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Q: Master's Degree ( Answered,   0 Comments )
Subject: Master's Degree
Category: Reference, Education and News > Education
Asked by: kaprkr-ga
List Price: $4.00
Posted: 15 Jun 2002 18:23 PDT
Expires: 22 Jun 2002 18:23 PDT
Question ID: 27309
I am in a minor crisis. I had planned on pursuing my Master of Fine
next year and was accepted into a good program and given a lot of
money to go to this program. However, I was very skeptical about
getting a Master of Fine Arts as I would rather not take only studio
classes and make work for two years only to get a job teaching when I
graduate. Recently I was accepted to a Masters program in Arts
Education at the number one art school in the country. My question is,
am I going to have a more difficult time finding a good paying job if
I get a Master of Fine Arts or if I get a Masters in Art Education? Is
it worth possibly going into debt for a Masters in Art Education? I
would be able to teach with financial compensation in both programs.
Please help. I'm feeling hopeless.
Subject: Re: Master's Degree
Answered By: fugitive-ga on 15 Jun 2002 19:23 PDT

I can tell you from personal experience that jobs in the field of
education are more likely than if you just get a generic MFA. I work
at a university with a large School of Education and can confirm that
teaching positions in all fields are in growing demand.

The prospects of employment with an MFA does depend upon your specific
area of specialization. Employment in the arts is traditionally
problematic (i.e., you already know that if you can do computer
programming in the C++ language you can get a job easily - you won't
be very happy, either!). Note that teaching positions usually require
some kind of certification on a state by state basis, so ensure that
your Masters Program in Arts Education includes such certification
(i.e., that it is indeed a teaching certification). This would usually
just refer to kindergarten through 12th grade and not Community
College, college, or university teaching. Outside of teaching, MFA's
typically end up working in the non-profit sector in museums, special
collections, etc. Again, it does depend upon the specific area of
expertise you're personally  developing.

One of the best general sources I know for determining job prospects
is the Occupational Outlook Handbook (OOH) produced by the US
Department of Labor. You can find the full text of the latest edition
(2003-2003) at:

You can search the OOH by keyword, but I would recommend you at least
look at the entries for "Artists and Related Workers,"
"Teachers--Postsecondary," and "Teachers--preschool, kindergarten,
elementary, middle, and secondary" located respectively here:

   Artists and Related Workers


   Teachers--preschool, kindergarten, elementary, middle, and

You'll find analyses for each of these which should give you an idea
of what to expect. You can also poke around using terms like "art" and
"artist" and "MFA" to find related occupations. The search in the OOH
using the term "MFA" turned up:

1. Artists and Related Workers - size 28,040 bytes - 4/26/02
7:06:26 PM GMT
2. Actors, Producers, and Directors - size 32,032 bytes - 4/26/02
7:06:28 PM GMT
3. Designers - size 40,378 bytes - 4/26/02
7:06:27 PM GMT
4. Arts, Design, Entertainment, Sports, and Media Occupations - size 1,515,116 bytes -

Another approach is to ask the people running the programs in which
you are interested about employment prospects. Typically, such
graduate programs maintain records of percentage of employment of
graduates (and where). My degree is in Library Science and the program
I graduated from regularly released annual statistics on percentage of
graduates hired, and where they were employed. Such evaluation tells
the program whether they are succeeding or failing. It is also used as
a recruiting tool as in "within one year of graduation 93% of MLS
degree holders at UCLA were working at professional librarian
positions." Since you're going to be giving them money for services, I
recommend you overcome any shyness you might have and aggressively
pursue getting this kind of information from them. Don't take "we
don't know" for an answer. Consider that "we don't know" is NOT a
healthy response! Hopefully, they'll be more than happy to give you
the information you need.

