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    Jun 24, 2024  
American University Catalog 2022-2023 
American University Catalog 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Art History (MA)

Offered by the Department of Art , College of Arts and Sciences . The Art History (MA) provides advanced historical study in period specializations in European and American art from the early Renaissance through the present, as well as Asian art and other non-Western topics. Students develop a complex understanding of art-historical methods and research practices while building skills in critical thinking, visual analysis, and written and verbal communication. The program’s thesis capstone option prepares students for professional paths in academia, museum curation, writing, and editing; the museum studies capstone prepares students for positions in museum education, registration, programming, and exhibition design.

Admission to the Program

In addition to meeting the minimum university requirements for graduate study, applicants should hold a bachelor of arts degree from an accredited college or university. Admission is based on the academic record, statement of purpose, writing sample, two letters of recommendation from professors with whom work was taken recently, and favorable judgement by the department graduate admissions committee.

At the department’s discretion, students whose records indicate a strong aptitude for graduate study but whose undergraduate major was not in art history, and who have completed at least 18 credit hours of art history, may be considered for admission with a deficiency of two courses (6 credit hours). If admitted, they must complete those two courses (taken at the advanced undergraduate or graduate level for 6 credit hours) in addition to the regular MA program requirements.

The MA requires four semesters of full-time study. Part-time students are advised that the program cannot be completed through night courses only, and graduate courses, except independent study or internships, are not offered during the summer sessions.

Degree Requirements

  • 30 credit hours of approved graduate work
    • For the program with a thesis capstone, students complete eight courses that focus on discipline-oriented, research-based academic offerings, three of which must be in a field specialization, plus two required thesis courses (ARTH-792 Research Seminar (3)  and ARTH-797 Master’s Thesis Research (3) ), culminating in the satisfactory completion of a formal thesis filed with the University. One of the eight courses may be taken as an internship (3 credit hours)
    • For the program with a museum studies capstone, students complete at least four courses in a discipline-oriented, research-based academic offerings; and up to four in museum studies, which can include related fields such as arts administration, conservation, and public history, or an internship for credit; and a capstone project tailored to the professional objectives of the individual student
  • Tool of research: Satisfied by completion of ARTH-600 Approaches to Art History (3)  with grade of B or better. Students with permission from the graduate program director or faculty advisor may be allowed to complete another course
  • Advancement to candidacy after completion of 18 credit hours with a grade point average of 3.00 or higher (on a 4.00 scale) and satisfactory completion of the comprehensive examination
  • Capstone Experience: Students must complete the following:
    • One annual written comprehensive examination demonstrating knowledge of the candidate’s major field (Renaissance/Baroque, Modern European, American/Contemporary, or Asian art) or a hybrid that includes museum studies
    • Project consisting of either 1) an independent study on an approved museum studies topic, developed under the supervision of a faculty member, or 2) a thesis on an approved research topic in the student’s area of specialization, developed under the supervision of the faculty member in that area, with a second committee member from the Art History faculty

Course Requirements

Capstone (6 credit hours)

Complete 6 credit hours from one of the following options:

Museum Studies Option

Thesis Option

Thesis Research Seminar (3 credit hours)

Thesis Research (3 credit hours)