Art History


Study art history among the vibrant museums and contemporary art galleries of our nation’s capital

The Art History Program at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design is situated in the heart of the culturally rich city of Washington, D.C., providing students with unique opportunities to study the arts. Our students learn to apply visual and historical analyses to artworks, as well as incorporate relevant and current theoretical and methodological approaches to research. Our proximity to Washington’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. Our 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. Our rigorous and supportive scholarly program places special emphasis on developing individual students’ research and writing skills.






We offer four programs to study art history at the undergraduate level: a bachelor of arts in art history; a dual bachelor of arts in art history and fine arts; a minor in art history; a minor in art history and fine arts. In addition, for those wishing to continue their studies at Corcoran, we offer a Combined BA/MA Degree in Art History.


Combined Degree

The combined BA/MA 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 MA program upon graduation.
The following requirements must be fulfilled while an undergraduate:

  • The general requirements stated under Columbian College of Arts and Sciences.
  • Required courses in art history – 33 credit hours consisting of a minimum of one course in six of the following seven categories: Ancient and Medieval; Islamic Spheres; Renaissance/Baroque; 18th/19th Century; Modern & Contemporary; Asia and the Indian Ocean; and Central and South America; an additional course in one of these categories; two (6 credits) Junior/Senior Seminars (4000-level and above), which may count towards the distribution requirements; and two electives, which may, with the prior approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, be taken in another department.
  • Required course in studio arts – 3 credit hours of any studio arts course.
  • Students take 9 credits of graduate art history course work (6000 level) during their senior year (one in the fall, two in the spring); these credit hours will count towards the BA degree and the MA degree.

How to apply:
Deadline: March 1 of Junior Year

  • Statement of purpose: In an essay of 250 – 500 words, state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, and career plans. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, professional, and community activities, and any other substantial accomplishments not already mentioned on the application. If you are applying for an assistantship, you should also describe any teaching experience you have had.
  • Writing Sample
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • One Letter of Recommendation
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • Minimum 3.5 GPA overall, 3.7 in AH major

Submit complete application to:
Director of Graduate Studies, Art History
Corcoran School of the Arts & Design
Smith Hall of Art, 101
801 22nd Street, NW Washington, DC 20052


Where You’ll Go

Through the knowledge acquired in the classroom, experiences at GW, the guidance provided by our renowned faculty and the networking opportunities offered by internships in the city’s many art related institutions, art history graduates are well-equipped to enter careers in the arts. The GW Center for Career Services supplies resources to direct professional development after graduation, and graduates from our program have gone on to serve as curators, educators and more.

Opportunities & Resources


learn & get involved






Our faculty are knowledgeable practitioners that will guide you through the program and on to your goals. For example, meet beloved Art History Professor and alumna Lilien Robinson (BA ’62, MA ’65). Professor Robinson continues to inspire generations of students through her passion for art.

View More About Professor Robinson

Visiting Artists & Scholars Program

The Visiting Artists and Scholars Committee (VASC) is a student-run organization that invites respected scholars and artists to present public lectures in Smith Hall of Art. The committee typically brings six to eight speakers to campus each year. All VASC lectures are free and open to the public. All VASC members and attendees of VASC lectures have the chance to interact informally with visiting speakers during post-lecture receptions and dinners.



Alumni Highlights




Brigit O’Malley, BA Art History, Class of 2018

Brigit O’Malley is an art history major who loves anthropology, as well as architecture and painting. O’Malley demonstrates how she combines her various academic interests with her love of French culture through our Art History program.



Painting of a young girl reading


Every year, Corcoran hosts NEXT, a year-end celebration of art and scholarship. In 2021, Art History B.A. students like Hope Thompson shared their current research. Hope’s studies revolved around 19th-century art, in particular the works of Berthe Morisot, Mary Cassatt, Edouard Manet, and Gustave Courbet: “One of the reasons I chose to study art history is my belief in art as the cultural core of all people, regardless of their differences.”

Art shown: Jean Honoré Fragonard, "Young Girl Reading," oil on canvas, c. 1769

View More Art History B.A. Projects

Heesang (Robin) Cho


Dual degree student, Heesang (Robin) Cho (B.A. Art History and Fine Art, 2020), knew she wanted to be an artist from the moment she first held a lump of clay in her clumsy five-year-old hands. Art has always been a medium through which she could discover herself, express her identity and find a haven for her creativity. As a Korean-American born in North Carolina but raised in South Korea, Robin loves that she has access to both multicultural worlds.

See examples of her work for NEXT 2020

Kate Sigety


Kate Sigety (BA ‘20) completed a BA in Art History with a Fine Arts minor. As part of her senior thesis, she explored the photography of the Begums of Bhopal, the sole female native rulers in India during the British Raj. Kate first became interested in studying Indian art when she took Professor Cristin McKnight-Sethi’s class on modern and contemporary Asian art. Through working with private collector Ken Robins, Kate gained access to valuable photographs and was introduced to the story of the Begums.




Cover of 2022 Art History Graduation Booklet






Campus Address