Art history does not consist in simply listing all the art movements and placing them on a timeline. It is the study of art items in relation to their time period. Art historians investigate the significance of visual arts (painting, sculpture, and architecture) at the period of their creation. Also, another of art history’s mission is to establish authorial origins of artworks, i.e., discovering who created a particular artwork, when and for what reason. Iconography is a major part of art history. It consists in analyzing the symbolism of works of art. Art historians, for example, identify and interpret the visual features of a painting. Art historians are interested in what the works of art represented when they were created. It is a way to learn about the civilizations of the past. This article delves into all the facets required to pursue an online art history master’s. 

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 Masters in Art History Online Programs

A few of the biggest dilemmas when deciding to enroll in a master’s program are which program to pursue, which school to pick, and which university to enroll in. And then, there are other considerations such as cost, placements, starting salary, employment rates, acceptance rates, etc. We at OMC 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. These criteria could be ease of commute or yearly tuition, or simply an asynchronous program that the student is looking into. Here is a list of the best art history masters online including best art history MA programs: 

<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 Masters in Art History

The master of art history will provide students with a comprehensive understanding of art history as well as the methodological tools unique to art history. It also allows them to specialize in a field that will prepare them for curatorial work in the future. For those with a passion for the arts and cultural history, an online art history degree will transform that passion into a career. This degree will build abilities that will prepare individuals for professions in the field or for pursuing a Ph.D. by completing a master’s paper or thesis, as well as foreign language fluency and coursework. 

Students can pick from a broad range of topics while pursuing a master’s in art history online, from ancient to contemporary art and architecture in Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Museum studies, history, iconology, criticism, connoisseurship, and research methodologies are among the other courses available. An online art history degree advances a student’s career in museums, galleries, education, publishing, academia, criticism, or other arts-related disciplines. 

Masters in Art History Degree Types

A master’s in art history online has a few variants depending upon the choice of specializations and the university of study. And accordingly, the major and the minor subjects change. The credits required would usually be around 30, and the time taken to complete the course would be about 24 months.  

There are typically two-degree types that can be pursued depending on the field of study. They are: 

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 of study that requires a minimum of 38 credit hours to complete. 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

This program is ideal for those already working in the industry as well as those seeking to change careers. The coursework focuses on the management practices, theory, and hands-on experience essential for leadership positions in the arts or museums. 

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

Specializations in Masters in Art History Programs

A branch of study has many aspects and many options when deciding on the specific field of study one would want 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 Focus Description Careers This Concentration prepares for 
Master of Arts in Art History  This course delves deep into the histories behind images, works of art, and architecture. Students ask essential questions and widen their horizons by looking for answers. It elevates their research knowledge and skills. 1. Crafters or Fine Artists. 2. Graphic Designers. 3. Multimedia Artists. 4. Animators and Illustrators. 5. Museum Technicians and Curators 
Master of Liberal Studies concentration in Art History This course creates a foundation for understanding and exploring the Emerging Knowledge Society. This theme is broad enough to focus on historical and emerging “ways of knowing” yet defined enough for students to explore and understand how knowledge is generated, researched, applied, and managed in our information-based world. 1. Antiquarian Book Trade 2. Antique Dealer 3. Architectural Conservation. 4. Art Conservation and Preservation. 5. Museum Curator 6. Museum Technician 7. Arts Administrator 
Master of Arts in Art History (Critical Curatorial Studies) Critical and Curatorial Studies (CCST) is an emerging subject that looks directly at the roles and responsibilities of curators and critics as mediators between objects, institutions, experiences, individuals, and groups. While this involves investigating and negotiating several disciplinary fields, from ethnography to aesthetics, organizational behavior to cultural studies, the main focus is on contemporary conditions of display and understanding. This program prepares the alumni to be able to engage productively with critical discussions of art and visual culture, work creatively in both traditional and innovative situations, and develop and work with new modes of exhibition. Hence, they are prepared for the below roles: 1. Archivists 2. Curators 3. Museum Workers 
MS in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership MS in Arts Administration & Museum Leadership is ideal for those already working in the industry as well as those seeking to change careers.  1. Arts AdministrationThis emphasis is designed for early and mid-career leaders in the arts and culture, preparing them for work in non-profit and commercial organizations .2. Museum LeadershipIt prepares students for several opportunities to work in museums such as art, science, history, and culture; living collections (zoos, arboreta, and aquariums); and historical sites. 
Master of Arts (MA) in Modern and Contemporary Art History This graduate dual-degree option in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Theory, and Criticism, and Arts Administration and Policy provides students with a means to earn two synergistic degrees efficiently while upholding each degree’s integrity and high standards. After graduation, MAAH students go on to work in museums, art galleries, alternative venues, publishing, and academia, where they hold prominent positions. 

