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 History3
or ARTH 699 Topics in Art History
Total Credits9

Applied Preprofessional Learning

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

Students who enter the MA program through the accelerated MA option, and received credit for ARTH 394 The Museum (Mason Core) as an undergraduate, are expected to fulfill this requirement with an internship or alternate course rather than ARTH 594 The Museum.

Technology and New Media

HIST 696Clio Wired: An Introduction to History and New Media3
or HIST 697 Data Analysis for History
or HIST 680 Introduction to Digital Humanities
Total Credits3


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

Students who choose to write a thesis complete 12 elective credits; others complete 15.


Students may choose electives in AVT, ANTH, or CULT with prior written permission of the graduate director. 

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

Program Outcomes

  • Students will be able to demonstrate visual analysis skills. These include the understanding of the principles of formal composition and design, iconography, and historical context.
  • Students will be able to understand the history, purpose and function of museums as cultural and social institutions. They will be able to engage with the development, installation, and evaluation of exhibitions.

  • Students will demonstrate writing skills. They will be able to conceptualize a research question, engage with past and current scholarship, and develop a coherent and logically defended thesis.

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


Highly qualified undergraduates may be admitted to the bachelor's/accelerated master's program and obtain a BA/BS in a chosen major and an MA in Art History in an accelerated time-frame after satisfactory completion of a minimum of 138 credits.

See AP.6.7 Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree for policies related to this program.

Students in an accelerated degree program must fulfill all university requirements for the master's degree. For policies governing all graduate degrees, see AP.6 Graduate Policies.

BAM Pathway Admission Requirements

Applicants to all graduate programs at George Mason University must meet the admission standards and application requirements for graduate study as specified in Graduate Admissions Polices and Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Degree policies. For information specific to the accelerated MA in Art History, see Application Requirements and Deadlines on the departmental website.

Students will be considered for admission into the BAM Pathway after completion of a minimum of 60 credits and meeting with the Art History BAM coordinator, undergraduate director and graduate director.

Students who are accepted in the BAM Pathway will be allowed to register for graduate level courses after successful completion of a minimum of 75 undergraduate credits.

Accelerated Master's Admission Requirements

Students already admitted in the BAM Pathway will be admitted to the MA program, if they have met the following criteria, as verified on the Bachelor's/Accelerated Master's Transition form:

  • Minimum overall GPA of 3.50
  • Completion of at least two 300-level art history courses with a minimum grade of B+ in each
  • Minimum grade of B in each advanced standing course
  • Successfully meeting Mason's requirements for undergraduate degree conferral (graduation) and completing the application for graduation.

Accelerated Pathway Requirements

To maintain the integrity and quality of both the undergraduate and graduate degree programs, undergraduate students interested in taking graduate courses must choose from the following:

Advanced Standing courses (up to 12 credits with a minimum grade of B in each)

ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History (may be repeated for up to 12 credits when topic differs)
ARTH 600 Methods and Research in Art History (3 credits)

Reserve Graduate Credit courses (up to 6 credits) taken while an undergraduate and will only count for the graduate degree program

ARTH 599 Special Topics in Art History (may be repeated for up to 6 credits when topic differs) 

For more detailed information on coursework and timeline requirements see AP.6.7 Bachelor's Accelerated Master's Degree policies.