The Master of Fine Arts in Arts Leadership (MFAL) at Seattle University—the first program of its kind on the West Coast—brings together our nationally-renowned faculty in arts leadership with the essential business, management, advocacy, and community engagement skills necessary for you to lead in the arts sector. With our low student-to-faculty ratio and the program’s cohort approach, you will benefit from direct access to faculty and develop lifelong relationships and support networks. In the thriving, arts-dense Seattle region, you will gain the theoretical and practical experience necessary to successfully compete for arts leadership positions nationally and internationally. You will learn alongside a cohort from various backgrounds including community art practitioners, curators, designers, development managers, education directors, public artists, and theater directors.
At the core of our MFAL program is our institution’s commitment to social justice and professional development complemented by a deep foundation of academic rigor and applied research. A signature of our program is the final capstone Summary Project, where you use academic research and experience in the field to investigate a topic of interest such as a cultural sector, curatorial, policy, or arts management issue. Throughout our program, you will use your skills and knowledge to build a broad portfolio of practice in the arts sector of your choice to take with you into your arts leadership career.
Seattle U's MFA in Arts Leadership program sets a path for success because the classes are taught by top notch instructors coupled with hands on practicum experience. After graduation, I felt confident and prepared to launch a career in arts administration and I continue to feel supported by the camaraderie of my fellow alums.
Known now as a hub for innovation, Seattle is home to a dynamic and historic arts community. With a variety of performance and visual arts centers throughout the city, you will build essential relationships with our community partners, connections that can turn into lifelong careers in arts leadership. Our students work with artistic organizations at the forefront of this community, including: Seattle Symphony Orchestra, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Seattle Opera, Seattle Art Museum and the Museum of Pop Culture. So, no matter what your artistic interest, our MFAL program will place you in the best position to gain the skills you need for a fulfilling career in the arts.
Through our practicum program and connections in the community, and as a full member in the Association of Arts Administration Educators, our MFAL program provides you with a host of resources within and beyond the university.
Apply coursework learning to your development as a practicing arts leader through our intentional Graduate Management Practicum options. Throughout your two-year MFAL program, you can work alongside arts leaders in organizations, interview practitioners in the arts sector, create projects centering arts leadership ideas, and research burgeoning issues within arts and cultural policy.
Through applied research methods, each Summary Project is a culmination of your inquiry into an arts field of practice informed by your course work, practicum experiences, and career path. Examples of past projects include cultural equity, creative placemaking, teaching artist pedagogy, audience and field analysis, strategic business plans, resistance activism, youth engagement and education, community storytelling and journalism, digital design and influence, and formation of new artistic works and spaces.
When I look back, visualizing internally on my experience in the MFA program, I realize that I have been blessed. From the start, my introduction to the staff was warm and uplifting and I mean that not as a cheese statement. By the end I knew it was the start of a whole new life. Since graduating I have been honored with several visual art opportunities, operate several nonprofits and continue to be an advocate for life. I believe that it is a direct result of pursuing my dreams and a stellar program. Lastly, what I treasure the most about Seattle University’s MFA program is the giving and essence of character to liberate you in life.
I used my Summary Project to launch my own entrepreneurial endeavor rather than letting it end with graduation. I discovered there is little research on networking in the arts, and few artists receive networking training or feel comfortable participating. I designed "Be Known: Networking for Arts Entrepreneurs" to remove the negativity associated with the word networking and to help artists build reciprocal relational capital. I have since turned my project into a session at an entrepreneurship conference in Tempe, Arizona, and given eight workshops on networking in the arts.
There is no doubt in my mind that without spending the last two years at SU I would not have been able make the choice to become an artist – and hopefully a teaching artist. Before, I was lacking a healthy balance between feeling confident in my work and knowing that I could do better. Previously, my focus rarely went beyond what my work lacked. The last two years taught me that being unsatisfied with my work and confident with my work are not mutually exclusive states of being.