The M.A. in art history affords students the opportunity to pursue higher training that can prepare them for applying to Ph.D. programs. It can serve as a bridge program for students who show exceptional promise but do not have the requisite background or research experience to apply directly to a Ph.D. program. The program at Rutgers is targeted towards students who have a compelling reason to study with specific faculty members in the department, and potential applicants are encouraged to contact faculty members in the department to ensure that the program would serve their needs and interests.

Credit Distribution

The M.A. degree requires the successful completion of 30 credits, distributed in the following fashion.

  • Eight Semester Courses (24 credits)

  • Two semesters of Research Credits for the Master's Thesis (6 credits) 

Coursework Requirements

The coursework requirements for pursuing the Art History track are as follows:

  • Approaches to Art History (16.082.506)

  • Seven Electives, four of which must be at the 500 level or higher

All electives must be taken within Art History, CHAPS, or Curatorial Studies, unless otherwise approved by the Graduate Program director. 

All electives taken outside of the department must be approved by the Graduate Program Director.

300 and 400 level courses can be taken for graduate credit.  When registering for 300 and 400 level courses, students should be sure to use the "G" prefix when registering for the course.

Full-time students should aim to complete the 16.082.506 Approaches to Art History requirement in their first year if possible. They should also complete five of the seven required electives. During their second year, they should also enroll in 6 credits of Research in Art History.  The recommended distribution of courses for full time students is as follows:

  • First Year, Fall semester: 3 courses, one of which should be Approaches to Art History (16.082.506

  • First Year, Spring semester: 3 courses

  • Second Year, Fall semester: 1-2 courses + 3 credits of Research in Art History (16:082:701 for fall) 

  • Second Year, Spring semester: 1-2 courses +3 credits of Research in Art History (16:082:702 for spring)

Students pursuing the degree part-time should consult with the GPD to formulate a schedule for their course of study.

Capstone Requirement

All students pursuing an M.A. in Art History are required to complete an M.A. thesis. Options for the thesis are varied and may include a written text, a thesis exhibition, or a detailed exhibition proposal. They are expected to work independently, scheduling regular meetings with their faculty adviser. All students are required to present their work in a departmental event in the spring and deposit their final approved thesis to the department by a designated date.

Members or Associate members may chair the committee. Affiliate members can serve but not chair the committee. The committee typically consists of the two main readers. 

Approval of Thesis Topic and Proposal

At the beginning of the Fall semester of their second year, students should arrange to meet with the Graduate Program Director to discuss possible thesis topics. Students should recruit a primary MA thesis advisor, with whom they should develop a topic, ideally no later than October 1. Advisors eligible to serve as primary thesis advisors must be either full-time members of the Art History Department at Rutgers or an Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty (listed on the website). In consultation with their primary thesis adviser, students should develop a proposal. The proposal should be formally approved and submitted to the Graduate Program director by November 1. Students must submit their approved proposal, along with the signed Thesis Proposal form to the Graduate Program Director by a designated deadline. The topic and adviser are approved only when a faculty member signs the form.

Second Reader:

The thesis advisor should suggest a potential second reader, who should be a full-time Art History faculty, full-time Rutgers University faculty (any department) or an Affiliate or Associate Member of the Graduate Faculty. It is up to each student to approach this individual or individuals to fulfill this role. The second reader is not an advisor; they are only required to review and comment on the work during the writing process. A second reader should be selected no later than February 15 of the final semester of the student’s degree program, and the candidacy form should be submitted to the program coordinator so that it is ready to be signed by the April 1 deadline set by SGS. The name should be submitted to the GPD and department program coordinator and added to the thesis approval form.

Additional Committee Members and Filing Signatures:

As per SGS rules, committees for Master’s degree candidates require three Members, Associate Members or Affiliate Members of the program’s graduate faculty. Two of those members should be the primary and secondary reader for the thesis/ capstone project. In the event that a third committee member is needed, the Graduate Program Director should serve as an ex officio third member and provide signatures for sections A and C of the candidacy form. In such cases, the Department Chair (DC) stands in for the Graduate Program Director (GPD) in certifying the form in section E.  In the event that the DC or GPD is already one of the two primary readers, the Undergraduate Director can provide a signature to certify the form in section E.

Filing for the Degree

Please make sure to double-check all paperwork requirements for filing for a May degree. The deadlines for the submission of paperwork and the uploading of the MA thesis to Rutgers library. Instructions for filing can be found on the School of Graduate Studies (SGS) website here. They are typically October 1 for an October degree, January 2 for a January degree, and April 1 for a May degree.

The candidacy form should be submitted to the department program coordinator no later than February 15. Please fill in all of Part I. In Part II, please fill in the title of your thesis in Section A. You will require three signatures for Sections A and C. Two of the three signatories should include your readers. The third should be listed as the current GPD. In the event that the GPD is one of the two readers already, then the third signatory should be the current department chair. In the event that both the GPD and department chair are readers, the chair should approach a third person in the department to serve in this capacity, to attest to the successful completion of the thesis and associated requirements.


Initially the Graduate Program Director serves as academic adviser for all students pursuing the M.A. track. Once a thesis advisor is selected, they may take over as the primary adviser. Students should arrange appointments with both the GPD and their primary advisers to discuss their course of study and ensure that they are on track to graduate as scheduled.  Please use the course-planning form to track your progress.