Bob Litt
Written By - Bob Litt

Check MarkEdited By Arlene Ward

Check MarkReview & Contribution By Amy Klein

The online Master’s in Art History program goes beyond just listing art movements. It is about understanding art in its historical context. Art historians explore the meaning of artworks, seeking to uncover authorship, motivations, and societal influences. Iconography, a crucial aspect, involves deciphering the symbolism embedded in artworks. This program equips students with the skills to identify and interpret visual elements, providing a deep understanding of the cultural significance of art. Aspiring art historians engage in a comprehensive exploration of civilizations through the lens of artistic expression. This article navigates the multifaceted aspects integral to pursuing a master’s in art history online.

Online Masters in Art History

Table Of Contents

Featured Online Programs

Southern New Hampshire University

PROGRAM: Online MA in History

Southern New Hampshire University is a private, nonprofit, accredited institution with more than 3,000 on-campus students and over 60,000 online students, making us one of the fastest-growing universities in the country. Founded in 1932, we’ve been relentlessly reinventing higher education ever since and have gained national recognition for our dedication to helping students transform their lives and the lives of those around them.

We’re proud to provide affordable, accessible education that students can pursue on our 300-acre campus in Manchester, NH, over our innovative online platform or at our regional centers in Manchester, Nashua, Portsmouth and Salem, NH, and Brunswick, ME.

SNHU has earned the Best Buy and Best of Business – Best Online Degree awards and is consistently ranked as a top Military Friendly® School by G.I Jobs®.

Best Master’s in Art History Online Programs

A few of the biggest dilemmas when enrolling in a master’s program are which program to pursue, which school to pick, and which university to enroll in. Then other considerations include cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. The OMC team went through all these matrices and created a list of the best online master’s in art history programs. There are no absolutes such as the best online master’s in art history degree programs or the greatest; it all depends on the criteria a student decides to value most and pick up a program accordingly. Here is a list of the best art history master’s online:

To Link to this page, please copy and paste this code into your website

<a href="">Art History </a>

Code copied successfully!

College Name & AddressTuitionGraduation Rate
University of Florida
341 Tigert Hall 300 SW 13th St, Gainesville, Florida 32611
Stony Brook University
310 Administration Building, Stony Brook, New York 11794
George Washington University
1918 F Street, NW, Washington, District of Columbia 20052
Boston University
One Silber Way, Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Azusa Pacific University
901 E Alosta, Azusa, California 91702
University of Northern Iowa
1227 W 27th St, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614
Cedar Crest College
100 College Drive, Allentown, Pennsylvania 18104
University of Nebraska, Kearney
2504 9th Avenue, Kearney, Nebraska 68849
Eastern Illinois University
600 Lincoln Avenue, Charleston, Illinois 61920
University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth
285 Old Westport Rd, North Dartmouth, Massachusetts 02747
Northwestern State University of Louisiana
175 Sam Sibley Drive, Natchitoches, Louisiana 71497
Lindenwood University
209 S Kingshighway, Saint Charles, Missouri 63301
Fort Hays State University
600 Park St, Hays, Kansas 67601
Academy of Art University
79 New Montgomery, San Francisco, California 94105

Source – Integrated Post Secondary Education Data System & University Data
*Tuition rates are for in-state and per year. Program specific rates may apply.
**NA – data not available

Understanding Master’s in Art History Online Programs

The Master’s in Art History program provides students with the expertise necessary for roles in curatorial work, museum management, and scholarly research. Available in online, on-campus, and hybrid formats, this program covers a broad spectrum of art and architectural history globally. With a credit range of 30 to 46, completion may take up to two years. Online flexibility, synchronous and asynchronous learning, and concentrations in areas like museum studies or art criticism make this program suitable for diverse career paths, including roles as curators, art historians, or educators.

