Art Education program allows artists to thrive

For students with a background in art and the drive to make a difference in education, SUNY Oswego’s Master of Arts in Teaching, Art Education program may be the perfect fit.

The program sets itself apart from others in the region based on its quality curriculum, its emphasis on visual literacy and its candidates’ strong foundational knowledge of art.

Professional Placement

Student teaching placements are a staple in many graduate education programs, but are uniquely designed in SUNY Oswego’s MAT Art Education program. Student teaching experiences are held at two placements for two entire semesters, compared to having two shortened, separate placements over one semester, found in many other programs.

“This allows the students to really be initiated into the world of schools and see visible growth and development in their students,” said Dr. Jacquelyn Kibbey, coordinator of the program.

The program was designed to offer a clinically rich curriculum, where field placements take place in coordination with methods classes. This allows for students to observe during their own placements at clinic sites the application of the theories of pedagogy they learn in their graduate classes.

This structure gives students a chance to discuss their experiences, compared to other programs that have an order for classes that staggers methods courses and field placements.

“The students are observing real life situations and asking about them in our classroom when it’s pertinent, rather than putting it on hold until the next semester when they’re in the appropriate class,” Kibbey said.

Continuous Development

SUNY Oswego’s MAT Art Education program also has a strong focus on professional development, with a student chapter of the National Art Education Association on campus and students frequently attending and presenting at state and national conferences.

“We always attend conferences to see the benefits of ongoing professional development and discuss the importance of not relying on your school district to provide that,” Kibbey said. “We emphasize our students are the future of their field and we’re preparing them to be leaders.”

“Our graduates are all strong, their biggest competitors are their classmates...we emphasize our students are the future of their field and we’re preparing them to be leaders.”
Dr. Jacquelyn Kibbey
Coordinator, MAT Art Education Program

The strong emphasis on visual literacy in the program gives students an understanding of literacy that is essential for teachers entering education today.

“Art education raises awareness. We live in a visual society. We are exposed to all these visual images, but how do we interpret them?” Kibbey said. “The tools needed to critically analyze and thoughtfully respond to any type of visual image are firmly rooted in the field of visual art.”

The emphasis on visual literacy in the program, to raise awareness and understanding of how to interpret visual imagery, directly ties to a concept central to the School of Education – the idea of teaching for social justice.

“Art is a form of communication and when we feel something emotionally, we want to express ourselves. The most profound example of this expression is about social justice issues,” Kibbey said.

In the MAT Art Education curriculum, this means graduate students understand the role art educators and art have in their students’ education, growth and development.

“Art is all about empowerment and expressing your beliefs and emotions visually,” Kibbey said. “Assignments in art don’t have a right or wrong answer, they have an interpretive answer.”

A master’s degree from SUNY Oswego’s MAT Art Education program distinguishes teachers in the job market because of the high quality of artists/students that are admitted into the program.

“One of the biggest complaints about beginning teachers is that they aren’t grounded in their discipline, but our graduates have a strong foundation firmly in place,” Kibbey said.

Teaching Artist Model

While the state requires only 36 hours of art credit for an art education teacher, SUNY Oswego’s program requires 72 hours to be admitted. The program is based on the “teaching artist model,” which means these students are fully vetted artists before they are teachers.

“Our graduates are all strong, their biggest competitors are their classmates,” Kibbey said.

But that doesn’t translate into the program’s atmosphere, where small class sizes and close interactions with faculty leave students in the program with a sense of belonging.

“We have a great cohort of students that go through the program and we emphasize that these are their future colleagues,” Kibbey said. “We create our own sense of family.”

The MAT Art Education program has a deadline of March 1 for fall admission or October 1 for spring admission. Those interested in learning more about the program can request information here.