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Master's Programs

Arts in Education

In the Arts in Education (AIE) Program, you will learn how to harness the extraordinary power of the arts to raise educational outcomes for learners and enrich overall quality of life for communities. Because the AIE Program is flexible, you have the freedom to design an individualized course of study that explores new ways of reaching students in and through the arts.

In the AIE Program, you will join a diverse cohort of visual artists, musicians, museum educators, nonprofit arts advocates, actors, teachers, and writers who believe that the arts not only have intrinsic societal value, but also multiple roles in youth education and healthy development. You will acquire new analytical skills, forge powerful creative partnerships, and explore the relationship of the arts to other sectors in education.

Faculty Director Steve Seidel on the AIE Program:

Message from the Director

Welcome to the Arts in Education Program's website! We hope you will find here a useful array of information and features about the program. Whether you are considering applying to the program or are simply interested in the roles of the arts in education, we hope this website provides you with insights and provokes your interest.

Our focus in this program is intentionally broad. We aim to explore both the current realities and the rich possibilities that exist for including the arts in all kinds of educational settings with a wide range of students — across age levels, in and outside of schools, across diverse cultural contexts, and across all artistic domains. We believe the field of arts education is growing and developing and that this development will be well served by educators who have a "big picture" of the field and a vision of how it can — and should — further evolve. In the program, we both study and conduct our own research into the history, policies, practices, philosophies, conditions, and learning theories of the arts in education.

We also believe that the arts have a powerful role to play in envisioning and creating a more equitable and just society. Both in schools and community settings, learning in and through the arts helps to create ethically and aesthetically rich environments for living and learning. By analyzing and addressing issues of equity and social justice, we believe artists and arts educators can make unique contributions to education and social change.

Further, we believe that the traditional "silos" of art forms, age levels, and settings — all of which tend to divide and isolate those in the arts sector — should be questioned and challenged. Indeed, we aim, through the variety of students in the program, to establish a foundation for a new definition of the arts sector in education, moving from "arts education" to the more inclusive, boundary-crossing "arts in education."

In addition to directing the Arts in Education Program, I am also a senior research associate at Project Zero (PZ), a research organization here at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. I was director of Project Zero for eight years (2001-2009), but handed over those responsibilities to Shari Tishman, a long-time senior research associate at PZ and a member of the Arts in Education Program faculty, five years ago. Just this past February, Shari handed the leadership of PZ to Daniel Wilson, another senior research associate at PZ and also a HGSE faculty member.

Project Zero has been conducting research on learning in and through the arts since 1967, and I invite you to visit the PZ website, if you have further interest in this field. Please note, as well, Howard Gardner's essay on "Project Zero and the Arts in Education Program: Passion Tempered by Discipline" on this website. As Gardner's essay describes, the Arts in Education Program has a long history of close ties with Project Zero. Indeed, Jessica Hoffmann Davis, the founder and former director of the Arts in Education Program, was a researcher at Project Zero for many years before serving as the first director of AIE.

Further, many of AIE's "arts related" faculty members (e.g., Howard Gardner, David Perkins, and Shari Tishman) have done research at Project Zero and much of that research is included in the program's core course. David Perkins and Howard Gardner, each with many years as HGSE faculty, were founding members of Project Zero and shared the director role at PZ for over 30 years. HGSE students and AIE students, in particular, participate in Project Zero research studies and we are always looking for ways to expand those opportunities.

In addition to the invaluable affiliation with Project Zero, I have the wonderful guidance and support of the AIE Advisory Council to thank for the success of the program. Consisting of several new faces as well as loyal supporters from the original founding of the program in the 1990s, this Council counts among its members active artists, cultural philanthropists, and arts educators who put civic engagement and arts education advocacy among their highest priorities. I would like to name them here: Joan Abrahamson, Giselle "Gigi" Antponi, Molly Beard, Richard Bell, Melanie Brown, Naomi Cohen, David Dik,  Sarah Hancock, John Humphrey, Wendy Tarlow Kaplan, Susan Miller-Havens, Karen Rotenberg, Jane Forbes Saltonstall, and Jeannette Taylor.

Having started as faculty director of the Arts in Education Program in 2004, I’ve learned so much from from the hundreds of students I’ve worked with, and I continue to be inspired by their brilliance and dedication.  Indeed, it is an honor and privilege to contribute to the education and development of outstanding cohorts of emerging and established leaders and innovators in the field of arts education. That is why it gives me such special pleasure to be here as the program celebrates its 20th anniversary in the spring of 2017.

Whatever your interest in this program, please feel free to contact us. We want to hear your thoughts and questions. And please come visit, if you can.

