Close-up of red painting

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.

Our Facilities



The Art History major requires 36 credit hours. To ensure distribution across the discipline, students must take a minimum of one course (3 credits) in six of the following seven categories (for a total of 18 credits): Ancient, Medieval/Islamic World, Renaissance/Baroque, 18th/19th Century, Modern & Contemporary, Asian, and Pre-Columbian/Latin American/African. With an eye to specialization, students choose an additional upper-division course in one of these categories (3 credits) and two electives (6 credits), which may, with the prior approval of the Director of Undergraduate Studies, be taken in another department. For in-depth research experience, students must take a minimum of two Junior/Senior Seminars (6 credits); seminars may count towards the distribution requirements. For hands-on experience, one Fine Arts (FA) course at any level (3 credits) is required.

Students who declared their major before September 2015 can choose to adhere to the previous guidelines, which required 33 credit hours consisting of 6 credit hours each in Ancient-Medieval, Renaissance-Baroque, and Modern European/American art history; 6 credit hours of Art History seminars; 3 credit hours of fine arts course work; and an additional 6 credit hours of upper division courses in Art History, or, with the approval of the advisor, in related departments. The seminars are small group experiences that stress in-depth study of a particular topic under the close supervision of a faculty member.

For graduation with Special Honors in Art History, students must have attained, by the end of the junior year, a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in the major and 3.3 overall. By the end of the junior year, students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies regarding eligibility and selection of an area of research and the appropriate faculty member to supervise the project. The student will work out a schedule with the faculty supervisor for completion of the thesis either in fall and/or spring term. The student will register for AH 4198 Independent Study, which may count toward an elective in fulfillment of the major. The student must earn a letter grade of A in order to receive special honors.

To be eligible to write a Senior Thesis and for Honors in Art History, students must have attained, by the end of the junior year, a grade-point average of at least 3.5 in the major and 3.3 overall. By the end of the junior year, students should consult the Director of Undergraduate Studies regarding eligibility and selection of an area of research and the appropriate faculty members to supervise the project. We recommend that students strongly consider taking the full two semesters to complete the thesis. If writing the thesis in one semester, students should consider basing their project on pre-existing research from a previous course. The student will register for AH4197 Senior Thesis, which may count toward an elective in fulfillment of the major. The student will work closely with a Thesis Advisor on the thesis, gaining additional feedback from one or two Readers at the draft stage. A faculty committee will judge whether the Senior Thesis qualifies for Honors.

Requires AH 1031, 1032, and four additional upper-division Art History courses for a total of 18 hours of coursework.

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.

Application Process

To apply for the Art History program you must complete GW’s online application and submit all required materials.

Apply to the Art History Program


The wide array of Washington’s museums and galleries provide internships for both credit and non-credit. Students have held internships at The Phillips Collection, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, the National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, National Museum of African Art, and the National Portrait Gallery, among others.

Current Internship Opportunities

The Phillips Collection

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden

Art Museum of the Americas

National Gallery of Art 

The National Portrait Gallery 

Arlington Arts Center 

Art History Resources


American Alliance of Museums:
Useful, free jobs posting forum for variety of careers in museums.

College Art Association (CAA):

University of Penn:
Useful for finding call for papers

Association of Critical Race Art History:
Bibliographies provided on African Diaspora/African American, Asian Diaspora/Asian American, Caribbean, Latin American/Latinx/Chicanx, Native American/First Nations/Indigenous

Art Hist:
Discussion and information forum for art historians

Humanities and Social Sciences Net Online:
Job postings for academic and museum positions

International Council of Museums (ICOM):
Graduate students interested in joining must show connection to a museum or be enrolled in museum courses. Membership fee is paid at the beginning of the calendar year, and comes with a card offering worldwide free museum access.  

Southeastern College Art Conference:


Dumbarton Oaks:
(specifically see News & Events for public symposia, lectures, and programs:

House of the Temple Library for Scottish Rite Freemasonry:
A rare, underutilized gem of a library open to the public and located at 1733 16th Street NW at the corner of S Street. Specializes in freemasonry, but has excellent material on the history of the occult, religion, the arts and sciences.

Library of Congress:

Smithsonian Institution Research System (SIRIS):


American Antiquarian Society:

American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies (ASECS):

Archives of American Art:

Association of Historians of American Art:
Especially geared to younger scholars, including graduate students.


AIA-DC Society:
Local organization that sponsors lectures, programs, etc.

American Schools of Oriental Research (ASOR):

Archaeological Institute of America (AIA):

ARCE-DC= American Research Center in Egypt-DC Chapter:
Local organization that sponsors lectures, programs, etc.

Biblical Archaeology Forum (BAF):
Local organization that sponsors lectures, programs, etc.

Washington Conservation Guild:
For those interested in art & archaeological conservation


American Institutes for South Asian Studies: India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh
Offers fellowships and/or language study courses for undergraduate and graduate students

American Council for Southern Asian Art (ACSAA):
For the study of art of South and Southeast Asia and the Himalayan regions. Good source for fellowships, job postings, and numerous resources on related arts and culture of the region. Email listserv free to public.

Association for Asian Studies:
Focus on pan-Asian studies and topics.

