The Missouri State Department of Art + Design now offers a Master of Art Education (MAE) degree. Benefitting both undergraduate students desiring to continue their education, as well as practicing art teachers, the MAE enables individuals to not only strengthen their teaching abilities, but also expand their knowledge within respective concentrations. Two faculty teach within the program: Dr. Steve Willis, a long-time MSU Art Education faculty member and Dr. Fatih Benzer, who was hired in 2016. Both are practicing artists and published scholars.
This graduate degree satisfies the great need for a master’s program in art education—in Springfield and other surrounding areas. “We conducted a state-wide survey among practicing art teachers and art education students to find out how much need there was for a brand-new MAE program,” shares Benzer, “The results of this survey strongly indicated that there is an increasing need, and high level of interest, in southwest Missouri and the region for a low-residency program at the master’s level in art education.” This program is multifaceted, with the curriculum including both studio and pedagogical courses. Graduate students will be able to further their knowledge and creative processes, as well as receive valuable insight into becoming a great educator.
A great feature of this program is that students will have the option to work in a media of their choice through the MAE program if they choose to pursue their education with a studio emphasis. The faculty members are highly active professional artists and well-published art educators, and their work has been presented in major national and international galleries and museums. Incorporating a studio emphasis into the program aims to help students develop the conceptual and technical skills to establish their vision as an artist and art educator. In other words, this new program will provide opportunities for practicing art teachers to further develop their professional careers as artists.
With an already a high enrollment in the Bachelor of Science in Education degree (BSED), many Art + Design students are striving to remain as current as possible in their field. There is an extraordinarily high rate of job placement in art education with students with a BSED being hired before they complete their degrees, and the department desires to aid students in preparing for their ideal careers as much as possible, says Benzer.
Artists, art teachers, and art education students possessing teaching certificates, are all ideal candidates for the MAE program. There is even an accelerated option, enabling undergraduate students to take graduate classes during their senior year and receive BSED and MAE degrees sooner than what is traditionally expected.
The primary goals of the program are to inform and educate students on up-to-date standards, issues, and expectations within the art education world and provide “a powerful set of professional [skills] to deploy in the field of teaching and scholarly research,” explains Benzer. The curriculum used in the MAE program is designed to benefit students coming from all areas of visual arts. Another significant benefit for individuals pursuing, or thinking about pursuing, an MAE is the higher potential for salary increases due to their possession of higher education.
Whether a current undergraduate student, or a practicing teacher, acquiring a master’s degree ensures for a relevant—and continuously updated—education that fosters a rich, in-depth understanding of art pedagogy.