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Arts and Health Combined in New Graduate Certificate

Graduate Certificate in Arts and Health, a new graduate certificate program designed to combine academic and professional training for students who are looking to merge the arts within the healthcare field.


The Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts is thrilled to announce that the M.A. in Arts Leadership program will introduce the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Health. This is a new graduate certificate program designed to combine academic and professional training for students who are looking to merge the arts within the healthcare field.

Offered through the M.A. in Arts Leadership (MAAL) Program, the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Health is an exclusive 9-credit program open to current University of Houston students and students outside the University who have completed at least 9 graduate credit hours in any degree program. The certificate serves as an addition to masters and doctoral degrees.

 “We in the College of the Arts are always finding ways to keep our curriculum relevant to our students and the field,” says MAAL Director Fleurette S. Fernando. “It’s Ironic that we are about to launch this program during a global pandemic … we are realizing more and more how important our understanding of the arts in health is and what that relationship is about…because of this crisis, this is a field that’s going to grow not just in the hospital system, but in community centers, arts organizations, homes for the elderly, and juvenile detention homes.”

The program will combine coursework and professional training for students to integrate fine and performing arts into the areas of health, healthcare and well-being. A portion of the curriculum will be delivered offsite in local health and human services facilities, giving students hands on experience.

McGovern College of the Arts Dean Andrew Davis described the most exciting aspect of this new certificate as, “The close partnership that we’ve developed with the Texas Medical Center as a result of our work on creating this program. Engaging with the TMC adds significant value to our programs university-wide; it’s one of the real advantages of being in Houston.”

Dean Davis further explained “Arts and Health is one of the cutting-edge fields right now. Leaders in both the arts and health sectors are embracing it. So, there is a real need for students with credentials entering the workforce, with training and certification for non-clinical, arts-related work in health-care environments—hospitals and the like.”

Fleurette Fernando shared that MAAL alumni have found success in healthcare and this made her realize that students needed more exposure to this area of study. Fernando has worked very closely with leaders in the health community to create this program. “A lot of art students don’t even know this is a possible career choice”, Fernando said.

 “I feel honored and privileged to do this type of work … to connect patients and families to art experiences during their time at the hospital,” explains Zachary Gresham, Program Manager for Arts in Medicine at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and alumnus of the UH Arts Leadership program. “In working in arts and health programming, you see the power that is inherent in the arts to be able to bring both happiness and healing”, says Gresham, “The Arts and Health certificate will help connect students to everything from best practices in the field, research at the intersection of arts and health, and will provide an in-depth opportunity for students to understand the logistical particulars of how the arts fit into healthcare.”

Shay Kulha, Senior Project Manager for the Center for Performing Arts Medicine at Houston Methodist, is the instructor for the Introduction to Arts in Health course. “Working at the intersection of arts in health means serving the whole person and supporting the understanding that the arts can play an active role in how we understand the health of ourselves and our community.” says Kulha, By bringing these two communities into conversation, we are able to create opportunities that wouldn’t be possible without this collaboration”.

Tod Frazier, director and founder of the Center for Performing Arts Medicine Houston Methodist (CPAM), was an integral part of creating this program for our students. “Throughout the country, the visual and performing arts are enhancing healthcare, promoting public health, and supporting community well-being.”  He went on to explain that the reputation of the world’s largest medical center and the prestige of UH’s College of the Arts and the new UH Medical School provide students with a unique opportunity to flourish in the field of arts and health. 

Dean Andrew Davis is exceptionally grateful for everyone’s contributions: “It’s important to thank the people on both sides who have made this happen, because the amount of work in developing a new program is significant. Fleurette Fernando (Arts Leadership Director) on our side, plus our friends and colleagues in the TMC: Todd Frazier of Houston Methodist, Zach Gresham of M. D. Anderson, Carol Herron of Texas Children’s---were all especially helpful as we crafted the concept and the curriculum. I’m grateful to all of them for the partnership.”

Applications for the Certificate in Arts in Health Program are due August 1st for fall enrollment and December 1st for spring enrollment. For more information about the program and the application process, visit https://uh.edu/kgmca/arts-leadership/academics/art-health/