education program. The degree may open doors to administrative and managerial positions in museums, art studios, community outreach programs or government agencies.

Varied work environments

The most common environments where art education graduates work are schools, colleges, and universities, but some also work in child daycare services. [17]

Many graduates will find positions directly in the classroom, but others might opt for office-based roles in education establishments or in private or nonprofit community outreach organizations. Education services are the biggest employer of administrators, [18] but it may also be possible to find positions in museums or art galleries. Others may find positions as tutors, teachers, or program leaders in art education programs offered in environments such as prisons, senior citizen facilities, and hospitals.

Curriculum Overview Typical core courses of Master of Art Education degree may include:
  • Art education advocacy
  • Curriculum design
  • New media and pedagogy
  • Art education research
  • Contemporary issues in art education
  • Social theories in art
  • Art philosophy and interpretation
  • Contemporary issues in art education
  • Leadership in art education
  • Globalization
  • Digital media

Most programs also enable students to choose a series of electives to tailor their education to suit them. For those aspiring to teach K-12 students, it will be particularly important to choose electives based around curriculum, classroom-based learning, and policies and principles of art education in schools.

For those aiming for careers in administration, leadership, policy, and advocacy are likely to be the most appealing choices.

Individuals who are most interested in pursuing research-based positions may find electives relating to history and studies of art education most valuable.

Typical electives available in a Master of Art Education program might include: [19] [20] [21] [22]

Specializations and concentrations

Some Master of Art Education programs allow students to pursue teaching licensure alongside their degree, and in these instances may require additional core courses to ensure students meet the standards required to achieve teaching credentials stipulated by the state.

Since the requirements for teacher certification vary from state to state, individuals should check the core courses and requirements for each Master of Art Education program before applying to ensure it does offer a track to become qualified as a teacher. Many states also require that students complete a minimum period of work experience under the supervision of a licensed teacher, and in these cases, a field work portion of the course may be required. [23]

Master of Art Education Program Length

The length of an online master’s degree program can depend on a number of variables, perhaps the most prominent of which is the pace at which you choose to study. You can finish a typical master’s degree program in about two to three years if you choose to study full-time, although some accelerated programs may be able to help you finish more quickly.

Online master’s degree programs tend to offer flexibility suitable for students who choose to study part-time. This option will likely extend your time to completion, but it can allow you to study while fulfilling your familial, social, and professional obligations.

You can find more information on this topic at our program length overview page.

Acceptance of transfer credit

Some schools do allow students to transfer credits from other programs or schools, but often they are limited and require approval from program administration.

Master of Art Education Admissions Requirements
While each program will set its admissions requirements based on its own criteria, many requirements are universal across all programs. No matter where you apply, you can expect to provide items like transcripts from previous degrees or coursework; standardized test scores; a personal statement or essay; letters of recommendation; and an overview of relevant work experience.

Most schools require Master of Art Education applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree with a relevant major, such as art education, education, or art. Others may require students to have earned a minimum number of credits in key subjects relevant to the master’s program, such as history.

In certain cases, some of these requirements may be waived.
For more information about admissions, please visit our admissions requirements page.

Master of Art Education Alternative Degrees/Fields of Study
Individuals interested in the Master of Art Education degree may want to consider some other popular teaching or education routes, particularly if they’re unsure whether specializing in the arts is the right route for them.

Master of Arts in Teaching

An MAT is usually undertaken by individuals who want to expand their knowledge in a specific subject area after a bachelor’s degree while pursuing their teaching certification. Students in this program usually take on graduate-level coursework in a chosen field, such as history, math, or chemistry, and simultaneously complete their training and qualifications for teaching. Often, this track if favored over a Bachelor of Education because it allows students to start their first teaching job higher up the pay scale than those with just a bachelor’s degree.

Master of Education

Designed to be a practical degree, this program will allow individuals to enhance their teaching practice. The M.Ed. is most popular among certified teachers who are aiming to advance their career and reach higher-paying positions. It can allow them to move toward specialist or consulting positions, or help them reach administration positions such as vice principal of a school. With no specific focus on the arts, it is best suited to individuals who would like a broad education in advanced teaching practices.

Master of Arts in Education

This degree offers less practical training and more theoretical study than MAT or M.Ed. degrees, which makes it popular with those who are interested in educational studies, rather than actual teaching. Individuals who graduate with this kind of degree often go on to find jobs in private organizations, nonprofit companies, and government agencies in which they might manage administration for education projects. Like the MAT and M.Ed., this program doesn’t have a specific focus on the arts and provides a broad range of education knowledge, though art education may be covered in the curriculum.