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Online Master’s in Art History programs offer diverse curricula covering periods, styles, and cultural contexts. Students explore research methodologies, critical analysis, and specialized topics, preparing for careers in museums, academia, or cultural institutions. Specializations range from ancient to contemporary art, allowing flexibility and customization. The curriculum shapes a comprehensive understanding, equipping graduates with the skills to navigate and contribute to the art world. Some common courses in a Master’s in Art History program may include:

Methods of Art History
This course explores critical methodologies, research techniques, and analytical approaches essential for understanding and interpreting artistic expressions across diverse periods and cultures. Students gain valuable skills for scholarly inquiry, contributing to their proficiency in curatorial and academic pursuits.

Paris Art History
This explores the rich artistic heritage of Paris, delving into iconic movements, influential artists, and cultural contexts. Students examine the city’s profound impact on the evolution of art, fostering a nuanced understanding of Parisian contributions to the global art landscape.

Arts of Resistance
This course investigates how art has been utilized as a form of resistance throughout history. Exploring diverse cultures and periods, students analyze artworks as expressions of dissent, resilience, and social commentary, gaining insights into the powerful intersection of art and resistance movements.

Greek and Roman Art
This course explores the classical worlds of Greece and Rome. Students explore the evolution of artistic styles, cultural influences, and societal contexts, gaining a comprehensive understanding of the enduring impact of Greek and Roman art on global visual culture.

Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art
This course explores the visual traditions of Egypt and the Near East. Students examine the cultural, religious, and artistic dimensions, gaining insights into the symbolic and historical significance of these ancient civilizations’ visual expressions.

Students in Master’s in Art History online programs can gain various valuable skills in both academic and professional settings. Here are some key skills students develop from the program:

  • Develop the ability to analyze and evaluate various art forms critically.
  • Gain expertise in interpreting artistic styles, techniques, and symbolism.
  • Acquire a deep understanding of the historical and cultural contexts in which artworks were created.
  • Explore the interconnectedness of art with societal, political, and economic factors.
  • Develop effective academic writing skills for essays, papers, and publications.
  • Gain the ability to communicate ideas visually and verbally.
  • Develop critical thinking skills to analyze and interpret complex art-related issues.
  • Understand the principles of museum and gallery management, including curation, conservation, and exhibition design.
  • Learn about the ethical considerations in preserving and presenting artworks.
  • Acquire proficiency in utilizing digital tools and resources for art historical research.
  • Explore digital archives, databases, and virtual exhibitions.
  • Develop effective communication skills to present complex art historical concepts to diverse audiences.
  • Stay updated on emerging trends and technologies in the field.

Master’s in Art History Degree Types

Master’s in Art History degree types include the Master of Arts (MA) and Master of Science (MS). Both degrees offer comprehensive studies in art history, emphasizing critical analysis, historical context, and research skills. MA programs often focus on cultural and theoretical aspects, while MS programs may incorporate a more scientific approach, incorporating techniques like conservation and materials analysis.

Master of Arts or M.A in Art History

An MA in art History online program provides an excellent foundation in graduate-level art-historical analysis, research, and writing. The Master of Arts in Art History is a two-year program that requires a minimum of 38 credit hours. This degree commonly offers graduate courses in art history from the Renaissance to the present in the subjects of African, American, European, Middle Eastern, and Asian art.

Master of Science or MS in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership

A Master of Science (MS) in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership combines business principles with cultural management expertise. This program emphasizes organizational leadership, financial management, and strategic planning for effective administration in museums and arts institutions, preparing graduates for key roles in the cultural sector.

Both the degree types are generally two-year programs and would require students to take up at least 36 credits.

Specializations in Master’s in Art History Programs

A branch of study has many aspects and options when deciding on the specific field of study one wants to pursue. These particular fields of study are categorized as a specialization of study. A specialization would typically be a deep dive into the chosen subject of study. Below are a few specializations in the field of art history and the career they would propel the students into.

