Program Overview

The Art Education concentration of the Ph.D. in Education allows students to connect contemporary art and education theories and philosophies, practical and professional experiences, and impactful research to develop an area of expertise relevant to the field of art education. The program distinguishes itself by integrating urban community engagement, digital and emerging media, and research and assessment in diverse settings. Graduates will be highly qualified to serve in teaching, research, and leadership positions at universities and in arts and education organizations.



Doctoral students will have the opportunity to work with some of the foremost leaders in the field of art education. Our current faculty consists of two Distinguished Fellows of the National Art Education Association (NAEA) and several active officers in the NAEA Board and affiliated committees. The faculty publish widely and seek and receive research grants regularly. They have many ongoing research collaborations with the VCU School of Education, School of Nursing, and Department of Computer Science, in addition to collaborative partnerships with local museums and arts organizations such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Art 180, and the Visual Arts Center. Our faculty’s current research interests and specialties include:

Dr. David Burton — aesthetics, assessment and exhibition

Dr. Melanie Buffington — culturally relevant pedagogy, museum education, and public art

Dr. Pamela Lawton — community-based art education, intergenerational arts learning, transformative learning

Dr. Ryan Patton — socially-engaged arts practices, gaming and new media technologies

Dr. Sara Wilson McKay — critical theory, arts + healthcare, and dialogic art experiences

Dr. Courtnie Wolfgang — intersections of post-structural, post/feminist, and queer theories with art pedagogies, school and community teaching, and justice-oriented Arts Education practices

Student Learning Outcomes

Graduates of the Ph.D. in Education with an Art Education concentration will meet the following learning objectives:


Students will:

1) Have a broad base of knowledge that relates to the practical, theoretical, and scholarly implications of contemporary Art Education.
2) Have the ability to communicate effectively through scholarly writing.
3) Have the research, writing, and scholarly skills necessary to make significant contributions to the field of Art Education.
4) Be prepared to conduct scholarly research in the form of a dissertation.


Please refer to the Graduate Bulletin.


Dr. Sara Wilson McKay
Art Education Track Coordinator


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