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M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management

Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota boasts a nationally recognized Master of Arts in Arts and Cultural Management program that provides the foundation that professionals need to lead thriving arts and cultural organizations of all sizes. 

Graduates of Saint Mary’s have gone on to have successful careers coast-to-coast as executive directors, development officers, program directors, leaders in public relations, and more.

Program Outcomes

Students who attend Saint Mary’s benefit from the vibrant Twin Cities arts and culture scene and receive the support of the university’s extensive alumni network to secure residencies and careers. Key elements of the Saint Mary’s M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management program include instruction from industry professionals and a long-term residency, during which students gain experience by working in the field.

Students will come away with:

  • Communications strategies to promote effective management and outreach
  • Ethical leadership to ensure sound operational management, resource development, and financial management
  • Strategic planning tools to support organizational innovation and growth

Words From an Alum

“With its integrated curriculum of classroom and field work, this program provided me with a complete set of skills for taking on challenges faced by today’s arts manager.”

—Justin Christy, Education Program Manager, The Bush Foundation

From Start to Finish

  • You can earn your M.A. in Arts and Cultural Management degree in a little over two years.
  • Cohorts begin each spring, summer, and fall. Apply today.


This program is offered at our Twin Cities location.

Degree Requirements

Degree Requirements

Required Arts and Cultural Management Courses 30 cr.
Required Summative Activities 7 cr.
Arts and Cultural Management Electives 2 cr.
Total 39 cr.

Required Arts and Cultural Management Courses: 30 cr.

ACM600 Management of Nonprofit Organizations (3 cr.)

This course is an overview of management of nonprofit organizations within the broader societal context. The course examines the broad historic and current context for work in the nonprofit sector; strategic leadership, including board governance and executive leadership within an organizational life cycles framework; concepts of business strategy, strategic planning, benchmarking, and evaluation; and an overview of operations planning. Strategic linkages between an organization's mission and values, strategic direction, and programming are examined.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze types and characteristics of nonprofit operating principles and structures.
  2. Apply concepts of nonprofit accountability and ownership.
  3. Analyze the relationship between external factors and organizational programs.
  4. Explain operations and characteristics of a board governance model.
  5. Compare and contrast strategic planning and strategic management.
  6. Create measurable benchmarks for monitoring progress against strategy.
  7. Evaluate operating goals, objectives, tactics, and implementation tools.
  8. Analyze the role of strategic planning within organizational life, explaining the relationship among organizational mission, strategy, vision, and values.

ACM605 Cultural Workplace Dynamics (3 cr.)

This course examines areas of human resource management and workplace dynamics specific to nonprofit organizations. The curriculum addresses the knowledge and skills necessary to lead and work with individuals and teams, including staff, volunteers, board members, and other nonprofit stakeholders. Students learn about organizational culture, workplace dynamics and conflict, generational differences, stakeholder roles and responsibilities, and labor negotiations. Also explored is the development and management of internal and external stakeholders who provide governance and leadership to nonprofit organizations, including a focus on adaptive competencies such as interpersonal skills, supervision, and ethical decision making.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Compare the roles of various staff members and volunteers in a nonprofit organization
  2. Explain the fundamentals of hiring and supervision
  3. Analyze the ethical duties of the board of directors.
  4. Analyze key skills required for employee supervision and interpersonal dynamics.
  5. Identify how to create teams and collaborations with different organizational stakeholders.
  6. Use conflict management approaches.
  7. Assess strategies for engaging diverse internal and external organizational stakeholders.

ACM610 Cultural Studies (3 cr.)

This course examines the role of the arts and culture in global societies, how managers facilitate and present artists' work, and the roles played by various stakeholders in cultural development in diverse communities. The role of arts criticism and how art is assessed in diverse cultures is also discussed.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Explain creative processes and the work of artists.
  2. Analyze the qualities and impacts of different works of art.
  3. Relate the role of the artist to the role of the arts organizations and arts managers.
  4. Compare cultural and artistic practices in various cultures and communities.
  5. Describe how organizational, social, and physical constructs impact the work of artists and how audiences experience art.

ACM615 Cultural Policy and Leadership (3 cr.)

