M.A. in Art History


The M.A. Program welcomes applications from all those interested in seeking an advanced degree in Art History. Approximately eight students are accepted each year to a thirty-two unit program that emphasizes focused study of cultural production from ancient times to the present and interdisciplinary connections with collateral departments in the Colleges of Arts & Architecture and Letters and Sciences. Art History faculty meet twice a year to read and assess applications, with a particular sensitivity to the students’ work and professional goals.

All materials must be received by March 15 (Fall deadline) and October 15 (Spring deadline) for full consideration. In addition to completing the application and paying the application fee, candidates for admission to the Art History M.A. Program must submit a letter of intent, one writing sample, official transcripts, GRE scores, and three letters of recommendation. International applicants must also include an official English proficiency exam score report and a completed and signed Financial Certificate.

The faculty consider the letter of intent and the writing sample to be among the most important parts of the application. The letter should describe your preparation for the program, academic interests, and professional goals. The most useful statements are those that present an intellectual portrait of the applicant, an account of the issues the applicant now finds engaging, and the program of study the candidate envisions for themselves at MSU. The writing sample should be a substantial essay, ideally a seminar paper or senior thesis, that demonstrates the candidate’s potential for advanced work in the discipline.

Program Requirements

ARTH 501Pedagogy and Professionalism2
ARTH 506Methods and Critical Theory3
Five Required Core Courses15
Two Elective Courses6
One Foreign Language Course3
ARTH 590Master's Thesis3
Total Credits32

All graduate students must take: Pedagogy and Professionalism (ARTH 501)Methods and Critical Theory (ARTH 506), and Master's Thesis (ARTH 590).

In addition to the courses listed above, graduate students will select 5 courses, of which 3 must be 500-level graduate art history seminars, and 2 must be 400-level upper division undergraduate art history lectures in which the student will be required to complete supplementary readings, write advanced comparative analyses of articles, and complete a rigorous research project. Students will also select 2 elective courses at the 500-level taught in other departments in the humanities (e.g. History and Philosophy, English).

After passing an exam in foreign language translation during the first semester, students must complete one additional semester of language translation appropriate to their area of concentration (offerings to be determined by the Department of Modern Languages).

Mastery of the discipline will be determined by a record of excellence in all courses taken within the graduate program and a well-written, well-argued thesis.

Financial Assistance

Limited numbers of graduate teaching assistantships are usually available within the School of Art and are awarded on a competitive basis to formally admitted graduate students. See the Graduate Assistantships sections for detailed information on appointment criteria. Assistantships are requested from the student's home department.