Department of Art & Art History

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Visual Arts Complex
Visual Arts Complex

Degree Requirements

M.A. Degree Requirements: (GUIDELINES, EFFECTIVE SPRING 2011)
The Master of Arts (M.A.) in Art History is a 2-year, 30 credit hour program. It is intended to give the student a broad general knowledge of Art History. A student who has achieved a distinguished record in this M.A. program should be well prepared for acceptance into a doctoral program in Art History. This program is intended as well to give those who do not intend to pursue a doctoral degree the background for work in museums and galleries, for teaching, for work in art and slide libraries, and for critically and historically informed writing in the field of Art History.

I. Degree Requirements: Plan I (Thesis Option).
A minimum of 30 semester hours must be completed, of which 21 must be completed in residence on the Boulder campus. Requirements and regulations include:

Theories of Art History (ARTH 6929), must be taken during the first semester. This course may be taken twice for up to 6 credit hours.

Visiting Scholars Seminar, must be taken during the second semester when offered. Students are encouraged to repeat this course.

At least one 3-credit 5000 or 6000 level course in four of the following areas of art history: Medieval art; Early Modern & Renaissance art; Art of the Americas; Asian art; Modern art; Contemporary art; Critical Theory/Museology. When available, Ancient art may constitute an area.

At least one 3-credit 3000 level or above course in a department outside of the Department of Art and Art History which supplements the Major or Minor areas of specialization.

Comprehensive Exam (see below).

M.A. Thesis (ARTH 6959): 4-6 credit hours.

No more than 9 hours of independent study credit may be applied toward the M.A. degree.Pass/Fail courses do not count toward the M.A. degree. ARTH 5087 (Selected Topics) courses do not count toward the M.A. degree. A limit of 9 hours of transfer credits may be applied toward the M.A. degree.

Students are encouraged and expected to attend undergraduate lecture courses to prepare themselves for graduate seminars and for the comprehensive exam.

Language requirement (see below).

II. Degree Requirements: Plan II (Project Option)

Same requirements as above, with the following exceptions:

A minimum of 36 semester hours is required

The Project replaces the Thesis.

III. Sequence for Completion of Degree - Coursework: The following schedule of coursework and requirements is recommended:

Fall semester of entrance to program:
1. ARTH 6929, Theories of Art History
2. Two graduate seminars

Spring semester of entrance to program:
1. ARTH 5929, Visiting Scholars Seminar
2. Two graduate seminars
3. First year review at the end of the semester

Fall semester of 2nd year in program:
1. Comprehensive exam
2. Two graduate seminars
3. One course outside the department (if not fulfilled earlier)

Spring semester of 2nd year in program:
1. Thesis or Project
2. Thesis Defense

Advisor: Upon admission, students are assigned a faculty advisor. Students should remain in close contact with the advisor as regards course registration and program requirements. At the end of the second semester of full time study, students should select a Thesis Advisor (or Project Advisor) from among the art history faculty. This faculty member will direct the student’s thesis or project, and chair the student’s First Year Review committee.

First Year Review: During the last two weeks of April, students are evaluated during the First Year Review. This is a one hour meeting which is chaired by the student’s Thesis Advisor and consists of other art history faculty with whom the student has taken courses (2-3 faculty members are suggested); graduate students are also invited. The First Year Review focuses on a review of student coursework and performance, on selecting the Major and Minor areas of study in preparation for the Comprehensive Exam (see below), and on selection of a thesis topic.

Students are responsible for organizing and scheduling the First Year Review meeting, including obtaining the First Year Review form from the Graduate Program Coordinator, and having the form signed and completed by all faculty members of the First Year Review committee during the meeting.

If student coursework and performance is found to be unsatisfactory during the First Year Review, the art history faculty will vote on student continuance in the M.A. Program. Students may be asked to leave the program at the culmination of the First Year Review. They have the right to appeal by submitting a petition in writing to the departmental Graduate Committee, which will request a written response to the petition from the First Year Review Committee. The decision of the Graduate Committee is final.

Comprehensive Exam: This exam is given to measure the graduate student’s knowledge of art history at the M.A. level. It consists of essay questions pertinent to the student’s Major and Minor areas of study. It is given once per year during the second week of October. Students must schedule the Comprehensive Exam with the Area Coordinator in Art History by September 15. Students must pass the Comprehensive Exam in order to be eligible to register for thesis hours.

Major and Minor Areas: After successful completion of the First Year Review, the student will choose Major and Minor areas of concentration in art history. Areas of concentration are: Medieval art; Early Modern & Renaissance art; Art of the Americas; Asian Art, Modern art; Contemporary art; Critical Theory/Museology.. Students should have taken coursework in their chosen Major and Minor areas, in preparation for the Comprehensive Exam and for the thesis.

Essay Questions: The Comprehensive Exam consists of two essays: a two-hour essay in the Major area, and a 90-minute essay in the Minor area. Questions for the essays are drawn from the lists of questions assembled in the Comprehensive Exam Package (see Graduate Program Coordinator for a copy). See p. 5 for more detailed guidelines.

