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MA in Art History

The two-year Master of Arts degree in Art History provides a solid foundation in historical and theoretical study of art history. The history of art and architecture provides means to penetrate cultural constructions and their aesthetic and artistic productions. The program emphasizes independent exploration and interdisciplinary research with supportive individualized mentoring from the faculty. Our faculty areas of expertise are in the art and architecture of Ancient Greek and Rome, Ancient Latin American Seventeenth-Twentieth-Century European and the United States, Contemporary, Art and Architectural Criticism, Museum Studies, and Technical Art History.  

One of the hallmarks of WVU’s Art History program is its emphasis on studying the materials of art, architecture, and artifacts. In addition to considering the importance of materiality in art history courses, MA students can take courses in Technical Art History and the studio arts as cognates. The School of Art & Design’s affiliation with San Gemini Preservation Studies in Italy also offers student the opportunity to learn through hands-on conservation and historical reconstruction techniques, such as facsimile book-binding and traditional painting processes including fresco and egg-tempera.  

In addition to College of Creative Arts funding and School of Art & Design funding, the department of Art History has support for graduate research from the Margaret Tavenner Rajam Art History Endowment. Students have conducted original thesis research in archives, museums, galleries, and libraries in England, France, Italy, Ireland, and Japan as well as throughout the United States.      

The collection of the Art Museum of West Virginia University provides both first-hand experience with works of significant aesthetic and cultural value and introduces students to curatorial and museum practice. The Laura and Paul Mesaros Galleries in the Canady Creative Arts Center and the Visiting Artist and Scholar program form a crucial link in the course of study, presenting installation and curatorial opportunities. Through the School of Art and Design's association with regional institutions, museum and gallery internships are encouraged.   

WVU’s MA graduates have continued on into Ph.D. programs, earned MFA and art conservation degrees, and have gone into careers in museums, cultural and historical management, visual and digital resources, libraries, galleries, donor relations, and taught as adjuncts in programs that do not require the terminal Ph.D.      

Students must matriculate having attained reading proficiency in a language other than English through course credit or as demonstrated by passing a proficiency exam. If incoming students have not yet acquired reading proficiency in a second language, they should plan to obtain it before completing the M.A. degree.    

The MA degree consists of 30 total credit hours and culminates in a written master's thesis, which may take a variety of forms within the context of art's historical and critical practices. The thesis consists of an original work of research that demonstrates critical knowledge of relevant sources, skill in analysis and interpretation, and the ability to present the results in a well-organized and intelligent manner. The thesis must be defended in an oral examination.


21 | Art History 

6 | Cognate Classes 

3 | Master’s Thesis