This course examines the challenges to cultural managers presented by political, economic, and social conditions both nationally and internationally. The policy and leadership roles of cultural managers and an overview of organizational and operational models are presented. Other topics include development of public policy, the role of advocacy and political engagement, leadership theories, strategies for effective engagement with institutional and community decision makers, and the current and emerging trends affecting cultural organizations.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Identify and articulate key issues, environmental situations, and current trends facing the culture industry nationally and internationally.
  2. Analyze the political, economic, and social context of a current arts issue and the resulting impact on public policy.
  3. Discuss and compare the concept of public policy as it relates to culture in different societies.
  4. Analyze various approaches to and theories of leadership.
  5. Analyze effective communication models for leadership and advocacy.
  6. Strategize effective techniques to influence public policy.

ACM620 Communications for Cultural Managers (3 cr.)

This course strengthens students’ communication skills for a career in arts management, focusing both on skills needed in the field and in academic communications. The course covers requirements for academic research, synthesis of research, organization of writing, and proper citation. Using analysis and problem-solving methods, students consider what communication approaches to employ in a variety of situations arts managers face. Also explored is the students' ability to speak confidently and effectively in a variety of public speaking situations.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate critical thinking skills in the documentation, understanding, and analysis of academic research, industry reports, and sector practices.
  2. Locate and use scholarly or peer reviewed research in class projects, papers, and peer presentations.
  3. Discuss requirements for academic research and presentations.
  4. Evaluate and demonstrate effective oral communication strategies.
  5. Apply diverse communication tools and strategies to engage diverse organizational stakeholders.
  6. Analyze an organization’s objectives and how to make an effective case for support modulated to different stakeholders

ACM625 Cultural Programming & Evaluation (3 cr.)

This course explores the concept planning, design, decision-making, and evaluation processes during the start-up, implementation, and completion phases of cultural programs and projects. Linkages between an organization's strategic direction and artistic programming are examined. Artistic and management staffing, marketing and budget planning, community involvement, and evaluation methods appropriate to measure the success of cultural programming are covered.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Apply the principles of program development, implementation, and evaluation.
  2. Recognize program life cycles.
  3. Apply appropriate program/project management tools.
  4. Analyze the impact on program development by organizational mission, structure, systems, and external factors.
  5. Identify and write measurable program outcomes for evaluation purposes.
  6. Apply evaluation information to program management decision making.

ACM630 Fund Development (3 cr.)

This course examines techniques, tools, and strategies needed for the development of contributed revenue in nonprofit organizations. Topics include development and assessment of an organization's fund development plan; preparation of grant proposals, other type of appeals, and special events; coordination of capital campaigns and planned giving; and examination of how different types of organizations manage fund development needs. Also discussed are the donor's viewpoint and emerging trends in philanthropy, and the ethics and legalities of fundraising.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Identify funding opportunities appropriate to an organization.
  2. Evaluate components of various types of fundraising campaigns.
  3. Discuss role of staff and board members in meeting fundraising objectives.
  4. Evaluate a targeted funding appeal.
  5. Design a contributed revenue strategy.
  6. Summarize the adequacy of an organization’s fund development program and position.
  7. Assess the ethical implications of various fundraising strategies.

ACM635 Ethics and Arts Law (3 cr.)

This course examines the various laws and standards that have been developed to guide, monitor, and/or regulate the behavior of individuals and organizations in the arts, and the various legal structures created to deliver and manage art.  The tensions between artistic expression, property rights, and privacy are explored, as well as the diverse responsibilities of the arts organization and management.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Differentiate between ethical and legal rights and responsibilities.
  2. Compare the processes for establishing and operating for profit and nonprofit organizations.
  3. Identify the various conflicts between public and private interests as they relate to the cultural organizations.
  4. Identify professional ethical guidelines for dealing with artists and their work.
  5. Develop and apply a personal ethical framework for decision making.
  6. Identify and analyze key legal issues that impact cultural organizations.
  7. Utilize asset management strategies that meet legal requirements and fit an ethical framework.
  8. Apply legal principles for resolving conflicts.
  9. Interpret intellectual property laws.

ACM645 Marketing for Nonprofits (3 cr.)

