Art History Graduate Schools in the U.S.

Factors to consider when choosing a graduate school for art history include available degrees, specialization areas, scheduling flexibility and program requirements. Students may want to select a program offering a particular specialization they are interested in, or one located in the vicinity of an art museum or institution they hope to work with.

Students seeking graduate-level study in art history can find programs at colleges of art and design as well as general 4-year colleges and universities. A master's degree is typically needed to work as a museum curator or conservator, while a Ph.D. may be appropriate for students who wish to teach at the university level or conduct independent research.

Top 10 Art History Graduate Schools

Listed below are ten of the top schools for graduate degrees (Master's and Ph.D.) in Art History. Additional fees and/or living expenses apply for some schools.

College/University Location Institution Type Tuition (2016-17 except where noted)*
Yale University New Haven, CT 4-year, Private $39,800
Rhode Island School of Design Providence, RI 4-year, Private $45,840 (2015-2016)
School of the Art Institute of Chicago Chicago, IL 4-year, Private $1580 per credit hour for Master's students
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA 4-year, Public $16,405.37 for resident Master's students, $31,507.37 for non-residents; $16,425.37 for resident doctoral students, $31,527.37 for non-residents
Virginia Commonwealth University Richmond, VA 4-year, Public $7,496.50 resident Master's students, $13,560.50 non-residents; $6,544.00 for resident doctoral students, $11,942.00 for non-residents
California Institute of the Arts Valencia, CA 4-year, Private $45,030 for full-time students
Carnegie Mellon University Pittsburgh, PA 4-year, Private $41,520 for graduate students of humanities, including history
Cranbrook Academy of Art Bloomfield Hills, MI 4-year, Private $34,375
Maryland Institute College of Art Baltimore, MD 4-year, Private $43,760
Columbia University New York, NY 4-year, Private $21,776 for Master's students, $28,780 for doctoral students

Tuition rates listed are for graduate programs, with the exception of RISD and Cal Arts, which do not differentiate between graduate and undergraduate tuition rates on their sites.

Sources: * School Websites

School Selection Criteria

Different schools may offer different areas of concentration and the option for interdisciplinary studies, as well as proximity to urban areas and museums with job opportunities. It is also important to note that earning a doctorate takes longer than achieving a master's degree.

  • Graduate programs in art history may culminate in a Master of Arts (M.A.) or a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.).
  • When selecting an art history graduate school, it is important to evaluate the time commitment and schedule involved in the programs offered.
  • Some graduate programs may offer funding through research or teaching assistantships.
  • Those considering graduate programs in art history may base their decision on available concentrations such as; American art and architecture, pre-Columbian art, renaissance art and modern art.

M.A. in Art History

An M.A. in Art History typically takes two years of full-time study, but could take up to four years of part-time study to complete. In addition to coursework requirements, students are required to complete a master's thesis. Some programs may require or provide credit for internships or practicums. A bachelor's degree and GRE scores are required for admission to an M.A. program.

Ph.D. in Art History

Ph.D. programs typically consist of coursework and research. Coursework usually takes two years to complete, includes a foreign language requirement and is followed by a qualifying exam or paper. The next 2-3 years are spent researching and writing the dissertation. Admission criteria for the programs vary, with some Ph.D. in Art History programs requiring students to already hold a master's degree in a subject directly relevant to art history and others allowing students with only bachelor's degrees to enroll.

When it comes to art history graduate programs in the U.S., there are a variety of both Master's and doctoral degree programs available, each offering different specializations, coursework and research opportunities. Students applying to art history graduate programs should consider which degree level is most appropriate for their career goals, and what concentrations are available.

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