Painting closeup

Art History


Situated in the heart of the culturally rich city of Washington, DC, the master of arts (MA) program in art history at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design provides students with unique opportunities to study the arts. Our faculty engages diverse methodological approaches, encouraging students to explore and contribute to varied theoretical, philosophical, and political debates surrounding art. In the program, we emphasize the development of research and writing skills in the discipline, and benefit from our close proximity to Washington, D.C.’s abundant cultural institutions.

The Master of Arts degree in Art History 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 educational careers in museums and galleries; for others, it serves as a foundation for entering a doctorate program. All students receive training that hones their skills in research, critical analysis, and writing. The program additionally provides opportunities to study visual materials and creative practices of diverse civilizations and cultures. Students have the opportunity to interact with leading art professionals in seminars taught by local curators and art historians.



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MA in Art History

Date: Friday, October 1, 2021
Time: 9:00-10:00 a.m. ET
Location: Online

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MA in Art History

Date: Tuesday, January 11, 2022
Time: 7:00-8:00 p.m. ET
Location: Online





Program of Study


Art History students looking at a medieval painting

The program includes 36 credit hours of graduate coursework that covers a range of topics and geographic regions. During the first semester, students are required to complete the art historiography seminar (CAH 6258). Students have the option, though it is not required, of taking a language/reading comprehension examination in Arabic, Dutch, French, German, Hindi, Italian, Latin, Persian, Portuguese, or Spanish. As many as 6 credits of graduate coursework may be completed outside the department with approval of the graduate advisor.

Qualifying Paper

A qualifying paper is the capstone of the final year of study. A first draft is submitted during the fall semester of the second year, or after completing 18 credits; the final draft is due the following spring semester. All qualifying papers are reviewed by a panel of full-time faculty members. Please view the CAH Graduate Student Handbook (PDF)  for more information on guidelines.

Curatorial Studies Concentration

Master of Arts degree candidates have the option to concentrate in Museum Studies. Prerequisites and requirements are the same as those for the Master of Arts in Art History; students include in their course work 6 credits of CAH 6299 (Museum Internship), after completion of 18 credits of art history courses.

Banner and Program of Study photo credit: Heather Herbstritt



Art History Booklet 2021




NEXT Museum Studies


NEXT 2021

Every year, Corcoran hosts NEXT, a year-end celebration of art and scholarship. In 2021, Art History M.A. students like Paige Sellars researched art on a level far below the surface. Paige worked to uncover the importance of art for everyone: “I hope that museums and professional art historians continue to stress diversity in the field—both in terms of participants and scholarship.”

Work shown: John Singleton Copley, "Watson and the Shark," Oil on canvas, 1778"

view more art history m.a. projects

John Singleton Copley's "Watson and the Shark"





Dr. Jordan Amirkhani



Dr. Jordan Amirkhani (MA, Art History, 2010)

Dr. Amirkhani received her PhD in the History and Philosophy of Art from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom in 2015. She is currently working on a book based on her doctoral research on the Franco-Cuban painter and Dadaist Francis Picabia.

Sascha Scott



Sascha Scott, MA in Art History

Scott wrote a book, A Strange Mixture: The Art and Politics of Painting Pueblo Indians (University of Oklahoma Press, 2015), that received a Wyeth Foundation Publication Grant and the Historical Society of New Mexico’s Ralph Emerson Twitchel Award.

Sarah Burns



Sarah Burns, MA in Art History

Burns' book, Transnational Frontiers: the American West in France (University of Oklahoma Press, 2018) analyzes appropriations of the American West in France in performance and visual and material culture.

Brandon Ruud



Brandon Ruud, MA in Art History

Ruud is the current Constance and Dudley J. Godfrey Jr. Curator of American Art and Decorative Arts, Milwaukee Art Museum. Previously, Ruud served as Curator of American Art at the Sheldon Museum of Art, University of Nebraska and as Assistant Research Curator of American Art at the Art Institute of Chicago. He has organized dozens of exhibitions, including Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago at the Art Institute (2009) and A Faithful and Vivid Picture: Karl Bodmer’s North American Prints at the Joslyn Art Museum (2002). His monograph, Karl Bodmer’s North American Prints, was awarded a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times in 2005. 






Campus Address

Smith Hall of Art
801 22nd St, NW, Room 101 
[email protected]