Degree Requirements

The MFA in Arts Leadership is a 2-year, 48-credit program that uses research as an essential tool to be applied to arts organizations in the field. Classes each meet once a week, from 6-9pm, Monday through Thursday, with the occasional Saturday. Students are required to complete 9 credits of Graduate Management Practicum during their time in the program. The MFA culminates in the Summary Project, a synthesis of academic study in a particular area of focus with the work produced during the community practicum experience.

The program degree requirements and course descriptions are below. Click on any class to be taken to the course description. The complete course catalog is available here. Sample syllabi are available upon request.

YEAR 1

Fall

ARTL 5150: Fundamentals of the Nonprofit Arts Sector (3 credits)
ARTL 5250: Leadership & Interpersonal Behavior for Arts Leaders (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

Winter

ARTL 5400: Marketing the Arts (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

Spring

ARTL 5360: Financial Management for Arts Leaders (3 credits)
ARTL 5380: Leading Staff in Arts Organizations (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

Summer

ARTL 5410: Public Policy & Advocacy in the Arts (3 credits)
ARTL 5460: Strategic Planning in the Arts (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

YEAR 2

Fall

ARTL 5370: Boards & Volunteers in Arts Organizations (3 credits)
ARTL 5430: Resource Development for Arts Organizations (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

Winter

ARTL 5800: Law and the Arts (3 credits)
Elective (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1 credit)

Spring

ARTL 5990: Summary Project (3 credits)
ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (3 credits)

Course Descriptions

ARTL 5150: Fundamentals of the Nonprofit Arts Sector (3 credits)
This seminar class provides a broad and fast paced overview of the arts sector in the United States with a focus on nonprofit structures and how these have been shaped and continue to evolve today. We will explore key components that create the operating framework for arts organizations, as well as trends, challenges and opportunities, making use of the Seattle region as an example and laboratory. Class sessions will be discussion and presentation oriented. You should be prepared to read a broad array of source material and to participate fully as an individual and as part of teams in each class. Required.

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ARTL 5250: Leadership & Interpersonal Behavior for Arts Leaders (3 credits)
Theoretical and applied knowledge about concepts of leadership, leadership styles and situations, communication skills, techniques of inspiration, motivation, conflict resolution, negotiating and building consensus, coping with change, and fostering innovation. Required.

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ARTL 5400: Marketing the Arts (3 credits)
Students will develop specific skills of audience development to be applied in performing and visual arts organizations. This includes developing an organization’s brand and image and translating it into media messages that accurately communicate the organization’s mission. Topics include developing and implementing a public relations strategy, working with the media, developing print materials, and managing marketing budgets. Required.

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ARTL 5360: Financial Management for Arts Leaders (3 credits)
Planning, reporting and controlling of fiscal resources and overall management control systems, budgeting, terminology and principles of financial accounting and program evaluation, analysis of financial statements, responsibility and program structure, internal controls and audit responsibility, managerial financial controls and pricing. Required.

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ARTL 5380: Leading Staff in Arts Organizations (3 credits)
Best practices for implementing the management competencies needed to lead staff, political realities of staff operations, fostering creativity, coaching for excellence, achieving diversity, nonprofit aspects of personnel recruitment, administration, retention and evaluation policies and procedures, laws and regulations. Required.

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ARTL 5410: Public Policy & Advocacy in the Arts (3 credits)
Understanding how nonprofit arts organizations can work productively with governments and businesses to develop and maintain sound public policies that serve the interests of the organization and their customers, framing public problems and developing arts policy proposals, building effective partnerships, constituencies and advocacy campaigns, and complying with lobbying regulations. Required.

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ARTL 5460: Strategic Planning in the Arts (3 credits)
Nonprofit organizations rely on leadership for success. A significant part of an organization’s success depends on the strategic plan that is developed and implemented for the organization. Focused on understanding the function of strategic, long-range and tactical planning, this course highlights the importance of leadership for realizing an organization’s fullest potential. Students will learn about developing the framework and tools to design a variety of planning models, motivating stakeholder involvement with different planning initiatives, integrating learning organization systems and principles, and creating vision, mission, values, and strategic thinking. Required.

