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Art History Graduate Schools in the United States

Higher Education Articles April 5, 2013

Students who have earned their master degree in art history usually pursue careers in the fine arts, such as a teacher or curator. Factors to consider when selecting a college or university for art history program include program requirements, scheduling flexibility, specialization areas, and available degrees.

Selecting an Art History Graduate School

Art history graduate programs can culminate in a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or a Master of Arts (M.A.). Selecting the correct title and level of a degree is necessary for those pursuing an education in art history.

Scheduling and program length can be a factor when choosing an art history graduate school. Obtaining a doctoral degree takes more time than earning a master’s degree in art history, and generally requires students to enroll full-time. Funding for the program may be another consideration. Several graduate programs will offer funding through teaching or research assistantships.

Students who are considering art history graduate programs can base their decision on available concentrations. Several colleges and universities offer area of specialization in architecture and American art, modern art, renaissance art, and pre-Columbian art. Students should consider options for interdisciplinary study; for instance, an individual who is studying Islamic art should go to a college or university that heavily focuses on studying Arabic, religion, and Islamic history. A majority of programs require students to be proficient in one or multiple languages relevant to their area of study, so students have to make sure that the college or university they have selected has courses in appropriate languages.

The location of a school must also be considered by students who want to enroll in an art history program. Students may be required to visit historical sites and museums during the course of the program in order to get a better understanding of the subject. Colleges and universities located in cultural centers or large cities can provide access to great works of art and museums, and offer greater career opportunities to students. Students who are interested and have a desire to see historical works of art in foreign countries should pursue colleges or universities with a strong study abroad program.

Master of Arts in Art History

Typically, a Master of Arts in Art History may take around four years to complete, if students are attending school part-time; for those attending full-time, it will usually take approximately two years to complete. Coursework includes criticism and art theory, and students will need to complete a master’s thesis. Students may receive credits for internships in some programs. An undergraduate degree and the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) are required for admission to a Master of Arts degree program.

Ph.D. in Art History

Typically, Ph.D. programs consist of research and coursework. It usually takes approximately two years to complete coursework, includes a foreign language requirement and is followed by a qualifying paper or examination. The next two to three years are spent writing and researching the dissertation. Admission criteria varies for programs, with several Ph.D. in Art History programs expecting individuals to possess a graduate degree in a subject directly related to art history and others allowing students with only an undergraduate degree to enroll.

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