Master’s Degrees in Art Education Information Guide

MastersInArtEducation has several useful guides for students interested in art education careers. Art education is the study of the visual, tangible arts, which may include painting, sculpture, drawing, design, photography, video, computer art, and more. Art education can be applied to design of commercial graphics, and interior and home furnishings.

This master’s degree is also sometimes referred to as an art education master’s program. Many masters in art education programs focus on teaching art for grades K-12, though there are also many programs geared toward other means of teaching, such as in museums or community programs.

Master’s Degrees in Art Education

A masters in art education is typically sought after by those who wish to teach art. For some this may be general art or art history, while others may have specialized areas such as sculpting or oil painting. A masters in art education equips you with the skill and know-how to understand a wide range of art, from early civilization art to innovative contemporary art.

When studying for a masters in art education, courses are teaching innovative ways to teach students about all art mediums. This allows students to further enhance their own art of knowledge, while learning different methods and techniques or teaching others. Whether learning or practicing art, technology is used in a major way for many mediums; many masters in art education programs place heavy emphasis on digital art, digital learning, and social media. The Internet has caused the world of art to become more accessible and commercial. Social media is used to market everything from the latest exhibition at a major museum to raising money for a budding art gallery. With a masters in art education you will be well-acquainted with this exciting new facet of art. Studying for a masters in art education involves hand-on work in the studio, giving you a taste of what your students will experience once you’re on the other side of the classroom.

You will expand on any undergraduate art degree you may have and learn how to apply teaching to art education. Students studying for a masters in art education typically have a general art degree or a degree in a specialized medium such as ceramics, painting, sculpting or graphic design. Some students have a background in art history. Some schools require you to have an undergraduate art degree in order to apply for a masters at that learning institution. A masters in art education typically requires 32-36 credit hours with the majority of those hours revolving around art education, teaching methods, and art history. Art curriculum and child growth and development are standard classes you will take as part of any masters in art education program.

The goal of any successful masters in art education program is to teach you how to teach art. While there is some emphasis on your own development as an artist and developing your portfolio so it’s relevant to today’s art world, the vast amount of a masters in art education is to teach you to become a knowledgeable art educator. Seldom do students work toward a masters in art education to do anything other than teach. If you do not already have teaching certification in your state, you will have to sit for an exam prior to becoming a teacher. This exam certifies you to teach in your state and is taken by all teachers, no matter what subject they are teaching. There are specialized tests for those applying to teach the arts or ESL or bilingual courses.

How is a Masters in Art Education Program Structured?

These programs are designed to not only help students hone their own artistic abilities and to get reconnected with the arts, but it introduces different techniques and education theories that allow students to learn how to teach others. While many do choose to teach art in schools, there are other career options available for art educators. Some of these may include:

  • Art Education and Administration
  • Museum Education
  • Research
  • Youth Programs
  • Community Programs

There are different degree tracks that students can choose from. Many schools offer different programs for students who already have their teaching certification and a separate program for those who are not already certified to teach. When students are both going for their master’s degree, as well as their teaching certification, often there is more coursework involved in order to prepare you for that.

Coursework will cover a range of art, theory, techniques, and more to give students a well-rounded understanding of art and art education. These programs will help students expand and enrich their own abilities while learning effective ways to introduce art into the classroom. Programs are usually individualized based on each student’s interests and focus; most require between 30 and 36 credit hours that will cover a wide spectrum of topics. Students in a masters in art education can expect to see many of the following courses in their degree requirements. Some will be based upon individual programs:

  • Art History
  • Methods of Research
  • History of Teaching Art
  • Contemporary Issues in Art Education
  • Teaching Art to Special Populations
  • Art Curriculum Planning
  • Child Growth and Development
  • Museum Education
  • Music
  • Visual Arts
  • Dance
  • School Art
  • Inquiries Into Teaching and Learning

What Kind of Career Can I Have With a Masters in Art Education?

Nearly all who complete a masters in art education will teach art in some capacity. This may be in the K-12 area or through a local art school. You may also teach recreational art classes for charities or non-profit organizations. To teach art at the university level, you will have to obtain a PhD in art education. Going on for a PhD is another common practice of masters in art education students. Art teachers earn an average of $50,000 per year. This number can increase to the mid-$60,000 range if you specialize in art education for special needs students. This is a combination of both conventional art education and art therapy. To work as an art teacher for special needs students, most states require you have studied special education in either undergraduate or graduate school.

There are many places in the community you can work besides a school. Art therapy is an area that is rapidly growing, for both adults and children. You may need to obtain additional certification in your state to practice as an art therapy teacher. Often some psychology work is needed, but it is minimal and can be completed as elective courses when studying for your masters in art education. Art therapy teachers are used in crisis facilities, hospitals, and rehabilitation clinics. You may also work educating others on art therapy and its progress after teaching it yourself for a few years. The starting salary for an art therapist is $30,000 and can soar as high as $150,000. Those $150,000 jobs are very limited and usually in urban areas with strong art therapy programs often funded by the government and private donors. The average art therapist makes around $42,000 a year.

Art teaching is always changing. Technology has made it easy for art teachers to interact and learn new teaching methods that can make a difference in the lives of students. Those with technology applied to art education will have more job opportunities. This goes for traditional art education as well as art therapy. While schools are cutting art programs, there may be room in the future for virtual art programs or online learning stints that help a child become acquainted with art without deducting from a public school’s limited budget.

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