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Columbia University Course/Program Name
Application closes on
National :15 Dec 
International :15 Dec 

MA Art History

 Course Level
Masters / PG
Full Time

2 Years
 Start month

 Tuition fee

27180 USD
27180 USD

Application fee

International 105 USD
National 105 USD
Department of Art History and Archaeology
Scores accepted
IELTS (min)7.5
TOEFL-IBT (min)100
TOEFL-PBT (min)600
GRE (avg)315

World University Ranking

About this course

Columbia's Department of Art History and Archaeology offers a free-standing MA in Art History in a wide range of Western and non-Western fields from Antiquity to the 19th century.

The program that leads to the terminal MA degree is designed to prepare students for further study at the doctoral level and for careers in museums, galleries, foundations, auction houses, archaeological sites, art consulting and art publishing.

Students may enroll full-time or part-time. For full-time students, the duration of the program is 2 years. Part-time students may take up to 4 years to complete the program.

The program is structured around 2 main axes: coursework and the MA thesis. All students must take a minimum of 10 courses, including the MA Methods Colloquium in their first semester, the Practices of Art History Colloquium in their second semester, and two sections of the MA Thesis course in their final year. The thesis is written under the supervision of a Faculty member specializing in the student's field of study. Applicants should consult the list of full-time Faculty to identify a potential advisor and it is recommended that they indicate his/her name in their application. The MA program director accepts advisees in 18th- and 19th-century European Art.

At the end of their first year, full-time students in good academic standing may choose to spend their second year's Fall semester in Paris. Students will be enrolled at the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, where they will follow a regular full-course semester and complete necessary requirements regarding the MA thesis. Upon completion of the program, students will earn a dual MA degree, i.e., an MA in Art History from Columbia University and an MA in Art History from the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne.

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Eligibility Criteria

For admission to all graduate programs, the prerequisite is a minimum of 4 courses in art history or studies closely related (e.g., archaeology, architectural history, art-historical anthropology, visual studies, film studies, media studies, etc.). An undergraduate major in art history is not a requirement, but candidates should contextualize their course of study thus far and their ability to pursue graduate level work in art history. It is also advised that students have prior knowledge of at least one foreign language at the time of applying.

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Course Modules

All students are required to complete 10 courses (30 points of credit), including:

The MA Methods Colloquium in their first semester. This course examines the range of methods employed by art historians for the interpretation of art, including formalism, iconography, social art history, feminism, gender studies, and post-colonialism. Through the critical reading of primary and secondary sources, the course focuses on the history and developments of the methods of art history while helping students define their own theoretical positions.
The Practices of Art History Colloquium in their second semester. This course opens with a historical and critical overview of the institutions of art and proceeds to the range of practices associated with art history, including connoisseurship, conservation, curatorship, and museum education. Taking advantage of Columbia’s location in New York City, the course includes regular meetings with leading museum and art professionals.
6 other courses at either the 8000, 6000, or 4000-level. Of these courses, no more than 2 should be taken for R credit. Students who wish to take courses at the 2000-level must get the instructor's approval to take them at the 5000-level, either for a letter grade (which commonly involves additional course assignments) or for R credit. Students may take up to two 2000-level courses at the 5000-level towards their course requirements, regardless of the grading option that they choose (letter grade or R credit).
2 sections of the MA Thesis course in their final year in the program.
Western/non-Western courses

During their coursework, students whose concentrations are within Western art are strongly encouraged to take one course in a non–Western art field at the 4000-level or above. Similarly, MA students within non–Western concentrations are strongly encouraged to take one course in a Western art field at the 4000-level or above.

Courses outside the Department

With the consent of their advisor, students may take courses in other Departments in the history, culture, literature or philosophy of their field of study.

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How to Apply

Application Information
A complete application includes the following information:

  • Official transcripts of all previous post-secondary education
  • A statement of academic purpose (2 to 3 pages double-space)
  • CV
  • 3 letters of recommendation
  • GRE scores
  • TOEFL or IELTS scores (for international students)
  • Writing sample (10-15 pages) — this should be an example of your best scholarly writing and should be a complete text
  • Application Fee

NOTE: If you have problems with the online application portal please contact GSAS Admission for assistance.

