MFA-Track Student Handbook

Welcome to the Arts Administration Program at Southern Utah University. Pursuit of a graduate degree in the field of Arts Administration is challenging, but we hope you will find your experience at SUU to be enjoyable, intellectually stimulating, and rewarding.

One needs food, shelter, and water to live, but the arts are what makes that life worth living. And as arts administrators, in the most basic sense, we are here to introduce art to an audience; to give meaning. We are so thrilled you have entered into this important work.

Please read through the MFA-Track Student Handbook below, and refer to it often. If something isn't clear, or you have additional questions, please contact your Academic Advisor (AA Director: Last Name L-Z / AA Associate Director: Last Name A-K).

The Master of Fine Arts degree track is a two-year academic and experiential learning course of study that begins each fall. The program includes 60 credit hours combined with work opportunities through our professional affiliates: the Southern Utah Museum of Art, SUU's Advancement Office, SUU’s College of Performing and Visual Arts, and the Utah Shakespeare Festival.

A limited number of students are accepted to the program each year, thereby providing the highest level of personal instruction and mentoring in the classroom. Students also receive several opportunities outside of the classroom to participate in both scholarly and practical activities and projects. This combination of personalized academics and experiential learning gives students the tools necessary to compete in today’s job market.

Southern Utah University Mission Statement

Southern Utah University is a dynamic teaching and learning community that engages students in experiential education leading to personal growth, civic responsibility, and professional excellence.

College of Performing and Visual Arts Mission Statement

The SUU College of Performing and Visual Arts serves as a catalyst for students to realize their creative potential by providing a personalized and rigorous learning environment, fostering experiential education and contributing to the cultural enrichment of a global society.

Arts Administration Mission

The Arts Administration Program develops graduates who advocate for the arts while balancing administrative systems with the creative process in an effort to ensure the artistic integrity and economic sustainability of arts and culture organizations.


The Arts Administration Program faculty and staff will:

  • Provide a personalized, interdisciplinary education
  • Develop well-rounded professionals employable in any arts discipline
  • Offer a nonprofit management curriculum and experiential learning opportunities
  • Advocate for the arts
  • Arts Administration Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

The Arts Administration Program graduates will:

  • Become empowered advocates for the arts
  • Apply scholarly theory directly into professional practice
  • Develop adaptability and critical thinking skills necessary to work in the arts
  • Cultivate both practical and creative approaches to problem solving.
  • Communicate in an effective and persuasive way


Experiential Learning: Learning through doing develops foundational skills through the reflection and revision process. This  drives collective and individual analysis to enrich the educational experience, enhance rigor, and prepare students for multiple career paths beyond graduation.

Collaboration: Through fostering a collaborative environment in the classroom and artistic space, we build essential professional and interpersonal skills, working together toward educational and artistic goals.  By appreciating individual uniqueness, we build experiences where the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Advocacy: Students come to us with ideas, dreams, and a vision for a better future. We help them find their voice and use it to engage in their communities. We work to advocate for ourselves, our art, and each other. This engagement is essential for our collective future.

Academic Standards

AA graduate students are required to maintain a minimum of a 3.0 (B) cumulative grade point average on a 4.0 scale. Students who fall below the 3.0 standard will be contacted by their advisor and asked to develop a plan to improve their GPA. Students who do not meet the 3.0 requirement within two semesters of coursework will be dismissed from the program. Please see Policy #6.62 Graduate Grading Policy

Additionally, graduate students will not receive credit for a course where they achieved less than a 2.0 (C). In such a case, the student may repeat the course once at their own expense. The program cannot accommodate offering the course outside of the established sequencing as most of the courses offered on the MFA track are only scheduled every other year, and tuition waivers and assistantship placements will not be offered outside of the traditional twenty-four month period for the program. If the student receives less than a 2.0 (C) a second time, the student will automatically be dismissed from the program.

Students who complete at least 1/2 of a course’s requirements and are passing are eligible to receive an Incomplete grade if circumstances prevent the student from completing the course. The instructor has the authority and responsibility to decide whether to issue an Incomplete, and the student and instructor come up with an Incomplete Contract to finish the course.