Master of Fine Arts

An MFA is suitable for those most interested in the study of arts itself as well as the production of arts. In the U.S., MFA degrees are deemed terminal degrees within the arts field and could be used to teach at a university level. However, this degree is typically unsuitable for those wishing to teach K-12 classes and will not help individuals develop their knowledge of art education. Instead, it will nurture their creativity and skill in a chosen sector of the arts, and give them an opportunity to showcase their artistic works, whether that be theater, visual arts, music, or dance.

Ph.D. in Art Education

Typically pursued after achieving a master’s in art education, this is the highest level of education an individual can receive in the field. It focuses primarily on the theory and research of art education and teaching, and may prepare individuals for particularly esteemed positions such as policy maker in a government agency, where highly advanced expertise will be of great value. For the majority of art education and teaching positions, however, a master’s is usually the highest level of education expected and a Ph.D. may not be required.

Relevant Industry Associations

There are many organizations that art education master’s students may choose to align themselves with or learn more about, both while studying and after graduation.

National Art Education Association (NAEA)

Founded in 1947, this professional association focuses on visual art educators and is a huge advocate for raising standards in art education in the U.S. It also publishes two journals: Art Education and Studies in Art Education. University professors, K-12 art teachers, and art education students can all become members of the association, as can school administrators, researchers, non-art educators, teaching artists, and general artists if they have an interest in the research and advocacy of art education. [24]

Arts Education Partnership (AEP)

The AEP is a network of organizations which supports the arts in education to maximize the success of every U.S. student. It is a leading resource on the latest research, issues, and policies in art education and strives to improve practice by acting as a reliable communicator about the field via national forums. Its website offers a wide range of valuable resources that students can benefit from both during their master’s studies and throughout their careers in art education. [25]

Americans for the Arts

Since 1960, Americans for the Arts have been promoting, supporting, and sustaining the arts throughout the U.S. via events, advocacy, and research. Although not solely dedicated to art education, it is a big advocate for increasing opportunities for children to access art and use their creativity to develop and learn. Its aim is to allow every American to have access to the arts, which makes it a great organization to follow for individuals who plan to work in positions outside of schools, such as administrative or teaching roles in art galleries, adult education programs, or museums. [26]

National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA)

State arts agencies work to increase public access to the arts via grants, training, initiatives, research, and advancement of arts education. It can be helpful to research the art agency of your specific state to learn more about teacher training and curriculum development in your area. You can find regional and state arts organizations through the NASAA directory. [27]

Association of Teaching Artists (ATA)

This independent organization serves as a national network and forum for professional teaching artists. It offers a range of valuable resources and support for individuals who plan to become teaching artists, whether that be in schools, museums, community agencies, senior citizen homes, prisons, hospitals, or anywhere else where arts education is brought to the public. [28]

Association of American Educators (AAE)

This national, non-union trade association can provide support for teachers in the form of professional resources, liability insurance, and sponsorships and grants for further training. [29]

National Education Association (NEA)

Created to be the voice for education professionals, the NEA aims to unite teaching and education professionals to provide the highest level of education for all U.S. schools and their pupils. [30]

Master of Art Education Accreditation

Regional accreditation is the most prestigious type of accreditation that an online or traditional college or university can receive. It is granted only after careful consideration by private, not-for-profit organizations tasked with evaluating educational quality.

Regional accreditation is particularly important if you anticipate that you might want to transfer credits from one online degree program to another or use those credits to pursue another degree. Most regionally accredited schools will only accept credits from other regionally accredited institutions of higher learning.

You can learn more on this topic at our regional accreditation page.

Master of Art Education Certification/Licensure

Individuals who are not yet certified teachers but who plan to teach K-12 students will need to achieve certification either alongside their Master of Art Education degree or after graduation from the program before they can apply for teaching positions.

Professional licensure requirements for teachers are set at the state level, with policies varying across each state. [31], a nonprofit organization led by Microsoft and the U.S. Department of Education, has resources for aspiring teachers to find out the requirements and certification process for each state.

In some states, achieving just one degree is enough to teach indefinitely, while in others, additional requirements may be required to continue teaching after a preliminary period.

National Board Certification

Although not required by law, National Board Certification can be achieved by teachers who wish to prove their ability with an advanced certification. [32] Designed to develop and recognize the most accomplished teachers, it can demonstrate that an individual has advanced skills and knowledge as an educator and could allow them to reach more advanced positions with higher pay and more responsibility.

