Prospective Students

Applicants will normally have completed 18 semester hours (6 courses) in art history. The department will consider applications from qualified students in other fields.

Applicants are expected to have studied one foreign language — French, German, Italian, Spanish or one approved by the department — for two years or have reading proficiency. The TOEFL exam is required for foreign students.

The application must include:

  • A statement of no more than 250 words describing the applicant’s academic and professional objectives
  • A writing sample that demonstrates art history research skills, not to exceed 20 pages in length
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE General Test

Application Deadline: February 1

For further admission information and application instructions, visit the Office of Graduate Studies.

Degree Requirements

The program requires 36 hours of course work, including the thesis. Upon approval of the faculty, entering students may transfer in up to six hours of graduate study in art history. Passing a reading proficiency examination in a foreign language is required.

To learn more about the degree requirements, visit the course catalog.

Thesis Requirement

The thesis is to be fulfilled by a paper, or its equivalent, that demonstrates advanced research skills. The thesis should be the result of independent study, the revision and improvement of a seminar paper or generated by the student’s museum internship. In all cases, the topic must receive approval of the student’s advisor. The thesis will be overseen by department faculty members, in conjunction with a museum professional.

Foreign Language Requirement

Students are required to pass a reading proficiency examination in French, Italian, Spanish, or another language approved by the faculty upon entering the program. Exams will be administered early in the first semester. Students will be expected to translate two passages into English, one with the use of a dictionary and one without dictionary.  Each passage will be no more than 250 words, and students will be given 30 minutes to complete each portion of the exam.

Foreign language exams are administered to ensure that students can conduct art history research in a foreign language.  Students are encouraged to have an understanding of basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as important art history terminology. Students whose basic knowledge of a language or mastery of basic terminology in art history appears to be unsatisfactory will not receive a passing grade on the exam.  Language exams will be graded on the following scale: high pass; pass; low pass; fail. The dictionary and non-dictionary portions of the exam will each be graded separately. Students are required to pass both sections of the exam for the MA in art history.

Students who do not pass the examination have two options: 

Option 1: Retake and pass the examination at the beginning of the following semester.

Option 2: Enroll in two semesters (or an approved equivalent) of a second-year foreign language study and earn at least a “B” in both semesters (or the equivalent). This option must be completed before the beginning of the second year of graduate study.  Students who elect this option should be aware, however, that our fellowships do not provide funding for foreign language study, so they must make their own financial arrangements if this course is selected.

Final Oral Examination

This university requirement will be fulfilled by a “capstone conversation” between the student and her/his thesis committee by reviewing and assessing the student’s work and progress.

Apply to MA in Art History Program


For more information about College of Fine Arts graduate studies, visit graduate resources.

Applicants will need a BFA, or equivalent, including concentration in intended specialty as evidenced by appropriate credit, an acceptable portfolio of work, a statement of professional experience and goals, and letters of recommendation. Admission to the program is based on:

  • Portfolio review by faculty committee
  • GPA throughout academic career
  • Statement of professional experience and goals
  • Three letters of recommendation

Twenty images are required with an emphasis in the specialization you want to pursue (painting or sculpture). Images should be submitted at SlideRoom.

Degree Requirements

A total of at least four semesters of graduate work is required. At least 60 semester hours must be earned. To learn more about the degree requirements, visit the course catalog.


Colloquia are offered by the faculty of the department. These are intended to serve the specific purpose of establishing a personal and informal means of communication between students and faculty. The colloquia will feature presentations and discussions by on and off-campus speakers, faculty and members of the School of Art.


Admission to candidacy requires the approval of the advisory committee of each student. Admission to candidacy is expected no later than the end of the first academic year of graduate study. Those who have not been admitted to candidacy by the beginning of the second academic year may not earn additional credits. Those who wish additional elective credits may continue for a probationary period of not more than 12 semester hours as a ‘non-degree’ student. Further enrollment will be permitted only if a student is re-admitted to the degree program.


The Master of Fine Arts thesis exhibition, along with the written supporting material, is the culmination of the graduate school experience. Thesis exhibition enrollment requires admission to candidacy as a prerequisite. Actual installation of the thesis exhibition requires approval of the advisory committee. The written portion of the thesis exhibition also requires committee approval. This written portion, and the format of the permanent record of the thesis exhibition, will be determined by the committee.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships are offered each year to qualified candidates and are given a full tuition-waiver. Departmental assistants are given a full tuition-waiver plus a stipend. Departmental assistants have an obligation of eight hours a week in service to the Department. Graduate and departmental assistants are assigned a private studio space.

For more information about College of Fine Arts graduate studies, visit graduate resources.