Arts Administration PhD

Degrees Available
The field of arts administration is largely considered to have been formally developed in the United States in the 1960s. The institutionalization of the field has continued to solidify and expand well into the 21st century.

What was once considered a niche industry, the arts and cultural sector, is one of the largest exports of products of the US (and one of the only with a trade surplus), supports over 4.9 million jobs, and contributes $730 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). By contributing 4.2% to the US GDP, arts and cultural production is a larger economic sector than agriculture, travel and tourism, transportation and warehousing, and construction.

As the field has expanded so has the necessity for appropriately trained researchers. The PhD in Arts Administration at the University of Kentucky allows committed and engaged arts scholars the opportunity to study in a rigorous, online degree program focused on field competencies and research methodologies regardless of residential location.  


The program is designed to provide research specialization in arts and culture beyond the master's level. All students are expected to have at least minimal training in the common body of knowledge in the functional areas of arts administration.

In order to apply to the PhD in Arts Administration, students must have an earned graduate degree in arts administration or a related discipline. Field practitioners in the arts and cultural sectors with graduate degrees in related disciplines may be considered for admission; however, would likely be assigned foundational coursework which would not apply to the required 46-credit hours for the PhD.

Students will only be admitted in the fall semester.


Students interested in the PhD in Arts Administration will be required to submit an application for the degree utilizing the system as designated by the UK Graduate School (currently Apply Yourself). Students will be required to submit the following items: 

1. Current Resume or CV. The resume/CV should include the applicant’s contact information; work experience including relevant arts and culture based work and/or volunteer experience; education; research and teaching experience, if applicable; publications, papers, and research presentations, if applicable; and any special skills or qualifications relevant to a pursuit of a doctoral degree.

2. Statement of Purpose. The statement of purpose should include the rationale and purpose of the applicant’s desire to pursue a PhD in Arts Administration at UK as well as preliminary research interests, and career goals after achieving the PhD. What is it about arts administration that makes you desire to spend the next four years of your life studying it, researching it, and writing about it in a dissertation? Your statement of purpose must be a serious explanation of your interests. 

3. Portfolio of Writing Samples. The written portfolio must be comprised of one or more academic writing samples. It could, if relevant, include professional writing samples. The written portfolio should be at least 20 pages in length with a minimum of one research writing sample being 12-15 pages. Applicants should submit no more than 50 pages for review. Before selecting your writing portfolio pieces, we recommend you read, Graduate School Writing Samples by Bernard Nickel. Remember, a doctoral student’s primary activities are reading and writing. The committee needs to see the strongest writing sample(s) possible. Often this means that you will need to write a new sample or expand on a piece of writing you have previously completed. Acceptable examples include but are not limited to:

  • A previously published article or conference paper with references;
  • A recent graduate level essay on a related arts and culture topic with references;
  • A newly drafted paper that addresses a key issue or question within the arts and cultural field.


4. Transcripts. Applicants may submit unofficial transcripts for all university and college degrees earned. Upon acceptance, official transcripts are required. 

5. GRE scores. GRE scores are required as a university policy. The GRE cannot be waived. There is no minimum score; GRE scores are considered in combination with other application materials.

6. Three letters of recommendation. A combination of professional and academic references is preferred. Letters should be able to speak to a candidate’s ability to successfully complete graduate level coursework, research aptitude, and advanced writing skills.

The Arts Administration Graduate Admissions Faculty will review the PhD applications in order to select the finalists. Finalists will be interviewed via video conference in order to determine the student’s:

  • Rationale for pursuing a PhD;
  • Proclivity to online education and aptitude for rigorous research expectations;
  • Area of research interest; and
  • Systems in place to support the student through doctoral studies.



Applications must be received in full (including letters of recommendation) by March 1 for consideration for the fall semester. 

Accepted Applicants

Applicants accepted to the PhD in Arts Administration will be provided instructions on how to apply for the Graduate Certificate in Research Methods in Education. There is no need to apply for the certificate prior to acceptance. 


AAD 629: Organization Theories in Arts Administration

This course examines an array of contemporary approaches to building the economic, physical, and social dimensions of cities structured around creativity, culture, and the arts. Historical underpinnings, trajectories, and problems of these approaches are explored through lectures, readings, student research, and discussions. Creative cities, the creative class, creative placemaking, and the like as “new” ways to further urban development have gained popularity yet remain problematic and raise important issues in how cities develop and how different people in those cities experience these approaches.

AAD 655: Cultural Policy

Arts and culture institutions operate in complex environments with policies that shape the kinds of artistic creations that are created, produced, disseminated, marketed, funded and preserved. What are these policies in the United States? Who are the policy actors? Who implements policy? Who enforces policy? How do you create new policies? 

This course explores regulatory and provisionary areas of public policy as well as cultural policy specifically. Historical and contemporary policy issues related to arts education, creative economy, cultural facility infrastructure, employment, equity, funding, and preservation will be investigated.

AAD 665: Creative Cities, Creative Placemaking, & Community Vibrancy

Organization theory examines the inner workings of institutions in an attempt to understand organization functionality. For this course, theories are drawn from numerous disciplines including arts management, business administration, nonprofit management, and public administration. Additionally, theories may be classical, foundational, modern, postmodern, and/or critical. Specifically, this course explores various organizational theories that are relevant to running and studying nonprofit arts organizations. Through readings and critical analysis, students will establish a conceptual framework in which to design a research study.

