Master of Science in Arts Administration

Boston University’s Master of Science (MS) in Arts Administration degree program is designed for students who wish to pursue careers in visual arts, performing arts, and arts service organizations in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors both domestically and internationally.

Recent decades have witnessed a rapid expansion in arts audiences, practitioners, and institutions. Simultaneously, the increased cyclical economic uncertainty in both the public and private sectors has resulted in a growing need for highly skilled administrators who can work effectively with elected officials, business and community leaders, and fellow arts professionals.

The Arts Administration program emphasizes excellence, creativity, economic problem solving, internationalism, and a commitment to the new technologies of our age. We are particularly concerned with helping arts organizations place the achievement of their missions ahead of any blind devotion to maximizing revenues. It is toward such an end that we sustain a deep conviction in the centrality of the role of the artist, and in the fundamental importance of artistic excellence, as issues central to the health of all arts organizations in the twenty-first century. In short, we are committed to making the world safe for art—not making art safe for the world.

The Arts Administration program is specifically designed to accommodate the schedules of working adults. Students can complete all coursework on a part-time, evening basis, in approximately two years. Full-time study toward the degree is also possible, although scheduling issues may sometimes arise, as not every course will appear in a one-year cycle.

Students who complete the master’s degree in Arts Administration will be able to demonstrate:

  • Advanced knowledge of the history, structure, and institutional behavior of arts organizations in the nonprofit, public, and private sectors in the U.S. and, in a global context, an understanding of international cultural policy.
  • Proficiency with a sophisticated skill set emphasizing best practices with regard to: fundraising and financial management; setting goals in a mission-driven (as well as a revenue-driven) organization; understanding the important legal issues inherent in managing (either) performing or visual arts organizations; marketing within arts organizations; and engaging communities with the arts.
  • Competence sufficient to successfully obtain a position in the field of arts administration and/or nonprofit management.

All candidates for admission to the degree program must have a bachelor’s degree, and are selected on the basis of undergraduate transcripts, academic and professional references, and related work experiences. We are particularly interested in those applicants who have two or more years of work experience after conferral of their undergraduate degrees. Personal interviews are strongly encouraged, either in person or by telephone.

Standardized admission tests, such as the GRE (institution code: 3087) or GMAT, are required for international students and for those students who have received their baccalaureate degree within the past two years. Students are expected to have a demonstrable, discipline-based expertise in one art area (such as visual arts, dance, theatre, or music). Although this requirement may be satisfied in a variety of ways, most applicants have undergraduate degrees in the arts.

The program has a rolling admissions policy with no absolute deadlines. However, students interested in applying for fall admission are encouraged to apply by late March (February 1 for international students), as the number of applicants is quite high. Students may choose to complete up to eight credits on a non-matriculating basis, prior to admission.

International Applicants

International students are also required to submit official scores for one of the following tests:


    For information on these tests, visit the TOEFL website at or the IELTS website at Information may also be obtained at United States embassies or consulates. When submitting TOEFL scores, please use our institution code: 3087. The department code is 99.

    Financial Aid

    The program offers a small number of graduate assistantships to matriculating students. These consist of up to $4,200 in tuition remission per semester in exchange for research support or administrative work (10–20 hours per week). Information about this opportunity is made available to students when they are admitted to the degree program. Metropolitan College Graduate Financial Aid (617-358-3993) can provide additional information about deferred payment and loan programs.

    Academic Standing

    All students in the Arts Administration program must maintain a grade point average of at least 3.0 to remain in good standing and to graduate. No grade below B– in any course may be applied toward the degree. Students with a grade point average below 3.0 will be placed on academic probation and must achieve a cumulative 3.0 by the completion of the following semester or be subject to dismissal. Students who are placed on academic probation for two consecutive semesters are also subject to dismissal.

    A total of 40 credits is required. Courses are 4 credits each unless indicated otherwise.

