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The Master of Arts curriculum combines interdisciplinary studies, site visits, internship opportunities, and hands-on experience. The first semester of the three-semester program features foundational coursework that emphasizes important background knowledge and vital skills. First semester studies include:

Students conceptualize, curate, and install their own exhibition as part of AM 654.

  • 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.
  • History of the Art Market: Renaissance Italy to the Present: This introduction to the art market focuses on the market’s historical development through the present. Its current structure is discussed in detail.
  • Postwar and Contemporary Art: 1945-1989: Given that postwar and contemporary art currently dominates the market (accounting for 53 percent of total auction sales by value in 2019), our art historical coursework privileges this period. Developments from 1989 to the present are covered in the second-semester course Art in a Global Context: Post-1989.
  • Core Business Principles: Designed specifically for the Art Market Studies program, this course provides students with a solid grasp of three fields—economics, finance, and accounting—while drawing on examples from the art world. 
  • 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.) Second semester coursework includes: 

  • Gallery Management and Operations: The course addresses all aspects of 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 course covers the principles of marketing and communications, focusing specifically on art organizations including non-profit institutions and for-profit enterprises.
  • PracticumStudents identify and address art world issues and strategic challenges through partnerships with external organizations. This course balances the mastery of essential business research methods with real-world, hands-on experience. 

Site visits to galleries and other art businesses are an important component of the program.
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, totaling 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. 

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