The total cost of National Board Certification is $1,900, divided into four components which can be completed over several years to minimize financial burden and demands on time. [33]

History of the Degree

In 1919, the Progressive Education Movement began to focus on child-centered, experiential learning in an attempt to focus education on daily life. The research involved using new methods of instruction for teaching children, and two highly influential studies emerged as a result – The Owatonna Art Project and The Eight Year Study. [34]

The Eight Year Study, which was conducted over the course of several years, found that schools which adopted more experimental, progressive curriculums and creative teaching methods saw higher rates of academic success than traditional schools. The Owatonna Art Project saw an art curriculum for all ages integrated into the small Owatonna, Minnesota, community, and it too proved successful. [35]

In 1947, The National Art Education Association (NAEA) was created by merging the Regional Art Association and the National Education Association’s art department. Since then, the organization has been the leading professional membership association for visual arts educators and remains incredibly active in terms of art education resources, training, and support of educators, and campaigning for greater standards of art education for K-12 students.

It was around the same time that professional artists were encouraged to attend a university to hone their artistic skills, in part due to the 1944 G.I. Bill (Servicemen’s Readjustment Act) which funded college programs for veterans, included art degrees. [36] Although fine arts degrees demonstrated competency in artistic skill first and foremost, they also allowed graduates to become authoritative in their field and therefore equipped to teach art. By the 1960s, a Master of Fine Arts degree (MFA) became expected for individuals seeking teaching jobs. [37]

However, in the early 1980s, when discipline-based art education (DBAE) was created by the J. Paul Getty Trust, there was a greater focus on using art to promote education, rather than studio instruction of art. The aim of DBAE was to bring the arts into closer academic alignment of other subjects and ensure that a more comprehensive arts curriculum was taught at all schools and for all students, no matter their artistic talent. [38]

Over the course of 10 years, the DBAE approach connected thousands of teachers across hundreds of schools with methods for formulating new arts-inclusive curriculums, and although the Getty Trust subsequently closed its arts education center, the impact of its work remained, and efforts were made to incorporate national standards for arts education across the U.S.

While standards for visual arts education are currently set at the state level, the NAEA in 2014 rolled out the National Core Arts Standards, which outlines voluntary standards that schools can strive to achieve in their arts curriculums. [39] These standards are expected to constantly evolve and improve based on the ongoing research the NAEA conducts. With such vital work still being done to bring a high level of art education to K-12 students, degrees such as the Master of Art Education are becoming increasingly popular among individuals who want to be at the cutting edge of change in the U.S.

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Master of Art Education Tuition and Fees

There are a number of factors that can greatly affect how much your education will cost. These include whether you attend a public or private institution; whether you attend as an in-state or out-of-state student; and whether you qualify for financial aid like grants or scholarships.

For a more detailed breakdown of tuition, fees, and other financial issues, please visit our tuition and fees page.

Students who plan to achieve teaching licensure alongside or after their Master of Art Education program must be prepared for additional testing costs.

The type of tests required are stipulated at a state level, but most require Praxis Tests, for which there are registration fees, fees for each test, and additional fees for scores to be passed to the state for licensure. [52] Licensing fees may also apply to those who have successfully completed the appropriate tests.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

A graduate degree in art education is designed for students with a BA in a related field. With an advanced degree, graduates can teach at a community college, or be involved in museum education and arts administration.

A master’s in art education is designed for current art educators interested in pursuing advanced study in art education and demonstrate a commitment to ongoing development.

A graduate degree in art education can provide opportunities not necessarily available to those with just a bachelor’s degree. The advanced degree may qualify a graduate for specialized positions, which can include special education art teaching, leadership within the art department, and roles within higher education, galleries, and museums.

The focus of the master’s in art education degree is a mix of art history knowledge, methods, and materials with specific students’ energy, interests, and age level in mind.

The key attributes to look for in a master’s in art education program are those that contribute to your ability to pursue your teaching credentials. This means you will have the opportunity to study art theory and learn how to participate in research, as well as learning the techniques and standards to operate professionally in the classroom.

Some schools offer a master’s in art education (MAAE) and others a Master of Fine Arts (MFA), or Master of Arts (MA). The difference is that an MFA degree is typically designed for professional artists, musicians, and designers. An MA degree focuses on the academic theory and analysis, and places a stronger emphasis on writing and research skills, whereas the MAAE curriculum is designed for art educators looking to enhance their practice and advance their career.

The admission requirements vary by school, but typically a minimum GPA of 2.75 is required.

Whether you will need to complete the GRE/GMAT prior to applying for a program will largely depend on what school you choose. There are many programs that do not require a GRE/GMAT. Check the admissions requirements for your school before applying.

