Prospective Students

Hello there,

So you are interested in pursuing a graduate degree in arts administration.  I think you have come to the right spot.

First, detailed information about the current program, requirements, courses, and faculty is available at  You can also navigate to information related to:

Second, detailed information about the current program, requirements, courses, and faculty is available here.

These pages contain all the information about our program that is currently available.


A new convergence is occurring between the creative sphere and the business world. The SCAD Business Design and Arts Leadership program anticipates a growing need for a new generation of leaders who fuse original insight with strategic vision to develop thriving companies, pioneering nonprofits, and innovative arts and culture organizations.

The business design and arts leadership program delivers a management education focused on bringing strategic and visionary leaders to enterprises in arts, culture and design.  Developed with the future of the creative industries in mind, our program equips students with the advanced business acumen and tools required to make informed and astute strategic business decisions.  Our graduates are empowered to be proactive and pragmatic leaders, as well as inspired designers of the innovative business models that will revolutionize the creative sector.

The business design and arts leadership program is articulated within a curriculum that fuses business principles and design knowledge with entrepreneurship and arts management. The program’s common core of courses establishes the creative economy as context, emphasizing strategic thinking, data-driven analysis, and leadership and management skills before students’ progress to marketing and funding coursework in one of two areas of focus: art and design ventures or arts and cultural initiatives. As students continue in their coursework, they may opt to analyze market opportunities and design a business strategy for a new enterprise or to complete an arts leadership internship with an organization of their choosing, before executing a final, original project toward degree completion.

This carefully calibrated curriculum prepares students to operate in multiple professional contexts, building the business acumen and adaptive abilities required to lead across a dynamic and growing creative sector.


The primary difference between business design and arts leadership is what interests do you have after you complete the program?

For business design students it might be a more entrepreneurial path.  With this option, you’ll focus on marketing for a cultural or creative enterprise’s product or service while arts leadership will have an emphasis on institutional marketing.

On the revenue side, business design students will look at funding a new venture while arts leadership is primarily focused on funding the not-for-profit.

Finally, the entrepreneurial practicum will help to pave the way for a final project that is aligned to develop a new venture design concept; the internship is designed to learn the inner workings of an existing institution.  In the end, the final project can be anything you design, i.e., a new venture plan ready for funding or an exhibition.


There are two things to ponder over when considering attending graduate school.   First, is earning a Masters degree right for me, and second, is the program a good match.

The first question is often the hardest.  In my opinion, there are three reasons that one pursues a graduate degree.

  1.  Career advancement.  A Masters is a required degree for your current or next job.  This is the simplest reason.  Earning the Masters will then have a measurable return on investment through an increase in salary or a new position with your current or another company.  This is, however, not labeled as professional development.
  2. Professional development.  Different from career advancement, this is where you want to acquire some new knowledge, skills, insight, etc.  This can be coupled with self-satisfaction if you’re like me and want that “badge” of accomplishment.  There are many resources available that can fill a knowledge gap.  Books, articles, podcasts, Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), etc.  You need to decide whether you need a more formal education where it is structured, and work is imposed upon you to complete or can you obtain what you need through other resources.  One takes a lot of time and money while the other is significantly less demanding.  If you want the full package, then the Masters may be the best route.  If you only want to learn about a specific topic for personal satisfaction, a book might be a better option.
  3. Continuation of education.  This is instances where you are currently in an undergraduate program, and instead of graduating and entering the workforce you go where you know you’re comfortable, straight to graduate school.  I can speak to this personally as this is what I did.  In retrospect, it would have been better for me to graduate and either get a job or take a year to intern or volunteer to better determine what I wanted to do (or to determine what I didn’t want to do!).  Then, when returning to higher education, I would have been significantly more motivated and experienced.  My first stint in graduate school burned me out, and I found it less than motivating.  My second, after years of professional experience, the educational process was fantastic.  I knew more, I was motivated, and I performed much better.

At the end of the day, the decision is your own.  There is no person that can tell you if this is the right decision other than you.  You’ll ask me or others for affirmation, but if I asked, this is exactly what I would tell you.

The other part of the equation is whether this degree is right for you.  The answer is I have no idea.  This is because you need to do some soul searching to decide what you think your future holds.  It goes back to pursuing a Masters in the first place.  What do you want to get out of it?  Our degree is, in my opinion, an MBA-lite.  It’s a generalist degree that can fill the needs of most careers in administration.  It does not specialize in anything but covers the full spectrum of business.  You make the connections to the industry in which you want to work.  My recommendation would be to look at your industry and where you want to see yourself.  Does this degree and the subject-matter of this degree help you get there?  If so, it might be a good match.  If not, then you need to continue doing your research to decide what the best path might be.  Again, you’ll search for affirmation from me or another that this is the right decision.  All I can do is apply the Socratic method and question you until you come to the right answer.   Individuals will often tell you that their degree is the absolute best ticket to wealth and prosperity.   That is not true.  Your hard work and determination are what will get you there.  A degree will only help to open doors.


