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Educating the next generation of art historians

Master’s in Art History

Master’s in Art History

The MA program in Art History at the University of St. Thomas focuses on the development of key skills that serve professionals working in many capacities. Some of our students continue their formal academic studies by pursuing a PhD, while others find positions teaching, working in the museum world, managing art collections, or working for private or public arts organizations.

The ability to formulate sophisticated questions and to conduct research to answer these questions is at the core of the program, and this prepares students for a broad range of professional opportunities. The program also builds awareness of the ethical and culturally specific issues of research related to the field, including professional standards for work with issues of provenance and human subjects. In addition, our students develop crucial skills in written and oral presentation that are highly beneficial in most professions.

While some students enter the program with clearly defined professional goals, others come with an interest in exploring art history motivated by a love of art and a passion for studying its relationship to history.

Curriculum Overview

  • Curriculum Overview
  • Degree requirements
  • Qualifying Paper and Presentation
  • Museum Studies Certificate
  • Curriculum Overview

    The curriculum introduces students to the processes of scholarly research in art history and the presentation of its results in a variety of professional and public venues.

    Graduate courses focus on issues and problems in art history, the process of defining and carrying out a research agenda, the use of various methodologies and theories to define and interpret evidence, the ability to read both analytically and critically and to utilize both original and scholarly resources, and the skills to present your research to a variety of audiences in a variety of ways from in person to digital.

    The program emphasizes an inclusive perspective that encompasses a range of media and global cultures and a contextual approach to art that examines its social, economic, political, and religious importance.

    Degree requirements

    The program requires students to complete a total of 12 courses (36 credits), according to the following plan:

    • Theory and Methodology (ARHS 500)
    • Two courses in European or American Art
    • Two courses in Non-European or Non-American Art
    • Six elective courses—Mostly additional graduate seminars, independent study projects, internships, or graduate courses in other departments.
    • Qualifying paper and presentation (final semester)
    • Foreign language—Reading knowledge of one language other than English (this can be achieved while in the program)

    Qualifying Paper and Presentation

    Students submit a qualifying paper during the last semester of study, which counts as the twelfth course for the degree. This paper demonstrates the ability to carry out original and extensive scholarly work in the discipline. Students give a presentation of their work at the annual graduate forum sponsored by the department.

    Oral Examination: Also, in the last semester of study, students prepare for a formal oral review and discussion of the issues raised in their qualifying paper research, conducted by a faculty committee.

    Museum Studies Certificate

    The joint program option that combines our MA with the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Twelve (12) of the fifteen (15) required credits for the Certificate also satisfy requirements in the MA program.

    Students investigate the critical issues facing diverse types of museums today, including museums of history, art, science, natural history, music, sports, memorials, entertainment, and zoos/aquariums, just to name a few.

    Curriculum Overview

    The curriculum introduces students to the processes of scholarly research in art history and the presentation of its results in a variety of professional and public venues.

    Graduate courses focus on issues and problems in art history, the process of defining and carrying out a research agenda, the use of various methodologies and theories to define and interpret evidence, the ability to read both analytically and critically and to utilize both original and scholarly resources, and the skills to present your research to a variety of audiences in a variety of ways from in person to digital.

    The program emphasizes an inclusive perspective that encompasses a range of media and global cultures and a contextual approach to art that examines its social, economic, political, and religious importance.

    Degree requirements

    The program requires students to complete a total of 12 courses (36 credits), according to the following plan:

    • Theory and Methodology (ARHS 500)
    • Two courses in European or American Art
    • Two courses in Non-European or Non-American Art
    • Six elective courses—Mostly additional graduate seminars, independent study projects, internships, or graduate courses in other departments.
    • Qualifying paper and presentation (final semester)
    • Foreign language—Reading knowledge of one language other than English (this can be achieved while in the program)

    Qualifying Paper and Presentation

    Students submit a qualifying paper during the last semester of study, which counts as the twelfth course for the degree. This paper demonstrates the ability to carry out original and extensive scholarly work in the discipline. Students give a presentation of their work at the annual graduate forum sponsored by the department.