Curriculum and Skills Gained in Masters in Art History Online Programs

A master’s in art history has many facets to its study and many career options depending on the specialization chosen and the curriculum during graduate studies. A few subjects learned in a master’s in art history online program and the skills gained are listed below.  

Course Skills Gained 
Methods of Art History This course introduces students to various methods that art historians have used to analyze the form and content of individual works of art and various modes of historical explanation. 
Paris Art History Through Paris’s rich and visual culture, this course will explore problems important to the history and critique of art. This course aims to give students an overview of the city’s cultural life through visits to the city’s major art collections, monuments, and historical sites. 
Arts of Resistance The arts as forms of resistance/protest will be examined critically in this course. A brief history of the subject is covered, as well as the current state of the discipline. Students will create projects that use the arts as a form of social practice. 
Art Teaching Strategies II Photographic arts, cinematography, and video technologies will be used to investigate media and the learning process. Teaching techniques and media criticism are used at the elementary and secondary levels. 
Chinese Art Chinese art is organized chronologically, beginning with the Neolithic Age and ending with the current art. The course considers cultural, linguistic, technical, philosophical, political, and religious influences on the artworks produced by this ancient society. 
Asian Art An introduction to the concepts of Chinese, Japanese, and other Far Eastern arts. 
African Art A review, comparative research, and detailed examination of African sculpture, primarily from West and Central Africa. Diverse forms and situations, functions, symbolism, and meanings are emphasized. 
Contemporary Issues in Art A study of the principles and techniques of educational measurement as applied to the teaching of physical education; the functions and procedures of measurement in evaluating student progress toward physical education objectives are studied. 
Baroque and Rococo Art A comprehensive examination of painting, sculpture, and architecture in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early eighteenth-century France, Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. 
Nineteenth-Century Art A comprehensive study of 19th-century painting, sculpture, and architecture in America and Europe. Gender/multicultural issues and methodologies in 19th-century art are emphasized. 
Medieval Art Early Christian, Byzantine, and Medieval painting, sculpture, architecture, and manuscript illumination are all covered in depth. 
Greek and Roman Art Painting, sculpture, and building from the Aegean, Mycenaean, Etruscan, Greek, and Roman periods. 
Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Art A study of the art and cultures of ancient Egypt and the Near East, from prehistoric times until Alexander the Great’s conquests. 

Accreditation for Masters 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 a student’s degree is recognized by the industry they are getting into or universities for enrolling in further studies. Also, and more importantly, to be eligible for US 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. Read more about Accreditation

While researching accreditation, students should also note that in the vocation of art history, the graduate degree is generally delivered by universities accredited as a whole and not at a master’s program-specific level.  The Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) is one such organization that examines institutions rather than specific programs within institutions. MSCHE provides education, quality assurance, and other services to its member institutions. And that is the reason it is called an institutional accreditor. It is a non-profit membership organization that defines, maintains, and promotes educational quality across many missions, student populations, and resources.  

Timeline for graduation from Masters in Art History Online Programs

Generally online master’s in art history would be a 24-month, 36-credit program. But there are some part-time online masters in art history programs that full-time working students can pursue at their own pace. Part-time students take three to nine credit hours every term and have four years to complete all prerequisites for their degree. The credits required to complete are the same, at 36. 

There is also another aspect of online master’s in art history programs, and that is Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Learning. Depending upon the choice of study a student opts for, they can avail the freedom and flexibility that the specific mode of study provides a student. Typically, asynchronous learning offers lots of flexibility. Even though there is generally a deadline in sight, asynchronous students can work at their own pace and access their course at any time and from any location. It is a cost-effective way to train learners based in varying locations. 

Masters in Art History Online Programs Admission Requirements

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

  • Have a Bachelor’s in Art History or Studio Art from an accredited institution. 
  • Have completed 12 hours of undergraduate art history coursework. 
  • Have earned a minimum 3.0 GPA on the last 60 undergraduate credit hours. 
  • Submit a sample of writing in art history. 
  • Submit a professional resume. 