The most common question I get is regarding the portfolio requirement.

The official language says, “Portfolio should include writing samples with at least one sample of university-level research writing of a minimum of 10 pages and may include professional writing demonstrating critical and analytical thinking as well as advanced research and writing skills. Other writing samples may include business documents, essays, grant proposals, promotional writing, press releases, planning documents and journalistic work. Students whose academic or professional background is in business or another field may choose to submit GMAT or GRE scores instead of a portfolio. A GRE or GMAT is not required.  You must also show transcript proof that you have completed a college-level basic accounting course covering financial accounting earning a B or better. If you have not taken such a course by the time your application is reviewed, you will be assigned an accounting intensive (SDES 507:  Accounting and Finance for Creative Industries).

However, what I have to say about that is that you should include a wide spectrum of professional work or writing samples. The more, the better I say, within reason. It’s all digital, so there is no increase in cost.

For admissions, there is the minimum of one (1) academic research and writing sample totaling at least ten pages. Two samples of five pages each would also be accepted. It does not need to be very recent, but a good sample of what are you capable of doing. If you do not meet this minimum writing sample requirement, it will immediately render the application as rejected. Look at recently completed papers or perhaps thesis you’ve written.

However, as one of the reviewers of the applications, I think that a broader spectrum is better than only one writing sample. To that end, I recommend ten (10) or so should be more than sufficient to determine acceptance quickly. Understand there is the minimum here as well as what we ideally want to see. Consider including at least the one sample of research and writing, but then also include marketing materials such as postcards, brochures, emails or website where you wrote the copy and designed, professional reports or studies, new venture or business plans, grants, professional correspondence, proposals, etc. If you include website copy or videos, then provide a link too.

The purpose of a more robust portfolio is to show that you can communicate well in a professional context. Providing only samples of your creative endeavors such as photographs, paintings, drawings, etc. would not be acceptable for our purposes and will result in a rejected application. It needs to focus on professional communication. Again, the more you can share the easier the application review process. Furthermore, if you show great potential through your portfolio, application, and work experience, then you may be recommended for other scholarship or fellowship opportunities.

After you begin your application, we will provide you information about how to submit your portfolio, but just in case you overlooked it, you will submit your portfolio to Slideroom at Should you have any trouble using Slideroom, please visit their help desk and FAQ site here: As a reminder, the portfolio guidelines for the program are found at

Students whose academic or professional background is in business or another field may choose to submit GMAT or GRE scores instead of a portfolio. While this is technically permissible for admissions, as an application reviewer, and as faculty, I do not recommend it. It is my opinion that it is better for us to see what you can do with your professional communications skills than looking at a test score.

You must also show transcript proof that you have completed a college-level basic accounting course. The course must have been completed at the time of the admission application.  If you have not taken such a course, you may be offered acceptance with the requirement of this pre-requisite. It is scheduled to where one time per year students will be able to take a basic accounting course at SCAD. Currently, we offer a 4-week accounting competency workshop to get you up to speed in advance of our BUSI 715 Strategic Decision-making for Enterprise Success, which is our primary finance course.


Another question I get is when you should submit your application. SCAD has a revolving admissions policy, and that means you can begin the quarter immediately after your application has been approved. You can begin the fall, winter, spring, or summer.

However, it is extremely important to note that not all courses are offered every quarter at every campus. Course sequencing is ideal when you are full-time with three courses, and you begin in the fall.  However, if you desire to take one or two courses, especially if you are maintaining a full-time job or you start in a quarter that is not the fall, then we will have to look at your course sequencing to see how quick you can complete the program.

Most enrolled full-time can complete it in anywhere from 3 – 5 quarters. If you have a full-time job and family, you may want to slow down a bit.

Beyond that, for e-Learning or online courses, while the choice is yours I recommend for anyone new to taking courses online that you try one course in your first quarter. It will help to get you acclimated and avoid burn out.


Another question that is common has to do with the statement of purpose.

What we look for is that you have a true purpose or reason for pursuing your degree in business design and arts leadership. It takes time, money, and commitment. The MA is great for career advancement if it is required in your discipline and may open up opportunities to teach, but it is not a terminal degree like an MFA or Ph.D. If you just want to learn about the field, the degree may be too big of a first step. In the end, however, we like to read what is motivating you to pursue this path and what you plan to do with it after you finish the program.


Not knowing where you plan to pursue your degree in Savannah, Atlanta, or online, I get the question whether eLearning is right for me?

