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Art History Degree

Art history is the study of creative developments in stylistic contexts relating to design, format, style and genre over the course of time. Subjects relating to painting, sculpture, architecture, ceramics, furniture and other decorative objects are studied in this field with reference to their development over history.
An Art history major is exposed to these subjects in varying contexts and via different approaches.


Southern New Hampshire University

Full Sail University

Saint Leo University Online

  • Master of Science in Instructional Design

Norwich University

  • Master of Arts in Military History


The study plan can revolve around a variety of specialized areas, including the following art history courses:

  • Aesthetics
  • Art Criticism
  • Painting
  • Sculpture
  • Architecture
  • Handicrafts
  • Textiles
  • Art and Gender
  • History and Development of Artistic Movements
  • Eastern and Western Philosophies of Art

There are different levels of educational qualifications available for students interested in art history. They can go for bachelor’s, master’s and post-graduate degrees such as PhD in art history.  

Art History Graduate Programs

Masters in Art History
To obtain this degree, interested candidates should ideally possess a bachelor’s degree in art education, art history, visual arts or museum studies. This requirement might be waived off in certain institutions if the applicants have a solid record of art history coursework. Students have the option of enrolling in a full-time program, a part-time program or an online program. A full-time program may take up to 2 years whereas a part-time program would take somewhere around 4 years to complete.
Master’s degree programs can be thesis or non-thesis based. The thesis track is more suitable for people who plan on going for a doctorate, while the non-thesis track focuses more on coursework in the light of practical training for professional applications.
Students, in order to graduate, will be required to meet certain criteria set by the university. This will include maintaining a minimum GPA, number of credit hours to be completed, core courses and electives to be passed and research papers to be submitted. Their studies revolve around subject areas such as the following:

  • Gothic Painting
  • Historiography
  • Minimalism
  • Iconoclasm
  • Art Criticism
  • Postmodernism
  • Mesoamerican Art
  • Photography

These are just a few of the options offered by various art institutions. Throughout a master’s program in art history, students are taught subjects such as the ones mentioned above to give them a good understanding of issues and perspectives relevant to art history while developing their individual aesthetic sensibilities. Most art history master’s programs give students the opportunity to design a program that best suits their needs and aspirations.

PhD in Art History
This degree prepares its students for postsecondary level teaching, curator positions at museums, and independent research in the field. Before applying for a PhD program, you should have completed your Master’s in Art History. On average, you would be required to complete around 60 credits of coursework after your master’s to obtain your PhD Art History degree. As part of the program, you will also be required to complete a certain set of basic level courses such as art historical methodology, art in practice, re-thinking art history, etc. 
Art history PhD programs offer various areas of specialization and research related in depth study options. Typically, you will determine your own area of specialization with the help of your individual faculty advisor and the PhD program coordinator. You could get your art history PhD in any of the following areas of specialization:

  • Ancient Art
  • Renaissance Art
  • Medieval Art
  • Modern Art
  • Contemporary Art
  • Asian Art
  • Latin American Art
  • Media Studies
  • Early Modern Art

These are only a few selected potential areas of specializations. Options might vary according to institution and the requirements of your research speciality.

Art History Online

Art history knowledge can be acquired online as well.  Many art history professionals are already working in their chosen field and find it nearly impossible to drop everything to go back to college. For this purpose, the concept of online art history degrees is adopted by many institutions across the US.
Being enrolled in an art history degree online gives prospective students the advantage of being able to study according to their own timetable. They don’t physically have to go to campus, except for a few times, and this saves them commute cost and time. Keep in mind though that you might have to visit museums and archaeological sites relevant to art history for better firsthand experience and understanding of related concepts.
As far as the coursework goes, online art history courses are very similar in content to their on-campus counterparts. They expose you to subjects such as:

  • European Art
  • Indian Art
  • Islamic Art and Architecture
  • Italian Renaissance Art
  • Learning to Look at Modern Art
  • Western Architecture
  • Art Appreciation
  • Ancient to Medieval Art

The complexity of these art history online courses varies.  

Art History Careers

An art history degree helps in the development of various skills such as attention to detail, creativity, critical analysis, time management, appreciation of aesthetics, patience, advanced research skills, interpretive skills and adaptability. The presence of such skills is considered desirable for the many careers in this field. You could seek employment in:

  • Museums
  • Corporations
  • Art Galleries
  • Publishing Companies
  • Government
  • Auction Houses
  • Colleges and Universities

The career titles you can adopt could be among the following:

  • Antiquarian Book Trader
  • Art Librarian
  • Estate Appraiser
  • Art Advisor
  • Museum Curator
  • Antiques Dealer
  • Arts Organization Consultant
  • Art Preservationist
  • Art Administrator
  • Curatorial Consultant
  • Artist Representative
  • Art Foundry Technician

In addition to this, keep in mind that the skills art history majors are equipped with are sought after in the market in various fields. There is an increasing amount of preference given to students with a broad intellectual background in fields as diverse as law, medicine and even business.

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Q:What do art history graduate programs cover?

A:Graduate programs in art history are designed to provide students with research skills and in-depth knowledge of art historical disciplines. Students will cover a wide range of study areas such as the following: art and archeology of bronze age, Greek art, Etruscan art, early medieval art, early Italian art, garden and landscape design, Bramante and high renaissance, world arts, and more.

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