Marginalia, Graduate Blog

Why Art Education at Columbia?

Ashley Saunders

I know many of you reading my blog posts are prospective students trying to figure out why to choose Columbia over other Art Education MAT programs. I totally get that. I was just like you around this time in 2010 and early 2011, and now I’m in my second year in the Art Education MAT program here. Picking a graduate school is a process that takes time and careful consideration. Most of the graduate students I know (as opposed to undergrad students) are paying for their Masters degree themselves and want to make sure they’re getting the best for their money. Here’s why I chose Columbia:

A Cohort System

The Art Education MAT program is small. Between 10 and 15 people are accepted to the program and are put into a cohort together. This means we are in all of the same classes together and work together frequently. Because we’re a cohort that is always together, we get close to each other and are always getting new ideas from each other. My cohort is made up of ten people from a range of life experiences. We have someone who is a veteran teacher and provides the group with a prospective that comes from years of instructing and leading his own art classroom. We also have individuals who have experience in museum education, set design, business, graphic design… You name it and someone’s probably got experience with it. All of these different experiences meld together to make one strong group of people that build each other up. I believe I’m a stronger instructor because of the people in my cohort.

Financial Aid

Grad school is expensive, no joke. I’ll be honest. I’ve got loans, but I did get the Follett Graduate Merit Award. The Follett is a generous award that takes care of the majority of my tuition. I highly recommend applying early, by the February 2nd deadline, and making sure you express interest in it on your application. It made the difference when I was deciding between Columbia and another MAT program here in Chicago.

Life in the City

Did you go to undergrad in the boonies? Me too. After I graduated from my undergraduate school in 2008, I moved to Washington, D.C. for three years. When I was considering grad school on the east coast versus Illinois, I couldn’t imagine going back to the middle of nowhere for two more years. Additionally, for an art teacher, Chicago offers a world of educational experiences for your future students. The Art Institute and the Museum of Contemporary Art are right at your fingertips, along with a host of other museums (hello, art integration?). You just don’t get that in the cornfields. I’m constantly finding lesson plan inspiration from the city I live in.

Have questions? Email me! art.mat@colum.edu

Why Art Education at Columbia?

I know many of you reading my blog posts are prospective students trying to figure out why to choose Columbia over other Art Education MAT programs. I totally get that. …

Art Education (K-12) MAT Ashley Saunders, ashley.saunders@loop.colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience