MA in History of Art & Architecture

The MA program in History of Art & Architecture provides a scholarly grounding in the history of art, architecture, and material culture. Students are exposed to a broad range of methods and materials by a diverse, collegial faculty. The rigor and global reach of the curriculum are reinforced by the required Comprehensive Examination. Offering a foundation for a career either in academia or the museum world, to which the Department of History of Art & Architecture has unusually strong links, our program is intended to nurture independent inquiry. Applicants must have completed a two-semester survey course and three additional courses in history of art & architecture as well as two years of college-level work in a modern foreign language.

Course Requirements

Eight courses (32 credits) are required. Five of these eight courses must be distributed among the following 10 areas of concentration, including at least one Western and one non-Western course, and including at least one colloquium and one graduate seminar:

  • Ancient
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque and Eighteenth-Century
  • American
  • Modern
  • Asian
  • African
  • Islamic
  • Other non-Western

Of the three other courses, two may be in areas other than art history with the permission of the director of graduate studies.

Specialized track options are available for students who wish to focus on Asian art and architecture or the history of architecture.

Graduate students in History of Art & Architecture are eligible to enter the department’s Graduate Certificate Program in Museum Studies. The certificate’s required courses may be taken either as part of, or in addition to, the courses required for the MA.

Language Requirement

All students pursuing an MA in History of Art & Architecture are required to demonstrate graduate-level reading proficiency in a modern foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a non-credit graduate-level foreign language reading course offered by Boston University, or the equivalent of two years of undergraduate study of the language at Boston University.

The examination must be taken before the end of the second semester of residence and passed before taking the Comprehensive Examination. The language will be determined by the faculty advisor and approved by the director of graduate studies.

Recommended languages include:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Chinese
  • Japanese

All students specializing in Asian art must acquire proficiency in modern Chinese or modern Japanese. Language proficiency in Asian languages can be demonstrated either through the language examination offered by this department or successful completion of third-year modern Chinese or modern Japanese in the Modern Languages & Comparative Literature Department. In the case where the student is specializing in a field of Asian art that is not Chinese or Japanese, the director of graduate studies will determine the language requirement in consultation with the student’s advisor.

Comprehensive Examination

The exam consists of five one-hour essays in at least four of the following nine fields:

  • Ancient
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque & 18th-Century
  • American
  • Modern
  • Asian
  • African
  • Islamic

The Comprehensive Examination may not be taken until the student has satisfied all Incompletes. (Exception to this rule can be made only with prior approval of the Graduate Studies Committee.)

Master’s Paper

The candidate must submit a scholarly paper, usually one written for a history of art & architecture course that has been revised according to professional standards of presentation.