Apart from the above general requirements, some schools might require a GRE and even require experience and employer references. These are the typical master’s in art history online prerequisites. OMC has dedicated resources for GRE and GMAT for students looking to research further

Masters in Art History Online No GRE Programs

The GRE general test and the GRE subject tests are taken by individuals applying to graduate programs, including business and law. For more than 60 years, GRE scores have been used by admissions and fellowship panels at thousands of graduate programs across the world to supplement an applicant’s undergraduate grades and other qualifications for graduate study.  

Graduate programs would typically require a GRE score to get into the masters in art history program. But nowadays, universities would skip the GRE scores required for admission to their graduate programs. Most schools attribute this change to the fact that nowadays, a significant chunk of graduate students are full-time working professionals who do not have the time to prepare for the GRE. Therefore, the combination of work experience and undergraduate GPA covers grading them for graduate admission. Also, since online courses do not have a cap on the intake of students, universities have become far more open to students interested in pursuing higher studies. 

Below are a few masters in art history no GRE examples: 

Accelerated Online Art History Programs

Those who are very motivated full-time art history students might 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. But these courses are not for everyone, and students must research well before getting into one of these programs. The Accelerated MA in Art History is one such example. 

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.

Free Art History Courses Online

Sometimes we take education so seriously that we forget to realize that there are the best courses from the best institutions which are free. These institutions are using online platforms to increase free education to reach the maximum audiences. We look at a few of such master’s in art history online free courses:  

Harvard University 

Discovering History Through Artworks, Artifacts – Students would understand history, museum studies, and curation by looking at, organizing, and interpreting art, artifacts, scientific curiosities, and the stuff of everyday life. 

Cosmopolitan Tang: Aristocratic Culture in China – Students would explore the reunification of China under the Tang with a focus on aristocratic culture — from poetry to calligraphy to literature. 

Buddhism Through its Scriptures – Students would learn about the rich and diverse beliefs and practices of Buddhists across time and place. Experience Buddhism through its scriptures, both relationally as well as academically. 

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

World Music: Global Rhythms – Students would learn to recognize, feel, and play rhythms from around the world.  

How to Pay for Masters in Art History Online Programs

Keeping in mind the amount of student debt and the cost of education these days, and the amount of debt that each student carries, it is of prime importance how one chooses to fund their online master in art history program fees. The smartest way to fund education is a scholarship. For more information, students can refer to this link here for scholarships. 

It might happen that someone does not qualify for a scholarship; for such candidates, if they are working professionals, they can check with their employers to reimburse the tuition fee. Another way of funding an online art history master’s is to apply for a student loan. Students can also check if they are eligible for federal student aid through theFAFSA Application

Scholarships for Masters in Art History Online Programs

A scholarship is a financial aid given to a student for study based on academic accomplishment or other criteria, including financial necessity. Merit-based and need-based scholarships are the two most frequent types of scholarships. 

We actively urge students interested in studying art or art history to apply for scholarships. These awards are based on merit and are evaluated and selected by appropriate committees. If qualified, students may apply for more than one grant; however, each student can only receive one scholarship award. 

Below are a few listed scholarships for an online masters in art history: 

Webster – Navarrete Excellence in Art History Award 

Seniors studying Art History in the department. An annual award of excellence was established in 2020 by Professor Susan V. Webster, Jane W. Mahoney Emerita of Art History and American Studies, and her husband Hornán Navarrete, a photographer. Awards are based on merit. A faculty committee will determine recipients and award amounts; no application is required.

Leslie Cheek Jr. Scholarship in Art History 

All declared majors who are studying Art History in the department. Leslie Cheek was the Chair of the Department from 1937-to 39, a distinguished critic, and the acclaimed director of the Virginia Museum of Fine Art. This award, established in 1979, is based on merit. Applications consist of a statement (500 words) of how one’s study of art history relates to one’s career objectives, a current transcript from BannerWeb, and one letter of recommendation from an Art History faculty member. 

Holmes Scholarship 

Need-based scholarship for Art and Art History majors to study abroad in Florence, Italy. Preference will be given to Art History concentrators in their Junior or Senior year. Awards are up to $3,200. Application deadlines vary for awards in spring, fall, summer, and academic years. 

