Master of Arts in Visual Art Education (MA VAE)

Eastern Michigan University is proud to be a leader in providing certified art educators the opportunity to strengthen their teaching practices through rigorous and targeted study at the graduate level. Our curriculum empowers art teachers to become leaders in visual arts assessment. Our teachers develop curriculum that expands student thinking to include multiple points of view. EMU grad students develop practices based upon research which culminates in a capstone project designed by the art teacher. The MA VAE program supports the department-wide focus on student-centered learning, on excellence in teaching, creative work and research, and on meeting the visual arts education state and national teacher preparation standards.

Why pursue a Master’s degree?

Pedagogy [ped-uh-goh-jee, -goj-ee] : the science of teaching

The opportunity to network with others while being mentored by master educators allows teachers enrolled in graduate programs to develop a strong sense of pedagogical self-efficacy. In others words, teachers begin to feel more assured and confident in their research-based practices. Because they become more critical and aware of their own practices teachers with earned master’s degrees are more likely to hold leadership positions within the schools. Many schools, therefore, provide higher salaries to teachers with advanced degrees.

EMU has a strong group of graduate students. We invite practicing art educators to consider joining this vibrant learning community.

Funding Opportunities

Scholarship: Outstanding graduate students are encouraged to apply for the Anne Taubitz Townsend Memorial Scholarship awarded each spring. The application deadline is February 14.

Art Education Professional Development Fund: Students who attend the state and/or national art education association conference will be reimbursed the cost of the registration fee. This support is made available by donors to the EMU Foundation for the purpose of helping EMU art teachers to become professionally active at the state and national level. Applications need to be submitted to the art office within 30 days of the conference.


Entry requirements are a minimum of 34 credit hours of art education and studio art with a minimum 2.8 grade point average in these classes. In addition, each applicant is expected to hold a teaching certificate for the teaching of art. Criteria considered in the admissions process in order of importance: transcript, teaching philosophy, statement of research interests, quality of art work as evidenced in slides, and letters of reference.

All applicants must complete the online application posted on the Graduate Admissions Homepage. Select “apply now” and follow the prompts to create an account username and password. After entering basic applicant and residency information you will be asked to select your academic objective. Simply select the appropriate objective from the pull down menu (in most cases: New – I want to apply to a new EMU grad program), the College or Arts and Sciences, and Art - Visual Arts Education - (Master of Arts). Once you “save” this portion of the application you will be provided with a link to complete The School of Art & Design’s Application (submitted via Slideroom). Here you will provide 3 letters of recommendation, a letter of intent that concisely expresses your goals and objectives as an arts educator and the reason(s) for pursuing graduate study, 1-2 page statement of the applicant’s teaching philosophy, 1-2 page statement of the applicant’s research interests, and a portfolio of 12-15 images, videos, and/or audio files. Please keep in mind- that once you have submitted the School of Art & Design’s application you will still need to request your official transcript(s) and finalize your application to the graduate school.  

The Graduate Studies Committee evaluates applications to the Masters of Arts in Visual Arts Education program on an ongoing basis - with a final deadline of December 1st for Winter admission, and April 1st for Summer/Fall. If you have any questions regarding the online application process, feel free to contact the Graduate Coordinator, Professor Michael Reedy, at Should you want to enroll in a graduate course and you have missed the stated deadlines, it may still be possible to enter as a graduate non-degree. Please reach out and apply.


The Graduate Coordinator will meet with each student to construct a program of study. Students should follow closely the Graduate School requirements for "Application for Diploma."

After the student has completed six hours of course work in art education, a program adviser will evaluate for approval the selection of a thesis proposal or paper option in an appropriate art education area. A required thesis review will be conducted by a faculty committee. For more information, consult the MA VAE fact sheet.