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Masters of Arts
in Art Education

The Master of Arts in Art Education (MAAE) is a 36-credit program that teaches students how to apply their knowledge and talents to become change makers, activists, and catalysts for positive change, going beyond the conventional to reach radical possibilities in art education research and practice.

Our future art educators will be immersed in a theory-rich academic experience, rigorous research training and a hands-on, field-based practicum that reflects current trends and roles that art educators play in diverse professional settings, including community organizations, non-government organizations, museums, galleries, and visitor centres – wherever people welcome the opportunity to learn with, in and through art.

Division: Art History and Contemporary Culture
Degree: Master of Arts
Program: Master of Arts in Art Education

Program Length: 2 years (see Degree Requirements), with part-time options
Program Starts: September 2024

Campus: Fountain Campus

Admission Deadline: January 15
Tuition: Click here for details.

Group of people walking in the woods

To help develop a unique philosophy of art education, students are encouraged to consider their own life experiences and connect their art and teaching practices with pedagogical theory, conceptual understandings and critical reflection. Courses model and develop socially responsible, exemplary teaching practices in and across art education contexts.

NSCAD University’s MAAE is an approved program towards increasing teacher certification in Nova Scotia.

Art Picnic, organized by Sadie Bills (MAAE 2021), photo by Natalie Goulet.


During the MAAE program, students specialize in one of three program streams that allow exploration of current methodologies relevant to specific art education practices. By balancing this content knowledge with practical teaching and research strategies, students become capable of effectively communicating their specialized knowledge to others.



designed for those seeking advanced training in the teaching of art to specific age groups including children, youth, adults, and the elderly in a variety of contexts such as educational institutions, retirement homes, and youth facilities. This stream focuses on the development of best practices associated with human development and well-being.


designed for those seeking advanced training in the delivery of art education programming in informal educational settings such as art museums, galleries, and other organizations that offer immersive visitor experiences. This stream expands on conventional approaches to public engagement with collections and emphasizes Indigenous and radical curatorial approaches intended to reach diverse groups of visitors.


designed for those seeking advanced training in responsive art education pedagogy that is grounded in the needs and experiences of communities. This stream focuses on outreach, activism, and contextualized learning about art and culture in ways that support equitable access to educational opportunities and collaborative program development.

*Unstreamed: In consultation with the program director, students may select a combination of courses from the above stream areas that support their thesis research.

What Our Master of Arts in Art Education Students Can Expect

  • The 36 credits of the MAAE include: 12 credits of core requirements focusing on contemporary issues, research methods, and studio or pedagogical inquiry; 6 credits of stream electives; 6 credits of practicum; and 12 credits of thesis preparation and development.
  • Courses address topics such as: culturally responsive teaching; land-based pedagogies; radical, or experimental pedagogies; arts integration; visual literacy; materiality; curriculum design and development; equitable instructional and assessment models; studio art pedagogy; teacher training and service education; inclusive policy development; and community-institutional partnerships.
  • Practicum experiences (virtually or in-person) may be located at a museum, community organization, arts education organization, non-profit or another site directly related to the individual student’s academic, research and career goals. This rich programming challenges the graduate student’s idea of art education and how they fit into it.
  • Students choose from four types of theses: scholarly thesis (conventional monograph), research-creation thesis (significant, unified body of work with supporting written component that extends studio practice), teaching-based thesis (in-depth teaching project with supporting written component), or curatorial-based thesis (in-depth curatorial project with supporting written component).
  • In addition to entrance scholarships awarded to outstanding applicants, students are strongly encouraged to apply to the following external funding opportunities: Canada Graduate Scholarship–SSHRC, NSERC, or CIHR (Canadian citizens and permanent residents); Nova Scotia Graduate Scholarship (open to international students); and Scotia Scholars Award (open to international students).

Program Objectives

Program Objectives

  • Introduce contemporary issues in art education in local, national and international contexts.
  • Explore topics that impact personal educational and teaching experiences.
  • Examine and develop a critical understanding of current topics of debate affecting the discipline of art education such as effective ways to teach art in an uncertain world, strategies to address diversity and change in educational and cultural institutions, the impact of economics and politics in the delivery of art education in a variety of sectors, the rapid growth of digital, mobile and virtual technologies and the effect of learning and art-making, and current understandings of artistic development.
  • Refine critical thinking, speaking, writing and listening skills through in-depth analysis of leading issues in art education.
  • Advance appreciation of the role of socio-cultural values and ethical assumptions in art education debates, policy, professional practice and the structures of educational institutions, cultural institutions and community organizations.
  • Provide a setting where students from diverse backgrounds and areas of interest may develop heightened sensitivity and multiple perspectives concerning the complex nature of art education.


