Graduate studies in art education are directed toward the continuing advancement of professionals, including elementary and secondary art teachers, university instructors and individuals from a variety of fields who seek to apply the theory and practice of art education in museums, businesses, learning centers, and alternative educational settings. The M.A. program is directed toward teachers who will return to K–12 education with advanced educational understandings and studio skills. The Ph.D. program prepares individuals for professional activities of research, publication, and teaching at the university level.

The program is characterized by intensive study in art and research in design education, information design, visual learning, curriculum, and cultural and historical contexts. Courses are geared toward the individual, with flexibility in meeting the student's needs, interests, professional development plans, and career options.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Master's Degrees


Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

30 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

16 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

At least 50% of credits applied towards the graduate degree credit requirement (15 of 30 credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework;  courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

For well-prepared advanced students, the program may accept prior graduate coursework from other institutions towards the minimum graduate degree credit and minimum graduate coursework (50%) requirement. The minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

For well-prepared advanced students, the program may decide to accept up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above completed at UW–Madison towards fulfillment of minimum degree and minor credit requirements. This work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

The program may decide to accept up to 15 University Special student credits as fulfillment of the minimum graduate residence, graduate degree, or minor credit requirements on occasion as an exception (on a case-by-case basis). UW–Madison coursework taken as a University Special student would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above.

Credits per Term Allowed

15 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

Contact the program for information on any additional required courses.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement


Other Grade Requirements

The Graduate School requires an average grade of B or better in all coursework (300 or above, not including research credits) taken as a graduate student unless conditions for probationary status require higher grades. Grades of Incomplete are considered to be unsatisfactory if they are not removed during the next enrolled semester.

Probation Policy

The Graduate School regularly reviews the record of any student who earned grades of BC, C, D, F, or Incomplete in a graduate course (300 or above), or grade of U in research credits. This review could result in academic probation with a hold on future enrollment or in being suspended from the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

Every graduate student is required to have an advisor. To ensure that students are making satisfactory progress toward a degree, the Graduate School expects them to meet with their advisor on a regular basis.

An advisor generally serves as the thesis advisor. In many cases, an advisor is assigned to incoming students. Students can be suspended from the Graduate School if they do not have an advisor. An advisor is a faculty member, or sometimes a committee, from the major department responsible for providing advice regarding graduate studies.

A committee often accomplishes advising for the students in the early stages of their studies.

Assessment and Examinations

Contact the program for information on required assessments and examinations.

Time Constraints

Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Contact the program for information on any language requirements.

The Graduate School sets minimum requirements for admissions. Academic program admission requirements are often more rigorous than those set by the Graduate School. Please check the program website for details.

Knowledge and Skills


  • Students will demonstrate mastery in both the practice and broad understanding of major trends and the historical underpinnings, methodologies and techniques of contemporary visual art both orally and in writing.
  • Students will demonstrate and develop critical thinking skills through required coursework and additional self selected courses within the department and across campus as well as through independent study with individual professors.
  • Students will examine and evaluate specific examples of artistic and academic production as it relates to their area of artistic research.
  • Students will gain exposure to wide set of professional resources and career opportunities.


  • Students will develop and complete original research that advances a field of study in at least one of the broad based discipline areas represented in the Department of Art.
  • Students will evaluate and interpret professional writing from a variety of disciplines and use this information to develop a theoretical framework for their own artistic research.
  • Students will learn to develop a rigorous and sustainable studio practice.
  • Students will develop independent and self directed artistic research.
  • Students will learn to develop the necessary materials to submit grant proposals to professional organizations.
  • Students will develop a critical position and broad understanding of the artistic field that they most closely align with through their artistic research.


  • Effectively communicate to diverse audiences in writing, through oral presentations and discussions.
  • Students will learn to write clear and concise statements articulating the direction and intention of their research for professional publications and exhibitions.
  • Students will learn to present their research both informatively and articulately to diverse audiences through public lectures and symposiums.
  • Students will learn to give and receive feedback orally and in writing.
  • Students will be provided with opportunities to engage in public outreach, exhibitions and education in the community, state and nationally.

Teaching Effectively

  • Teach a variety of courses within the Department of Art Foundations program for undergraduate students.
  • Students will have the opportunity to apply for competitive positions as instructors of record for the following undergraduate courses in Drawing, Design, Digital Media and 20th century Art History and Contemporary Practices.
  • Students will be provided opportunities for mentorship in teaching methods.
  • Students will be provided opportunities for observation and shadowing full time teaching faculty in the Department of Art.

Professional Conduct

  • Career Preparation: Students will be provided with diverse training that will prepare them for a range of flexible and sustainable careers (e.g., academia, industry, community engagement, museum and gallery support services, art commerce and outreach at all levels).
  • Students will develop broadly applicable skills in critical thinking and problem solving.
  • Students will be provided with opportunities for leadership, art project management, and teamwork through collaboration, communication skills, and collaborations with academic and non-academic partners.