Art History classroom

Art History

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MA in Art History

MA in Art History

Engage with ancient and modern works to discover new meaning

The Art History Programs encourage the pleasures of looking and direct, interpretive engagement with the visual arts. The Master of Arts degree in Art History offers students a curriculum from ancient to contemporary art. For some students, the MA is a terminal degree in preparation for curatorial or education careers in galleries, museums, and private concerns; for others, it is preparation to enter a PhD program elsewhere. In either case, students receive training for honing their research and writing skills. They may also take advantage of the many opportunities to experience and study works of art firsthand at the various museums and galleries in the region.

Combined BA MA in Art History

Combined BA/MA in Art History

Cross traditional boundaries to engage with art in a fresh way

The combined Fine Arts and Art History major is a hybrid program of studio, art history and art theory courses. The program offers undergraduate art history majors excelling in their studies the opportunity to advance to graduate level coursework in their senior year and enter the master’s program upon graduation. The combined major offers a platform where creative expression, research and theory are seamlessly explored and practiced. Combined majors are encouraged to cross conventional visual, technical and conceptual boundaries and engage with the history and traditions of art.

The Department of Art History promotes creative expression through a historical lense. We challenge our students to think beyond the classroom, to interpret the arts within a broader visual culture, treating the classroom as a testing ground for their ideas.

The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design promotes a critical approach, which is grounded in both contemporary and historical concerns. Graduate students have a range of options for studying the visual and creative arts and for developing visual literacy, as well as critical, analytic and research skills.

Masters of Arts

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 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 other appropriate field, such as art history, fine arts, anthropology, archaeology, history, literature, museum studies, gender studies, or religion.

GRE general test (institutional code 5246);

Three (3) Letters of Recommendation;

250-500 word Statement of Purpose discussing research interests, academic objectives, and relevant professional experience;

Transcripts from all colleges and universities attended;


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 course work. 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 course work 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. Please view the AH Graduate Student Handbook for more information on Qualifying Paper guidelines.

Master of Arts in Art History with a concentration in museum training

Prerequisites and requirements are the same as those for the Master of Arts in the field of art history. Students include in their course work 6 credits of AH 6299, Museum Internship, after completion of 18 credits of art history courses.

Consortium Registration

Students wishing to take limited classes beyond GW have the benefit of registering for courses at the other institutions belonging to the Washington Consortium of Universities. Any graduate student interested in these programs must consult with his/her departmental advisor prior to participation.