Department of Art & Art History

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Visual Arts Complex
Visual Arts Complex

BA/MA in Art History

The BA/MA program in Art History is a demanding, accelerated program aimed primarily at our best undergraduates who are planning to pursue a Ph.D. at another institution. The typical student will be a student writing an honors thesis who will use that project as the basis for developing the M.A. thesis. It is expected that the BA/MA program be completed within five years. Both degrees, Bachelor’s and Master’s, are awarded simultaneously upon meeting all degree requirements. Six credits (two courses) may be shared between the two programs.

BA/MA Details

Only currently enrolled, University of Colorado-Boulder students may be considered for admission to the program. Transfer students must complete at least 24 credit hours as a degree-seeking student before applying to the program. Students enrolled in this BA/MA program cannot pursue a double major. Students must have a minimum overall undergraduate GPA of 3.3 and have completed all MAPS deficiencies.

The application deadline is January 10th, in the second semester of the applicant’s junior year. Admitted students will secure the sponsorship and advisory commitment of an art history faculty member at the rank of assistant professor or higher. They will also submit a one-page prospectus detailing a possible research topic for an MA thesis.

Students start taking graduate-level courses during the first semester of their senior year and in the second semester of their senior year they go through a mid-program review. During the second semester of their senior year, students should select a thesis advisor from among the art history faculty. This faculty member will direct the student’s thesis and chair the student’s mid-program review committee. Students will be evaluated through a mid-program review during the last two weeks of April of their senior year. This is the equivalent of the first year review in the two-year MA program. It 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.

By the end of the fourth year (senior year), students must complete the language requirement of at least three progressive semesters at the college level or above, or by passing an approved language examination. To do the latter, students must arrange a reading exam with one of the art history faculty on an individual basis.

In the first semester of the fifth year, they fulfill their Theories of Art History requirement and will also take two ARTH graduate seminars. At the beginning of the second semester of their fifth year, they will take their comprehensive exams in the major and minor area, constitute their thesis committee, and get approval of their thesis prospectus. During the second semester of the fifth year, students will complete and submit their theses (in fulfillment of all graduate college requirements) by the end of the fifth year. Once the principal advisor has accepted the thesis, the final requirement will be an oral examination focusing on its subject matter.

Students will register for thesis hours during the second semester of their fifth year, pending successful completion of the comprehensive exam and approval of their thesis abstract. They will take the comprehensive exam during the first week of the second semester of the fifth year. Upon the successful completion of their comprehensive exam, they will obtain approval of their thesis abstract from their thesis committee (“pre-thesis review”) by the end of the second week of the second semester of their fifth year.

In all other details, the graduate portion of the BA/MA program is identical to the two-year MA program, as stipulated above.


Typical Course Schedule

The following template ensures that students will complete all degree requirements for the B.A./M.A. in five years. Students may decide on a somewhat different sequence of courses in consultation with their academic advisor.


First Year————————————————————–

Fall Semester                   Spring Semester
ARTH 1300                        ARTH 1400
ARTS 1010                         ARTS 1020

Second Year———————————————————

Fall semester                     Spring semester
ARTH 3xxx                           ARTH 3xxx
ARTH 3xxx                           ARTH 4xxx

Third Year ———————————————————–

Fall semester                      Spring semester
ARTH 3009                           ARTH 4919
ARTH 4xxx                            out of department course 3xxx or above (general elective for BA/ MA requirement)
ARTH 4xxx                           *formal application to BA/MA program

Fourth Year———————————————————-

Fall semester                       Spring semester
ARTH 6929  (Theories)         ARTH 5/6xxxx (grad seminar)
ARTH 5/6xxxx                       *complete language requirement

*research for thesis is strongly encouraged the summer preceding the fifth year

Fifth year ——————————————————————-

Fall semester                      Spring semester
ARTH 5/6xxx                        ARTH 5/6xxx
ARTH 5/6xxx                        ARTH 6929 (thesis hours)
ARTH 5/6xxx                        *comprehensive exam taken during the first week
————————————–* thesis prospectus approved during the second week “pre-thesis review”
————————————–*thesis submission and oral defense


Degree Requirements for the B.A. in Art History:

  • Foundations 6 credits (ARTS 1010 and ARTS 1020)
  • World Art 6 credits (ARTH 1300 and ARTH 1400)
  • ARTH 4919 capstone seminar
  • 3 3000-level ARTH courses
  • 3 4000-level ARTH courses
  • 2 ARTH or ARTS electives
  • specific coursework may be required. See faculty or advisor for more information.

Degree Requirements for the M.A. in Art History:

  • 30 credit hours (8 courses plus 6 credits in thesis hours)
  • coursework must be distributed in four areas: Medieval, Early Modern (Renaissance & Baroque), Americas,  Modern, Contemporary, Critical Theory/Museology
  • one course must be out of the department at 3000-level or above
  • First Year review
  • Comprehensive Exams in their major and minor fields
  • Pre-thesis review (of thesis abstract);
  • Thesis and oral defense.

Shared Courses between B.A. and M.A.:

Following University rules, six credits (two courses) may be shared between the two programs. In all other respects, students who successfully complete the B.A./M.A. program will have fulfilled all art history requirements for each degree, as follows. For the B.A./M.A., students are required to complete the same requirements. The two courses that count for both degrees are:

  • one course out of the department at 3000-level or above
    This counts as a general elective for the B.A. degree, a degree requirement for the M.A.
  • ARTH 6929 Theories of Art History
    This counts as an elective in the major for the B.A. degree, a required course for the M.A.


Application Information:


  • currently enrolled in B.A. Art History degree
  • minimum GPA of  3.3
  • 3.6 GPA or above in the art history major
  • must have completed all MAPS deficiencies

To apply to the BA/MA program, please send the following materials in a single PDF to by January 10th:

  • contact information (email and phone number) of three recommenders
  • statement of intent
  • GRE scores
  • unofficial transcripts
  • writing sample (your best art history paper)
  • a one-page prospectus detailing a possible research topic for an MA thesis


If you have any questions about the BA/MA degree requirements or the application process, please contact