At the end of the sixth and final semester, students on the MFA degree track will defend their Apologia (a cumulative portfolio and narrative of their time in the AA program) to the AA Graduation Committee at the Arts Administration Annual Conference in Cedar City. The Apologia allows the committee to assess the progress, experiences, and growth of the student during the course of the degree program. This cumulative portfolio with accompanying narrative will serve as the discussion platform of the Degree Defense Interview. Throughout the two years, class time is set aside to work on the Apologia during the Professional Development & Projects course (AA6850). The Apologia should reflect and synthesize the Learning Outcomes of the course and program, and contain (1) the Degree Defense Narrative, (2) Course & Project Work, (3) a Resume,  and (4) a Leadership Philosophy.

The Degree Defense Narrative should guide the reader chronologically through the student's growth and understanding of both theoretical and practical information gained over the course of the two year program. It should also define special projects, detailing how each project was implemented and connected with theoretical material covered in class. This section is designed to illustrate work done in the context of theories studied.

The Course & Project Work section is a cumulative portfolio of all course and project deliverables over the two years of the program, organized logically in the student’s Apologia Google Drive folder.

The Resume has no formatting restrictions but should be consistent throughout, logically organized, effective, and current.

The Leadership Philosophy is a narrative of the student's leadership style. Students should demonstrate how both coursework and projects informed and fine-tuned said style. Future goals for reassessment and development as a leader in the arts should also be defined.

Capstone & Degree Defense

Students must complete all academic requirements before beginning the Capstone and Degree Defense. Both the Capstone and Degree Defense are Pass/Fail. If a student receives a ‘Fail’ on either, the student will not be granted the MFA degree and will be dismissed from the program. Capstone and Degree Defense may not be repeated.

For additional information on the Apologia, Capstone, and Degree Defense, visit the MFA-Track Capstone page.


Fall - Even Years

  • AA6010 Principles of Arts Administration [1st Year]
  • AA6040 Art Advocacy & Cultural Policy
  • AA6220 Fundraising Event Planning
  • AA6850 Professional Development & Projects
  • Graduate Elective [2nd Year]

Fall - Odd Years

  • AA6010 Principles of Arts Administration [1st Year]
  • AA6800 Board Relations & Planning
  • AA6810 Marketing in the Arts I
  • AA6850 Professional Development & Projects
  • Graduate Elective [2nd Year]

Spring - Even Years

  • AA6060 Fund Development for Arts Administrators
  • AA6210 Grant Writing
  • AA6830 Marketing in the Arts II
  • AA6850 Professional Development & Projects

Spring - Odd Years

  • AA6070 Leadership Development in the Arts
  • AA6080 Visual & Performing Arts Studies
  • AA6110 Legal Issues in the Arts
  • AA6850 Professional Development & Projects


  • AA6050 Managing the Finances of Arts Organizations [1st Year]
  • AA6090 Accounting for Arts Administrators [1st Year]
  • AA6850 Professional Development & Projects [1st Year]
  • AA6890 Professional Arts Internship [1st Year]
  • AA6900 Capstone: Master of Fine Arts [2nd Year]
  • AA6980 Degree Defense [2nd Year]

For more information on these courses, visit the SUU Catalog Arts Administration listing of required courses and their course descriptions. 


Students admitted to the Master of Fine Arts degree program are automatically granted a professional Graduate Assistantship (for assistantship descriptions, visit the MFA Assistantships  page). Work will include an assignment in one of our affiliate organizations for an average of 20 hours per week in a five-day work week. There are fifteen weeks budgeted for each assistantship each semester.

During Fall and Spring Semesters, the student work schedule in assistantships generally follows the SUU academic calendar for days off and holidays, but even on those days, absence from assistantships must be communicated and coordinated through the Assistantship Mentor. Most of our affiliate organizations function outside of the SUU academic calendar, so the work does not stop and deadlines still must be met. Students are also allotted four [4] weeks off between commencement and when school begins for Fall Semester. Again, all summer leave must be communicated and coordinated through the Assistantship Mentor.

If work is required during or after finals in either semester, then compensatory time should offset that work. For example: if a student works a full week for an event at SUMA in December after finals, then that student should get an additional week off in the spring or summer. If a student needs more time off during the school year, then they can work more weeks during the summer.

