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Art history MA students combine traditional research with the application of new media, while accessing the opportunities offered through the cultural resources of the Washington, D.C. area. The program emphasizes new media skills, museum studies, and pre-professional internship training. Students study a broad range of art-historical periods, theory, and research methods. Faculty specialize in periods from ancient to contemporary, and in areas covering Europe, North and South America, Asia, and the Middle East. Graduates are well-prepared for art museum and gallery professional work, where a master's degree is now routinely required, or for further study in doctoral programs.


Application Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Admissions section of this catalog. For information specific to the MA in Art History, see Application Requirements and Deadlines.


For policies governing all graduate degrees, see Graduate Policies.

This program does not permit a reduction of credit based on a previously-conferred graduate degree.

Banner Code: LA-MA-AH

Degree Requirements

Total credits: 30

Students should be aware of the specific policies associated with this program, located on the Admissions & Policies tab.

Core Courses

ARTH 600Methods and Research in Art History3
ARTH 601Colloquium in Art History3
ARTH 599Special Topics in Art History and the Decorative Arts3
or ARTH 699 Topics in Art History
Total Credits9

Applied Preprofessional Learning

Three credits in one of the following:3
Internship in Art History and the Decorative Arts
The Museum
Other coursework approved by the program director 1
Total Credits3

Technology and New Media

HIST 696Clio Wired: An Introduction to History and New Media3
or HIST 697 Creating History in New Media
or HIST 680 Introduction to Digital Humanities
Total Credits3


Select four to five electives 112-15
Total Credits12-15

Research Language Proficiency

Students must demonstrate reading ability in one relevant research language that must be approved by the graduate director. To meet this requirement, students must either achieve a satisfactory score on a proficiency exam or present coursework equivalent to a grade of B or better in an intermediate-level foreign language course (202 or higher at George Mason).

Written Comprehensive Exam

Students who do not pass may retake the exam once, following the original process.  The second exam must be taken within 12 months of the first exam.

Optional Thesis

Students who choose to write a thesis should be aware of the policies governing theses as stated in AP.6.9.3 Master's Thesis policies. They must follow the thesis enrollment policy of the university and once enrolled in ARTH 799 Master's Thesis, maintain continuous enrollment.

Three credits of3
Master's Thesis
Total Credits3

Bachelor's Degree (any)/Art History, Accelerated MA

Application Requirements

Highly qualified undergraduates in any major who have taken at least two 300-level art history courses with a minimum grade of B+ in each may apply to the accelerated master's degree in art history. If accepted, students will be able to earn a bachelor's degree in their chosen major and a master's degree in art history after satisfactory completion of 144 credits, sometimes within five years. See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in the Admissions. For information specific to the accelerated MA in art history, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental web site.

Accelerated Option Requirements

Applicants accepted to the accelerated MA program must have completed 90 credits including two 300-level ARTH courses with a minimum grade of B+ in each.

While undergraduate students, accelerated master's students complete two graduate courses (two ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History and the Decorative Arts courses on different topics or one ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History and the Decorative Arts and one ARTH 699 Topics in Art History course) as indicated on their Accelerated Master's Program Application with a minimum grade of B in each course. Once admitted to the accelerated master's pathway, students must maintain a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.25 in all coursework and earn a grade of B or better (3.00 or higher) in coursework applied to their major. On completion and conferral of the undergraduate degree in the semester indicated in the application, they submit the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form and are admitted to graduate status.

As graduate students, accelerated master's students have an advanced standing. They must meet all master's degree requirements except for the two courses (6 credits) they completed as undergraduates. Students must begin their master's program the semester immediately following conferral of the undergraduate degree.

Reserve Graduate Credit

Students may take up to 6 additional graduate credits as reserve graduate credit. These credits do not apply to the undergraduate degree. To apply these credits to the master's degree, students should use the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition Form.

The ability to take courses, including ones not listed above, for reserve graduate credit is available to all high achieving undergraduates with the permission of the department.  Permission is normally granted only to qualified Mason seniors within 15 hours of graduation. See AP.1.4.4 Graduate Course Enrollment by Undergraduates.