Top Art History Graduate Schools

You can earn a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) or PhD in Art History from some of the top colleges in the U.S. Read about some important considerations for choosing a school with a good graduate art history program. Review three top-ranked schools with art history programs, explore the areas of concentration and find about other top ranked schools in the nation. Schools offering Art degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

What Should I Look for in a Top Art History Graduate Program?

Top programs allow you to experience art in as many contexts as possible. They may provide students with internship, study abroad or student exchange opportunities and access to museum resources. Curatorial opportunities are another common feature of top programs. You may also want to examine library resources; competitive programs have extensive slide collections. Other factors to consider include faculty accomplishments and student-to-faculty ratios.

What Are Three Top Art History Graduate Programs?

New York University in New York

New York University (NYU) ranked 48th for its program in fine arts, according to U.S. News & World Report's best colleges for 2019 evaluation (www.usnews.com). As a graduate student, you can take advantage of the Visual Resources Department's collection of photographs, slides, postcards and other visual reference materials, many of which can be accessed over the Internet. Library resources include the Conservation Center Library and the Stephen Chan Library.

You can attend New York City museums and dozens of galleries. If you're interested in hands-on experiences, the school has an arrangement with the Metropolitan Museum of Art that allows graduate students help assemble collection catalogues. NYU even has its own fine arts museum, the Grey Art Gallery, which offers curatorial assistantships to graduate students. Additional internship and study abroad opportunities are available in Latin America, Europe, Israel, Africa and China. NYU offers the following art history graduate degrees:

  • Master of Arts in the History of Art and Archaeology
  • Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Art and Archaeology

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

This Ivy League university tied for 16th place worldwide according to U.S. News & World Report in 2019. Faculty members have received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Humanities Center, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Their principal areas of expertise range from the art of the Ancient Near East to Europe, America and East Asia.

You'll have access to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Penn's University Museum and the Ross Gallery, where students can take advantage of curatorial opportunities. Graduate students may cross-register for courses at Princeton or spend a semester at prestigious universities, such as Harvard and the University of California - Berkeley. Graduate degrees granted include the following:

  • Master of Arts in the History of Art
  • Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Art

University of Virginia in Charlottesville

According to U.S. News & World Report, the University of Virginia was 25th among national universities and third among national public universities in 2019. Students can take advantage of a 15:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Your research assets include the Fiske Kimball Fine Arts Library. The Collection offers work-study assistantship programs to graduates. UV's own art museum also offers research internships. Graduate student research and travel support are available through the Carl H. and Martha S. Lindner Center for Art History endowment. The cultural resources of Washington, D.C. are also available to you. The following graduate degrees are offered:

  • Master of Arts in the History of Art and Architecture
  • Doctor of Philosophy in the History of Art and Architecture

Top Graduate Schools for Art History Majors

College/University Institution TypeLocationEstimated Graduate In-State Tuition*
Rhode Island School of Design 4-year, Private Providence, RI$50,000
School of the Art Institute of Chicago 4-year, Private Chicago, IL$50,000
California Institute of the Arts 4-year, Private Valencia, CA$49,000
Maryland Institute College of Art 4-year, Private Baltimore, MD$47,000
University of Iowa4- year, Public Iowa City, IA$11,000
Ohio State University 4- year, Public Columbus, OH$12,000
Temple University4- year, Public Philadelphia, PA$17,000
Virginia Commonwealth University 4-year, Public Richmond, VA$14,500
Bard College 4-year, Private Annandale-on-Hudson, NY$36,000
Arizona State University4-year, Public Tempe, AZ$12,000

*Source: NCES, U.S. Department of Education

To continue researching, browse degree options below for course curriculum, prerequisites and financial aid information. Or, learn more about the subject by reading the related articles below:

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