The Department of Art History offers programs leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in art history. Our faculty is comprised of specialists in, to name a few: 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 art; print culture; photography, film, and video; vernacular architecture; Victorian art and material culture; and visual studies and critical theory. 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 postsecondary 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 and access to ArtStor.
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 considered for admission, applicants must have taken the GRE recently (within five years of their application deadline). 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.
Admission to the Asian M.A. track (Chinese or Japanese art) is offered to applicants who have similar qualifications and training, but with an East Asian emphasis and demonstrated skills in the East Asian language appropriate to the intended field of specialization.
Graduate School Admissions
Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic degree programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet requirements of both the program(s) and the Graduate School. Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.
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 processes related to funding.
Financial aid is normally reserved for students in the Ph.D. program. The department awards a small number of fellowships for an academic year or a semester’s support at different stages in the graduate career. The department awards the Margaret Davison Shorger Fellowship for the study of Italian art, the Charles C. Killin Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in East Asian Art, and the Chipstone/James Watrous Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in American Material Culture. Research travel is also supported by the Shirley L and Dr. William Fritz Mueller Art History Graduate Student Fund and the Ray Reider Golden Art History Fund, and the Joan Mirviss Fund for Japanese art. The department awards travel grants for students delivering papers at major conferences and annually appoints five to six graduate students as teaching or project assistants. Individual faculty may also offer one- or two-semester project assistantships in connection with specific research projects. In addition, the department nominates candidates for fellowships administered outside the department and the university.
Minimum Graduate School Requirements
Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.
MODE OF INSTRUCTION
|Face to Face||Evening/Weekend||Online||Hybrid||Accelerated|
Mode of Instruction Definitions
Evening/Weekend: These programs are offered in an evening and/or weekend format to accommodate working schedules. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses and personal connections, while keeping your day job. For more information about the meeting schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Online: These programs are offered primarily online. Many available online programs can be completed almost entirely online with all online programs offering at least 50 percent or more of the program work online. Some online programs have an on-campus component that is often designed to accommodate working schedules. Take advantage of the convenience of online learning while participating in a rich, interactive learning environment. For more information about the online nature of a specific program, contact the program.
Hybrid: These programs have innovative curricula that combine on-campus and online formats. Most hybrid programs are completed on-campus with a partial or completely online semester. For more information about the hybrid schedule of a specific program, contact the program.
Accelerated: These on-campus programs are offered in an accelerated format that allows you to complete your program in a condensed time-frame. Enjoy the advantages of on-campus courses with minimal disruption to your career. For more information about the accelerated nature of a specific program, contact the program.
|Minimum Credit Requirement||30 credits|
|Minimum Residence Credit Requirement||24 credits|
|Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement||Half of degree coursework (15 credits out of 30 total credits) must be completed graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide (https://registrar.wisc.edu/course-guide/).|
|Overall Graduate GPA Requirement||3.00 GPA required.|
|Other Grade Requirements||No other grade requirements.
|Assessments and Examinations||No formal examination required. There is an M.A. thesis.|
|Language Requirements||Reading competency in one language.|
|ART HIST 701||Practicum in Art History: Bibliography, Historiography, Methods||3|
|M.A. students with a strong background in art history or the equivalent should take a minimum of seven art history courses, at least THREE of which must be seminars|
|At least one course in three of the five following areas:|
|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)|
|One foreign language.|
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.
Graduate Program Handbook
A Graduate Program Handbook containing all of the program's policies and requirements is forthcoming from the program.
Graduate Work from Other Institutions
With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 9 credits of graduate coursework from other institutions. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to the master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
Allowed up to 7 credits numbered 700 or above, and 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 .
UW–Madison University Special
With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 300 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special student. Coursework earned five or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.
The status of a student can be one of three options:
- Good standing (progressing according to standards; any funding guarantee remains in place).
- Probation (not progressing according to standards but permitted to enroll; loss of funding guarantee; specific plan with dates and deadlines in place in regard to removal of probationary status).
- Unsatisfactory progress (not progressing according to standards; not permitted to enroll, dismissal, leave of absence or change of advisor or program).
ADVISOR / COMMITTEE
All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their advisor, scheduled by December 17 and completed by April 30. Failure to do so will result in a hold being placed on the student's registration.
CREDITS PER TERM ALLOWED
The thesis, written in consultation with the major professor, must be completed no later than two semesters after thesis work begins.
Master's degree students who have been absent for five or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.
Priority for assistantship funding is given to Ph.D. students.
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.