The professional affiliate organizations pay $8000 per school year for each student. Students will submit a time card twice a month. Hours will be approved by the affiliate organizations paying the wage, or the AA Director if paid by the Arts Administration program. If the student exceeds the annual assistantship amount, the department or organization in which the student is working will assume the additional costs of work above and beyond the assistantship award.

Students will report the hours they work, and will be paid accordingly. There will be a different wage for first years and second years to appropriately distribute the assistantship award. The total amount earned by students may be less than $8000 due to taxes being withheld by the university, or the student not working the full amount of hours. Assistantship compensation varies each year depending on the University budget. 

Burch Mann House

Students have access (through Student ID Cards) to the Burch Mann House weekdays from 8:00am to 5:00pm. Access outside of those hours needs to be coordinated with the Director or Associate Director. Students must (1) respect the house, cleaning up messes made and putting things back in their rightful place after use, (2) respect the neighbors, and (3) ensure the house is secured, with all exterior doors and windows closed and locked, when leaving. Failure to do so will result in loss of access to the building.


All graduate faculty of the Arts Administration Program exemplify excellence in teaching, scholarship, and professional contributions to the field of arts administration. This creates an environment that enhances the educational atmosphere of the program, instilling in the students a desire for lifelong learning. Biographies of AA Faculty Members can be found on the AA Faculty page. All Arts Administration students have the program's Director (Last Name A-K and all undergraduate AA Minors) and Associate Director (Last Name L-Z) of Arts Administration as Academic Advisors throughout the program.


Southern Utah University only has one graduation ceremony per year (at the end of Spring semester), and although Arts Administration students finish their Capstone requirements each September and technically graduate then, they are eligible to walk at the Spring graduation ceremony. But whether or not students walk at the graduation ceremony, they need to apply to *graduate* from SUU by the December 15th before you begin your Capstone. To apply for graduation, log into your mySUU portal, click on the Student Menu link under Banner, then click on the Student Records link, then click on the Apply for Graduation link. When they ask for the term, select Summer of the year you intend to graduate. For more information, visit the Registrar's Graduation Application page at


Assistantship Mentors play an important role in the educational structure of the AA Program. Mentors provide a model for a healthy professional relationship through clear communication and transparency. They give feedback about students' strengths and challenges, and advise students on how to improve. Mentors are active listeners, offer support and encouragement, and help the student achieve academic and career exploration goals. Students should treat the Mentors with respect, and look to them as additional AA program educators.


Students are encouraged to join the private Facebook Group Arts Administration at Southern Utah University, like Arts Administration at Southern Utah University public Facebook Page, and follow the program on Instagram at @SUUArtsAdm. There will also be opportunities throughout each semester to network with alumni of the Arts Administration Program, as well as other professionals in the field. Students should use these opportunities to make professional connections and build relationships that will last long after graduation.


All AA graduate students will be evaluated at the end of each semester based on academic work, assistantships, and special projects (as applicable). Students will meet individually with their Academic Advisor and Assistantship Mentor and Supervisors to review strengths and weaknesses from the ending semester, and to set goals for the coming semester. Students must excel in all areas to move forward in the program. If any area is deficient, the student will be given a warning and an opportunity to make course corrections. If improvements are not made within one month of the warning, the student will be dismissed from the program.

Technical Requirements

Students must become familiar with Canvas, SUU’s learning management platform. Every course in Arts Administration uses this platform. The SUU Center for Teaching Innovation has many resources, including a Canvas Orientation, available to students.

Transfers within Arts Administration

Students on the MFA degree track can transfer credit into the existing MA degree track if they so desire. Please consult with your Academic Advisor before making such a decision (AA Director: Last Name A-K and AA Associate Director: Last Name L-Z).


Tuition amounts can be found on the Southern Utah University Cashier’s Office webpage. Admitted domestic MFA students receive a 50% in-state (no matter the student's state of residence) tuition waiver from the AA program, which can increase depending on qualifications and fund availability. Tuition waivers are not available to international students. Tuition waivers are also not available to out-of state students during Summer semesters, therefore it is advised that students gain Utah residency as soon as possible to avoid missing out on waivers during their second Summer semester.

Tuition Waivers are paid by the institution and represent a considerable investment in the student’s education. SUU or the Utah Board of Higher Education reserves the right to amend waiver amounts. A student's tuition waiver may be suspended or reduced due to unsatisfactory progress in coursework, assistantship and/or project duties, as determined by the AA Director. Students will be given ample warning and time to improve progress before any action is taken.

