The Department of Art History offers programs leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in art history. Our faculty includes specialists in: African and African Diaspora art; American art and architecture; American material culture; contemporary art and theory; Chinese art; curatorial studies; early modern European art; Islamic art and architecture; Japanese art; Medieval European and Byzantine art; print culture; photography, film, and video; vernacular architecture; Victorian art and material culture; and visual studies and critical theory, to name a few. The department encourages the study of the global history of art, and material and visual culture while investigating works in all media from a wide range of periods and a variety of world cultures.

Students enjoy close interaction with their mentors and profit from superb resources for interdisciplinary research. Faculty members have international reputations in their specialties, regularly receive prestigious awards, lecture widely, and serve on major professional boards. Graduates of the department teach at the post-secondary level or pursue careers in museum and curatorial professions, private galleries and auction houses, library or archival work, architecture and historical preservation, and conservation.

The department is housed in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building with the Chazen Museum of Art, which has a broad historical collection with several areas of particular strength, an active acquisitions program, and facilities to host major traveling exhibitions and exhibition courses. Graduate students use these collections for research and publishing projects. They may also have the opportunity to work on exhibitions in special classes or as project assistants. The building is also home to the Kohler Art Library, which contains an excellent collection of published materials and full range of periodicals. The department possesses a large image collection. 

Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English or whose undergraduate instruction was not in English must provide an English proficiency test score and meet the Graduate School minimum requirements (https://grad.wisc.edu/apply/requirements/#english-proficiency).
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

While students may pursue a stand-alone M.A., those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. should apply directly to that program. Admission to either program is offered to applicants who have an outstanding undergraduate record of academic achievement. The successful applicant typically presents both a compelling statement of purpose for graduate studies and an advanced research paper.  To be competitive in some subfields, applicants should have training in at least one foreign language. Applicants are encouraged to contact prospective faculty advisors for more details. Non-native English speakers must present TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Financial aid and fellowship information can be found on the program website.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements


Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.


Minimum Credit Requirement 30 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 21 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 15 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Details can be found in the Graduate School’s Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) policy (https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244).
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
This program follows the Graduate School's policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.

Assessments and Examinations A first-year portfolio review and an M.A. thesis are required.
Language Requirements Reading competency in one language. Minimum of reading competence in a second language.” The 2nd language requirement may be fulfilled by transfer credit, examination, or course work at a minimum of a semester course for “Graduate Reading Knowledge.” With program approval, undergraduate and M.A. degree holders in the study of a 2nd language and students for whom English is a 2nd language may be exempt.


ART HIST Courses21
All students must take ART HIST 701. In addition, they take at least 9 credits that fulfill the temporal/chronological breadth (i.e., 3 credits each in at least three of four temporal areas) and 9 credits that fulfill geographic breadth requirements (i.e., 3 credits each in at least three of five geographic areas).
Practicum in Art History: Bibliography, Historiography, Methods
Geographic Breadth (9 credits)
At least one course in three of the five following areas:
Africa/Middle East
The Americas
Temporal/Chronological Breadth (9 credits)
At least one course in three of the four following periods:
Ancient to Medieval
Early Modern (Circa 1400–Circa 1800)
Modern (Circa 1800–Circa 1945)
Contemporary (Post 1945)
Seminar Requirement
A minimum of 9 of the 21 credits above must be seminars (i.e., three courses typically at the 800 level or above but this includes ART HIST 701 and ART HIST/​ASIAN  621)
Additional Coursework9
Students typically take at least one elective course (3 credits) and two sections (6 credits) of an independent study (ART HIST 799) to prepare the required M.A. thesis.
Independent Study
Total Credits30

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Work from Other Institutions

With program approval, students may be allowed to count up to 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions toward fulfillment of minimum degree and minimum graduate coursework credit requirements. Such coursework from other institutions will not count towards the graduate career GPA. The Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master’s degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

UW–Madison Undergraduate

With program approval, students may be able to count up to 7 credits numbered 300 or above of required or elective courses from the undergraduate work completed at UW–Madison towards fulfillment of minimum degree requirements. However, this work would not be allowed to count toward the 50% graduate coursework minimum unless taken at the 700 level or above with the exception of graduate level courses ART HIST 601 Introduction to Museum Studies I, ART HIST 602 Introduction to Museum Studies II, and L I S/​ART HIST/​HISTORY/​JOURN  650 History of Books and Print Culture in Europe and North America. This work will not appear on the graduate career portion of UW–Madison transcript nor count towards the graduate career GPA. The Graduate School’s minimum graduate residence credit requirement can be satisfied only with courses taken as a graduate student at UW–Madison.

UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are generally allowed only up to 9 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW-Madison University Special student. However, with additional program approval, a student may be allowed to count up to the Graduate School’s maximum of fifteen University Special student credits as fulfillment of the minimum graduate residence, graduate degree, or minor credit requirements.


This program follows the Graduate School's Probation policy.


All students are required to update their primary advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies annually on their progress.


Maximum 15 credits.

Time Limits

This program follows the Graduate School's Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

  1. Mastery of techniques for visual analysis (examining features such as materials, proportion, light, color, form and narrative structure) of single images and for comparative analysis of multiple images and objects.
  2. Advanced proficiency in interpreting images/objects in ways that take into account the historical contexts in which they were produced and received.
  3. In-depth knowledge across a range of time and geography to reach an understanding of the ways in which art and its meaning are rooted in culture.
  4. Advanced ability to locate and enlist research resources in both print and digital form and assess the strengths and weaknesses of various types of resources.
  5. Advanced knowledge and skills necessary to interpret images/objects in ways that consider a variety of theoretical perspectives.
  6. Ability to assess and critique complex scholarly arguments and evaluate the strength of the visual and textual evidence presented.
  7. Advanced skills in effective and impactful communication in both written and oral form in ways that acknowledge diverse audiences in an increasingly global society.
  8. Skills in public engagement such that our students are able to effectively communicate complex ideas to a lay public in written, oral, and digital form in keeping with the Wisconsin Idea.

Faculty: Professors Anna Andrzejewski, Nicholas D. Cahill, Jill H. Casid, Preeti Chopra, Thomas E. A. Dale,  Guillermina De Ferrari, Nancy Rose Marshall, Ann Smart Martin, Jordan Rosenblum (chair); Associate Professors Yuhang Li, Kirstin Phillips-Court (cross-appointed with French and Italian), Jennifer Pruitt; Assistant Professors: Jennifer Nelson, Daniel Spaulding.