The MA in Art History and Visual Studies is a competitive two-year program of study that prepares students to be broadly knowledgeable about the fields of art, art history, and visual studies, to develop a specific scholarly focus, and to acquire research and communication skills. The University of Utah offers a focused graduate degree path with a rigorously interdisciplinary emphasis, which draws on a variety of contemporary and critical theories of art. With an MA degree in Art History, students should be prepared for a range of entry level positions in the public, private, or nonprofit sectors, or to undertake further graduate study in an academic or professional program.



The Art History Program welcomes applicants with an outstanding scholastic record. We expect that you will have a BA degree in Art History or a cognate discipline suitable to the study of art history and visual culture and a sincere commitment to the demands of graduate study.



The University of Utah uses an online graduate application process through "ApplyYourself." Please begin your application here. Questions regarding the application procedure may be directed to Jenni Evans at


In addition to basic information required of all applicants to the Graduate School at the University of Utah, the Art History MA Program requires the following supplementary materials of its applicants. The online application system will prompt you to upload them at the appropriate time:

  1. Statement of Purpose: You should use your statement to describe your background, interests and goals in the study of art history. You should also identify a faculty member/s in the Art History Program who you feel will be best suited to mentor you in your area of interest within art history.
  2. Curriculum vitae (résumé) listing your educational background and experience.
  3. Academic writing sample (e.g. an undergraduate research paper) demonstrating your analytical writing skills.
  4. [sent separately by your evaluators] Two letters of recommendation by professors or instructors who are familiar with your academic work and can speak to your ability to succeed in a rigorous academic program. Please note that Apply Yourself will ask you to enter the names and email addresses of your recommenders, and will send them an online evaluation form. This form will not be sent out until you complete the "recommenders" portion of your application. We suggest that students enter their recommenders into the Apply Yourself system as soon as possible, and independently notify their recommenders of the February 1 deadline.


The Art History MA Program does not require GRE scores as any part of the application.


The Department of Art and Art History offers some scholarship assistance to incoming students. There are also opportunities for students to serve as graduate assistants or teaching assistants during the two-year residential program. Graduate students in good standing are eligible to apply for a graduate research fellowship for their second year. You may consult the Graduate School website for further information on this and other financial aid resources. Please see also the Financial Aid Office.


Transfer credit of graduate work in art history from other accredited institutions (maximum six semester credit hours, subject to Graduate School conditions) may qualify for acceptance by the Art History program. You should address your petition to the Director of MA Graduate Studies.



The Department of Art & Art History offers financial aid for incoming and second-year students in the form of teaching assistantships, fellowships, research and conference travel grants, and summer language study. The teaching assistantships provide students with both a stipend and at least 50% off of in-state tuition. Assistantships are dependent upon departmental needs and are made on either a semester or annual basis. Other sources of graduate funding include the Excellence Through Diversity Fellowship from the Diversity Office and Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowships in Asian Studies and Latin American Studies. The University of Utah Graduate School has additional opportunities here.



After acceptance into the program, you should schedule an appointment with the Director of MA Graduate Studies to plan your first semester of coursework. All art history faculty members are available for consultation about the academic program, and we encourage you to meet with each of us to discover areas of mutual interest. We look forward to working with you as you navigate the more intense academic environment of the graduate experience.


The MA degree in Art History is comprised of 36 credit hours. This must include 30 credit hours of graduate-level coursework in art history or related disciplines (10 courses at 3 credit hours per course) plus 6 credit hours of Thesis Research (3 credit hours per semester after advancing to candidacy). Remedial courses in art history or foreign language instruction fall outside the 36-hour requirement. All coursework used to fulfill the MA degree requirement must be numbered at the 5000-level and above. Students in their first year normally enroll in 3 graduate courses per semester (9 credit hours).


