The Arts Administration MBA is a full-time, two-year degree program combining graduate coursework in business and arts administration, distinguished guest speakers, and real-world work experience. This blend of coursework, networking, and hands-on experience prepares graduates for the special challenges of working in the arts.


The usual course of study includes foundation and advanced-level courses in business and related areas. Additional coursework focuses specifically on arts administration issues, and builds upon each individual student’s interests and skills through electives and a thesis requirement.

Elective credits can draw from any graduate-level course within the entire university, allowing individual students a broad spectrum of special studies, from public policy to communications to visual art to contract law.

The typical student’s first year consists of foundation courses and the Arts Administration Seminar, while the second year includes advanced-level courses, electives, as well as reading and research toward the required master’s thesis.

The capstone of this curriculum, the Arts Administration Seminar, provides an in-depth investigation of the Arts Administration field. The fall semester typically includes an overview of the role and responsibilities of the arts administrator. The spring semester places greater emphasis on participatory workshops in areas such as planning, grantsmanship, fundraising, marketing, outreach, and media relations. Throughout the year, presentations by leading practitioners from across the country bring each topic into sharp relief, and provide real-world perspectives on the theoretical training.


The second key aspect of the Bolz Center program is the development of a solid and diverse network of peer professionals, an essential tool for any active arts administrator. The Bolz Center program builds this network through its competitive and selective admissions process, its active alumni network, and its frequent contact with distinguished visiting lecturers.

The Bolz Center program accepts no more than ten new students each fall, fostering both a high level of excellence and close interaction within the incoming class. The small class size also allows one-on-one or small group meetings with visiting lecturers, to help answer individual questions and to build professional contacts. Beyond these personal contacts, Bolz Center students have access to one of the university’s most active and vital alumni networks, providing an excellent resource for professional development, consultancies, or career advice.

Hands-On Work Experience

The third essential aspect of the Bolz Center program is hands-on experience in the arts. Part-time, paid project assistantships with local and campus arts organizations allow students to apply their education to real-world situations.

Madison is a vital cultural center, with a large variety of arts and cultural organizations. Bolz Center students have been active participants in that cultural life for more than 30 years, working with a full spectrum of leading organizations.

Beyond the practical training these positions provide, project assistantships offer students an invaluable form of financial aid — including a full waiver of tuition, health insurance and dental benefits, and a stipend to help cover the additional costs of their education.

Students may also choose to participate in summer internships at organizations around the country. These have included work with the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walker Art Center, Lincoln Center, the National Cultural Alliance, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Wolf Trap Farm Foundation.