Best Online Art History Master’s Degree Programs

Earn a master’s in art history online and use your keen understanding of historical artwork to pursue rewarding and fascinating careers. This guide helps you take the first step with a list of top schools and answers to key questions.

Do you have an eye for beautiful paintings? Do you look at statues in the park and contemplate their meanings and historical contexts? Can you while away hours at museums, analyzing the exhibits? If so, an online art history master’s degree can fuel your passion and give you the skills necessary for advancing your art career. This guide provides information about earning your master’s in art history online, including an in-depth look at the curriculum, possible careers and their salaries after graduation, and other key details. Continue reading to get started on your path to an online master’s degree in art history.

College Spotlights: 2021’s Best Master’s in Art History Online Degree Programs

We’ve identified some of the top social work programs with the affordability, flexibility, and accreditation you need to advance your career. Below we’ve gone into detail about three top-rated programs and include information about why they stood out. Our full rankings list will arrive later this year, so be sure to check back for the full list!

University of Houston

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The online art history master’s program at the University of Houston leverages the school’s reputation as a research university to offer a curriculum that explores art from a deep historical and philosophical context. Topics explored include the history of graphic design, museum curating, ancient Greek art, and impressionism, avant-garde, and kitsch art. In addition to coursework, students complete a thesis or a capstone course to demonstrate their understanding of the material. This online master’s degree consists of 36 credit hours students can finish in about two years.

For admittance, the University of Houston requires a minimum 3.0 grade point average and a bachelor’s degree from a program at an accredited college or university. Required documents include transcripts, a resume outlining professional and academic experience, a statement of academic interests, a writing sample, and letters of recommendation.

Lindenwood University

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From the classic to the contemporary, students in the online art history master’s degree program at Lindenwood University develop a solid foundation of knowledge about art through the ages. They then are prepared for diverse careers, including positions as fine artists, librarians, museum curators, historians, and archivists. The program, which takes two years to complete, explores art theory and criticism, the history of digital art, photography, various periods of art history, and research methods. After finishing coursework, students must write a thesis based on original research.

Prospective students must have at least a 2.8 cumulative grade point average in a bachelor’s degree program. Application documents include undergraduate transcripts, a personal statement describing their career goals, and a resume.

Azusa Pacific University

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Azusa Pacific University’s online master’s degree in modern art history, theory, and criticism allows students to conveniently earn their degrees through eight-week terms with multiple start dates throughout the year. Because of these accelerated classes, students usually complete their degrees in one and a half to two years. Classes cover 19th– and 20th-century art, strategies for writing art criticism, modernism, and art history methodologies. At the end of the program, students take a capstone course where they illustrate their understanding of the curriculum and their scholarship abilities.

Azusa Pacific University’s art history online master’s program requires a bachelor’s degree and at least a 3.0 grade point average. Applications need two recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and a resume. In some cases, candidates must participate in an online interview.

4 Advantages of Earning an Online Master’s in Art History

For those wanting to pursue careers in art, an online master’s in art history can bring numerous benefits. The following are some reasons this degree may be the right choice for you.

  1. Personalized learning

    Some programs give students a personalized experience where they can watch lectures, work on assignments, and interact with professors in ways that best suit their needs. Students move through the classwork as quickly or slowly as they want, making the experience more comfortable for them and promoting their success.

  2. Sharpening skills

    No matter the career path, this advanced degree sharpens numerous skills you can leverage to advance your career. This degree creates a foundation strong in analytical, communication, and critical thinking skills that can be applied to work inside and outside of the art field.

  3. Convenience

    Distance learning provides convenience that allows students to easily fit classwork into their schedules. Online programs allow you to earn a master’s degree while holding down a job and managing responsibilities at home.

  4. Networking

    Obtaining an advanced degree also allows for networking with others in your field. You can build relationships with professors and peers, thus creating a professional network through nurtured connections.

What You’ll Learn in Master’s in Art History Online Programs

Online art history master’s degrees provide an understanding of different specialized areas and movements of art while fostering the skills needed to interpret images and consider them in their proper historical context. While the classes you may take depend on the specific school you choose, the following provides a look at popular coursework found in art history curriculums.

Popular Courses

  • Museum Management

    This class looks at museology and the daily tasks associated with museum management. Topics covered include education and public programs in museums, curation, and the ethical issues museum manager’s face.

  • History of Graphic Design

    Students in this course learn about graphic design from its beginnings in the late 19th century through its use today. Topics include graphic design techniques, theories, and prominent graphic designers.

