The Best Master’s in Art History Programs in the US 2023

Art is life, and like Henry Moore once said “To be an artist is to believe in life.” Art has the capacity to capture moments in time and stir up emotions.

Typically, a career in the art will open you to a lot of opportunities. Hence, the Bureau of Labour Statistics projects about 94,500 openings each year for art history professionals. 

Consequently, Master’s degree programs in art and history will prepare you for a range of art-related occupations, including those as museum curators and university lecturers. Also, enrolling in a Masters in Art History program in the US will give you access to priceless knowledge and skills such as analytical and creative thinking, problem-solving, and the capacity to analyze cultures, organization, research, and synthesis.

Interestingly, you will learn not just in conventional settings but also at galleries and museums, getting a first-hand view of art’s development over time.


Hence, if you’re thinking about getting a master’s degree in art in the United States, you’ve come to the right place. This post will highlight some of the best Masters in Art History programs in the United States.

Why Study Master In Art History?

Art history allows us to understand human history and its relationship to the present. As an art historian, you’ll learn about the rich and fundamental strands of human culture.

Additionally, you will gain communication skills when discussing artwork from many eras and locations. You will also acquire expertise specific to art historians, such as the ability to make visual arguments and conduct critical analysis.

Finally, while art history majors have many options, a master’s degree in history prepares you to become a teacher, historian, archivist, political scientist, or even an archaeologist.

The Best Master’s in Art History Programs in the US 

Below are our top picks of the best Masters in Art History Programs in the US:

#1. Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences 

If you are looking for the best Master of Art History Program in the United States, Yale University is hard to beat. Yale University, located in New Haven, Connecticut, is a private Ivy League research university. Founded in 1701, Yale is the third-oldest institution of higher education in the United States and one of the nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution.

Furthermore, the Graduate School is one of Yale University’s twelve constituent schools. It is also the only college that confers Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Philosophy, Master of Arts, Master of Science, and Master of Engineering degrees

The Graduate School has approximately 2,800 students, one-third of whom are international students. Thus, whether you are a US citizen or a foreign student interested in pursuing a master’s degree in art history. Feel free to apply to the Yale Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

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#2. Duke University (Durham, NC)

Duke University is one of the best places in the country to pursue a master’s degree in art history. University is a large private university in Durham, North Carolina. Duke is one of the top ten largest research colleges in the United States, spending more than $1 billion annually on research. Also, more than a dozen faculty members are frequently named to annual lists of the world’s most-cited researchers.

Fortunately, the university has received numerous accolades for being a top employer. Hence, it has more than 43,000 employees in 2021. Similarly, the university offers financial aid to its students. Thus, roughly half of all Duke students get financial help in some capacity, including need-based, athletic, and merit-based funding. All of these beautiful features place Duke among the best Masters in Art History Programs in the United States.

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#3. Northwestern University 

Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston, Illinois. Founded in 1851, it is the oldest chartered university in Illinois and is ranked among the top academic institutions in the United States and the world.

Northwestern University has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools that offer graduate courses in art history and science. The university also had 23,410 students enrolled as of Fall 2021, including 8,817 undergraduates and 14,593 graduate students.

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#4. University of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia, PA)

The University of Pennsylvania is another institution that provides some of the best Masters in Art History programs in the United States. As a result, students at this school receive a well-rounded education in class as well as at the many prestigious museums in and around Philadelphia.

In this two-year program, students must complete 10 courses and a master’s research paper. First-year students gain a deeper understanding of their studies through the required weekly colloquia, where they participate in discussions with faculty members on a variety of topics.

While Penn has an art history doctoral program, it is separate from the master’s program, so graduates must apply for admission to continue to the Ph.D. level. Furthermore, the university requires students to demonstrate proficiency in at least two foreign languages.

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#5. Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences

The Syracuse University College of Arts and Sciences collaborate with esteemed academics and has access to experiential learning experiences, all of which equip them to impact their communities and become change agents.

The Syracuse College of Arts and Sciences, founded in 1871, is the oldest and largest college by enrollment at Syracuse University. Thus, it offers programs in the arts and natural sciences, mathematics and humanities, and social sciences in collaboration with the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs.

Furthermore, Syracuse is known as a student-centered, global research university with a reputation for academic rigor, richly diverse learning experiences, and a spirit of exploration. Its alumni and affiliates include Joe Biden, the 46th President of the United States, three Nobel Prize laureates, one Fields Medalist, 36 Olympic Medalists, and many more.

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#6. Williams College (Williamstown, MA)

Williams College offers outstanding Masters in Art History Programs in the United States. While thinking about obtaining a Master of Arts in Art History, most students consider the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute their home.

The Clark facility not only houses a research institute, but also an art museum and a library where students can gain experience. Typically, students collaborate with the institute while also taking traditional classes that delve into arts and other fields during their two years in the program.

Finally, the college completes the program experience with a variety of seminars and a relevant college-funded trip abroad that lasts for roughly three weeks in the student’s first year.

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#7. Hunter College (New York, NY)

While attending Hunter College, students can obtain practical experience at galleries in the center of New York City. The Master of Arts in Art History often concentrates on art from prehistoric to the present from places all over the world.

Luckily, Hunter’s location in Manhattan allows students to supplement their studies by visiting major museums throughout the city, with some classes even taking place at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Furthermore, its program is flexible and adaptive. Because it holds all of its classes in the afternoon or evening and offers a part-time option, students can work full-time while pursuing their degree. Moreover, students can only take one class per semester toward the 30 credits required for graduation (along with a thesis paper).

