The Master of Arts curriculum combines interdisciplinary studies, field trips, internship opportunities, and hands-on experience in organizing an exhibition. The first semester of the three-semester program features foundational coursework that emphasizes important background knowledge and vital skills. Studies include:
- The International Art Market: This introduction to the art market focuses on the market’s historical development and its current structure.
- History of Contemporary Art, 1945 to the Present: Postwar and contemporary art is currently the dominant period of art in the market, accounting for 52 percent of total auction sales by value in 2016.
- Core Business Principles: This course provides an introduction to understanding business, comprising topics including accounting, finance and financial markets, and management.
- Art Market Research and Valuation: Students are introduced to advanced research methods in art and learn how the value of a work of art is determined.
- Art, Law, and Professional Ethics: This course introduces students to legal issues specific to the art market, including the legal responsibilities of galleries, auction houses, dealers, and collectors.
The second semester builds on this foundational knowledge, delving deeper into the two main business models in the art world: the gallery and the auction house. (In recent years, galleries have accounted for roughly 50 percent market share; the auction business has comprised the remaining 50 percent.) Coursework includes:
- Gallery Management and Operations: The course considers the commercial art gallery: its program; artist roster; facilities; design; exhibition and storage requirements; staffing; and price levels.
- The Auction Business: Students are introduced to the inner workings of the auction business, following the path of property from consignment to auction block.
- Art in a Global Context, Post-1989: The course addresses the theoretical and sociopolitical parameters of art production, presentation, and exchange in a global context after 1989.
- Marketing for Art Organizations: This introduction to the principles of marketing communications focuses specifically on art organizations, including non-profit institutions, such as museums, and for-profit enterprises.
- Practicum: Exhibition: Students organize an exhibition of contemporary art, developing the exhibition theme; selecting the artists; securing loans; negotiating contracts; writing promotional materials, wall text, and labels; organizing the opening reception; and installing the show.
In the third and final semester of the program, students complete a required internship and choose between one of two tracks:
- Option 1 requires students to write a thesis, totalling 12,000 to 15,000 words and representing an original contribution to the field. Students who choose this track will enroll in AM 655 Thesis Seminar and AM 701 Thesis Preparation. The Thesis Seminar will guide students through the research and writing process, while also providing background on research methodologies and academic standards.
- Option 2 comprises two business-oriented courses — AM 600 Case Study Research and AM 602 Innovation in the Creative Industries — which guide students in identifying specific business problems within the art market and considering viable solutions. Whereas Innovation in the Creative Industries primarily supports the development of a new business venture, Case Study Research focuses on the research and analysis of an existing organization, with the end goal of producing a business case study and teaching note suitable for publication.