AAD 720: Sustaining Leadership in the Arts

This course offers a theoretical and practical understanding of leadership for arts and cultural organizations. Students will be exposed to various leadership theories, models, and issues from many different fields, such as arts management, business administration, nonprofit management, and public administration with a specific attention given to running arts and cultural organizations. Sustaining Leadership in the Arts also explores emerging, critical, and contemporary leadership issues including diversity, equity, and inclusion in arts and cultural leadership. 

AAD 767: Dissertation Residency Credit (2 credits)

Residency credit for dissertation research after the qualifying comprehensive examination. Students may register for this course in the semester of the qualifying examination. A minimum of two semesters are required as well as continuous enrollment (Fall and Spring) until the dissertation is completed and defended.

AAD 790: Arts & Culture Research Studies

Arts & Culture Research Studies explores various types of research studies done in the field of arts and culture. Both empirical and theoretical research in many different areas, such as management, governance, leadership, financial management, fundraising, marketing, programming and evaluation, human resources management, audience and community development, cultural economics, and cultural policy will be examined. 

The types of research studies explored in this course will include white papers, research papers (articles), books (and book chapters), and websites (emphasis on visual elements). Studies included in this course are from many different fields, such as arts management, business administration, nonprofit management, and public administration but focus on topics in arts and culture management, administration, and policies. By reading and analyzing a number of studies in many different foci, students will be able to gain a broad understanding of arts and culture research and to shape their future research. 

EPE/EDP 557: Gathering, Using and Analyzing Educational Data I

This course is rooted in the conceptual understanding of statistics and covers applications of statistical and graphical methods for educational and evaluation data. Basic descriptive statistics, correlation, normal distributions and hypothesis testing will be covered. An emphasis is placed on exploratory data analysis and interpretation of results within the broad contexts of education and evaluation. Statistical literacy exercises will be used for comprehension and application of materials. In addition, applications of statistical software will be demonstrated.

EPE 619: Survey Research

Survey research is one of the most common and useful methods for gathering data in educational research. Obtaining valid and reliable research results requires the administration of instruments that provide valid and reliable measures of the variables selected for observation. This course will focus on principles of measurement and procedures for developing a variety of survey instruments and for determining their validity and reliability. It is designed to teach students both how to improve the questions and design instruments. The theory and practice of survey research relies on contributions from disciplines such as psychology, sociology, statistics, and computer science. 

The purpose of this course is to familiarize participants with basic features of the design and implementation of surveys, and acquaint them with some principles and underlying theory from disciplines that have traditionally used surveys most heavily. The course will cover the major stages of the survey process, including hypothesis and problem formulation, study design, sampling, questionnaire design, interviewing techniques, pretesting, modes of data collection, and data cleaning, management, and analysis The course involves lectures, readings, and discussions. 

Students are encouraged to bring materials related to their own research interests. The course will provide an overview of the theoretical and experimental literature related to question and questionnaire design as well as focusing on practical issues in the design, critique, and interpretation of survey questions that are often not taught in formal courses. There will be exercises both in and outside of class to reinforce both theory and practice.

EPE/EDP 620: Introduction to Evaluation

An examination of a subset of evaluation methods, topics, and problems. An introductory course in the area with minimal emphasis on quantitative methods. The course is designed to: provide a perspective from which evaluation studies may be viewed; and, to provide experiences for those who will learn from or conduct evaluations.

EPE 663: Field Studies in Educational Settings

Field research in an educational setting. Questions of theory, method, and application examined. Students plan and implement a study under faculty supervision.

Course Sequencing

Students must begin the PhD in Arts Administration in the fall semester. 

The program is designed for students to take 6-credit hours per semester (fall, spring, and summer) for seven consecutive semesters. During the eighth semester, students take their qualifying examination.

Students must continuously enroll in AAD 767: Dissertation Residency Credit in fall and spring semesters until the degree is completed.  


AAD 655: Cultural Policy
EPE/EDP 557: Gathering, Using and Analyzing Educational Data I

AAD 665: Creative Cities, Creative Placemaking, & Community Vibrancy
EPE 619: Survey Research

AAD 790: Arts and Culture Research Studies
AAD Concentration Course (3)


AAD 629: Organization Theories in Arts Administration
EPE 620: Introduction to Evaluation
Dissertation Prospectus Due (October 1)

AAD 720: Sustaining Leadership in the Arts
EPE 663: Field Studies in Educational Studies

AAD Research Area Course (3)
AAD Research Area Course (3)


AAD Research Area Course (3)
AAD 795: Arts Administration Research Planning and Proposal Writing (3)

Qualifying Exam and Oral Defense 

No course work required

State Authorization & Licensure

If you plan to complete a University of Kentucky online program while living outside of Kentucky, you should check the Out-of-State Students page to determine if the University of Kentucky is authorized to proved this program in your state of residence. If you plan to use the degree to seek licensure, you should also determine if the degree meets the education requirements for licensure in your state.

Created 08/04/2021
Last Updated 10/18/2022