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Art History Degree Programs and Career Facts

A degree program in art history can help to prepare you for a career as an art critic, auctioneer, gallery owner or museum curator. Learn about degree levels, career opportunities and options for online study.

What You Need to Know

Art history degree programs are widely available at the associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral levels. In all of these programs, you'll explore the work of major artists and artistic movements through classroom-based lectures and hands-on experiences. Undergraduate programs can lead to entry-level careers in museums or galleries, while graduate-level training is typically required for work as an archivist or curator.

Degrees Associate's, bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs in art history
Online Undergraduate and graduate programs are available online
Careers Art critic, art educator, tour guide, curator, archivist, historic preservationist

What Will I Learn in an Art History Degree Program?

Degree programs in art history can help you understand how artists and artistic periods developed within a cultural context. You'll become familiar with developing your analytical and research skills. As an art history student, you can attend guest lectures by working artists and critics, learn how to curate for a museum and participate in faculty research projects. You may also have the opportunity to publish articles in professional journals. Career training is available through internships and workshops. Here are some of the topics you might be covering in your art history degree program:

  • Anthropology
  • Philosophy
  • Political science
  • Major artists
  • Art movements
  • Styles of art

What Are the Undergraduate Degree Requirements?

Associate's degree programs, such as an Associate of Arts in Art History, usually take two years to complete and include surveys of major artists and historical periods, along with an introduction to art analysis. Those who pursue or transfer to a bachelor's program enjoy opportunities for more in-depth studies, as well as access to professional experiences and the opportunity to work on self-guided projects. At the 4-year level, your degree options include a Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science in Art History, in addition to a Major in History of Art program.

What About Graduate Degree Programs?

A master's program can usually be completed in two years and can include directed readings, seminars and a thesis. Doctoral programs may require 4-8 years of course and dissertation work and provide students with the advanced academic training and scholarship skills they need to pursue positions in research and teaching. A Master of Arts or a Doctor of Philosophy in Art History are two typical options for graduate degrees.

Is Online Learning Available?

There are options through associate's, bachelor's and master's degree programs in art history online. Technical requirements might include a computer with high-speed Internet access and a current Web browser. Lectures are viewed online, and assignments and exams are received and submitted electronically. Communication with teachers and other students takes place through chat rooms, discussion forums and live video conferences.

What Are Some Career Options?

Because of its emphasis on interdisciplinary study and research, completion of an art history program can help to qualify you for a number of different careers. Entry-level positions may be obtained with a bachelor's degree, but an advanced degree may be required for more specialized jobs. Career options for graduates of an art history program include:

  • Archivist
  • Art conservator or curator
  • Art critic or writer
  • Art educator
  • Historic preservation specialist
  • Museum director
  • Researcher
  • Tour guide