The Department of Art History offers a graduate program leading to a Master of Arts degree. The graduate program prepares students for either a career in the arts or for PhD-level work at other universities. Course offerings cover the full range of western art, including film studies and electronic arts. Non-western courses in Pre-Columbian, Asian, Islamic, and African art are also offered.

Admission Requirements 

Application Deadlines

Application deadlines vary by program, please review the application deadline chart for specific programs. Other important dates and deadlines can be found by using the One Stop calendars.

Admission

An applicant must meet Graduate School requirements plus these departmental requirements to be considered for admission to the program:

  1. A minimum of 15 credits in Art History.
  2. Two letters of recommendation from persons familiar with applicant’s academic or professional activities and potential.
  3. A writing sample to the Department of Art History, for example, an undergraduate art historical term paper.
  4. Strongly recommended, though not required: background in languages, history or classics. Applicants may be admitted with specific program-defined course deficiencies provided that the deficiencies amount to no more than two courses.

The student is expected to satisfy deficiency requirements within three enrolled semesters. No course credits earned in making up deficiencies may be counted as program credits required for the degree.

Credits and Courses

Thesis Track: MA in Art History with an Emphasis on Methods and Criticism

Minimum degree requirement is 30 graduate credits in Art History, of which a minimum of 18 credits must be 700- to 900-level courses. The 18 credits must include:

ARTHIST 700Proseminar in Art History 13
ARTHIST 891Art Museum Internship3
6 credits of ArtHist 990 Thesis Research
But may not include: 2
ARTHIST 703Introduction to Art Museum Studies I3
ARTHIST 704Introduction to Art Museum Studies II3

Under special circumstances, 3 credits in 700- to 900-level work may be substituted for 3 of the 6 credits of thesis research. In addition, students may take a maximum of 6 credits of independent research (890, 891 and/or 999); however, these credits may not be taken in the first 6 credits of graduate work in the Department, and not until all deficiencies (if any) have been satisfied. Furthermore, they may not be counted toward the required 18 credits of 700- to 900-level courses. They will count, however, toward the overall number of credits needed to graduate. 

Of the total 30 credits, 12 credits must be distributed across three of the following four areas: Ancient-Medieval; Renaissance-Baroque; Modern (1750-the Present including Film); and non-Western. At least 9 of these credits must be taken in courses numbered 700 or above.

The following courses may not be used to satisfy the distribution requirement, although they will count toward the overall number of credits needed to graduate:

ARTHIST 351English Art: 1550-18503
ARTHIST 353American Art: Colonial Period - 18703
ARTHIST 355American Folk Art3
ARTHIST 459American Architecture3
ARTHIST 703Introduction to Art Museum Studies I3
ARTHIST 704Introduction to Art Museum Studies II3

Upon petition to the director of graduate studies, a student may be permitted to take up to 6 credits in appropriate areas outside Art History (e.g., anthropology, literature, history, music history, philosophy, film).

Thesis

In addition to completing all the coursework required for the degree, the student must write a thesis on a subject selected in consultation with the advisor. This study must demonstrate the student’s ability to organize material and her/his familiarity with relevant research methods and art-historical literature. The student must pass an oral defense of the thesis.

Curatorial Track: MA in Art History with an Emphasis on Museums and Curatorial Practice

Minimum degree requirement is 30 graduate credits in Art History, of which a minimum of 18 credits must be 700- to 900-level courses. The 18 credits must include:

ARTHIST 700Proseminar in Art History *3
ARTHIST 891Art Museum Internship3
6 credits of ArtHist 991 Thesis Exhibition

The following courses do not count toward the required 18 credits above the 700 level, but they are required for the 30 credits toward the degree. 

ARTHIST 703Introduction to Art Museum Studies I3
ARTHIST 704Introduction to Art Museum Studies II3

Under special circumstances, 3 credits in 700- to 900-level work may be substituted for 3 of the 6 credits of thesis research. In addition, students may take a maximum of 6 credits of independent research (890, 891 and/or 999); however, these credits may not be taken in the first 6 credits of graduate work in the Department, and not until all deficiencies (if any) have been satisfied. Furthermore, they may not be counted toward the required 18 credits of 700- to 900-level courses. They will count, however, toward the overall number of credits needed to graduate. All students must take the Proseminar in Art History (ArtHist 700) in their first fall semester.

Of the total 30 credits,12 credits must be distributed across three of the following four areas: Ancient-Medieval; Renaissance-Baroque; Modern (1750-the Present including Film); and non-Western. At least 9 of these credits must be taken in courses numbered 700 or above. The following courses may not be used to satisfy the distribution requirement, although they will count toward the overall number of credits needed to graduate:

ARTHIST 351English Art: 1550-18503
ARTHIST 353American Art: Colonial Period - 18703
ARTHIST 355American Folk Art3
ARTHIST 459American Architecture3

Upon petition to the graduate advisor, a student may be permitted to take up to 6 credits in appropriate areas outside Art History (e.g., anthropology, literature, history, music history, philosophy, film).

Exhibition

The student on this curatorial track must also organize an exhibition accompanied by a scholarly catalog on a subject selected in consultation with the advisor. This exhibition must demonstrate the student’s ability to organize material and her/his familiarity with relevant research methods and art historical literature. The exhibition is considered the equivalent of a formal thesis and the accompanying written work must be submitted to the Graduate School in appropriate format.

Additional Requirements

Major Professor as Advisor

The student must have a major professor to advise and supervise the student’s studies as specified in Graduate School regulations. A student who is not assigned to an advisor at time of admission should immediately contact the Graduate Advisor.

Language Requirement

Students must demonstrate a reading knowledge of one art historical language, e.g. French, German, Italian, Spanish or other language as appropriate. Students must take the departmental reading exam in the language of their choice at least once by the time they have completed 9 credits. If they do not pass the exam on the first attempt, they will be expected to enroll in an appropriate language course. Students may not enroll in thesis research (990) unless they have passed the language examination.

Thesis or Exhibition

The student must either write a thesis or organize an exhibition accompanied by a scholarly catalog on a subject selected in consultation with the advisor. This study or exhibition must demonstrate the student’s ability to organize material and familiarity with research methods and art historical literature pertinent to the student’s topic and area of interest. The exhibition is considered the equivalent of a formal thesis and the accompanying written work must be submitted to the Graduate School in appropriate format.

Time Limit

The student must complete all degree requirements within five years of initial enrollment. It is expected that a full-time student will normally complete all of the requirements for the degree within two years.

Accelerated Program Option

This program is offered as part of an accelerated bachelor's/master's program. For more information, see Accelerated Master's Degrees.