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 course distribution requirements, which oblige students to take classes in both Western and non-Western art from a range of historical periods. 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 and architecture as well as two years of college-level work in a foreign language.

Learning Outcomes

  • Demonstrate awareness of global art and architecture.
  • Demonstrate ability to write a scholarly essay that incorporates primary and secondary sources.
  • Demonstrate ability to write a scholarly essay that exhibits scholarly independence and makes an original contribution.
  • Acquire familiarity with the tools and methods of art and architecture historical inquiry.
  • Be prepared for a career as a museum curator or other visual arts careers or advanced studies in art history.

Course Requirements

Eight courses (32 credits) are required, including at least one 700-level colloquium, one 800-level graduate seminar, and one course in art-historical methodologies. 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:

  • Ancient
  • Medieval
  • Renaissance
  • Baroque and Eighteenth-Century
  • American
  • Latin American
  • Modern
  • Asian
  • African
  • Islamic

Of the three other courses, two may be in areas other than art history with the permission of the Director of Graduate Studies.

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 foreign language prior to completion of the degree. Language proficiency can be demonstrated either through a language examination, successful completion of a noncredit 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. The language will be determined by the faculty advisor and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.

Recommended languages include:

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Latin
  • Greek
  • 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 World Languages & Literatures 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.

Master’s Paper

The final requirement for the MA degree is the preparation of a scholarly paper, which typically begins as a seminar paper that is subsequently revised and expanded according to professional standards of presentation. The Master’s Paper should improve upon the initial seminar paper by aiming for greater originality of argumentation and research. It is intended as an exercise in writing a publishable essay for a peer-reviewed journal. The paper’s length and format reflect the manuscript submission guidelines for the Art Bulletin, published by the College Art Association, the primary national organization for art historians. In the spring semester of their second year, students will deliver short formal presentations of their Master’s Papers to an audience of graduate students and faculty.