The course examines practical strategies and trends in marketing for small and mid-sized nonprofit organizations. Topics include the role of marketing in nonprofits, marketing research and planning, marketing's impact on organizational revenue, relationship between marketing and fund development, types of marketing tools and strategies, audience identification and development, and role of staff and board of directors in nonprofit marketing.  Also explored is the role of technology and social media in marketing.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Characterize a nonprofit audience profile in preparing effective marketing strategies.
  2. Employ positioning strategies, branding, and target marketing to benefit the organization.
  3. Identify the proper role and benefits of various marketing tools.
  4. Apply modern marketing approaches using appropriate technology to nonprofits.
  5. Develop an effective marketing plan.
  6. Describe the role of marketing in a nonprofit organization.

ACM660 Nonprofit Financial Management (3 cr.)

This course presents generally accepted financial management principles and practices applicable to nonprofit organizations. Financial statements and reports are interpreted and analyzed, and financial analysis tools are applied to describe and evaluate the financial condition of nonprofit organizations. Related topics include budgeting, description of financial systems, and legal reporting requirements for nonprofit organizations.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Interpret and evaluate the financial condition of an organization utilizing financial statements.
  2. Utilize financial statements as a basis for decision-making.
  3. Prepare and analyze operating budgets.
  4. Employ the use of budgeting and financial monitoring systems to support decision-making.
  5. Describe general financial issues within a nonprofit organization.
  6. Explain the standards utilized by watchdog organizations.

Required Summative Activities: 7 cr.

ACM680/681 Residency/Capstone Progression (4 cr.)

Students are expected to complete all hours of the residency working at one cultural organization. The residency is a culminating program experience of at least 240 hours in a cultural organization that prepares students for employment or advancement in the field of arts and cultural management. Knowledge and skills acquired through coursework are applied and evaluated. Plans for additional personal and professional development are considered. Research on the capstone topic continues during the course of the residency.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Reflect upon and assess the development of professional skills related to the residency.
  2. Apply cultural management skills ethically and effectively within the residency organization.
  3. Utilize supportive communication with supervisors, peers, and subordinates.
  4. Analyze the organizational components of the residency institution.
  5. Develop a capstone proposal, including topic statement and primary research sources.

ACM690 Capstone Seminar (3 cr.)

This culminating course provides the opportunity for students to synthesize and present the concepts, knowledge, and experiences gained from completion of all coursework and the residency.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Evaluate information and sources critically.
  2. Synthesize knowledge, skills, and experiences about arts and cultural management.
  3. Employ format, structure, tone, and APA style appropriate for the paper.
  4. Deliver capstone papers to supervisors and peers.
  5. Discuss and critique peer presentations using a supportive communication style.

Electives: 2 cr.

ACM650 Arts Education (2 cr.)

This course presents participants with information and tools to analyze, assess, improve and create education programs for arts and cultural organizations. By examining current national research and trends in arts education, and national and local resources, students gain both a theoretical and practical grounding in best practices for education programming for arts and cultural organizations.

Upon completion of this course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Articulate a rationale for arts education informed by current practice and research.
  2. Identify local as well as national arts education resources and the forces that affect arts education.
  3. Examine best practices and standards in arts education programs and partnerships.
  4. Analyze the role of community stakeholders and partners in arts education, and most frequently used delivery systems.
  5. Evaluate arts education program designs.
  6. Create arts education programs that provide quality arts education, meet demonstrated community need, and effectively advance an organization’s mission.

ACM655 Arts and Community Development (2 cr.)

This course explores vitality in geographic communities and the unique role played by culture. The dynamic relationships that exist between artists, cultural organizations, and communities and ways that culture can be an active agent or catalyst for economic, social, and civic development are explored. Topics include a historical overview of the community development field, concepts of creative community building, and how the civic and economic impact of the arts can be measured. Case studies of cooperative partnerships are explored. Specific areas of concentration include arts-based community building strategies, and how indicators are used to measure outcomes are explored.

Upon completion of the course, students are expected to be able to do the following:

  1. Discuss the unique role of arts in the development of social and economic capital.
  2. Analyze characteristics of community development programs including who is benefiting and what are the power relationships.
  3. Identify and assess the assets of geographic communities.
  4. Discuss economic and social indicators relevant to community development.
  5. Articulate the process of engaging community members in the planning, implementation, and evaluation of community projects.
  6. Design effective, measurable community development programs that integrate cultural assets.


*ACM600, ACM630, ACM645, and ACM660 are designed with a nonprofit focus suitable for all master level students who may be working in sectors such as social service, health, government, or other areas.

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SGPP Admission - Enrollment Counselor Graduate School of Business and Technology

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