Area of FocusDescriptionCareers This Concentration Prepares For
Modern and Contemporary ArtIn this specialization, students explore the dynamic evolution of art from the 19th century to the present. Exploring diverse movements, styles, and cultural shifts, this specialization fosters a nuanced understanding of the complex intersections between art, society, and technology in the modern and contemporary periods..• Art Historian/Researcher
• Gallery/Museum Curator
• Art Critic/Writer
• Exhibition Designer
Cultural Heritage PreservationIn this specialization, students focus on the ethical conservation and restoration of artworks and cultural artifacts. Emphasizing meticulous techniques, sustainable practices, and preservation ethics, this specialization equips graduates with the skills needed to safeguard and promote cultural heritage for future generations.• Conservator/Restorer
• Cultural Heritage Manager
• Archivist
• Museum Registrar
Global Art PerspectivesIn this specialization, students explore artistic expressions from diverse cultures and regions. Emphasizing cross-cultural analysis, this specialization fosters a comprehensive understanding of global art movements, traditions, and interconnectedness, preparing graduates to engage critically with the rich tapestry of worldwide artistic heritage.• International Art Consultant
• Cross-Cultural Educator
• Global Art Market Analyst
• Cultural Diplomacy Specialist
Architectural HistoryThis specialization explores the historical development of architecture. Students analyze the social, cultural, and aesthetic contexts influencing architectural evolution from ancient structures to contemporary design.• Architectural Historian
• Historic Preservation Specialist
• Urban Planner
• Cultural Resource Manager
Curatorial StudiesIn this specialization, students gain insights into exhibition planning, collection management, and curatorial practices. Focusing on the dynamic intersection of art and audience engagement, this specialization prepares graduates for leadership roles in museums and galleries, fostering skills to curate and interpret diverse artistic narratives.• Museum Curator
• Exhibition Coordinator
• Collection Manager
• Gallery Director

Timeline for graduation from Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Online master’s in art history programs usually span 24 months, with 36 credits required for completion. Part-time options accommodate working students, allowing them to progress at their own pace, taking three to nine credit hours per term, and completing prerequisites within four years. A key consideration is the choice between Synchronous and Asynchronous Learning. Asynchronous learning offers flexibility, enabling students to work at their own pace and access courses from any location, providing a cost-effective solution for learners in diverse locations.

Accelerated Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Motivated full-time art history students may be served well by enrolling in an accelerated master’s program in art history. However, these accelerated programs are very fast-paced and quite rigorous. They let high-achieving students earn graduate credits while still pursuing an undergraduate course. However, these courses are not for everyone, and students must research well before getting into one of these programs. Here are two examples of universities that offer accelerated master of art history programs:

The advantages of such fast-track programs are:

  • Earning a master’s degree online and in half the time.
  • Reducing costs in schooling and tuition.
  • Simplifying the graduate school research process.

Master’s in Art History Online Programs Admission Requirements

Though there could be some specific requirements for a specific program or graduate school, the general requirements for a master’s in art history online would be as follows:

  • Bachelor’s Degree: A completed undergraduate degree from an accredited institution.
  • Transcripts: Submit official transcripts from all previously attended colleges or universities.
  • GPA Requirements: A minimum GPA may be specified, typically around 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.
  • Letters of Recommendation: Two to three letters from academic or professional references are usually used.
  • Statement of Purpose: A written statement outlining the applicant’s academic and professional goals in pursuing a Master’s in Art History.
  • Résumé/CV: A comprehensive resume or curriculum vitae detailing relevant academic and professional experience.
  • Writing Sample: Submission of academic writing sample, often related to art history.
  • GRE Scores: Some programs may require Graduate Record Examination (GRE) scores, though this requirement is becoming less common.
  • Interview: In some cases, an interview with faculty or admissions committee members may be part of the selection process.

No GRE Master’s in Art History Online Programs

The GRE general and subject tests are vital for graduate program applications, assessing applicants’ aptitude for diverse fields. For over 60 years, these scores have complemented undergrad records globally. Traditionally, master’s in art history programs required GRE scores, but many universities now waive this requirement. This shift acknowledges the challenges working professionals face pursuing graduate studies, emphasizing the value of work experience and undergrad GPAs for admission. Moreover, online programs make education more accessible and inclusive. Here are two universities offering online Master of Art History no GRE programs:

