Jul 20, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Arts Leadership (MS)

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USC’s Arts Leadership program (ARTL) is a flexible, multi-disciplinary graduate program for artists, arts administrators and cultural entrepreneurs who want to expand their personal vision and develop the ability to create a life and a career in the nonprofit arts. The curriculum is appropriate for both early and mid-career individuals engaged in any or multiple arts disciplines, who recognize that the rapidly changing world of the 21st century requires an innovative approach to arts leadership. The program is highly individualized, allowing students to design the course of study that is most appropriate for them and their career aspirations.


Admission to Thornton programs is granted through the USC admission process. Applicants are screened by appropriate faculty selection committees. Specific entrance requirements are reviewed on an annual basis and published online at music.usc.edu.

Unit and Grade Requirements

Students must complete at least 26 semester units at USC, including the Practicum. A grade point average of not less than 3.0 (A = 4.0) is required for all graduate courses, and a grade of B or higher is required for all courses in the major department. Students who transfer credits must achieve this average on all combined transferred and residence units.

Transferred Credits

All credits transferred must be the equivalent of corresponding current work at USC. Course work completed at another institution that has been approved by the Thornton School for transfer credit must have been completed within seven years from the date of admission to a master’s degree program to be applied toward that degree. Transfer credit petitions must be filed with the appropriate Thornton adviser during the first semester in residence.

Time Limit

The time limit for completing the Master of Science degree is five years. Progress is measured from the beginning of the first course at USC applied toward the degree. Extensions will be granted by petition to the Thornton School for only the most compelling reasons.


A practicum project is required as the capstone for the Master of Science in Arts Leadership. Students will conceptualize, develop and complete an arts project of his or her own choosing to pursue in conjunction with the course work. The practicum project will be centered around a complex leadership challenge that resonates both for the student’s particular artistic circumstances and for the field of arts leadership.

Curriculum Requirements

Field Experience Courses (4 units)

Select 4 units from the following:

Elective Concentration Courses (12 units)

Students will select a topic area of concentration related to their interests. Relevant courses will be chosen from around the University in consultation with and approved by the Arts Leadership Program Director in conjunction with appropriate department chairs and directors.

Suggested topic areas include but are not limited to:

  • Curatorial
  • Organizational Communication
  • Globalization and the Arts
  • Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in the Arts
  • Art and Technology
  • Organizational Management
  • Cultural Entrepreneurship
  • Art and Social Change

Capstone Project (4 units)

Total Units: 31

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