You can also search the professional literature regarding education
(and thus, art and education) using Ask ERIC. Ask ERIC is a database
of the professional literature of education and can be found at:

You won't get much fulltext, but when I did a search using the terms:

   "art education and employment"

and restricting for the years 2000-2002 I turned up 8 articles which
might be worth obtaining. An example title that sounds promising:

ERIC_NO: ED436679 
TITLE: The Art of Getting Started: Graduate Skills in a Fragmented
Labour Market. IES Report 364.
AUTHOR: La Valle, Ivana; O'Regan, Siobhan; Jackson, Charles 

Here's a hint. When you see an ERIC_NO that starts with "ED" that
refers to the ERIC microfiche collection. If you live in any
metropolitan area, there's likely a university or college who owns
this collection (no guarantees but phone them - ask "do you have the
ERIC microfiche?"). Once you find a place with the fiche collection,
you ask for it by the ERIC_NO. I.e., to get this specific item, ask
for ERIC fiche ED436679. Anything that does not start with "ED" is a
citation to an article in a publication, thus, you'll have to locate
that publication.

Feel free to ask for clarification in a specific area if these
resources don't help you or make you feel better, and sincerely, GOOD


Request for Answer Clarification by kaprkr-ga on 16 Jun 2002 12:12 PDT
What a thorough response  - thank you. However, I should have added
that I'm more interested in pursuing Museum Studies and career options
in Museums or Galleries.  And not teaching afterall - so I guess I was
wondering if the MFA would open more opporunities to work in Museums
or if the Masters would. thanks so much!

Clarification of Answer by fugitive-ga on 17 Jun 2002 12:53 PDT

I discussed this with a colleague with whom I work at the University
here (we're a Rodney Dangerfield of a public institution somewhere in
the midwest). He's in a Master of History program with a
specialization in Museum Studies. We both agreed that there isn't an
answer as to WHICH degree would be best, but that an MFA because of
the (normally) strong studio component is less useful as an entry
degree for a position in a museum. Typically, positions in museums
require multiple degrees (same goes for my field of librarianship).
The Occupational Outlook Handbook sites I pointed you to will still
give you a good idea of the general employment outlook in your field.

The MFA is also only useful in conjunction with the pursuit of other
specific skills via classwork and/or internships. The good news is
that since you are starting out, you can plan your coursework and
outside work to develop the skills specific to your eventual desired

Part of the problem with a definitive answer has to do with the
specific programs, and your specific desires: how well do they fit? In
Museum Studies, programs can focus on administration, exhibits,
restoration and conservation, registration (archives), and even museum
librarianship. Check to see if either of the programs in which you are
interested have specializations in career options in museums and
galleries. It's not necessarily just the degree (label), but what is
done to get the degree.

A suggestion would be to have you look at potential job postings for
the kind of positions you eventually want to hold. If you see the
requirements now, you can prepare for them as you pursue your MFA.

I'll leave you with this disguised example of a typical job posting
which might give you the idea of the kind of skills (in advance) would
be required for the position:

The Bullwinkle J. Moose Curator of American Art

The Bullwinkle Curatorship in American Art is a newly-endowed position
of the Springfield Hoosier Library at the University of Hoople-South
Dakota. The Hoosier Library is seeking a generalist curator with a
strong background in American art whose duties will include the
oversight of the Hoosier Library's significant holdings in American
art, including paintings, prints, drawings and sculpture; to assist in
the enhancement and further development of the Bullwinkle online
museum; to work with university staff and an advisory council in the
development, design, and planning of both physical and virtual
exhibits and educational programming; to maintain curatorial and
archival records related to the collections; to research and develop
avenues for further programming and development; and to make
recommendations for further acquisitions. A significant part of the
Curator's responsibilities will also be to assist the Library in the
development of its planned art museum.

The Hoosier Library, founded in 1846, is the oldest library west of
the Mississippi River and the oldest cultural institution in
Springfield. A rare book library and primary source repository of
national reputation and significance, since 1997 in affiliation with
the University of Hoople-South Dakota, the Library's constituency and
programming is international in scope. The Library is also in the
planning stages of a freestanding Museum facility to be located on the
University's campus. In addition to its own significant collections,
the Library hosts the Bullwinkle Collection of art of the Moose in the
American West and the Bullwinkle Museum, a completely virtual museum
with a strong interest in educational outreach and the promotion of
the study of the art and history of the moose in the West.

The ideal candidate will be a highly motivated individual with
preferably one or more advanced degrees in American art, art history,
library science, museum studies or a similar appropriate discipline,
preferably will have experience in Museum-related exhibition design
and research, and be conversant in HTML/web design and related
information systems technology, and will possess excellent oral and
written communication skills.
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