    Concentration Core

    Group A: Required courses (16 credits)

    • MET AR 690 The Art World (should be completed in the first semester)
    • MET AR 750 Financial Management for Nonprofits 
    • MET AR 778 Legal Issues in Arts Administration
    • MET AR 802 Internship in Arts Administration I* (2 cr)
    • MET AR 803 Internship in Arts Administration II* (2 cr)

    Group B: At least five courses from this group, including an International Travel Study Course (indicated by )

    • MET AR 550 Raising Funds and Grant Writing for Nonprofit Organizations
    • MET AR 650 Writing for the Arts
    • MET AR 700 Leadership and Career Development for the Arts
    • MET AR 711 Capital Campaigns
    • MET AR 720 Marketing and Audience Development for the Arts
    • MET AR 722 Educational Programming in Cultural Institutions
    • MET AR 723 Individual Fundraising
    • MET AR 730 Political and Public Advocacy for the Arts
    • MET AR 740 Arts and the Internet
    • MET AR 766 Arts and the Community
    • MET AR 771 Managing Performing Arts Organizations
    • MET AR 774 Managing Visual Arts Organizations
    • MET AR 777 Comparative Cultural Policy and Administration (London)
    • MET AR 779 Public Art Program Administration
    • MET AR 780 The Arts in Cuba
    • MET AR 781 Special Topics in Arts Administration
    • MET AR 787 The Arts in Barcelona
    • MET AR 789 Cultural Entrepreneurship
    • MET AR 804 Advanced Management and Consulting for Arts Organizations*

    *Six concentration courses must be completed before enrolling in this course.

    Concentration Electives

    Students are encouraged to use their electives to broaden their understanding of arts administration. Elective credit may be taken from other departments within the University, after approval of the student’s advisor. Courses of particular interest include CAS AH 521 Curatorship and  CAS AH 520 Museums and Historical Agencies, offered by the Department of Art History (Museum Studies) in the graduate division of the College of Arts & Sciences.

    Group C: Optional—no more than one course (4 credits) from this group

    • MET AD 603 Evaluating and Developing Markets for Cultural Tourism
    • MET AD 642 Project Management
    • MET AD 648 Ecommerce
    • MET AD 725 Negotiations and Organizational Conflict Resolution
    • MET AD 728 Understanding and Managing Heritage Tourism
    • MET AD 733 Leadership in Management (may not also take AR 700)
    • MET AD 769 Cultural Tourism and the Art and Festival Industries
    • MET AD 780 Ethics in Management
    • MET AR 510 Arts Leaders Forum
    • MET CM 708 Principles and Practices of Advertising
    • MET UA 515 History and Theory of Urban Planning
    • MET UA 805 The Boston Urban Symposium
    • CAS AH 520 The Museum and Historical Agencies**
    • CAS AH 521 Curatorship: Exhibition Development**
    • COM CM 701 Contemporary Public Relations

    Note: One additional course may be substituted from Group B.

    **Written approval of advisor required.

    International Travel Study Courses

    The Arts Administration program is committed to exposing its students to the growing impact of globalization on the art world. As part of the curriculum, Arts Administration students (with the exception of international students) are required to take an International Travel Study Course. Using the resources of Boston University and its partnerships with other institutions abroad, recent courses have been offered in Barcelona, Dublin, Brussels, London, and Cuba. Arts in Barcelona will be offered in spring. Comparative Cultural Policy and Administration (Dublin/London) is offered in the summer.


    Students matriculating in the Arts Administration program are required to have some direct work experience in arts organizations prior to degree conferral. A minimum of 36 of the 40 required credits must be completed before the student undertakes the actual fieldwork, although the planning phase may begin earlier. The program maintains a formal relationship with a core group of potential host organizations that have been selected for their willingness to work with interns, although it is possible to intern with other organizations as well. The student is expected to complete a total of 150 hours of work with the host agency, generally within a single semester.

    Internship Waiver

    Students with four or more years of professional arts organization work experience may waive the internship requirement with their advisor’s written consent. If the internship is waived, the student must enroll in a tenth classroom-based course. Also, with the permission of the advisor, MET AR 804 Advanced Management and Consulting for Arts Organizations may be substituted for the internship requirement if the student has had two years of full-time professional arts administration work experience.

    View course descriptions.