The MA degree in Art History is offered jointly with the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) and builds upon the combined resources of both institutions. This program prepares students for study at the doctoral level or to have a career in a museum or gallery, among other arts-related fields. The MA degree in Art History at The University of Alabama currently offers two tracks: thesis and museum studies. Track 1 culminates with a written thesis and defense, and Track 2 culminates with a major paper and presentation based upon a museum internship.
Students enrolled at UA must take 6 hours of coursework at UAB.
The primary learning objectives for students completing the MA in Art History are:
- Mastery of a broad range of materials, objects, etc. representative of the Western and/or Global art historical tradition
- Mastery of specific Western and Global methodological frameworks for the study of Art History
- Mastery of research skills and/or abilities appropriate to art history. These include the use of primary documents, digital archives, and special collections.
- Competency in reading a foreign language (preferably French or German)
Art History with Thesis – Track 1
Track 1 students must initially take 24-hours of coursework that includes 3-hours of ARH 550 Literature of Art, 3-hours of ARH 552 Advanced Research Seminar, and 18-hours (this may include 6 hours in a related field) of graduate-level ARH electives. All students must take 6-hours (elective or required) on the UAB campus.
All students are expected to take at least one Western and non-Western course, and courses in time periods both before and after 1700 CE. Classes are offered in the following areas: Medieval, Early Modern (Renaissance and Baroque), Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary, American (including African American), and Asian (China, India, Japan, and Korea) art history. During the first 24-hours of study, all students must pass a language (preferably French or German) proficiency test.
After 24-hours of coursework, Track 1 students will defend a thesis proposal. Successful students will then complete 6-hours of ARH 599 Thesis Research under the direction of a committee (which includes one faculty member from UAB). Upon producing a written thesis—which demonstrates the student’s ability to define an art history problem/context and mastery of the literature relevant to the subject chosen—students will be examined by their committee and, if successful, be awarded the MA degree in Art History.
Art History with Museum Studies – Track 2
Track 2 students must initially take 24-hours of coursework that includes 3-hours of ARH 550 Literature of Art, 3-hours of ARH 552 Advanced Research Seminar, 3-hours of MUSM 501 Museum Administration, 3-hours of MUSM 502 Museum Collections Management or MUSM 503 Museum Education & Exhibition and 12-hours of graduate-level ARH electives. All students must take 6-hours (elective or required) on the UAB campus.
All students are expected to take at least one Western and non-Western course, and courses in time periods both before and after 1700 CE. Classes are offered in the following areas: Medieval, Early Modern (Renaissance and Baroque), Nineteenth-Century, Modern and Contemporary, American (including African American), and Asian (China, Japan, and Korea) art history. During the first 24-hours of study, all students must pass a language (preferably French or German) proficiency test.
After completing 24-hours of coursework, Track 2 students complete MUSM 500 Museum Internship and an additional 3-hours of MUSM or ARH graduate-level electives. Students will focus on the development of professional skills related to museum studies, including museum administration, collection management, and/or museum education through an internship overseen by the Museum Studies Program. They will then write a paper and make a capstone presentation to the faculty at the culmination of their experience. Students successfully completing the Track 2 program will receive the MA degree in Art History and a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies.
Applicants to Track 2 must meet all the admission requirements for the MA program in art history as well as those for the Graduate Certificate Program in Museum Studies (https://museumstudies.as.ua.edu/).
The MA degree in art history is an appropriate terminal degree for:
- Positions in museums, galleries, libraries, and archives
- Teaching at the junior college level
- Further academic study at the doctoral level
Students and graduates of the program have secured internships and/or employment in museums including the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the Met Cloisters, the Birmingham Museum of Art, the Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, the National Air and Space Museum, the Mobile Museum of Art, the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and as visual arts curators and teachers of art history in area colleges and universities, including the University of Virginia, Samford University, University of West Alabama, Shelton State College and Jefferson State College.
Students interested in pursuing a teaching career at the university level are encouraged to continue their study of art history in a doctoral program. Graduates of the MA program in art history have been accepted into PhD programs at the Univerity of Cambridge (UK), University of Edinburgh, University of Maryland, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Virginia, the University of Florida, Rice University, and Florida State University, among many others.
Facilities and Resources
- Competitive funding packages are available from the Department of Art and Art History and UA’s Graduate School (for the 2020-21 academic year all active students are fully or partially funded)
- An art history symposium, offered each year on alternating campuses, provides students in the program with an opportunity to present a formal paper in a formal conference setting. A highlight of our annual symposium is a keynote address by a renowned art historian or curator
- Internship opportunities (required for Track 2 students and optional/encouraged for Track 1 students) at local, regional, and state galleries or museums
- Research and travel support
- Nationally recognized collection of books, manuscripts and digital collections in University of Alabama Libraries
- Art Collections and Galleries:
- The Price Collection of Asian Art Books
- Image Resource Center
- Submission Opportunities in Undergrad and Graduate Art History Journals
- UA’s Institutional Repository for Theses and Research (Art History)
Art History Faculty
Wendy Castenell, Assistant Professor, African American Art
Lucy Curzon, Associate Professor, Contemporary and Modern Art
Jennifer M. Feltman, Assistant Professor, Medieval Art
Tanja Jones, Associate Professor, Renaissance and Baroque Art
Catherine M. Pagani, Professor, Asian Art
Rachel Stephens, Associate Professor, American Art and Architecture
Doris Sung, Assistant Professor, Asian Art