Accreditation for Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Accreditation is a process where an institute’s education standards are vetted per the standards and guidelines of the accrediting body.  Accreditation is a prerequisite to ensure that the industry recognizes a student’s degree they are getting into or universities for enrolling in further studies. Also, and more importantly, to be eligible for U.S. federal student aid, one must ensure that the institution one is enrolling in is accredited by one of the federally recognized accreditation bodies. Thus, accreditation, in essence, is the enforcement of quality. Universities are usually accredited by one of six regional accrediting bodies in the U.S.:

Free Art History Courses Online

Free online courses break down barriers to education, offering diverse topics and accessible learning. While lacking official certifications, they empower individuals with valuable knowledge and skills. Though not accredited, these courses contribute to a more inclusive and flexible global education landscape, demonstrating the potential of online platforms in popularizing learning opportunities. Here are a few master’s in art history online free courses: 

Medieval History: Art and Architecture

CourseMedieval History: Art and Architecture5
Provided byAlison
DescriptionThis historical course categorizes the medieval era into three specific periods, exploring significant religious and political events. The curriculum analyzes the dynamics of power struggles between Christian and Muslim rulers from Byzantium to Antioch, analyzing their societal repercussions. Additionally, the course scrutinizes fundamental aspects of the medieval world, encompassing lifestyle, cuisine, scientific advancements, and artistic expression.
CourseDiscovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts, Scientific Specimens, and the Stuff Around You6
Provided byedX
DescriptionThis course invites learners to explore the convergence of history, science, and culture through a rich collection of artifacts. From a Gutenberg bible to diverse global treasures, the course unravels the stories behind objects, highlighting their impact on academic disciplines. Participants explore the significance of curating, preserving, and rearranging tangible items, gaining a profound understanding of the interconnectedness between objects and human experiences.
CourseThe Modern Genius: Art and Culture in the 19th Century7
Provided byClass Central
DescriptionThis course explores the influence of the French avant-garde on modern art and visual culture. Exploring  Realism to Post-Impressionism, the course navigates stylistic shifts, challenges to academic norms, and the evolving role of artists. Through video podcasts and readings, participants gain insight into 19th-century Europe’s profound impact on shaping contemporary notions of modernity.

How to Pay for Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Given the high cost of education and student debt, it’s crucial to thoughtfully plan how to afford an online Master’s in Art History. With the financial burden students bear, careful consideration of funding options becomes essential to ensure a manageable path through the program without accumulating excessive debt. Here are ways students can fund their program:


Scholarships are financial awards based on academic achievement, talents, or other criteria. These funds, typically provided by institutions, organizations, or individuals, alleviate the financial burden of education. Scholarships support diverse fields of study, empowering students to pursue their educational goals and contribute to their communities.


Grants are financial aid awarded to students, often based on financial need or specific criteria. Unlike loans, grants don’t require repayment, providing crucial support for education costs. They enhance access to higher education, making it more equitable and ensuring students can pursue academic goals without accumulating debt.

Graduate Assistantships

Graduate assistantships offer valuable opportunities for students pursuing advanced degrees. In exchange for their assistance in teaching, research, or administrative tasks, graduate students receive financial support, often covering tuition and providing stipends. This dual role allows them to gain hands-on experience while easing the financial burden of their education.


The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a critical tool for students seeking financial assistance for higher education. By completing the FAFSA, individuals can access federal grants, loans, and work-study programs, making college more affordable and expanding access to educational opportunities.

Scholarships for Master’s in Art History Online Programs

A scholarship is financial aid given to a student for study based on academic accomplishment or other criteria, including financial necessity. These awards are usually based on merit and are evaluated and selected by appropriate committees. Students may apply for more than one scholarship. Here are a couple of scholarships for an online master’s in art history:

Webster – Navarrete Excellence in Art History Award8

Eligibility: The Webster – Navarrete Excellence in Art History Award is an annual honor for senior students studying Art History in the department. Created in 2020 by Professor Susan V. Webster and her husband, Hornán Navarrete, the award is based on merit. A faculty committee determines recipients and award amounts; no application is necessary.
Award/Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies

Leslie Cheek Jr. Scholarship in Art History9

The Leslie Cheek Jr. Scholarship in Art History is open to all declared majors in the Department studying Art History. Named after the distinguished former department chair, this merit-based award was established in 1979. Applicants must submit a 500-word statement connecting their art history study to career goals, a current transcript, and a recommendation letter from an Art History faculty member.
Award/Amount: Varies
Deadline: Varies