Thesis: In consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the student will select, develop, and defend an art history thesis. This consists of the following:

Thesis Abstract (“Pre-Thesis Review”): Upon initial formulation of the thesis in consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the student will prepare an abstract of approximately 1 – 2 typewritten pages, and attached bibliography, outlining the thesis topic and method of inquiry. Pre-thesis forms are available from the Graduate Program Coordinator. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the abstract to the thesis advisor and, upon approval of the primary advisor, to circulate it to the rest of the Thesis Committee. All members of the Thesis Committee must sign the Pre-thesis form, thus authorizing the Graduate Program Coordinator to register the student for thesis hours. This has to be completed by the end of the semester preceding the student’s thesis semester. The thesis abstract must be approved before registering for thesis hours.

Thesis: This should demonstrate scholarly research and writing in art history, should be based on independent study and analysis, and should represent the equivalent of 4-6 credit hours. In most cases, the master’s thesis is the equivalent of a 40-50 page paper, exclusive of endnotes, bibliography, and illustrations.

Thesis Defense: In consultation with the Thesis Advisor, the student will select a thesis committee for the Thesis Defense, an oral examination that consists of not less than 3 members of the art history graduate faculty, including the Thesis Advisor. It may include more members and graduate faculty outside the Department or outside the University, if approved by the faculty and the Graduate School. Three weeks before the MA Thesis Defense, the Master’s Exam Report form, which includes the date and time of the Thesis Defense and the names of the Thesis Committee members, is due in the Department of Art and Art History. The form is available from, and must be returned to, the Graduate Program Coordinator, who forwards it to the Graduate School. Other details:

The Master’s Exam Report form, signed by the Graduate School Advisor, must be presented and signed at the Thesis Defense.

The M.A. Thesis must be submitted in draft form to all members of the Thesis Defense committee at least one week before the Thesis Defense.

Graduate School guidelines (“Specifications”) must be used to prepare the M.A. Thesis. Copies of these guidelines are available from the Graduate Program Coordinator.

The M.A. Thesis is submitted to the Graduate School in the electronic form specified by the Graduate School, in accordance with the Graduate School’s deadlines. Prior to submission, an appointment with a Graduate School advisor must be made to ensure that all the formal requirements are met. A hard copy of the signature page, complete with the Thesis Committee members’ signatures, is submitted to, and remains in, the Graduate School.

An M.A. degree must be completed within 4 years of beginning coursework in the graduate program (Graduate School requirement). However, M.A. students in the Department of Art and Art History are expected to complete their coursework and defend their theses within two years.

Language Requirement: The candidate for the M.A. degree in Art History is required to demonstrate an adequate reading knowledge of French, German, or another appropriate language by satisfactory coursework equal to three progressive semesters at the college level or above, or by passing an approved language examination. Students must arrange a reading exam with one of the art history faculty on an individual basis.

Guidelines for Comprehensive Examinations:
The comprehensive examination is comprised of two sections: an essay in a major field and an essay in a minor field.  All second-year M.A. students take the examination at some point in the first two weeks of October.  The exact date of the examination is determined in consultation with the major field advisor, who typically proctors the entire examination on a single day.  If the advisor is not available on exam day, another faculty member will proctor the exam on a single day. It is the responsibility of the examinee to arrange a space for taking the exam.  The use of books, notes, electronic aids (other than an approved computer), or other aids is prohibited during the examination.

Major field:  In consultation with the major field advisor, five questions are prepared for this portion of the examination.  Typically this conversation occurs in late April or early May (i.e., after successful completion of the First Year Review).  These questions guide the preparation for the examination over the summer.  One week prior to the examination, the major advisor submits a list of three questions to the Graduate Coordinator.  On the day of the examination, the examinee picks up these questions in a sealed envelope from the Graduate Coordinator.  The examinee writes an essay in response to one of the three questions posed.  The student has two hours to answer the question of choice.

Minor field: In consultation with the minor field advisor, three questions are prepared for this portion of the examination.  Again, this conversation occurs in late April or early May to allow adequate time for preparation over the summer.  One week prior to the exam, the minor advisor submits a list of two questions to the Graduate Coordinator.  On the day of the examination, the examinee picks up these questions in a sealed envelope from the Graduate Coordinator.  The examinee writes an essay in response to one of the two questions posed.  The student has 90 minutes to answer the question of choice.

Other notes on examination procedure: Examinees may take an hour break between the two essay questions.  The order of the examination (e.g., major essay first, minor essay second) is at the discretion of the examinee.  However, the examinee may only open the envelope containing the questions at the beginning of each examination period. A sample sequence would be: an examinee opens the major essay question envelope and writes an essay for two hours; the examinee takes a break for one hour; the examinee returns from break, opens the minor question envelope, and then answers that question for 90 minutes.

Computers:  If the examinee desires to type her/his essay questions, rather than write them in longhand, arrangements must be made with the Visual Resource Center to borrow one of their computers.  Internet access will be blocked on these computers during the examination period.  At the end of the exam period, the student will upload essay questions onto a flash drive that is provided by major advisor.

Grading:  The major advisor and minor advisor grade their respective portions of the examination.  In consultation with one another, the two advisors determine whether the examinee has passed or failed the exam.