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Lipscomb University launches innovative graduate program designed to help artists, entertainment professionals advance careers

Specialized credentials help entertainment industry professionals elevate skills, grow industry network through first program of its kind in Tennessee

Kim Chaudoin | 

Mike Nawrocki teaches online course.

Lipscomb University announced today an innovative educational initiative through its George Shinn College of Entertainment & the Arts (CEA). The new Entertainment, Design & Creative Enterprise Stackable Graduate Certificates Program is the first of its kind in Tennessee and one of the few in the nation. This program offers an innovative, short-term path for artists and entertainment professionals to advance their careers in a rapidly evolving industry.

The new Entertainment, Design & Creative Enterprise Stackable Graduate Certificates Program offers a selection of specialized credentials that help professionals build their artistic repertoire and grow their industry network through certificates in various creative arts sectors. Students may choose from certificates in screenwriting, television writing, animation foundations and 2D advanced animation.

The certificate programs allow students to gain expertise and skills in smaller components than a full master’s degree but also provide a pathway to the full graduate degree if desired. Courses are offered in an online format, making the program accessible from anywhere in the world. 

“As the entertainment and arts professions continue to evolve, there is a growing need to offer educational programs that meet the needs of today's artists and prepare them for the opportunities of tomorrow,” said Lipscomb President Candice McQueen. “This program was created by artists for artists as we seek to innovate, inspire and elevate the next generation of creative minds. Lipscomb’s program provides flexibility and a pathway to expertise in focused components without requiring a full master’s degree.”

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in arts and entertainment are projected to grow faster than most industries over the next decade, underscoring the importance of continuous learning and professional development in these fields. The Tennessee Entertainment Commission reports that the entertainment sector contributes $6.2 billion to the Tennessee economy, and is No. 1 in the nation for total workforce size in music industry. According to the 2023 Nashville Regional Economic Development Guide the entertainment sector produces 80,757 jobs in the Middle Tennessee area and has a $15.6 billion annual economic impact.

“From classes with dedicated professors with real-world industry experience to unique educational opportunities like the Writers Room Intensive, Lipscomb's screenwriting and television writing certificates truly prepare students for the film and television industry,” said Chris Luccy, writer and co-producer on ABC’s A Million Little Things (2018-2023), who served as a guest faculty in the CEA’s Writers Room Intensive course last spring.

This distinctive program allows participants to tailor their education to specific interests and career goals. These certificates not only deepen participants' expertise but also offer opportunities to engage with industry leaders through guest lectures, workshops, travel study opportunities and networking events. Each certificate may be completed in as few as nine months. Future certificate programs planned will range in topics from the arts industry business, to music, fashion, design and additional ones in writing and animation. 

“As we look at the future of higher education and the future of work we are seeing a need for just-in-time, flexible and short-term upskilling. We are also seeing the industry return to the utilization of renaissance people who have several different skill sets and talents,” said CEA Dean Mike Fernandez. “We are also helping artists expand their horizons by training them how to deploy their artistic intelligence in more than just the entertainment and arts industries.”

“Corporate America needs creatives and creatives need more opportunities in the corporate world to have a sustainable and fulfilling career,” he continued. “We have crafted this program to position creatives to take advantage of the tremendous opportunities of the future.”

Courses are offered in a flexible format blending video content and assignments with a synchronous course that meets online each week for three hours, allowing for feedback from professors, additional instruction and community building. 

“The program's online format, coupled with travel courses, ensures that students can benefit from a flexible learning environment while still having opportunities for collaboration and networking with professionals in the industry,” said Melissa Forte, associate professor and chair of the Department of Cinematic Arts. “This approach fosters a supportive and dynamic learning community, preparing students to make meaningful contributions to the arts and entertainment sector.”

Students may complete one certificate at a time in a specific area of interest then combine certificates for a custom MFA in entertainment, design and creative enterprise. Classes begin in August. An online information session will be offered Thursday, May 2 at 5 p.m. CDT. Register here for the information session. Find more information here or contact Forte at melissa.forte [at] (subject: Information%20about%20Lipscomb%27s%20new%20stackable%20graduate%20certificates)