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Vol. 5 No. 4
Strategic National Arts Alumni Project
DataBrief provides arts educators and arts policy makers
with highlights of SNAAP data and insights
into the value of arts-school education.
Contact us for more information.

What We Know About Graduates of Arts Administration Programs (Part 2): Occupations

Arts administration, also called arts management, is a field of study providing graduates with the tools to create, develop, facilitate, and evaluate arts and cultural programs and organizations (Association of Arts Administration Educators). The findings presented here represent the responses of about 700 alumni from 19 institutions who responded to the SNAAP survey in the fall of 2015 and 2016. The sample is overwhelmingly white (89%) and female (73%). A majority (71%) received their degrees in the last 10 years, and 43% graduated in the last 5 years. They majored in one of the following: arts administration, performing arts management, music business, theater management, or other arts administration.

Part 1 on this topic explored the educational satisfaction of arts administration graduates. In Part 2, we look at their careers.

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Digging Into the Data

Do Arts Administration Graduates Work as Arts Administrators?

A majority have worked as arts managers at some point in their careers. Only about one third of undergraduate arts administration alumni and just over half of graduate-level arts administration alumni currently work as arts administrators.

  • 74% have ever managed or administered programs or people for an arts or arts-related organization or business.¬†However, this experience is substantially more common for those with graduate-level degrees, with 89% having done so (compared to only 58% of undergraduate level respondents).
  • This pattern is also true when looking only at those who currently work as arts administrators, with 30% of undergraduate and 54% of graduate alumni doing this type of work.
  • Three-quarters (75%) said their first job after graduation was closely or somewhat related to their training, broken down as follows: 63% of undergraduate alumni and 85% of graduate alumni.

Satisfaction with Current Work

Arts administration alumni are reasonably satisfied with their current work, although in general those with graduate degrees are more satisfied with several aspects.

Percent Very Satisfied with Aspects of Current Work

Impact of Student Debt on Career and Education

SNAAP asks, "How much impact has your debt incurred from attending this institution had on your career or educational decisions?" Although the findings from arts administration alumni are comparable to those from all SNAAP respondents, these patterns are still cause for concern.

Impact of Student Loan Debt for Arts Admin Alumni

A Quarter of All Arts Alumni Work as Arts Administrators

Finally, it should be noted that many performing and visual arts and design alumni also work as arts administrators, and therefore arts administration programs would do well to include access to their courses to all arts students. “ALL SNAAP” includes all respondents from all majors who responded to the survey.

All SNAAP: Work As Arts Administrators?


  • 81% of arts administration alumni say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the occupation in which they spend the majority of their work time.
  • This is comparable to ALL SNAAP respondents, with 79% being satisfied with their primary job.  

--The findings in this DataBrief were originally presented at the Association of Arts Administration Educators Conference in Edinburgh, Scotland in May 2017, by Sally Gaskill, SNAAP Director. Thanks to Larry Epstein of Drexel University for his assistance.

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SNAAP ANNUAL REPORT: Arts Alumni Give Back to Their Communities

The 2017 annual report looks at the combined responses of arts graduates from the 2015 and 2016 surveys. This year, SNAAP researchers focused on how arts alumni are engaged in their communities. Read the full report here.

Over 22,000 Arts Alumni Responded to the 2017 Survey!

The 2017 SNAAP survey was in the field in the months of October and November. Over 22,000 alumni in all arts majors responded to the survey, bringing SNAAP’s total database to well over 200,000 respondents. SNAAP staff now begin the work of cleaning, analyzing, and reporting out the data to each participating institution.

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