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Art History Graduate Programs in California

If a graduate art history degree interests you, California has several schools that offer such a program. Learn about program admittance requirements and coursework at five schools.

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California institutions offer both master's and doctoral art history degrees. Two of the schools discussed in this article have a coterminal master's program for interested students.

School Comparison

Options for completing your art history degree include two private universities or one of the branches of the University of California.

Institution Location Graduate Tuition and Fees (2017-2018)*
Academy of Art University San Francisco, CA $23,868
Stanford University Stanford, CA $49,617
University of California - Davis Davis, CA $13,607 (in-state)
$28,709 (out-of-state)
University of California - Los Angeles Los Angeles, CA $13,003 (in-state)
$28,105 (out-of-state)
University of California - Riverside Riverside, CA $13,675 (in-state)
$28,777 (out-of-state)

Source: *National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES)

Art History Graduate Programs in California

Academy of Art University

You can complete a master's degree in Western art history at the Academy of Art University. With this program, you can choose from several focus areas: pre-war modern art, medieval art, Renaissance art, 18th and 19th century art, and Baroque art. The curriculum includes courses in fine art and drawing as well as a master's thesis.

The admissions process starts with an application and $50 fee. You will need to supply your official transcripts, a one-page statement of intent, a resume, and a portfolio.

Stanford University

Stanford University offers a coterminal Master of Arts in Art History. This program is only open to students who will go on to complete their PhD. You will need to complete 45 credits to earn the master's and an additional 90 to earn the PhD. You must be able to read a foreign language, such as Italian, French, or German. The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History program focuses on the general history of art and requires the selection of a particular art field. You will select a dissertation topic during the third year of the program, which must be written within five years of your admission to doctoral candidacy.

You will need to submit the following materials during the application process:

  • Online application and $125 fee
  • Official transcripts
  • Three recommendation letters
  • Statement of purpose
  • Writing sample

University of California - Davis

You can pursue a Master of Arts in Art History at the University of California - Davis. The curriculum includes courses on topics such as research methodology and writing, early and modern Chinese art, and ancient Mediterranean societies. This degree prepares you for positions within schools, museums, and galleries or for a doctoral degree program.

You will need a bachelor's degree with a 3.0 GPA in order to apply to the program. The admissions process requires an online application, a statement of purpose, a personal history and diversity statement, and transcripts.

University of California - Los Angeles

The University of California - Los Angeles offers a two-part graduate program in art history. You will likely complete your master's degree within two years, followed by a doctoral degree within seven years. If you already have a master's degree, the doctoral program usually takes five years to complete. You will need to write a qualifying 30-page paper for the master's degree and a dissertation for your doctoral degree. Graduate coursework includes Egyptian art, classical art, and medieval archeology.

You should have a bachelor's degree in art history or a similar field to apply. The application process involves an online application and submission of documents like three recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a writing sample.

University of California - Riverside

The University of California - Riverside awards both master's and doctoral degrees in art history. Each degree program has three main areas of study: pre-modern, early-modern, and modern/contemporary. You can expect to complete your master's degree with two years of full-time enrollment. You will write a master's thesis as part of the program. The PhD program is for students with a bachelor's or master's in art history or a similar degree. If you have a bachelor's degree, you will need to take two years' worth of courses before taking on research for your thesis and dissertation. It will take less time to earn your PhD if you already have a master's degree.

You will complete a graduate school application for each program. It should be noted that you will need to apply separately to the doctoral program after completing your master's degree. You will need to supply your GRE scores, three recommendation letters, a writing sample, a statement of purpose, and a personal history statement.

You have a variety of choices for art history graduate programs in California. Some degrees offer a specialization in a particular time period of or art field.

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