    Oral Examination: Also, in the last semester of study, students prepare for a formal oral review and discussion of the issues raised in their qualifying paper research, conducted by a faculty committee.

    Museum Studies Certificate

    The joint program option that combines our MA with the Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies. Twelve (12) of the fifteen (15) required credits for the Certificate also satisfy requirements in the MA program.

    Students investigate the critical issues facing diverse types of museums today, including museums of history, art, science, natural history, music, sports, memorials, entertainment, and zoos/aquariums, just to name a few.

    Non-Degree Program Description

    You may begin the Master of Arts degree in Art History as a non-degree student. This option may interest prospective students whose schedules do not work with the timing of the March or November degree-seeking application deadlines. Enrolling in one or more courses at non-degree status can also provide contact with faculty members, an opportunity to develop a writing sample for the degree application, and/or a chance to evaluate whether the program's offerings match your needs, interests, and abilities.

    Financial Aid and Work Opportunities

    A variety of options are available to help students finance their education and support valuable research, curatorial, and other professional experiences.

    Several Assistantships are Available

    These awards provide experience in the discipline, such as curatorial projects in the university's exhibitions and acquisitions program, work with the American Museum of Asmat Art at the University of St. Thomas, undertaking special research projects, or serving as the graduate student representative.

    Art History Student Research and Conference Travel Grants

    This provides funding to support student travel to conferences or for research involving domestic or international travel to visit archives, libraries, museums, buildings, and other research sites.

    Jaffray Major Research Scholarship

    This scholarship, in the amount of $2,500, is for an undergraduate or graduate art history student to research and write on Asmat art or culture in their capstone Senior Paper or Qualifying Paper.

    Career Outcomes

    After graduation, many of our alumni have continued their education in pursuit and completion of Doctoral degrees at various and prestigious institutions. Many also work as curators or adjunct faculty members around the country. Our graduates work at art and cultural organizations throughout the country, including:

    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts
    Denver Art Museum
    Museum of Modern Art
    The Preservation Society of Newport
    Rochester Arts Center
    Arts Midwest
    Guggenheim
    Groveland Gallery of Art
    Texas Historical Commission
    National Trust for Historic Preservation
    Bethany Lutheran College
    The Speed Art Museum
    Pall Mall Advisors

    Art History graduate Floris Lafontant speaking Bridget Gallagher-Larkin explaining an artifact.
    01 / 02

    Floris Lafontant ‘17

    Floris curated the successful “Voyages Through Asmat Art” at the MSP Airport in 2019. She is currently a Collections Technician at the Weisman Art Museum. “The Museum Studies certificate laid the groundwork with key museum studies theory and criticism which has informed my professional development.”

    02 / 02

    Bridget Gallagher-Larkin ‘19

    “The MA in Art History and Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies program brings relevant and valuable topics from the current museum and art history field into the classroom. Beyond the classroom, the program provides opportunities for students to gain hands-on experience at Twin Cities museums.”

    Faculty

    The wide range of interests, expertise and depth of this group serves our students well.

    Headshot of Elizabeth Kindall.

    Dr. Elizabeth Kindall

    Director of Graduate Studies

    Dr. Kindall's research focus is Chinese art, specifically Chinese painting from the fourteenth to the eighteenth centuries. Her current research focuses on farewell culture and landscape identity; and representations of the Yandang mountain range in Chinese painting.

    Dr. Elizabeth Kindall
    Art History faculty member Heather Shiery talking to students.

    Dr. Heather Shirey

    Dr. Shirey’s current work documents street art around the world, including that related to the COVID19 pandemic and the ongoing movement demanding social justice and equality since the killing of George Floyd. Brazil is also an important focus for Dr. Shirey’s research, and through her work she seeks to understand art, politics and identity construction in the African-Brazilian religion Candomblé.

    Dr. Heather Shirey
    Art History faculty Victoria Young addressing a crowd.

    Dr. Victoria Young

    Dr. Young’s research focuses on nineteenth- and twentieth-century architecture, with special interests in sacred space, contemporary museums and the work of Frank Gehry. Her book on Marcel Breuer's design of Saint John's Abbey Church in Collegeville, Minnesota (1953-1961) explores modern religious space.

    Dr. Victoria Young