Additionally, an out-of-state student can qualify for the AA-MFA Non-Resident Graduate Student Two Year Renewable Scholarship if their cumulative undergraduate GPA was greater than or equal to 3.2, and if the student maintains such in their first year in the program. This scholarship takes out-of-state tuition down to in-state levels.

All student fees, as listed on the SUU Cashier’s Office webpage, are the responsibility of the student and do not fall under the tuition waiver umbrella.


Students on either degree track who, for valid reasons, choose to withdraw from the program (and were not dismissed) will be allowed to re-enter at the stage where they left with the approval of the Program Director. However, students must complete the degree program within six years of their first semester enrollment.

The Association of Arts Administration Educators (AAAE) represents college and university graduate and undergraduate programs in arts administration. AAAE, the accreditation- equivalent body for the Arts Administration Program at SUU, has set forth national standards by which the SUU AA Program abides, informing all curricular decisions within the Program. From the 2014 Standards for Arts Administration Graduate Program Curricula:

    Graduate curricula should provide an understanding of the context for managing arts and cultural organizations. Prospective students should look for the following core areas to be covered within the curriculum of any arts administration program:
    • The nature of the creative process; how art and the artist function in society
    • The economic, political and social environment for the arts
    • The local arenas in which arts organizations exist
    • The arts’ impact within an international environment
    • The importance and potential of technology
    • The impact of demographic diversity and multiculturalism
    • The ethical issues confronting arts managers
    When completing a graduate degree, students should possess specific core competencies in certain areas including:
    • Financial and audience development, strategic analysis and planning;
    • The dynamics and logistics of institutional development as it relates to the ability to present, produce and facilitate arts events and experiences;
    • The legal, ethical, and policy environments for the arts;
    • Leadership in complex organizational environments including the dynamics of working with boards, organizational structure and staffing, and working with artists and other constituencies;
    • The international environment for the arts and the impact of the global economy;
    • The application of research methodologies to the field, including the ability to conceptualize, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate data.

For more information on these standards or AAAE, visit

SUU Student Conduct

Southern Utah University (SUU) establishes high expectations and community standards for its students. Students voluntarily assume the responsibility to meet these standards and expectations when they enroll at the University. When those standards and expectations are not met, SUU seeks to hold students accountable for their choices leading to conduct incongruent with SUU’s policies and procedures [please consult the Student Code of Conduct].

As Arts Administration students, you are encouraged to exceed these expectations, not only academically, but professionally. As part of the AA program, we expect that each student will have:

  • Honesty – Students will strive to be true to themselves and others while upholding the ideals of the SUU honor code and students will avoid all communication and actions that will mislead others.
  • Integrity – Students will honor commitments by practicing the highest ethical standards, and taking personal responsibility for your actions even when facing social and economic pressures.
  • Respect – Students will treat everyone with respect, dignity, and fairness with no tolerance for discrimination.
  • Global Awareness – Students will strive to understand and appreciate the diversity of the global environment, and be sensitive to the ramifications of their actions in the international community.
  • Excellence - Students will strive for a high level of academic excellence and professional achievement. Students will demonstrate their ability to perform while developing their intellectual capabilities and skills.

We hold these values in high regard and hope the student understands that their actions today and in the future reflect upon themselves and the College of Performing & Visual Arts and the AA Program.

Alcohol & Drug Use

The consumption of alcohol, except at authorized functions, in authorized areas, is not allowed at any facility being used by Southern Utah University. Display of the effects of alcohol or narcotics while on the job will be grounds for immediate termination. The unlawful manufacture, distribution, dispensation, possession, or use of a controlled substance is prohibited in any SUU work, classroom and/or housing space.

Contact Information

The AA contact sheets are for personal use only. No person outside the program is to be given any employee’s address, phone number, or other personal information without written permission from that member of the faculty, staff, or student body.


Any and all complaints about the program, staff, fellow students, and/or related campus issues should be submitted in writing to the Program Director in a timely fashion. Complaints will be treated with great confidence and discretion, and interviews will be conducted in person within a reasonable time. If the grievance is with the Program Director, a complaint may be submitted in writing to the Chair of the Department of Theatre, Dance, and Arts Administration. Please use discretion in regard to hierarchy before skipping steps and going straight to the Chair, who is only to be used as an arbitrator when no other solution seems feasible.