Applicants should upload a transcript or record (e.g. web-based transcripts, mark sheets, Relevé de Notes) of any academic work from each university-level institution you have attended for use in review of your application. Uploading a scanned copy of your transcript or academic record will expedite processing and review of your application.

However, applicants should not send official paper transcripts. If you receive an offer of admission, you will be required to send official paper documents for verification before the offer is considered official. Do not send official transcripts before being notified by GSAS.

Study abroad undertaken as part of your undergraduate work does not require uploading of a separate transcript, provided that both courses and grades are recorded on the main transcript.

Transcripts that are in a language other than English must be translated into English. The translation must be certified to be an accurate translation of the original and be notarized or otherwise authenticated. Both non-English and translated transcripts should be uploaded.

Statement of Academic Purpose
The statement of academic purpose should be a succinct statement of approximately 2-3 pages (double spaced) describing your past academic work and preparation related to your intended field of study, your plans for graduate study at Columbia, and your subsequent career objectives. If you intend to transfer from a graduate program at another university, please explain why you wish to do so. If you are not currently attending an academic program, please describe your activities since you were last enrolled. If there has been a break in your educational experience, please include a brief explanation.

The CV (2 pages maximum) should include education and academic accomplishments, awards and fellowships, internships and professional/teaching experience, and other academic-related activities (conferences, publications, etc.).

Three Letters of Recommendation
Letters of recommendation should ideally be from professors and scholars who can speak to the applicant's abilities and suitability for graduate study at Columbia. Typically, letters come from art and architectural historians or archaeologists, professors who have taught or supervised the applicant in college or at the Masters level, but a letter from an academic in another discipline, preferably the humanities, would be acceptable. Letters from museum professionals are acceptable. The referee ought to know the applicant well, know his or her work, and know what his or her goals are. The letters of reference are an important component of the application.

As a note applicants should request letters of recommendation as early as possible. We urge you to verify that all of your letters have been submitted by the time you submit your application to avoid any delay in the review of your file. Admissions will notify you via email when a recommendation has been submitted for your file. You may submit your application even if all of your letters have not yet been received, but your file will not be considered fully complete until the letters have arrived. After submitting the application, you may monitor receipt of recommendations by viewing your Applicant Status page. You may not submit your application until you have designated the required number of recommenders.

For the GRE, prospective students should aim to score at least a 167 on the verbal, 160 on the quantitative reasoning and a 5.5 on the written essay. Applicants are advised to take their GRE test (and TOEFL or IELTS if required) in sufficient time to ensure that the scores arrive by application deadline. (These are scores to aim for not hard requirements. Applicant should aim to get as close as possible or over recommended scores. If scores are slightly lower than those recommended it does not automatically disqualify an applicant’s application.)

Applicants whose native language is not English and who have received an undergraduate degree from an institution in a country where the official language is not English or who have received an undergraduate degree from a non-English speaking country and are now studying at the graduate level in the U.S. or another English-speaking country must take the TOEFL or IELTS and need to score at least a 100 on the TOEFL internet-based exam or 7.5 on the IELTS. For more information, please read the English Proficiency Requirements under Information for International Students on the GSAS Admissions webpage.

Note: Applicants who have studied for at least two years at a U.S. institution or at an institution in a country where the official language is English and earned the undergraduate (or bachelor’s) degree at that institution are not required to complete the English proficiency requirement.

International applicants should also visit the International Students and Scholars Office (ISSO) website for details regarding studying at the University, including visa and registration requirements.

The GRE and TOEFL code for the Graduate school is 2162. There is no department code.

Writing Sample
The writing sample is a very important component of the application. It should be an example of your best scholarly writing. Typically, the writing sample will be an excerpt from an undergraduate senior thesis, a seminar paper, or an article or other published work; it should be a critical or scholarly work in art history or a closely related field that demonstrates the candidate's skills in research and interpretation. The writing sample should be between 10-15 pages (essay and footnotes ONLY) and read as a complete essay.

Note: Applicants can submit up to 10 additional pages to include a bibliography and/or images ONLY.


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