In your first semester, you will enroll in ARTH 6800 Critical Theory and Methodology of Art History (meets with ARTH 4000 Good Looking), a class that investigates differing approaches to and perspectives on the study of art history and visual culture, as well as ARTH 6810 Visual Intersections, an interdisciplinary graduate seminar, addressing selected problems, issues, and methods of interpreting and writing about images and objects. You will also enroll in the ARTH 6000-level course that meets with the Art History Seminar (varies by semester: ArtH 6830, 6840, 6850, 6870, or 6880). By the end of the first semester, you should be prepared to form the Supervisory Committee that advises you on the remainder of your coursework and thesis research.


In your second semester, you will again enroll in ARTH 6810 Visual Intersections and the ARTH 6000-level course that meets with the Art History Seminar. You may select your third course from any graduate-level course in art history or a related discipline, with the approval of your advisor.


By the end of your second semester you must submit a qualifying paper (a research paper from one of your courses that has been developed in consultation with a faculty member) to your supervisory committee. After your qualifying paper has been approved, you will be advanced to candidacy. You will submit a prospectus of your thesis topic to your committee no later than the beginning of your second year.


In your second year (third and fourth semesters), you will enroll in a combination of graduate-level courses, directed study credit hours, and a total of 6 credit hours of Thesis Research (ARTH 6970). Please note that after advancing to candidacy, you must enroll in a minimum of 3 Thesis Research credit hours per semester. Students receiving a Teaching Assistantship and participating in the Tuition Benefit Program must enroll in a minimum of 9 credit hours. At the end of your fourth semester, you will defend your thesis in a public oral examination.


A "B" average must be maintained to satisfy the MA requirements, and Credit/No Credit is not an option for any coursework in art history.


Students are encouraged to check their degree progress periodically, using the Electronic Graduate Record File. Please bring any questions or concerns regarding degree progress to the Director of MA Graduate Studies.





ArtH 6810
Visual Intersections
(Theme 1)

ArtH 6810
Visual Intersections
(Theme 2)

ArtH 6970
Thesis Research

ArtH 6970
Thesis Research

ArtH 6030 - 6080
Art History Seminar
(Theme 1)

ArtH 6030 - 6080
Art History Seminar
(Theme 2)

ArtH 6910 - 6960

Directed Study

ArtH 6910 - 6960
Directed Study

ArtH 6800*
Critical Theory/
(Meets with ArtH 4000 Good Looking)

6000-level Course
ArtH or a related discipline with the consent of your advisor

6000-level Course
ArtH or a related discipline with the consent of your advisor

ArtH 6910 - 6960
Directed Study

By the END of your first semester you must form your supervisory committee

At the BEGINNING of your second semester you must meet with your committee to review progress and plan courses

By September 15 of your third semester you should submit your thesis prospectus to your committee

By the END of your fourth semester you must defend and submit your final thesis.

  By June 15, you should let your advisor know which paper you will submitting as your qualifying paper    

By the END of your second semester you must complete your language proficiency certification



*Note: Incoming students who have previously taken ArtH 4000 Good Looking will enroll in their choice of one of the graduate-level courses in art history being offered that semester (request the graduate course number from the professor teaching your chosen course), in lieu of ArtH 6800 Critical Theory/Methods.


Supervisory Committee
Your committee is crucial to your graduate program. It is responsible for helping you shape an effective course of study, assessing and approving your qualifying paper, reading and approving the thesis, and administering the final thesis defense. The committee serves as your chief advocate to the department, the College of Fine Arts, and the Graduate School. You must form a three-member committee during your second semester in residence before Spring Break. In consultation with your advisor, you should approach prospective committee members best suited to mentor you on your research topic to determine their willingness and availability to serve on your committee. Two of the three (chair and another member) must be selected from University of Utah full-time Art History Program faculty. You are encouraged to consider a faculty member from another department as the third committee member, invited on the basis of special expertise in your declared area of concentration. You will be expected to consult with your Supervisory Committee Chair each semester, regarding your progress through the program.


Once all three faculty members have ageed to serve on your Supervisory Committee, you must speak with the Graduate Assistant about filing your proposal for a Supervisory Committee in the Graduate Degee Tracking System. The Dean of the Graduate School gives final approval on all proposed supervisory committees.


