Top Schools with Art History Graduate Programs

Learn about the top schools with art history graduate programs. Examine university rankings, school locations and degree possibilities, so you can compare your study options and find the right school for you.

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There are many highly regarded art history departments throughout the country that offer master's and doctoral degree programs in the subject. A few schools also provide graduate-level certificate programs in art history concentrations. Two top-ranking schools, Columbia University and the University of Pennsylvania, have programs that cover a variety of different art periods and styles, such as modern, Italian, Medieval or Baroque.

1. Columbia University in New York, NY

School Highlight: In addition to the M.A. and the Ph.D., Columbia's art history department offers a free-standing M.A. in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies.

In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia University #4 among national universities. In Columbia's 2-year master's degree program, students may concentrate in a variety of art history fields other than modern art, which has its own program. Fields of study include Western art, Islamic art and architecture and East Asian art and architecture.

Like the master's degree program, the doctoral program offers a wide range of art history concentrations, from Medieval art to photography. After the first year of the Ph.D. program, students work as teaching assistants to gain experience teaching general undergraduate coursework and core art history courses. Entrance into Columbia's Ph.D. program is highly competitive, and the school only accepts 15 new students per year.

2. University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

School Highlight: Art history students at the University of Pennsylvania have access to numerous resources, both on UPenn's campus (such as The Fisher Fine Arts Library and the Institute of Contemporary Art) and in Philadelphia (such as the Penn Museum and the Philadelphia Museum of Art).

The University of Pennsylvania is listed eighth among all national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2015 rankings. Located in Philadelphia, PA, the school offers a master's degree and a Ph.D. in art history.

Requirements for UPenn's M.A. program include the completion of a thesis in a specific art history topic. Fields of study include Egyptian, Asian and American art history. Doctoral candidates in Penn's Ph.D. program can choose concentrations in a number of fields, including 19th century, European early modern, Islamic and Byzantine art. For the second portion of the program, students are expected to serve as undergraduate teachers.

Top Art History Graduate Programs

School Name Distinction Location
Cornell University Boasts alumni and faculty affiliations with 43 Nobel laureates. Ithaca, NY
Harvard University Harvard's Fine Arts Library includes rare illustrated books, Medieval manuscripts and more. Cambridge, MA
New York University NYU is a member of the Association of American Universities, along with only 60 other schools in the nation. New York, NY
University of California - Los Angeles Students have access to hundreds of museums in the Los Angeles area. Los Angeles, CA
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ph.D. candidates can also earn a museum studies certificate. Ann Arbor, MI
University of Virginia Available resources include a collection of over 45,000 digital images. Charlottesville, VA
Yale University In 2015, U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale #3 among all national universities. New Haven, CT
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