Time to degree: two years (48 credits)
Columbia College Chicago’s full-time, two-year Master of Arts Management program will energize your career in the creative industry. It’s designed for arts and entertainment professionals who need advanced business skills and for artists who want to take the next step in entreprenurship. You’ll study financial, legal, organizational, and strategic concepts within an arts and entertainment context. You’ll also take specialized courses that support your individual interests in for-profit or nonprofit management. Graduates of Columbia’s Arts Management master’s degree program go on to lead organizations in fields such as live performance, music business, theatre, marketing, visual arts, public engagement, and community service.
In this selective arts administration graduate program, you’ll study in a team environment with colleagues from around the world, building relationships that will set the foundation for your professional network. You’ll receive individual attention from our renowned faculty of successful arts administrators and working artists. You’ll gain real-life experience in project-based classes centering on gallery management, the business of music recording, publishing and distribution, live events management, and executive producing for film and television.
You’ll immerse yourself in business theory your first year. You’ll take courses like Accounting for Decision Making, Behavioral Economics, and Marketing Principles. All of your business administration courses will be taught within the context of the creative industries.
You’ll round out your second semester with courses in financial management, leadership, and law.
We leave a lot of the decisions up to you the second year of the program. In addition to required courses in new media strategies and strategic planning, you’ll take six electives during your second year. Elective courses cover topics tailored to your interests. Topics include fundraising, sponsorship, cultural policy, negotiation, and project management.
You can choose to work on a graduate thesis or an independent project under the guidance of a faculty mentor.
If you’re interested in launching your own business or organization, we offer a course dedicated to new business creation in the context of the arts, with a special focus on arts consulting as a potential entrepreneurial pursuit.
You’ll take on a leadership role in one of several practicum courses. These courses give you opportunities to launch real-world projects. Our student-run record labels sign real artists and promote their work, and our gallery management practicum launches real exhibitions and programming in downtown Chicago. We also offer practicum courses that allow you to manage a nightclub, plan and execute events, and manage design and marketing projects for real clients.
All practicum courses are taught by faculty members, who have extensive experience. For example, the hip-hop label course is run by one of Chicago’s leading label owners, and the curatorial practicum is led by a professional with years of experience in the New York and Chicago art communities.
Through assistantships, graduate students have many opportunities to gain experience in administration and leadership. For example, Arts Management grad students can plan and coordinate the department’s spring trip to the South by Southwest (SXSW) Music, Film, and Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas, conduct research in collaboration with a faculty member for academic publication, or serve as a teaching assistant for our undergraduate courses.
Scholarships are also available to incoming and current students. For a full list, visit our scholarships page.
Meet current student Kelly Schmader, who is chronicling her experience in the Master of Arts Management program for Marginalia, Columbia's graduate student blog. Kelly is also the program ambassador, and is happy to talk with you any time. Email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Columbia, Chicago is our campus. We expect you to explore all the city has to offer: iconic museums and concert venues, artist collectives, prominent theatres, a booming tech industry, and more. You’ll also have the opportunity to interact with Columbia’s collaborative organizations, such as TEDx and Google for Entrepreneurs as well as many local theaters, music venues, and museums. Our faculty members will help you foster connections in Chicago’s creative industries in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations.
Our students have interned at venues like Lookingglass Theatre and The Metro, media companies like MTV and Pitchfork, record labels like Warner Music Group, galleries and museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art and Hyde Park Art Center, and events companies like Riot Fest and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.
Columbia faculty members bring their experience into the classroom every day. They not only study how management works, they lead teams and execute projects on the ground. Many are active entrepreneurs, producers, agents, lawyers, board members, and administrators. They know what you need to learn to get ahead and will shape your understanding of what’s next in the creative industries.
Master of Arts Management alum Jacky Schiestel ’04 uses her creativity and innovative spirit as a human resources business professional at Google.
Our Master of Arts Management alumni are on the forefront of rapidly changing creative industries. They work at marketing firms and talent agencies as well as world-class museums, galleries, and concert venues. They produce music festivals and curate theatre productions. They’re shaping not only the future of their fields but the very role of art in society. And they’re always looking for Columbia grads to join their teams.
Justin Kamps MAM ’09, Music Supervisor, Chop Shop
Justin Kamps MAM ’09 spends a lot of his day watching TV and listening to music. But being a music supervisor is about way more than binge-watching or binge-listening. “For me, it’s the perfect combination of left-brain/right-brain skills,” Kamps says. He gets to use his creativity to find the perfect song to make a scene, but also has to negotiate licensing of the music. “I’ve been lucky to work with several great artists … for film and TV projects like Lucifer, Mad Men, Grey’s Anatomy, Supernatural, and more,” he says. “My favorite part is getting to tell an independent artist I love that their song is going to be airing on TV in the coming weeks.”
Calid Bowen MAM ’10, Social Media Manager, Epsilon
Managing social media goes beyond browsing Twitter. Calid Bowen MAM ’10 says strategy, data, and client management are the foundation of being a successful social media manager. He works at Epsilon, an agency that serves big-name clients like the NFL and KitchenAid. Bowen says businesses prioritize social media because it’s become central to customer relations. But a good strategy could change in an instant. “With the speed and constant change of social media, every day is a challenge and keeps me on my toes,” he says. “I’m grateful that my position allows me to … have a deeper understanding of the digital innovation that is happening all around us,” he says.
Renee Rock MAM ’14, Director of Operations, CSz Chicago (ComedySportz)
CSz Theatre Chicago is home to one of the most beloved all-ages improv shows in the city: ComedySportz. As director of operations, Renee Rock MAM ’14 makes sure it all goes off without a hitch. “I get to guide the company’s overarching vision for the future while working with some of the funniest people in the city,” she says. Rock has a hand in CSz’s strategy, including programming initiatives and marketing. But she’s especially proud of developing a positive company culture. “Our shows … unify with the one thing we all have in common: laughter. We work hard to emulate that inclusive spirit both onstage and throughout our organization—which is very hard work, but incredibly rewarding.”
Lisette Medina MAM ’10, Special Events Project Manager, Illinois Restaurant Association
“When people think of event management, they picture glamorous parties filled with fancy food, specialty cocktails, live music, and famous people,” says Lisette Medina MAM ’10, special events project manager for the Illinois Restaurant Association. “What doesn’t come to mind are all the details that have to be attended to in order to produce a successful event. And the details matter. A lot.” Medina spends months preparing for huge events such as Taste of Chicago, the James Beard Awards, and Chicago Gourmet. “From restaurant recruitment and coordination to copywriting and editing, my job allows me to utilize my skills … to produce some of the largest and most well-received food and beverage events in the country.”
Benjamin Kelner MAM ’09, Director of Strategy and External Relations, Chicago Sister Cities International
Chicago Sister Cities partnered with 28 cities around the globe to bring international artists, businesses, educators, and advocates to Chicago. Benjamin Kelner MAM ’09 helps Chicago stay connected with cities from Toronto all the way to Osaka. “I provide guidance on our organizational and communications strategies, help increase awareness of our mission, and promote the collaborative nature of our work,” he says. For example, he works on an education initiative that brings 25 girls from sister cities to Chicago for the Global Youth Ambassadors Leadership Summit. He also managed Chicago’s involvement in the 2015 World’s Fair, taking Chicago chefs and bands to Milan for public events. He now works on a complete rebrand of the organization, which will help Chicago maintain its reputation as a global city. “I’m passionate about raising an international cultural awareness in Chicago … as we strive to make our city more diverse and inclusive.”