If you are planning to pursue the degree online, I cannot answer that question.

I feel that eLearning students need to be very self-motivated and disciplined. Our courses do not have lectures to watch or times to log in to participate in a discussion. Our courses are asynchronous in that there are readings, assignments to complete by a due date, and discussion boards where you can log in whenever you want to contribute so long as it meets the due date. The courses are the same requirements and have the same faculty. In fact, I am assigned to one or two per quarter in addition to ground classes in Savannah. It is also good to know that of all the BDAL courses we offer, two of them are only offered online, i.e., the internship and final project. These two courses pull all three campuses together as the goal of each course is unique and independent.

I will add though that the courses are the same as are the instructors.  The primary difference is the delivery method.  You are permitted to start via eLearning and change to Atlanta or Savannah for a ground class.  Given the courses are the same, you can mix and match campuses.  Alternatively, if you started in Savannah and found you wanted more flexibility you can change to eLearning and finish the program from anywhere in the world.


We deliver course content in the classroom AND via eLearning.  If students choose to take a full load of three (3) courses beginning in the fall quarter, it is traditionally possible to take all ground classes, but this is not guaranteed and is dependent upon enrollment and faculty availability.  If a student desires to take a full load of two (2) courses and starts in a quarter other than fall, then expect to enroll in eLearning courses if you desire to complete the program quickly otherwise you will wait until the classroom section becomes available.  Most BDAL courses are available in the class AND via eLearning.  However, as mentioned, two courses (internship and final project) are available ONLY via eLearning.  These two courses are more independent and allow us to pull all campuses together.


One of the program requirements is to complete an internship that consists of approximately 150 hours with a host organization. We do not place you, but you are encouraged to find your own with an organization with which you want to build a relationship.

You may not intern with your employer nor have a fully virtual or remote internship. It is traditional to earn the hours within a single quarter (ten weeks), but during the application for the internship course, you may submit that you wish to extend the internship over two-quarters so that it provides you more time to earn the hours. In other words, instead of fifteen hours/week for ten weeks, it might be eight hours/week for up to twenty weeks. It is a good option for those that are working and have families.

The internship is only available to those that have completed courses (15 credit hours).


At this time, the Department does not offer an e-Learning (online) elective. As an alternative, I would recommend any graduate level BUSI (business), ADVE (advertising), DGMT (Design Management), or WRIT (writing) course. Or, perhaps find a course that is available in the quarter that you might deem a “fun course.”  If you elect our BUSI 710 (Financial Analysis and Reporting), it can serve as your elective and fill the BUSI 715 pre-requisite mentioned earlier.

We do, however, traditionally offer one elective in Savannah and one in Atlanta in the spring. They have often been our event planning course or arts leadership course. Scheduling is subject to change.


Though not a requirement for admission, we also encourage you to learn Adobe Creative Suite (InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator, etc.) so that you can effectively create fundraising, marketing, and other collateral design materials as part of your coursework. And, while we all think we can properly use MS Office, we’ll put you to to the test with coursework.  Therefore you may want to brush up on Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. is a resource that you may subscribe to learn on your own and a resource that you will have access to while a student.


The field of business design and arts leadership (that I label as arts administration) is a strong field. While I cannot share all the research about the field and the job prospects, there are a ton of resources out there at your fingertips. Just take a look at my website, for example, for some of those career resources. I recommend you take the time to understand the field, what it is, what it encompasses, and what jobs are out there first and then decide whether our program is a good match. These are simply personal decisions where we cannot help.

If, however, you still pose the question to me, the response would be that you need to look to see what you plan to get out of it.

If you need a Masters for career advancement, and you are interested in business within the context of the cultural and creative industries, then it might be a good fit for you.  I like to call our MA an MBA-lite.  You will not get as many core business courses as with a typical MBA, but you’ll get enough business to have a seat at the table.  Alternatively, if you just want to know more about the industry, any Masters would be an expensive (time and money) avenue to take.  If you want to start your own business, then do you need a Masters to do this or does it just lend credibility?  Finally, if you want this to serve as the credential to teach (especially in higher education) or to pursue a Ph.D., then understand this MA is not a terminal degree, and our MA is not research-oriented.   We are about preparing you with a pragmatic education, not an education to write research papers.

SCAD has listed on many employers that have hired SCAD graduates. You may also view our blog where I have listed all the places that students have notified me.


I have constructed for my current students of arts administration.  Make a note of the item called “The Field.” under “Career.”   This page provides a lot of information about the field of arts administration that may help you decide whether this is the right course to take or not.


We are not in the position to provide you current student or alumni information to contact to speak further about the program. You are welcome to reach out to our social media groups and ask around.

If you have any questions about the program, do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you.


Professor Patrick Kelsey
Business Design and Arts Leadership