Master Degree Requirements

Coursework Requirements

The M.A. degree is granted upon the successful completion of:

  • Ten Semester Courses (30 credits)

  • One foreign language examination

  • A Master's essay (minimum length 20 pages)

  • A written comprehensive examination (this requirement is waived for students approved by the Art History faculty to enter the Ph.D. Program at the annual review of students' work)

  • Successful completion of one graduate-level methods course

Of the ten courses, four must include term papers. Of the ten courses, up to four may be undergraduate courses taken for graduate credit. The selection of courses must include at least one course in three of the following fields: Ancient, Medieval, Renaissance, Baroque, Modern, and African or Asian.

Students who need to strengthen their backgrounds in certain areas of the field are encouraged to take undergraduate 300-level courses, registered as a graduate student.

Foreign Language Requirement

The foreign language exam may be taken in any language useful to the student's field of study. Reading courses are available from the various language departments at the university. If the student does not receive a passing grade on the language examination by the end of the second semester of residence, he/she may register only for language courses or for "matriculation continued" until the examination has been passed.

MA Essay and Exam

The Master's essay can originate in any research project approved by a faculty member. A term paper can be submitted as the Master's essay. The student, in consultation with the first reader, should select a second reader for the essay. Students are also advised that M.A. papers must be submitted six weeks before the deadline to the principal adviser and four weeks in advance of the deadline to the second reader. The Master's essay is due within one semester after completion of all course work. If the requirement to take the comprehensive examination has been waived for the student by the faculty, the essay is due within a semester after the completion of ten courses. The essay should be submitted prior to taking the Ph.D. Qualifying Examination. Two copies of the essay are required: one is to be bound in a press-clip folder, the other attached with a rubber band or clip.

The M.A. examination is comprehensive and is normally offered twice a year, at the beginning of the Fall semester and at the end of the Spring semester. It consists of two sections: a slide identification exam and an essay section with six questions from which the student selects three. The topics covered in the six essay questions correspond to the major periods of study listed above.  The purpose of this exam is to test students’ abilities to write cogently about works of art and architecture across a variety of fields in a way that incorporates their history, context, and form.

The examination must be completed within one semester after the course work for the M.A. degree. One month prior to the examination date, the student must advise the graduate office of the intention to take the exam. The following information must be submitted on the "Application For Admission to Candidacy For The Degree of Master of Arts," otherwise known as the Buff Form: both local and permanent addresses, phone number, email address, degrees received, institution, period of attendance, year each degree was received.

Students who do not pass the M.A. examination will be allowed to take it only one more time, and must do so within a year of their first attempt. Upon successful completion of the M.A. examination and approval of the Master's essay, the degree will be granted at the next graduation date (January, May, October). It is the responsibility of the student to obtain, fill out and return the diploma application to the office of the Registrar and pay necessary fees, prior to the deadlines issued by the Graduate School.

Information on the M.A. for Ph.D. Candidates

Ph.D. students petition to waive the M.A. exam when they apply for candidacy to the Ph.D. track of the program.


Susan Sidlauskas, Chairperson

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Tamara Sears, Graduate Program Director

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