The admissions requirements vary by school, but the master’s in art education programs that do require a standardized test typically will not accept work experience as a substitute.

Admission into a graduate degree in art education program typically requires undergraduate coursework in art, art history, or art education and completion of a degree from an accredited university. Additionally, a background in a museum, art education, art instruction, or enrichment courses is preferred.

Not every master’s in art education program will require prior work experience, but some will require an instructing background in a museum or as an art educator or enrichment course instructor.

Most master’s in art education programs require that your undergraduate degree be from an accredited university. In addition, they may require you to have undergraduate coursework in art, art history, or art education for admission.

Most master’s in art education programs can be completed in roughly 18 months to 2 years of full-time study. This can vary based on the school and format selected.

Depending on the program, fieldwork may be required. Additionally, teaching licensure may or may not be included as part of curriculum.

Yes, there are several online master’s in art education programs offered in an online format.

No, any degree earned from a university will not indicate whether the program was online or in-person. Online and on-campus diplomas typically will be indistinguishable.

Yes, most universities match the curriculum offered on-campus as the online offerings. In some cases, the faculty may be the same as well. The online format affords a great deal of flexibility to complete the coursework without commuting or moving to a new town. The curriculum in the online format is just a rigorous as on campus, so do not confuse online with being an easier option.

Asynchronous coursework can be completed on your own time — a big plus for many online graduate students who may be working around a busy work schedule or home life. Synchronous coursework has to be completed within a set timeframe. This is typically done for group projects, seminars, presentations, and other learning initiatives that require multiple attendees.

The elements of asynchronous and synchronous learning in your online program depend on the professor and the course. Once you enroll, reach out to teachers for specifics, but remember that the curriculum may be divided into these two subsets..

Most masters in art education programs do not offer concentrations. Most master’s in art education programs do offer a variety of elective courses, such as art therapy, printmaking, and digital photography, that can be used to help you specialize your career.

Most master’s in art education programs don’t offer specific concentrations. If your program does offer specialization options, this could help you develop credentials to set you apart from other candidates.

Certification associated with a master’s in art education is typically focused on the teaching certification needed and determined at a state level for K-12 education. Universities and community colleges individually determine if a master’s-level graduate can teach their courses.

With a master’s in art education, one can pursue career paths such as teaching in public and private primary and secondary schools, or working in settings such as museums, community centers, or alternative education.

Career settings for those with a master’s in art education include the following, with a median salary of $62,830, and as high as $122,360: [41]

  • Colleges, universities, and professional schools
  • Performing arts companies
  • Community art programs
  • Museums and galleries
  • Government advocacy programs
  • Educational support services

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for kindergarten and elementary school teachers from 2014 to 2024 is expected to increase by 6%. [42]

No, attaining management/senior positions is not guaranteed through the completion of a master’s degree. These positions often require many years of experience and a significant level of career achievement. However, an advanced degree can help you develop the necessary knowledge and skills required for these positions and also prove your dedication to the field.

In 2015, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipated employment growth of 8% for all education, training, and library occupations in the 10-year period ending in 2024. The BLS predicted a job growth of 6% within the same time frame for teachers at all levels of study. [44]

According to the BLS, in 2015, kindergarten, elementary school, middle school, and secondary school teachers earned median salaries of $51,640, $54,890, $55,860, and $57,200, respectively. Postsecondary art, drama, and music teachers earned a median salary of $65,340. However, salaries can vary based on many factors, such as location and employer. [44]

A master’s in art education program should be accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). This group is composed of schools, conservatories, colleges, and universities to establish standards for undergraduate and graduate degrees and other credentials for art, design, and related disciplines.

An accredited degree signals to an employer that you’ve earned an education from a legitimate institution with defined standards for that discipline. Earning a degree from a school without accreditation could impact your ability to secure employment.

Accreditation by NASAD ensures that art education programs adhere to high quality standards, are delivered by qualified faculty, and are updated as the industry shifts. Attending an accredited school or program could help you be more competitive on the job market.

SARA (State Authorization Reciprocity Agreement) applies only to distance education programs in the United States that cross state lines. This agreement is made between member states and establishes comparable postsecondary national standards for distance education courses.

Not every state is a SARA member. Through SARA, member states only have to receive authorization in their home state. Without SARA, non-member states would have to receive authorization in their home state and the state of each of their online students. [43]

Every school has a department or team responsible for online education. This department will be able to answer questions regarding compliance for your home state. Additionally, you can locate the school through SARA (if it is a SARA institution) to confirm compliance.