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#8. Columbia University (New York, NY)

Columbia University is another school that offers Masters in Art History programs in the United States. Its master’s degree program in art history includes archaeology as well as art history. This full- and part-time program allows students to specialize in areas ranging from Ancient Art and Archaeology to the History of Photography.

Furthermore, the program prepares students not only to work as gallery and museum curators and administrators but also as scholars, with classes that look back in time as well as at art criticism and theory.

Interestingly, students have easy access to numerous prestigious art galleries and historical societies, many of which offer free admission. In addition, qualified full-time students may spend the fall semester of their second year at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in France. This will allow them to obtain a dual Master of Arts degree from Columbia and the Sorbonne.

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#9. Tufts University (Medford, MA)

Tufts University’s graduate programs are primarily in art history. First, while pursuing a Master of Arts in Art History, students can learn about art’s role in the world throughout the centuries.

Meanwhile, those interested in working with art collections, such as in galleries or auction houses, can pursue a Master of Arts in Art History and Museum Studies. This program combines art history classes with classes on how to handle artwork.

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#10. UCLA (Los Angeles, CA)

While considering Masters in Art History Programs in the US, one university that springs to mind is UCLA. The University of California, Los Angeles, is a public land-grant research university in Los Angeles. UCLA offers about 300 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in a wide range of disciplines, with around 14,300 graduate and professional students enrolled.

Considerably, UCLA has consistently defended the idea that the arts are not just a vital component of a public research university’s cognitive, critical, and inquisitive life. But the 21st century demands collaborative techniques and creative, inventive thinking, both of which are based primarily on the practice and presence of the arts.

Hence, students have unmatched opportunities to learn from and interact with notable faculty who are among the most accomplished artists and scholars of our time. Also, UCLA requires its master’s students to be proficient in one foreign language.

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#11. New York University (New York, NY)

At New York University, working professionals can earn a Masters in the History of Art and Archaeology in two or three years. As a result, the part-time route enables students to keep up their employment while also pursuing a degree.

Interestingly, NYU offers a dual master’s program that allows artists to earn a Master of Science in the Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. This degree requires students to specialize in areas such as painting conservation or photography conservation.

In addition to the two mandatory foundation courses, students enroll in seminars that cover various eras and regions around the world. Also, they must succeed on a language exam that focuses on either French, German, or Italian.

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#12. University of Washington (Seattle, WA)

The University of Washington is also home to some of the best Masters in Art History Programs in the US. The university provides students with two options for earning a Master’s in Art History: the practical track, where they get practical experience, and the thesis track, which is advised for those who want to pursue a Ph.D. degree.

Those who want to work in venues like art galleries or museums should enroll in the practical route. In addition to the practicum—which can be an internship, case study, or project—they can take regular classes. Following that, students must give a presentation about their experience.

Conversely, thesis students must demonstrate their abilities in conducting research and presenting the results in an appropriate, and informative manner.

Students must also demonstrate proficiency in one foreign language. However, interested students do not need to have a bachelor’s degree in art history but should have taken some art history classes and have a GPA of at least 3.0.

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#13. Boston University (Boston, MA)

The Master of Arts in History of Art and Architecture program at Boston University (BU) provides students with an in-depth look at both subjects and their relationship. The program’s goal is to prepare graduates for careers in museums or academia. Meanwhile, the program has several prerequisites, the most important of which is a two-semester survey course.

Moreover, prospective students must have completed two years of foreign language study as well as three other history classes focusing on art and architecture. Finally, during their second year of study, students complete their studies with the scholarly Master’s Paper, which they present to a group of faculty and fellow students.

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#14. Emory College of Arts and Sciences 

Emory College plays a critical role in supporting and expanding the liberal arts throughout the University and its nine undergraduate and professional schools. As a result, it is driven by passions for inquiry and discovery, which are led by the illustrious college members who each day bring ground-breaking research and dedication to the classroom.

Similarly, Emory University has the 15th largest endowment of any college or university in the United States. It also had a total enrollment of 15,846 students for the fall of 2021, with 8,197 undergraduates and 7,649 graduate and professional students. With an average class size of 25, the student-to-faculty ratio is 7:1.

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#15. The New School Parsons School of Design (New York)

The New School Parsons School of Design is the last on the list of institutions that offer Masters in Art History Programs in the US. This college offers a master’s degree in the history of design and curatorial studies in collaboration with a prestigious university.

Since the program is hosted at the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in Manhattan, students can receive useful job experience with the facility’s employees and collections.

Also, students may use the libraries at the New School, the museum, and other neighboring universities if they are interested in carrying out research. Depending on whether students enroll full- or part-time, the 42-credit program can be completed in two to four years and offers a mix of history and curatorial studies courses.

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FAQs About Master’s in Art History Programs in the US

What is the highest paying art history job?

Below is the highest-paying art history job:

  • Gallery manager 
  • Art director
  • Interior designer
  • Industrial designer 
  • Technical designer
  • Senior fashion designer
  • Creative director 
  • Store planner 

Which country is best for masters in arts?

The best countries to pursue a Master of Arts (MA) are as follows:

  • United States of America (USA) 
  • United Kingdom (UK)
  • Singapore 
  • Australia 
  • Canada 
  • Germany 

Is masters in art and history worth it?

The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that in 2021, the median annual wage for those working in the arts and design was $48,220. They also forecast 94,500 job openings per year. As a result, a master’s degree in art and history is worthwhile.


The goal of art is to paint our names in the sands of time. Master’s programs in art and history will prepare you for careers in fine arts, museums, galleries, and education.

The majority of the schools in the United States have some of the best Master’s Programs in Art History. As a result, if you’re thinking about pursuing a graduate education in art, take a look at the Masters in Art History Programs listed in this post.

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