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Best Online Master’s Degrees in: Art Education

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Editor's Picks: Online Schools for Art Education

The University of Florida won our best value school award for an institution that offers a master's degree in art education online. The university has a return on investment (ROI), or the amount paid in tuition versus what is made in lifetime earnings, of 10.3%, according to With financial aid, the ROI increases to 11.8%.

Featured Online Programs

The San Francisco-based Academy of Art University earned our award for academic flexibility because of its academic flexibility. The university was given a B- for academic flexibility, which indicates the degree to which a school makes reasonable accommodations to work around a student's schedule, by College Prowler. The website also ranked Academy of Art University No. 23 in its list of best online course options.

Career Support
Academy of Art University also won our career support award for its career workshop programs it offers for on-campus and online students. Students, graduates, and alumni have access to the university's individual career counseling services, which include resume and portfolio tips, hiring standards, industry trends, and networking techniques. College Prowler gave Academy of Art University a B for its career services programs.

Financial Support
Since 99% of its students receive financial aid, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, the University of Florida took home our financial support award. The university believes that financial factors shouldn't deny a student from obtaining a college degree, and thus offers grant, scholarship, and loan programs. Students who attend classes on campus may also receive aid through the university's student employment program.

Technology Support
The University of Missouri's online program, MizzouOnline, earned our best technology support award for its informative website and availability of technical support by email or phone. MizzouOnline's website features a frequently asked questions (FAQ) page that addresses more than 40 inquiries about its online classes, including about fees, policies, financial aid, and admissions and enrollment. The FAQ includes an email address and phone number for students who are having problems accessing their course information.

Student Engagement
The University of Nebraska –Kearney finished top of its class for student engagement in our awards because of the ease at which students can participate in class. The university placed at No. 17 in the U.S. News & World Report's Best Colleges ranking of student engagement and accreditation of top online graduate education programs.

Library and Research Support
Penn State University earned the best library and research support award for its University Libraries system, which is the seventh largest research library in the country and home to more than 100,000 e-books. Students can also use Penn State's World Campus system to access course syllabi and assignments, communicate with teachers and fellow students, pay tuition, and get textbooks through the online bookstore.

Learning Support
Boston University wins our award for learning support. Students of the university's online program learn in an environment that promotes artistic behavior within a supportive student community. They also have access to a team of faculty that is there to facilitate their educational experience. The faculty includes an admissions advisor, course instructor, program manager, and a student services coordinator.

Faculty Credentials
The University of Nebraska – Kearney also took home top honors for faculty credentials. The U.S. News & World Report placed the university at No. 4 in its faculty credentials and training rankings of the top online graduate education programs. According to the U.S. News, 100% of the online faculty have at least two years of online teaching experience, and the school provides and finances a mandatory online instruction training program for its professors.

Faculty Accessibility
Ohio State University took top honors for faculty accessibility. College Prowler gave the university an A- for academics, which is a measurement of the knowledge, accessible, and interest professors take in the welfare of their students. The website also considers class size, whether classes are engaging, and how well professors communicate.

Alumni Engagement
Maryland Institute College of Art's alumni program earned our award for alumni engagement. The school's alumni network includes 16,000 graduates and students living in 64 countries who work as studio artists, designers, and entrepreneurs. By being a member of the alumni association, graduates have access to career development programs, including career counseling, and they can enroll in continuing studies courses at a 15% discount.

New Student Orientation
Boston University also won our new student orientation award. New students are supported by a team of university faculty who are there to help them succeed. Before they enroll, students can see the computer requirements of the courses on the school's website, and online technical support is available should the student have any issues with accessing the course material.

Explore a Master's Degree in Art Education

Online master's degree programs in art education are designed to help students develop a comprehensive and critical understanding of the field of art education, while giving them the opportunity to pursue advanced research in their area of specialization. Areas of focus can range from traditional mediums, such as painting, to digital or experimental media. Graduates may work as teachers in secondary and postsecondary schools, private learning centers, and child care facilities. Opportunities may also be available in curriculum development with non-profit arts organizations. For those interested in working in higher education, some four-year colleges and universities require a Ph.D. to qualify for instructor positions, but many junior colleges only require a master's degree.

Online programs provide students with the option to continue working at their jobs while taking classes either full or part time. The typical time needed to complete this type of degree is two years. However, the number of classes a student opts to take each term, any applicable transfer credits brought in, and whether or not the student takes any breaks during the program, can all affect time to graduation.

Class Curriculum

Art education students will likely complete a curriculum of survey, seminar, studio, and research courses. Common topics of discussion include art history, principles in teaching art, curriculum development, and research methods. Some examples of courses that may be required in this type of program are:

  • Contemporary Issues in Art Education. This course is designed to explore events, theories, trends, and practices that are currently influencing art education. This will include contemporary writing, movements, and other external influences.
  • Sketchbook Development. This studio course will focus on the student's development as both artist and art educator. The curriculum will focus on observation, organization, experimentation, and conceptualization.
  • Methods of Research in Art Education. Students will learn about qualitative and quantitate research methods as well as the review process for research literature pertaining to art education. Discussion topics will include research design, collection of data, analysis, validity, and reporting.

Students studying art education should expect assignments to include readings, portfolio development, studio work, curriculum development exercises, research projects, papers, and presentations. Given the hands-on nature of studio work, online students may be required to complete some on-campus sessions throughout the program, depending on the school's specific requirements. Students should also be prepared to complete a master's thesis or capstone project based on original research that demonstrates their ability to apply the theoretical knowledge they have gained throughout the program in practical ways.

Building a Career

Those who earn their master's degree in art education should be equipped with the analytical, problem-solving, and artistic skills to pursue careers teaching art in public and private schools, learning centers, and child care facilities. Art education majors may also work in curriculum development or for non-profit organizations that promote the arts. Those interested in teaching at a four-year college or university may need a Ph.D. to meet the requirements. However, many junior and community colleges only require a master's degree to work as an instructor.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for kindergarten and elementary school teachers is expected to increase by 17% from 2010 to 2020. This is slightly above the average 14% growth expected for jobs overall. The demand for self-enrichment teachers is expected to increase by 21% over this same time period. The median annual wage for kindergarten and elementary schools teachers was $51,380, and the median annual wage for art, drama, and music teachers at the postsecondary level was $62,330 according to statistics. Remember that actual salaries and job openings can vary based on location, level of education, experience, the specific employer, and the general economic climate.