Careers and Salary Outlook for Master’s in Art History Graduates

Many career opportunities are open post an art history online master’s program. – from the role of museum workers, curators, or archivists to senior positions like an art director or a director of a historical institution (like a museum or an art university). Highlighted below are a few such roles:

OccupationMedian Annual Salary  Job Growth (2022-2032)Job Description
Archivists, Curators, and Museum Workers10$53,42010% (much faster than average)Archivists evaluate, manage, categorize, and safeguard enduring records and historically significant documents. Curators supervise collections of art and historical items, potentially engaging in public service initiatives for an institution. Museum technicians and conservators ready and repair objects and documents within museum collections and exhibitions.
Craft and Fine Artists11$53,1404% (as fast as average)Craft and fine artists produce unique artworks for sale and exhibition, employing diverse materials and techniques. Craft artists craft utilitarian objects like pottery, glassware, and textiles. On the other hand, fine artists, including painters, sculptors, and illustrators, create art for aesthetic purposes rather than practical functionality.
Library Archivist12$80,600No Data AvailableCollaborating with various college departments, the Library Archivist identifies potential donors and materials to enhance the university collection. They develop policies and procedures for managing special collections, archives, digitization, and preservation. The role typically reports to an institutional officer and necessitates a master’s degree. The Library Archivist plays a contributing role in moderately complex aspects of projects.
Librarians and Library Media Specialists13$61,6603% (as fast as average)Librarians and library media experts assist individuals in locating information and conducting research for personal and professional purposes. Their responsibilities may vary depending on the type of library they work in, such as public, school, or art.

Certifications and Licensing for Art History Graduates

Certifications and licensing are generally not mandatory for Art History graduates in the U.S. While some positions may require specific credentials, such as museum or gallery roles, most opportunities in the field focus on academic qualifications and relevant experience. Graduates often pursue advanced degrees or gain practical experience through internships and research rather than obtaining certifications or licenses.

Additional Resources for Art History Professionals

Post a master’s in art history, it would be a great move forward to get associated with a professional organization in the field of study. Doing so immediately connects students to their industry peers and keeps them up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry. Accreditation is another crucial function of associations, helping professionals enhance and prove their capabilities. Here are a few organizations that can be of immense help:

Professional OrganizationDescription
Midwest Art History SocietyEstablished in 1973, the Midwest Art History Society unites academic, museum-based, and independent art historians, fostering scholarly inquiry and idea exchange. Welcoming professionals across specializations, the organization promotes collaboration and is a valuable platform for the diverse community of art historians in the Midwest.
The International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA)Established in 1998 in Paris, RIHA (International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art) is dedicated to advancing education and research in art history and related disciplines. It fosters collaboration among institutes worldwide, facilitating information exchange, joint projects, and sharing research findings to enhance the field collectively.
National Art Education Association (NAEA)Established in 1947, the National Art Education Association (NAEA) is a premier professional organization for visual arts, design, and media arts education professionals. NAEA leverages the transformative potential of the arts to educate and enrich lives, focusing on inclusivity and fostering creative and culturally competent generations for a diverse society.

International Art Critics Association (AICA)
The International Art Critics Association (AICA) is a global organization uniting art critics and scholars. Founded in 1950, AICA promotes dialogue and understanding within the art community, fostering critical discourse. It organizes events and conferences and publishes journals to facilitate collaboration and elevate the discourse surrounding contemporary art on an international scale.

FAQs About Master’s in Art History Online Programs

What does an online graduate art history program offer?

An MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History is an innovative online program focusing exclusively on modern and contemporary art history. It introduces students to the field of modern and contemporary art and provides them with an understanding of art historical methods and research practices while building skills in visual analysis, critical thinking, and research.

What are the challenges of being an art historian? 

How long does it take to complete an online master’s in art history program?

Is majoring in art history worth it?

Can I work while pursuing an online master’s in art history program?

Are online master’s in art history degrees viewed differently by employers?