While business school students globally might be eyeing the recruitment market nervously, one niche MA is going from strength to strength.

The MA in art business offered at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London, New York and Singapore has seen applications rising and demand for its graduates increasing.

This is not surprising given that the arts and antiques market is reported to be a plus industry. The degree is not an MBA for the arts, but it is the nearest qualification there is, says Iain Robertson, head of Art Business Studies at Sotheby’s Institute in London.

In London, where the art business MA has been running for 10 years, the current cohort numbers 70, up from the 18 who joined in 2003.

The New York Institute opened in 2006 with 42 students on its first programme. This academic year – its second – numbers have grown to 61. The Singapore Institute opened last year and has 25 students. The degree for all three institutes is accredited by the University of Manchester in the UK.

Upon graduation students find jobs such as auction house specialists and gallery directors. Increasingly, students are gaining jobs in investment banks, advising clients on art investments for their financial portfolios.

The idea behind the programme was a desire to professionalise the art business, says Mr Robertson.

“We don’t have people who can operate strategically,” he says. “This course was conceived with the idea of creating individuals who could operate within the market, who don’t want to be specialists [in one segment].”

Although there are signs of economic turbulence worldwide, the art market seems to be reasonably unaffected adds Mr Robertson, hence the appeal of the programme.

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