Arts and Culture Leadership Certificate

Ensure access to the arts and culture for generations to come.

First certificate cohort visiting Balboa Park Museums

Arts and cultural organizations - including museums, theatres, dance companies, music ensembles, and opera companies - face issues that are unique among nonprofits. This essential sector needs informed and strategic leadership to help organizations adapt and thrive.

Visitor-facing nonprofit arts organizations face a competitive market with for-profit entertainment entities and shifting audience expectations, while funders now expect arts organizations to serve diverse audiences and address community issues and social concerns.

How can arts and cultural leaders ensure their organizations are accessible and welcoming to all - from members to cultural tourists to underserved populations in the region?

USD's School of Leadership and Education Sciences offers the Arts and Culture Leadership Certificate to prepare those who want to address the challenges facing arts and cultural organizations. Offered for graduate-level and non-graduate level credit, you can choose the type of certificate that best works for your future endeavors. 

Explore our digital resource, Graduate Certificate Programs at SOLES: Expand Your Reach, if you want to learn more about how a graduate certificate at SOLES can help you develop your expertise and increase your career potential.

Graduate-Level Credit:

Apply for Graduate Credit: Due 6/30/2022

Community Participant

  • Earn a professional certificate from the University of San Diego
  • Offers rolling admissions. The next start term is Spring 2022. 
  • Enroll in three courses (9 units) completed over 1 year
    • Units not transferrable to degree-granting programs
  • Total cost: $4,950 

Apply as a Community Participant

  • Experienced nonprofit arts and culture employees
  • Nonprofit professionals seeking to transition to the arts sector
  • Current or prospective board members, and those working in philanthropy
  • Alumni and current students of the Nonprofit Leadership and Management MA who seek to enhance their existing degree

Three courses will take students from the classroom to cultural destinations around the San Diego region for first-hand observation and experiences. Travel to other regions in California will encourage a deeper look into the challenges and opportunities for 21st-century organizations in the areas of equity, inclusion, and diversity.

A foundational class, Leadership in the Arts and Culture Sector, will cover essential and timely topics in arts and cultural leadership, including stewardship, infrastructure, operational needs, earned income, and the role and economic impact of the arts and culture sector on the San Diego region.

Through a travel experience, Arts and Culture Leadership Institutional Tour,  students will examine how organizations across California deliver access and programs for diverse audiences. Students will also have the opportunity to discuss the government’s role in the arts and culture sector at the local, state, and federal levels.  

In 2016, over five million people attended arts and culture events and institutions in San Diego, which was twice the attendance at the Padres and the Chargers combined.  This course, Leading Visitor-Facing Nonprofits, will address needs, expectations, barriers, and financial issues related to the visitor experience, which is an essential area of knowledge for arts and culture leaders.

In addition to the course instructors, executive leaders of regional arts institutions will join class meetings to share their challenges and insights. 

The next launch for this series is Spring 2022.  Participants can complete the series in approximately 1 year.

Leadership in the Arts and Culture Sector

Spring 2022

Leading Visitor-Facing Nonprofits
Fall 2022

Aarts and Culture Leadership Institutional Tour:  Arts, Culture and Community
January 2023 

Jessica Hanson York 

Jessica is the Deputy Director and Chief Advancement Officer at Mingei International Museum, overseeing diverse facets of the Museum's operations, including fundraising, marketing, visitor experience, membership, digital strategy, and community engagement. As a member of the Museum's leadership team, she is deeply engaged in the planning and fundraising for a transformational renovation of the Museum's facility in Balboa Park. Previously, York was a member of the executive team at The New Children’s Museum, leading start-up activities for the launch of the facility in San Diego. Prior to her museum career, York worked in public broadcasting, including five years at the PBS station in Chicago, managing on-air brand and broadcast operations. She also served as a consultant to the PBS national network, working with producers and marketers to build marketplace positioning and emotional connections with audiences. She has been a consultant with the City of San Diego Commission for Arts and Culture and other local nonprofits and is occasionally seen on television as a fundraising host for PBS pledge programs. York is a graduate of the University of San Diego Master's program in Nonprofit Leadership & Management and the Getty Leadership Institute Executive Education Program for Museum Leaders. She currently serves as Vice President of the San Diego Museum Council.

Patti Saraniero, EdD.

Patti is the principal of Moxie Research, a program evaluation practice that works collaboratively with arts, cultural, and education organizations on large and small projects that result in effective learning programs and experiences. Moxie Research’s goal is to support organizations so that they may fulfill their mission and serve their communities. Current and recent client organizations include Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, The Barnes Foundation, Geffen Playhouse, The Kennedy Center, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, Mingei International Museum, San Diego Museum of Man, The New Children’s Museum, The Old Globe Theatre, OPERA America, The Phillips Collection, and Turnaround Arts. Before life as an evaluator, Dr. Saraniero was an arts practitioner, running the education programs at La Jolla Playhouse and the Old Globe Theatre.  Today, she is deeply committed to preparing early-career professionals for leadership in 21st-century arts organizations and teaches in the Nonprofit Leadership and Management graduate program at the University of San Diego.  She also served as visiting faculty for ten years in the graduate theatre program at the University of California San Diego.

Laura Deitrick, PhD. 

Laura serves as the director of the Institute for Nonprofit Education and Research at the University of San Diego. She has been a nonprofit executive director, board member, management consultant, and researcher on major nonprofit trends. Her research has led to important reports on nonprofit ethics, nonprofits and public education, nonprofit human resource practices, executive transition, the economics of San Diego’s nonprofit sector, nonprofit public confidence, and regional grantmaking. In her role, Laura oversees graduate programs as well as the work of the Caster Center for Nonprofit and Philanthropic research. Under her direction, the Caster Center’s work is focused on research and evaluation and understanding the economic landscape of the nonprofit and philanthropic sector in relation to the broader economy. Dr. Deitrick is a faculty member in USD’s Nonprofit Leadership and Management master’s program where she teaches nonprofit research methods, program design, and evaluation. She is the co-author of Cases in Nonprofit Management: A Hands-on Approach to Problem Solving, Sage publications.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What makes a graduate certificate worth it?
  • Can I complete the certificate online?
  • I am not a USD resident, will this program qualify me for a student visa?
  • I am a current USD student, can I pursue the certificate?
  • General Cancellation and Transfer Policy
  • How can I learn more?