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East Asian Art History Graduate Programs

East Asian art history graduate programs are available at several universities around the country, preparing students for careers in research and academia. This article explores some general information about these programs to help prospective students decide if they are right for them.

Graduate study often is intended to allow students to further specialize in a broad area of interest, like art history. Students who are particularly interested in East Asian art history may want to consider enrolling in a graduate program in the field. This article outlines some details about what types of programs are available and what they entail.

Information about Graduate Programs in East Asian Art History

At the graduate level, students can find both Master of Arts and Ph.D. degrees that facilitate the study of East Asian art history. These programs are usually found as concentrations within larger art history programs, though some standalone East Asian art history programs do exist. In both master's and Ph.D. programs, students are required to complete coursework, in addition to conducting independent research in an area usually of their choosing under the advisement of a faculty member. Below, we will look at five courses that are commonly found in the curriculum of East Asian art history programs.

Chinese Art

These graduate programs will typically include courses that focus on the art of China, which may be taught as an overview or survey course that covers Chinese art in general or a specific time period of Chinese art. The course may also focus on a certain type of Chinese art, like sculpture or Chinese painting. In that case, students will learn about how these art forms developed from dynasty to dynasty and will likely study the common themes that appear regularly in this type of artwork.

Buddhist Texts and Art

Given the prominent role that Buddhism has played throughout East Asian history, it is also common for these programs to require that students take a course focusing on the artwork of Buddhism, as well as key texts and themes. In this type of class, students may learn about how Buddhist artwork differed depending on the region by studying Buddhist artwork of Korea versus that of Japan. In addition to studying important Buddhist art and texts from an artistic standpoint, students will likely also learn about the cultural and social role that Buddhism played in society at the time.

Japanese Art

Another theme that is commonly explored in these programs through coursework is that of Japanese artwork. These classes may focus on specific works of Japanese art, like the Ise Shrine, or it may cover larger themes, like the relationship between gender and Japanese artwork. Other courses may provide students with an overview in different mediums of Japanese art, like sculpture or painting.

Korean Art

Coursework in Korean art will likely focus on the specific themes and topics that were historically explored in Korean artwork, as well as prominent Korean artists. Additionally, it will likely focus on Korean ceramics and may study them from a comparative perspective by looking at how they differed from the pottery produced in Japan and China. Students could learn how Korean ceramics were viewed by other non-Asian cultures by studying how they were received in the United States and Europe.

East Asian Art History Methods

Given that students in these programs are generally required to conduct their own research, it is also common for a course in research methods as they pertain to art history to be part of the required curriculum. In such a class, students might learn about a variety of different methods that have been used historically as well as contemporarily in the field of art history, with some courses placing special emphasis on how they have been used in East Asian art specifically. This type of class would likely provide students with guidance and information on how to approach research in this field by equipping them with research tools and methods.

Admissions Standards for Graduate Programs in East Asian Art History

It is typically expected that applicants to East Asian art history programs will have taken some art history courses previously, either during their undergraduate studies or their master's degree studies if they are applying to a Ph.D. program. Additionally, these programs often expect that students will have experience with at least one relevant East Asian language, like Japanese, Chinese, or Korean and may require that students continue the study of this language during the program. When applying to an East Asian art history program, students will commonly be required to submit a completed application form, letters of recommendation, all past post-secondary academic transcripts, and a personal statement. Programs also typically require students to submit GRE scores and a writing sample.

To summarize, students who have an interest in studying East Asian art history at the graduate level can find a number of programs that would help them accomplish this goal. Degree programs are available at the master's and Ph.D. levels, which typically require completion of both coursework and independent research.


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