Steve Seidel
Program Director, Arts in Education Program
Patricia Bauman and John Landrum Bryant Senior Lecturer in Arts in Education
Senior Research Associate and Director Emeritus, Project Zero

Program Highlights

The one-year, full-time AIE Program is ideal for self-directed learners who want to leverage the remarkable breadth of HGSE course offerings to become effective advocates for arts-based education initiatives, both in and out of schools. Here are a few of the reasons why this program is so strong:

  • Foundational education – Whatever career path you pursue, an AIE education will give you the theoretical foundation to push your practice to new levels of effectiveness and impact.
  • Individualized curriculum – AIE students are given great freedom to choose their own academic pathway, studying topics as varied as universal design and technology, learning in museums, leadership in social-change organizations, gender and sexuality in schools, politics and educational policy, adolescent development, neuroscience, and more. This interdisciplinary approach prepares you to be an “education entrepreneur,” making new connections between the arts and education at the classroom, school, and community level.
  • Field experience – There are many progressive arts in education organizations and advocacy groups in the Cambridge and Boston area. For-credit internships through the Field Experience Program are one cornerstone of the AIE experience, offering hands-on opportunities to work with local artists and youth in school and after-school settings.
  • Cohort community – You will form strong bonds with the other members of your cohort through a year-long seminar exclusively for AIE students. Outside of class, students share their artistic work during AIE Cabaret nights, concerts, film screenings, and campus art gallery expositions. It is energizing and inspiring to be surrounded by so many creative artists and educators working together to make an impact in the lives of young people.

The AIE Program is one of the most flexible and self-directed graduate programs at HGSE. Apart from two required seminars — one each semester — you are given full freedom to design your own unique academic pathway based on previous work experience, creative interests, and professional goals. 


You will complete eight courses (32 credits) in the following categories:

Arts-Related Courses

View all courses in the Academic Catalogue.


In addition to taking arts-related courses at HGSE, you are free to cross-register for classes at all Harvard graduate schools and MIT. Recent AIE students have taken classes in the following schools and departments:

Internships and Fieldwork

Many AIE students take advantage of hands-on, for-credit internships through the Field Experience Program. An internship with an arts-related organization can also count toward your requirement of three (3) arts-related courses. Examples of recent internship sites include:

Student Pathways

There are so many different ways to customize an AIE education that no two transcripts are alike. To better understand what an individualized AIE program looks like — courses, internships, and extracurricular activities — read through some of our student pathways from recent years:


The core AIE faculty consists of individuals with deep experience in both the research and practice of arts-based education. We have experts in museum learning who have served as consultants to MoMA and the Tate Museums, MacArthur Prize recipients, philosophers who study the connection between art and understanding, media scholars who double as TV producers, and a performing musician who studies group learning. Several of our faculty members are principal investigators with Project Zero, a landmark research initiative into the arts and education for more than 35 years.


Because the AIE Program is intentionally broad in its focus, we attract a remarkably diverse mix of students. Many AIE students are working artists or have trained in the visual arts, music, theatre, dance, creative writing, and other art forms. Some are experienced educators who want to incorporate the arts more effectively into their students’ learning experiences. Others come with specific academic or professional interests: using the arts as therapy for Alzheimer’s patients, arts integration, the design of after-school arts programs, the use of the arts with incarcerated populations, or promoting intercultural understanding through the arts.

A passion for issues of equity and social justice is a hallmark of HGSE and is shared by students in AIE, where we explore the particular ways in which the arts can help help address these issues. AIE students want to learn to analyze issues of access and quality in all kinds of schools and community settings and how to design and manage arts programs in these settings. They also want to learn how innovative arts-based interventions can be used to address inequities in society. Most of all, they want to become informed and empowered advocates for the use of art and imagination in conceptualizing and building a more just society.


AIE alumni are making an impact as leaders, educators, and social entrepreneurs in communities across the U.S. and the world. Roughly one-third of AIE alumni work in nonprofit arts organizations as directors, program developers, and researchers. Another quarter of alumni advocate for the arts within schools as teachers, administrators, and curriculum developers. A significant number of graduates pursue doctoral degrees and work in higher education as researchers and professors of arts education. Many AIE alumni work in museums as curators and education specialists, while others work for private arts foundations and grantmaking organizations.

Recent AIE graduates are working in the following organizations: 

HGSE Arts in Education Alumni Networking

Several years ago, a few HGSE Arts in Education program alumni, lamenting the separation from classmates and other like minded arts educators, initiated an alumni-networking group called Continuing the Conversation (CtC). The mission of Continuing the Conversation is to promote and advance dialogue in order to identify and work on urgent issues in the Arts in Education sector and to inspire those involved to lead and create change in this sector and beyond through expanding the place of the arts in education and in society. To provide opportunity and inspiration for substantive dialogue on the issues facing the arts in education community, CtC brings together professionals and supporters of the field from all over the world for regional meetings around the U.S. and larger conferences on the HGSE campus. Please see the CtC website, for information about the next gathering on the HGSE campus, scheduled for the weekend of November 3-5, 2017.

See a bibliograpy of books and other publications students, faculty, and staff in the HGSE Arts in Education program:


Visit HGSE admissions to learn more about application requirements and deadlines, and to get important information about financial aid. Applications are due in January of the academic year you plan to enroll. Please note that the AIE program is not a teacher licensure program. If you are seeking certification as a K-12 teacher, please visit the Teacher Education Program.


If you have questions about the admissions process or want to learn more about the benefits of the AIE Program, please contact our admissions liaison Margaret Okada-Scheck at or 617-495-3414. If you have specific questions about AIE Program requirements, please contact program coordinator Scott Ruescher at or 617-495-9068.