Language Requirement
In the Art History graduate program, you must show advanced proficiency in at least one foreign language approved by your supervisory committee. Advanced proficiency assumes a reading-comprehension level expected of a student who has completed two years of college foreign-language instruction or the equivalent. Students may verify advanced proficiency in one of the following ways:


  1. Complete a fourth-semester language course (2020), or equivalent at another institution, with at least a B grade (3.0). Submit a grade report or transcript to the Department of Languages and Literature, 1400 Language and Communication Building, for verification. Courses must have been taken not more than six years prior to the date of application for language verification.
  2. Pass the MLA (Modern Language Assessment) for French, German, Italian, Russian or Spanish in the Testing Center with a score indicating advanced proficiency. Testing for most other common languages is available through Brigham Young University. Students interested in taking the MLA should first contact the Department of Languages and Literature for instructions and authorization.


Proficiency certification should take place in the second semester of graduate work. In order to receive credit, student must bring to the Department of Languages and Literature (LNCO 1400) photo identification and either a copy of their test results or, if they took a class that fulfills the requirement, an unofficial transcript (DARS, for example), or a print out of the grade sheet showing a grade of B or better. Courses and/or proficiency tests must be dated not more than six years prior to the date of application for language verification.


Qualifying Paper
Before beginning thesis research and in order to be advanced to candidacy by the Dean of the Graduate School, you must submit a qualifying paper along with this form to your advisor and committee. The qualifying paper must demonstrate competency in graduate level art historical research and critical writing necessary for a thesis research project. All incompletes and failing grades must be rectified before the paper is submitted. Approval of your qualifying paper will permit you to apply for candidacy; if your paper is not approved by your committee, you may resubmit it with revisions one time. It is not possible to submit a qualifying paper a third time. You will be notified of your candidacy through the a signed qualifying paper completion form, which will be returned to you and placed in your file.


Admission to Candidacy
Once your supervisory committee has approved your qualifying paper, you must speak with the Graduate Assistant about filing your official Program of Study, Report of Comprehensive Examination (Qualifying Paper), and Application for Candidacy in the Graduate Records Tracking System. Each of these records will be forwarded to your Supervisory Committee and the Director of Graduate Studies for approval. You will be admitted to candidacy for the Master's Degree when these items have been approved by the Graduate School. At that time, you may contact the Director of MA Graduate Studies about thesis hour registration.


Please note that students must be admitted to candidacy at least one semester prior to graduation.


After advancing to candidacy, you must present a brief (3-5 page) prospectus to your Supervisory Committee for approval. The function of the prospectus is to identify the thesis topic, outline the scope of the project, and specify the research to be undertaken. A preliminary bibliography should accompany your prospectus.


Travel Awards
The Art History and Visual Studies Program offers a limited number of Etta Keith Eskridge Travel Awards for graduate student research. The awards are intended for students whose research and MA thesis projects will directly benefit by travel to particular sites, collections or archives. The Eskridge Travel Award is intended to help subsidize, not cover, the full costs of a research trip. The maximum award amounts are $500 for domestic travel and $800 for international travel. Awards will be made on the basis of the quality of the proposal and the availability of funds.


Graduate students enrolled in the MA program in Art History and Visual Studies are eligible to apply. Preference will be given to students who have completed their qualifying paper and been admitted to candidacy with a well-defined thesis project. The proposed travel schedule should not interfere with either regular coursework or teaching responsibilities.


The art history faculty will review proposals for the Eskridge Award twice per year. Deadlines for complete proposals are September 15 and February 1. Please contact the Director of Graduate Studies for application instructions.


Graduate Student Travel Assistance is is also available from the Graduate School, to students who will present thesis research at a professional conference. Application is made through the Graduate School, and up to $400 may be granted, to be matched by department funding for a total budget of up to $800. Please note that both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Chair of the Art and Art History Department will need to provide a signature in support of your application.