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ARTL 5370: Boards & Volunteers in Arts Organizations (3 credits)
Organizing and leading arts volunteers to provide governance and other assistance, board and staff relations, systems and tactics of volunteer motivation, recruitment, development, utilization and retention, strategies and best practices for creating an effective, diverse and committed organizational leadership team. Required.

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ARTL 5430: Resource Development for Arts Organizations (3 credits)
Specific skills, knowledge and understanding required of arts leaders to lead and manage the resource development and fundraising functions, integrating fundraising and stewardship throughout the organization, organizational readiness measures, materials and tools of resource development, best practices for involving volunteers, boards and staff in researching and soliciting contributions, methodologies for creating and using an effective, diversified and comprehensive resource development plan. Required.

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ARTL 5800: Law and the Arts (3 credits)
This course examines the legal foundations of artistic creation including copyright, freedom of expression, ownership of ideas, and public domain laws. Students will also learn about the fundamentals of contract negotiation and creation and develop an understanding of the collective bargaining process. Topics include conflict resolution and the principles, methods and dynamics of negotiation and mediation processes. Required.

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ARTL 5990: Summary Project (3 credits)
Integrates the practicum and academic experiences of the program into one comprehensive project. This project recommends a solution or solutions to an existing problem in an arts organization. Students are expected to utilize current research and publications, advisors, academic resources, and their own experience to address the identified problem or challenge. This project is intended to integrate a wide variety of leadership management skills and the knowledge learned throughout the program. The course requires completion of a written report and an oral presentation. Required.

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ARTL 5950: Graduate Management Practicum (1-3 credits)
The practicum integrates and applies the arts management theories being learned in the course work with the realities of the workplace. Participants can select to work in one organization during the entire duration of the MFA program or they can elect to work in a variety of arts management areas in different organizations. This practicum provides students the opportunity to apply their knowledge in resource development, arts marketing, audience development, and general management to actual positions within Puget Sound arts organizations. Required.

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Common Program Elective Offerings:

ARTL-5440: Persuasive Communication for Arts Leaders (3 credits)
Principles and practices of speaking effectively to persuade an audience, methods of assessing audience communication preferences, preparing for formal and informal speaking opportunities expected of arts leaders including radio and television presentations, assessing your communication strengths and opportunities for improvement. This class will emphasize practice and feedback. GR Elective.

ARTL-5700: Infrastructure & Facilities (3 credits)
This course explores theory and practice in the planning, development, and operation of arts and cultural facilities and the other physical infrastructure used in the process of art making, presentation, education, and preservation. We will review key literature, policies, and initiatives around cultural economics, cultural planning, and related cultural tourism. You will be encouraged to explore the real-world challenges and competing priorities of arts facility planning, development, and operation in the context of artistic and community needs; the political and policy environment; and the economy. You will identify and analyze the elements of sustainable arts facility funding, development, construction and operation, at a variety of scales and in a variety of circumstances. Through these efforts, you will deepen your understanding of the role of arts leaders in shaping the physical environment, and the implications of arts and culture infrastructure for the sector’s mission-driven objectives. This course is well-suited for those wishing to apply nonprofit arts management theory to real world practice, and those interested in cultural policy, planning, tourism, funding, and capitalization. GR Elective.

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Alumni at Work

Nina Yarbrough, MFA alumna
Nina Yarbrough, MFA '16

Business Development Manager
Central District Forum for Arts & Ideas

Charly McCreary, MFA alumna
Charly McCreary, MFA '15

Founding Member
The Cabiri

Ben McCarthy MFA Alumnus
Ben McCarthy, MFA '15

Executive Director
Three Dollar Cinema

Meini Li, MFA Alumna
Meini Li, MFA '14

Advancement Manager
Seattle Youth Symphony Orchestra

Events and Information Sessions

Contact Us

Kevin Maifeld, MFA
Arts Leadership Programs Director
JEFF 401
206.296.5370
maifeldk@seattleu.edu 

Rosa Joshi 
Chair, Performing Arts & Arts Leadership
206.296.5367 
joshir@seattleu.edu

Graduate Admissions
206.220.8010
grad-admissions@seattleu.edu

Student Financial Services
206.220.8020
financialservices@seattleu.edu