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. Students learn to apply visual and historical analyses to artworks, as well as incorporate relevant and current theoretical and methodological approaches to research. The program's proximity to DC’s many museums and galleries means that the permanent collections and exhibitions of some of the most important art institutions in the world often serve as the backbone of student coursework and study. The curriculum covers a wide swath of the history of art, but has specific areas of focus in Renaissance, Islamic, South Asian, American, and modern and contemporary art. We are committed to building and nurturing a diverse and inclusive scholarly community that is critical for innovation, insight, and progress. The rigorous and supportive scholarly program places special emphasis on developing individual students’ critical analysis, research, and writing skills.

For some students, the MA is a terminal degree in preparation for curatorial or education careers in galleries and museums; for others, it is preparation to enter a PhD program elsewhere.








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MA in Art History

Date: Thursday, September 21, 2023
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Online

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MA in Art History

Date: Thursday, December 7, 2023
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Online

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MA in Art History

Date: Wednesday, January 10, 2024
Time: 7:30-8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Online






Program of Study




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.

Image: Orange Prince (1984) by Andy Warhol; part of research project by Jason Rosenberg, MA '24




To be considered for admission to the program, a bachelor’s degree is required in the humanities or other appropriate field, such as art history, fine arts, anthropology, archaeology, history, literature, museum studies, gender studies or religion. Applicants must also submit:

  • Two (2) 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;
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Writing Sample between 15 and 25 pages in length.

MA Art History applications are accepted for fall entrance only.



The Student Accounts Office provides up to date cost information on our program. The program has a number of support packages that it offers to select students, and students are automatically considered as part of the application process. Incoming MA Art History students are eligible for a number of scholarships, based on merit and need. You may also find fellowships through the Office of Graduate Student Assistantships and Fellowships. The Office of Student Financial Assistance also has more information on aid opportunities.

There are many resources available to assist in funding an education. Each year, MA Art History students receive a total of over $200,000 in support through scholarships and fellowships. Assistantships and fellowships are also awarded annually to entering and continuing students. Master of Arts candidates are eligible for Graduate Teaching Assistantships, including tuition, salary and stipend. Additional departmental assistantships and awards range from approximately $3,000 to $15,000 per year.


History of the Program

Courses in Art History at George Washington University were an early and significant component of the curriculum. Founded in 1821 and predating the Art History curricula of Princeton (1832), Yale (1869), and Harvard (1874), GW’s Art History program has evolved and reached maturation, while vigorously sustaining its core mission of providing students an exceptional education.




NEXT Museum Studies






Courtney Middleton (Art History M.A.,‘24) is a proud D.C. native whose passion for art history stems from her senior year AP class in high school. Since her early studies, she observed a bias in art history parallel to that in American history; one which marginalized Black artists and their visibility in the field. This realization pushed Courtney to undergo research and an analysis of these biases from the 20th century to contemporary visual culture while embracing intersectionality as an intellectual framework.

Courtney’s thesis project for NEXT centers around her research of Jet Blue, a series of multimedia collages created by contemporary visual artist Mickalene Thomas. In the 1970s, Thomas exhibited works that expressed the liberation of Black women’s sexuality; in recent years, however, the artist began using explicit photographs of nude Black women from Jet Magazine’s 1970s monthly pinup calendars. These pieces seemed to contrast with Thomas’ initial ethos by bringing up the historic subjugation of Black women’s perceived sexuality. In this project, Courtney explores the true intentions behind Thomas’ works, and asks the question of whether the artist sought to reclaim Black women’s humanity, or if she was simply adding to the list of consumers that objectify Black women for sexual gratification. This project centers objectification and fragmentation, as it relates to theory and tactility, to analyze the works of Jet Blue and how Black women were viewed in the time periods that Thomas has found so generative.

NEXT Festival PDF Book




Lisa Lipinski

The Playful, Elusive Legacy of a Great Provocateur

Art history students learn about Marcel Duchamp while curating an exhibit showing his influence, taught by Professor Lisa Lipinski.

Where You'll Go





Dr. Jordan Amirkhani

Dr. Jordan Amirkhani (MA '10)

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 '01)

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.

Brandon Ruud

Brandon Ruud (MA '96)

Rudd, a curator of American Art and Decorative Arts at the Milwaukee Art Museum, has organized dozens of exhibitions, including Apostles of Beauty: Arts and Crafts from Britain to Chicago at the Art Institute (2009). His monograph, Karl Bodmer’s North American Prints, was awarded a Notable Book of the Year by the New York Times.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns (MA '13)

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.




Graduates of the Art History Program have gone on to work at:

  • National Gallery of Art
  • Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden
  • The Phillips Collection
  • Washington Project for the Arts
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum
  • National Portrait Gallery
  • Bonhams
  • Sotheby's
  • Nasher Museum at Duke University
  • GW/Textile Museum
  • Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens
  • Dumbarton Oaks
  • Transformer DC, and many more archives, museums, galleries, auction houses, universities across the globe.






Campus Address

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



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