Thesis requirement
The MA candidate must write a thesis on an approved, specialized topic appropriate to the field of Art History and will enroll in ARTH 6970 Thesis Research (minimum 6 semester hours). The thesis should demonstrate independent research and the use of scholarly methods of historical and critical interpretation. Although your committee chair is your principal advisor during the thesis, you should keep all committee members regularly informed of your work-in-progress. A copy of your penultimate draft, with photocopies of any images, should be submitted to each committee member one month before a public oral examination date, which is set by the Supervisory Committee chair. As per Graduate School policy, a thesis defense is always open to the public; you and your committee chair must ensure that notices are properly posted two weeks before the oral defense date. Following a successful defense and after all requested changes have been made to the thesis, your committee will sign the Supervisory Committee Approval of thesis form, and the Chair of your Supervisory Committee along with the Chair of Art and Art History will sign the Final Reading Approval form, to be submitted to the Dean of Graduate Studies for signature.


The thesis must adhere to the guidelines in the Graduate School's A Handbook for Theses and Dissertations. We encourage you to use it in the preparation of all your drafts. The handbook also contains a description of the procedure to submit the thesis to the Graduate School. Please make sure that you have scheduled sufficient time to obtain permission letters to reproduce images of works of art under copyright protection. Please note that the thesis office calendar requires six weeks to ascertain that a defended, committee-approved thesis meets formal scholarly standards. At the time of delivery of the final draft of your thesis to the thesis editor, official photographs and letters of permission for the images must be in hand. You will not graduate until this process is completed.


Minimum Registration
By University policy, you must maintain minimum registration (Fall and Spring) of three credit hours per semester until you complete all requirements for the MA in Art History. During your thesis preparation, you must register for at least three credit hours (ARTH 6970 Thesis Research) each semester until, and including, the one in which you schedule your thesis defense. After admission to candidacy, three hours of ARTH 6970 is considered full-time. Summer terms are not included in this requirement. You do not have to register for any course after you have defended your thesis, but will not graduate until all Graduate School requirements are satisfied.


If you do not maintain minimum registration or submit an official Graduate Student Request for Leave of Absence for approval by the Graduate School, your Supervisory Committee will be terminated and you will be put on inactive status by the Graduate School. You would need to reapply to the Graduate School Admissions Office to reactivate your file. Graduate Records maintains your permanent file.


Please note that teaching and research assistants must register for a minimum of 9 credit hours during each semester in which they are employed, in order to be eligible for the Tuition Benefit Program.


Master's Program and Thesis Calendars
Our program is designed to be completed in two years. The Graduate School requires that all work for the master's degree be completed within four consecutive calendar years.The Graduate School web site contains additional information on successful and timely completion of your degree requirements. It includes calendars of deadlines for students wishing to graduate in a specific semester.


See the Master's Program Calendar.


See the Thesis Calendar.


Do not hesitate to contact the the Director of MA Graduate Studies with any questions or concerns.



With your degree in Art History, you will be well suited to a career in either the public or private sector. The discipline is valued for its humanistic focus on cultural/historical awareness, critical thought, and communication skills. Your preparation in visual analysis and interpretation will certainly be appealing to museums, art galleries, libraries, historical societies, arts councils, publishers, auction houses, and educational facilities. You can also take your knowledge and skills into a marketplace that seeks expertise in relating ideas and values to visual images. There are exciting possibilities in the areas of business, medicine, law, and communications. Opportunities for job placement may be explored further at Career Services (350 SSB, 801-581-6186). See also the list of career choices for art historians for more options.


The emphasis on an advanced degree for professorial or curatorial positions has led some of our students with an BA in Art History to pursue graduate study at institutions such as New York University, Northwestern University, University of Texas at Austin, and Cornell University. Some of our MA students have gone on to PhD programs at Johns Hopkins University, University of Pennsylvania, and The City University of New York. Selected students have been accepted overseas at places such as the University of Tübingen, Syracuse University Florence Center, and the Universiteit van Utrecht.