George Washington University Sigur Center for Asian Studies:

Madison South Asia:
Annual conference on South Asia held in Madison, Wisconsin

Metropolitan Museum of Art Center for Far Eastern Art Studies:

South Asia Summer Language Institute:


Association of Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES):
Peer-reviewed journal, fellowship opportunities, and annual convention.


Historians of Islamic Art Association (HIAA):

H-Islamart list serve:


BSANA (Byzantine Studies Association of North America):
Offers funding to any graduate student presenting a paper at the annual conference.

George Washington University Medieval and Early Modern Studies Institute (MEMSI):

ICMA (International Center of Medieval Art):
Offers graduate student essay prizes, travel prizes, and a graduate student committee within the larger organization.


Renaissance Society of America (RSA):


Costume Society of America:

Textile Museum at GW:
In addition to extensive collection of global textiles, has library of related materials and peer-reviewed journal.

Textile Society of America:

Visiting Artists & Scholars Program

The Visiting Artists and Scholars Program brings respected established and emerging practitioners in the arts to present public lectures, conduct one-on-one critiques, lead small seminars or reading discussions, and share informal meals with students. All VASC lectures are free and open to the public.

The lecture programs are organized by the Visiting Artists and Scholars Committee (VASC) Run by BA, MA, and MFA students, the committee brings six to eight artists and scholars to speak on campus each year.

Holly Bass, Performance Artist
Wednesday September 12, 2018 // 6:30 pm // Smith 114

Dr. Barbara Mundy, Latin American Art
Wednesday October 3, 2018 // 6:30 pm // Smith 114

Dr. Miguel de Baca, Modern & Contemporary American Art
Wednesday November 7, 2018 // 6:30 pm // Smith 114

Mark Wagner, September 14, 2017
GW/Textile Museum - 6:15 pm

Sam Cannon, October 4, 2017
Smith Hall of Art, Room 114 - 6:30 pm

Dr. Christopher Heuer, November 15, 2017
Smith Hall of Art, Room 114 - 6:30 pm

Gregg Deal, January 31, 2018
Smith Hall of Art, Room 114 - 6:00 pm

Dr. Prita Meier, February 28, 2018
Smith Hall of Art, Room 114 - 6:00 pm

Dr. Simon Rettig, April 12, 2018
Smith Hall of Art, Room 114 - 6:00 pm

Mary Garrard, September 28, 2016
The Cloister and the Square: Gender Dynamics in Renaissance Florence - Smith 114

Alexander Nagel, October 27, 2016
Early Motion in European Art around 1500 - Smith 114

Gloria Groom, November 9, 2016
The Art of Exhibitions - Smith 114

Army Artist Martin Cervantez, February 1, 2017
Textile Museum Auditorium

Dr. Robert DeCaroli, February 22, 2017
Textile Museum Auditorium

Dr. William Ferris, April 6, 2017
Smith 114

Carmenita Higginbotham, October 14, 2015
"Girl Watching" & the problem of Race in the art of Reginal March

Shahzia Sikander, November 11, 2015
Visiting Artist

Lynne Cooke, December 2, 2015
"Beyond the Bounds?"

Anna Gaskell, January 27, 2016
Visiting Artist

Angela Miller, February 10, 2016
New York Figurative Painting and Staged Photography in the 1940s and 1950s: The Aesthetics of Immobility

Hillary Chute, April 27, 2016
Hiroshima and Auschwitz: The Postwar Comics Field and Documentary Form

Asen Kirin, September 17, 2014
The Guiding Gaze of the Enlightened Empress: The Architecture of Lookout Spaces

Farar Elliott, October 15, 2014
How to Solve a Curatorial Mystery

Christina Stahr Hunter, November 5, 2014
Data Mining and the Visual Arts: Nancy Graves’ Concept of Representation

Shelley Sturman, January 21, 2015
Preserving Artists' Intent: The Challenge of conserving Contemporary Art

Robert Nelson, February 4, 2015
From Ritual Book to State Relic: A Cultural Biography of a Greek Illuminated Manuscript in Florence

Susan Siegfried, March 25, 2015
Fashion, Art and Gender in Post-Revolutionary France

Rebecca Stone, September 25, 2013
Reciprocity, Revelation, and Rule-Breaking: Indigenous Language and Ancient Andean Art

Gregory Thielker and Noah Coburn, October 23, 2013
(Un)Governed Spaces: Creating a Complex Portrait of Afghanistan Today

Michael Fried, November 7, 2013
Orientation in Painting: Caspar David Friedrich

Derrick Adams, January 31, 5:15 pm
Visiting Artist

Marden Nichols, February 5, 6:15 pm
Vitruvius on Painting: A Scholar’s Lecture on Vitruvius’ De architectura and Roman Wall Painting

Vesna Pavlovic, March 5, 6:15 pm
Visiting Artist

Other recent visiting scholars and curators include: Michael Fried, Betsy Bryan, Huey Copeland, John Davis, André Dombrowski, Michele Greet, David Lubin, Anne McCauley, Mitchell Merback, James Meyer, and Elizabeth Rodini.

Other recent visiting artists include: Janine Antoni, Mark Dion, Jill Downen, Wolfgang Laib, Anthony McCall, The Otolith Group, William Pope.L, Walid Ra’ad, Matthew Ritchie, and Semiconductor.



Program Contacts

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


Full Time Faculty

Part Time Faculty