Top Schools with Art History Graduate Programs

Sep 23, 2019

Learn about the top art history Ph.D. programs and master's programs. Examine school locations and degree possibilities so you can compare your study options and find the right school for you.

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Art History Grad Program Information

Aspiring art historians can find art history graduate programs at several top institutions in the country. Explore some of the different programs and what makes them stand out.

There are many highly regarded art history master's and doctoral degree programs offered throughout the country. A few schools also provide graduate-level certificate programs in art history concentrations. Three top-ranking schools, Columbia University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Cornell University, have programs that cover a variety of different art periods and styles, such as modern, Italian, Medieval or Baroque. Learn more about these U.S. News & World Report top-ranking institutions and their programs.

Best Art History Ph.D. Programs and Master's Programs

Columbia University in NY, NY

In addition to the M.A. and the Ph.D., Columbia University's art history department offers a free-standing M.A. in Modern Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies. For 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Columbia University #3 among national universities. In Columbia's two-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 around 15 new students per year.

University of Pennsylvania

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 tied for 6th among all national universities, according to U.S. News & World Report's 2020 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.

Cornell University in Ithaca, NY

Cornell University boasts alumni and faculty affiliations with 50 Nobel laureates. U.S. News & World Report ranks Cornell University as tied for the 17th-best national university for 2020. The Department of History of Art, Archaeology, and Visual Studies offers a Ph.D. program that can award an M.A. or special master's after students successfully pass the candidacy exam. Students can choose from over 20 different areas to focus their studies, including Latin American, Renaissance, and digital art. The Ph.D. degree requires the completion of 12 courses, and students must be proficient in at least two foreign languages.

Other Art History Graduate Programs

The following schools also offer top art history graduate programs for interested students:

School Name Location Distinction
Harvard University Cambridge, MA The Fine Arts Library includes rare illustrated books, Medieval manuscripts, and more
New York University New York, NY There are campuses located in New York, Shanghai, and Abu Dhabi
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA Allows students to have access to hundreds of museums in the Los Angeles area
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI Offers Ph.D. candidates the option to earn a museum studies certificate
University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA Has available resources that include a collection of over 250,000 photographs and small prints
Yale University New Haven, CT For 2020, U.S. News & World Report ranked Yale tied for 3rd among all national universities.

Graduate degree programs in art history are available from top-ranking institutions, including Columbia University, and vary widely in the specializations and resources that they offer.

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