Visual Arts Management, BA

The visual arts world is dynamic and competitive. You need to be, too. From independent galleries to museums to auction houses to online arts marketplaces, we’ll help you navigate the industry and find the right career path.

You’ll take management courses that are tailored to the arts industry on topics like information management, law, fundraising and finance. You’ll put your skills to work in real art galleries, exhibitions and events. There’s no linear path in the art world, and our program reflects that. You’ll have the flexibility to take enriching courses in other departments, including Art and Art History, Design, and Interactive Arts and Media.

At Columbia, Chicago is our campus. It’s an internationally renowned cultural hub, where you’ll have access to museums, galleries and the thriving local arts communities in the city’s diverse neighborhoods.

What to Expect Your First Year

In your first year, you’ll gain foundational knowledge that will be vital to your success in the visual arts industry. You’ll take core business courses in topics such as marketing, management and economics. But these aren’t your average business courses. We tailor them to the arts and media industries, so each example and scenario will make sense for the unique landscape of the creative industries.

You’ll also take a jam-packed survey course called Business of Visual Arts. This course will give you the lay of the land: current trends, opportunities, threats and themes emerging in the field. You’ll explore how different industries are structured and will meet with guest speakers and Columbia alumni to get a sense of what the work looks like day-to-day. You’ll also go on site visits to some of Chicago’s top galleries, museums and cultural institutions and get a behind-the-scenes look at the work that goes on in visual arts management.

What to Expect Your Last Year

By your last year at Columbia, you’ll be honing your skillset and building a resume. You will have taken courses like Exhibition Management and will have the practical knowledge and skills to develop exhibitions. You’ll put your knowledge to work in courses like Gallery Management: Practicum, where you’ll conceive, design, budget and market your own project. During this professional practice course, you’ll work at Columbia’s own Hokin Gallery, where you’ll curate and manage exhibitions on a professional level for the public.

You’ll also likely secure an internship in the field through our highly connected network of faculty, alumni and Columbia’s Career Center. Our students have interned at the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Institute of Chicago, the Field Museum, EXPO Chicago and commercial galleries across the city.

Detailed Program Information

Download a Four-Year Plan

For More Degree Requirements and Transfer Plans, Visit the Catalog

Real-world Opportunities

What experience will I get outside the classroom?

Columbia is a booming community where thousands of up-and-coming artists study every day. You’ll interact regularly with talented, energetic people to showcase the next generation of artists and designers in a diverse array of fields. There’s never a shortage of opportunity to help shape what’s next at Columbia and beyond.

You’ll also have the opportunity to explore the city’s many visiting artist showcases, galleries and exhibitions. As a Columbia student, Chicago is your campus. We’ll encourage you to stay in-the-know with the latest happenings in one of the world’s cultural hubs.

What are my internship options?

Internships are critical for Visual Arts Management students. We encourage juniors and seniors to seek multiple internships and gain experience in a variety of organizations and roles.

Our students have interned at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago Humanities Festival, EXPO Chicago, Chicago Cultural Center, The Field Museum, Hyde Park Art Center, auction houses like Leslie Hindman, and galleries like Carl Hammer Gallery, Kavi Gupta Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery in New York City.


Ready to Apply?

We’re happy you’re thinking of joining our creative community. We work hard to make our application process as simple and fast as possible, but should you run into any concerns, we're here to help at any time.

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