Harassment Policy

Harassment in employment, including sexual, racial and ethnic harassment is forbidden by law and is strictly prohibited by Southern Utah University and the Arts Administration Program. We do not tolerate harassment of any kind. Any form of harassment, including, but not limited to that related to an individual’s race, religion, color, sex, age, national origin, ancestry, citizenship status, handicap, disability, sexual orientation, or any other harassment which violates federal, state, or local law is a violation of this policy and will subject an employee to disciplinary action, up to and including immediate dismissal. Racial and ethnic harassment includes, but is not limited to, racial slurs, jokes, comments and any other offensive and/or derogatory remarks and/or conduct.

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, constitute sexual harassment when:

  • Submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual; or
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive environment at Southern Utah University.

If you have any questions about what constitutes harassing behavior, ask a faculty member or other member of management with whom you feel comfortable. SUU will take all reasonable steps and actions to prevent harassment from occurring in our workplace and will take immediate and appropriate action when SUU becomes aware that unlawful harassment has occurred.

All employees have the right to be free from unlawful harassment while in the employment of this program. If you feel that you have been, or are being harassed by a coworker, manager, agent, vendor, or customer of the company, you should contact your immediate supervisor or the Human Resources Department, and arrange for a meeting to discuss your complaint. If you are not comfortable with or satisfied discussing the complaint with the previously mentioned contacts, then contact another member of management. You may be assured that you will not be retaliated against in any way for reporting a harassment problem in good faith. Employees who bring complaints to management in bad faith will be subject to disciplinary action up to and including termination.

All complaints of harassment will be investigated promptly and thoroughly, and appropriate action will be taken. All complaints of harassment will be treated with as much confidentiality as possible. Harassment of our employees in connection with their work by non-employees may be a violation of this policy. Any employee who observes any harassment of an employee by another employee or non-employee should report such harassment to their supervisor.

SUU cannot resolve a harassment problem unless the appropriate authority knows about it. Therefore, it is your responsibility to bring those problems to our attention so that we can take the necessary steps to prevent and/or correct the problems. This policy does not supersede the general university policy on harassment and serves as a program amendment only.


You may be approved for personal days off during the academic meeting times for the following reasons only:

  • Sick Leave – Excused absence may be granted for short-term illness. Any absence longer than two consecutive days will require explanation from a doctor or the campus Wellness Center.
  • Bereavement Leave – If an immediate family member becomes critically ill or has passed away, you may be granted a period not to exceed five days for bereavement.
  • Jury Duty – Full-time students often qualify for postponement of jury duty until an approved break. Please make an attempt to file for an extension if you receive a notice to appear. If postponement is not granted, you will be excused for the duration of your civic duty. Also, if you are called to testify in a legal or court proceeding you will be excused for the appropriate time and asked for evidence of your service.

Southern Utah University defines plagiarism as intentionally or carelessly presenting the work of another as one’s own. It includes submitting an assignment purporting to be the student’s original work which has wholly or in part been created by another person, or cutting and pasting of source material. It also includes the presentation of the work, ideas, representations, or words of another person without customary and proper acknowledgment of sources. It is the responsibility of the student to consult with their instructors for clarification in any situation in which the need for documentation is an issue.

If there are any questions or concerns regarding Academic Integrity, please consult the Student Code of Conduct.


Theft of personal possessions or property of SUU is grounds for immediate dismissal from the program.

Workers Compensation

Southern Utah University employees and student assistants are covered by Workers Compensation Insurance. It is the employee’s responsibility to report any injury to the Program Director and respective administrative offices within 24 hours of the accident. If you are injured 10 on the job, report the incident to your immediate supervisor and/or Program Director, and proceed to the nearest health care provider according to the degree of injury you have sustained. Inform the health care provider that you are an employee of Southern Utah University and fill out the appropriate papers. The administrative staff of SUU will contact the insurance company and settle the claim. Workers’ Compensation Insurance may only be used for injuries that occur during normal business hours and are a direct result of your job responsibilities.

Last Updated November 2021