MA in Art History


Program Description

The Master of Arts degree in Art History offers students a curriculum that covers a range of historical, theoretical, geographic, and transcultural topics. For some students, the Master of Arts degree is a terminal degree in preparation for curatorial or education careers in galleries and museums; for others, it is the preparation to enter a Ph.D. program elsewhere. All students receive training that hones their critical analysis, research, and writing skills. They additionally have the opportunity to immerse themselves in the study of diverse creative practices and visual material.

Students have the option to concentrate in museum training and can take advantage of the many opportunities to experience and study works of art first-hand at the various museums and galleries in the Washington, D.C. area. Students also have the chance to meet and interact with a number of leading art professionals in seminars taught by local curators and the department’s robust visiting artist and scholars lecture series.

We encourage students to pursue cross-disciplinary studies and to take advantage of programming and events in departments throughout The George Washington University. Coursework and Research is enhanced by access to the many resources available across campus including The George Washington University Museum; The Textile Museum, one of the nation’s leading collections of textile arts spanning five millennia and five continents; Luther W. Brady Art Gallery; the collections and archives of the Corcoran Galleries; and the numerous museums, libraries, and archives of the area such as the National Gallery of Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the Freer and Sackler Galleries, The Phillips Collection, the National Museum of African Art, and the Library of Congress.

Admissions Requirements

Prerequisite: a bachelor's degree in the Humanities or another appropriate field, such as art history, fine arts, anthropology, archaeology, history, literature, museum studies, gender studies, or religion.

  1. GRE general test (institutional code 5246);
  2. Three (3) Letters of Recommendation;
  3. 250-500 word Statement of Purpose discussing research interests, academic objectives, and relevant professional experience;
  4. Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended;
  5. CV;
  6. Writing Sample between 15 and 25 pages in length.

MA in Art History applications are accepted for the fall entrance only.

Degree Requirements

36 credit hours of graduate coursework. During the first semester, students are required to complete the art historiography seminar (AH 6258). At the beginning of the first semester of study, students must pass a reading comprehension examination in French, German, Italian or Spanish. As many as 6 credits of graduate coursework may be completed outside the department with approval of the graduate advisor.

Students must successfully complete one qualifying paper. A first draft is due in the fall of the second year, after completion of 18 credits; the final draft is due the following spring. Qualifying papers are typically based on seminar papers and revised as publishable work; all qualifying papers are judged by a panel of faculty members.

Last updated November 2019

About the School

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning.

At GW’s Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, research thrives, critical thinking is endemic, collaboration is constant, and real world training go hand-in-hand with learning. Read less