Louis E. Catron Grant for Artistic Development 

These grants support the artistic growth of talented students in the creative and performing arts through off-campus educational experiences, either at a formal educational institution or through structured practical hands-on exposure. Although the number of awards and funding amounts vary, the maximum awarded is $5,000. 

FAQs about Art History Programs

Frequently Asked Questions

What does an online graduate art history program offer?

An MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History is an innovative online program that focuses 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?  

What does it take to become an art historian? 

Is majoring in art history worth it? 

Where do art historians work?

Are art jobs in demand?

Careers and Salary Outlook for Masters in Art History Graduates

There are a host of career opportunities that 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: 

Occupation Median Annual Salary      (US $) Job Growth (2019-2029) Job Description 
Art Directors 100,890 11% The visual style and pictures in publications, newspapers, commercial packaging, and film and television projects are the responsibility of art directors. They design the overall look and direct the work of others who create artwork or layouts. 
Curators 50,120 19% Permanent records and historically significant papers are appraised, processed, cataloged, and preserved by archivists. Curators oversee collections of artwork and historical items and may conduct public service activities for an institution. Objects and documents in museum collections and exhibits are prepared and restored by museum technicians and conservators. 
Craft and Fine Artists 49,960 14% Craft and fine artists make original works of art for sale and display using a variety of materials and techniques. Objects designed to be utilitarian, such as pottery, glassware, and textiles, are created by craft artists. Painters, sculptors, and illustrators are fine artists who create works of art for aesthetics rather than function. 
Professors 70,640 12% Beyond high school, postsecondary professors instruct students in several academic topics. They might also conduct research and write academic papers and books. 
High School Teachers 61,820 8% Teachers in high school assist pupils in preparing for life following graduation. They provide academic instruction and a variety of skills that students will need to attend college or enter the workforce. 
Librarians and Library Media Specialists 61,190 9% Librarians and library media experts assist individuals in locating information and conducting research for both 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

Though there are no state or federal certification or licensing requirements to practice the vocation of art history, it is always advisable for newbies entering the industry to get certifications done from established professional organizations in their field of study. This will help them connect with established players and find greater acceptance in the industry. Below are a few certificate courses that students may pursue after their online life sciences masters: 

  1. Seeing History Through Artists’ Eyes: Artists such as Picasso, David, and Goya came to grips with the political upheavals of their day with heroic and searing images that elicit our admiration or moral outrage.  
  2. African Art Through the Centuries: The arts of Africa have been shaped by distinct creative insight as well as specific political, social, religious, and economic pressures, from the bright paintings found in Stone Age caves to the abstract sculptures created during the continent’s colonial history. 
  3. Art and Kingship in Southeast Asia: This course examines ancient Southeast Asia’s cultural and artistic traditions from the earliest archaeological evidence to the beginnings of colonialism, with a focus on the royal arts of the great civilizations that arose within the borders of modern Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Burma (Myanmar), Vietnam, Laos, and Malaysia. 

Additional Resources for Art History Professionals

Post a masters 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 as well as keeps them abreast with the latest trends happening 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 Organization Description 
National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) is a federal agency dedicated to fostering new and established artistic talent, bringing the arts to all Americans, and leading arts education. The National Endowment for the Arts, founded by Congress in 1965 as an independent federal body, is the nation’s largest annual funder of the arts, bringing outstanding art to all 50 states, including rural communities, inner cities, and military bases. 
Midwest Art History Society The Midwest Art History Society brings together academic, museum-based, and independent art historians with the common goal of scholarly inquiry and exchanging ideas. 
The International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) The International Association of Research Institutes in the History of Art (RIHA) promotes education and research in art history and related disciplines to intensify cooperation between the institutes by facilitating the sharing of research findings and the flow of information on scientific and administrative activities and encouraging institutes to collaborate on initiatives. 
National Art Education Association (NAEA) This dynamic community of practice is where visual arts teachers, scholars, researchers and professors, students, administrators, art museum educators, and artists come together around a shared belief in the power of the arts in developing human potential. 
The Association for Art History (AAH) The Association for Art History (AAH) was founded in 1974 to promote and support art history research. It is a national organization for professional art and design historians, researchers, and students working in education, galleries, museums, art-related publishing, or any other field relating to art and design history. 
Find Your Master’s Program

Start Your Next Step Today

Let’s help you find the right online master’s degree. You can browse through thousands of schools and their online programs. Start exploring the top 20 best online master’s programs now.