The MAAE prepares students for employment in both traditional or contemporary work settings, including community, museum and curatorial, and educational settings. Our alumni become successful educators, curators, community program and start-up developers, entrepreneurs, and much more. They work in many sectors including but not limited to education, civic participation, arts and culture, community health and wellbeing. No matter where our MAAE graduates find themselves, bringing people together to create change and instill knowledge through art education and action.


Applicants to the MAAE program should possess either a bachelor’s degree in fine arts, media arts, art education, design, or equivalent.

Applicants without these credentials or those granted by the NSCAD Visual Art Certificate for Teachers, in consultation with the MA program director, must complete a minimum of 12 credits in EDAR or studio-based undergraduate courses. This study will be undertaken at the applicant’s own expense, and does not guarantee admission to the MA program. A minimum grade of ‘B’ must be earned.

If this sounds like you and you’d like to apply, click here.

Program ReseARCH

Through comprehensive research and thesis components, this program will play an essential role in revitalizing scholarship in the area of art education. In turn, the information produced through graduate research and practice will help to inform regional arts teaching strategies (including development informed, community outreach, museum), professional development, and the activities of cultural and public institutions.

Featured Courses

Thesis Component

A thesis is a substantive and independent research project under the supervision of a faculty member. An MA thesis is a systematic inquiry into some theoretical, or practical issue in art education.

All students in the MAED program complete a merit-reviewed research-based thesis as part of their course of study. Students may choose from four types of theses:

  1. scholarly thesis: a conventional monograph;
  2. research-creation thesis: a significant, unified body of work with supporting written component that extends existing studio practice;
  3. teaching-based thesis: an in-depth teaching project with supporting written component
  4. curatorial-based thesis: an in-depth curatorial project with supporting written component.
Thesis Definition

The thesis is:

  • a document presenting original research;
  • a demonstration of familiarity with previous work in the field including theoretical constructs, paradigms and methodologies, the ability to carry out research, organize results or present conclusions, and the defense of the work or approach in accordance with scholarly and disciplinary norms.

A conventional Master’s thesis is usually between 80-100 pages in length, but not more than 150 pages (including title page, abstract, table of contents, contribution of authors/preface, acknowledgements, bibliography/reference list, and appendices). Typically, such a thesis involves the collection and analysis of empirical data and the use of secondary sources through appropriate scholarly methods.

Thesis Evaluation

To graduate, students must successfully defend their thesis projects before a committee of experts. The committee assesses the thesis project (including written, classroom-based, artistic and exhibition components) according to the following criteria:

  1. mastery of theories and concepts in the field of art education;
  2. mastery of methods of inquiry;
  3. quality of writing;
  4. originality and potential contribution to the discipline.

Issues in Art Education

This course provides a survey of contemporary writings, movements, rationales and art-making within the field of art education. Outside pressures and influences upon the field (i.e., social, economic, political, academic) will be examined. Current topics, methods of research and art production practices will provide a base from which to speculate about the future directions and impact of the profession for art and education, as well as for other contexts of learning.

Pedagogy Development in Art Education

Pedagogy Development in Art Education: History, Theory and Practice: This course is concerned with the theory, development and evaluation of art pedagogy. It investigates methods for aligning pedagogical frameworks and content to regional guidelines, assessment practices, strategies for arts integration and the development of culturally relevant pedagogy. Pedagogical models are interpreted, designed and critically analyzed for application to the diverse needs and abilities of learners. Students will develop a personal teaching philosophy, create pedagogy rationale, and address the connection between art and 21st-century competencies.

Research Methods in Art Education

An examination of the nature and methods of systematic inquiry and its application to the questions of art education. Attention will be given to clarifying differences in assumptions, procedures, evidence, documentation, and reporting appropriate for various methods, problems, and contexts. Particular emphasis will focus on the appropriateness of these to the problems of art education.

Contemporary Issues in Art Education

This course provides a survey of contemporary writings, movements, rationales and art-making within the field of art education. Outside pressures and influences upon the field (i.e. social, economic, political, academic) will be examined. Current topics, methods of research and art production practices will provide a base from which to speculate about the future directions and impact of the profession for art and education, as well as for other contexts of learning.

Please visit the Academic Calendar for a description of all courses available at NSCAD University.