  • Modernism and Religion

    This course explores the relationships between different religions and modern art. Students learn how religion has influenced art during specific periods and how artists’ religious views have facilitated the creation of their art.

  • Writing Art Criticism

    In this course, students interpret art and critically convey their interpretations through writing. Students formulate an argument and provide proof for their opinions.

  • Impressionism

    This course covers the artists and artwork of the Impressionist period. Students learn the history of this type of art and the events influencing artists during that time.

Specialization Tracks

Most programs also offer the option of enrolling in a specialization, which further hones expertise in specific areas to help achieve career objectives. The following are examples of the concentrations online art history master’s degree programs may offer.

  • Art Museum Education

    This concentration is for those wanting to combine their art history knowledge with teaching to create public programs that teach art topics to the community. Students learn to engage with an audience, create informative programs people of all ages will enjoy, and generate topics appropriate for a museum education program.

  • Curatorial Studies

    This concentration provides a look at the work curators do in museums and art galleries. Students may be asked to simulate a curation of their own using the methodologies discussed in the coursework.

  • Historical Studies

    Students specializing in this area use their knowledge of art to understand its historical context. The curriculum focuses heavily on research and scholarly writing.

  • Gender and Women’s Studies

    Students in this concentration study women in art, including the role they play as a subject and as an artist. A discussion of the influence of society’s view of gender is also a part of the curriculum.

  • Museum Studies

    Those interested in pursuing a career at a museum can enroll in this concentration to learn the day-to-day operations of museums as well as the skills needed to successfully oversee these activities. Students learn to assemble a museum collection and create educational programs, and they gain expertise on different types of art from around the world.

Accreditation for Online Art History Master’s Degrees

When students evaluate a piece of art, their perceptions are highly subjective and based on numerous factors, like existing preferences and how the work touches them on a personal level. However, when evaluating online schools offering a master’s degree in art history, a more objective approach is needed. It’s important to only consider accredited schools to ensure you’re getting the high-value, advanced learning you’re paying for. Accredited schools are chosen based on the quality of their curriculum, faculty, and student outcomes. Look for schools certified by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

What You Can Do with a Master’s in Art History

Online art history master’s degree programs provide curriculums emphasizing a holistic approach to understanding art, from religious to social and political to personal influences on a piece of work. This creates analytical skills to use in any job, and, when coupled with abilities like communication, critical thinking, and research skills, makes you an asset to any employer. The following are careers where you can use your master’s degree in art history.

Curators

These professionals find employment at museums, art galleries, historical sites, and government agencies. They select works of art for exhibits based on theme, design, and technical qualities. Curators may also complete research projects, supervise members of the curatorial team, find and acquire collections, and conduct tours and workshops.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$30,740 $54,570 $94,750

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

High School Art History Teachers

High school art history teachers introduce art history to secondary school students through lectures, homework, and testing. They create lesson plans based on state and school district standards, work closely with parents, and create and enforce discipline in the classroom.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$40,540 $61,660 $99,660

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2019

Conservator

Conservators use methods and tools like chemical testing, microscopes, x-rays, and special lights to examine artwork and make decisions on the best ways to preserve them. They also conduct research and publish articles in industry journals.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$26,110 $44,430 $76,330

Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2021

Art Consultant

Art consultants help private collectors or corporations find and procure sculptures, paintings, drawings, and other types of art. They give insights on art for investing, using their knowledge of the market and what makes a quality piece of work.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
$32,000 $46,000 $75,000

Source: PayScale, 2021

Art Dealer

This position combines knowledge of art history and business acumen to allow professionals to buy and sell artwork. Art dealers create relationships in the art world, stay abreast of trends, and seek pieces from numerous sources, including auctions, artists, and flea markets. They are employed by galleries, work directly with art collectors, or own their own businesses.

10th Percentile Median Annual Pay 90th Percentile
N/A $45,371 N/A

Source: Glassdoor, 2021

Costs and Financial Aid for Online Master’s Degrees in Art History

Paying for a master’s degree can be just as challenging as earning one, but there are options that can help you. Those include scholarships, assistantships, grants, and loans. To learn about different resources to help you finance your degree, check out our financial aid page.

For an idea of how much you may pay for your online master’s degree in art history, consider the costs of the three different schools highlighted below.

What Your Online Master’s in Art History Could Cost

School Name No. of Credits Cost/Credit Est. Total Tuition Cost

University of Houston

36

$401.18/credit

$14,442.48

Lindenwood University

36

$495/credit

$17,820

Azusa Pacific University

36

$649/credit

$23,364

Frequently Asked Questions About Online Art History Master’s Degrees

What are the typical admissions requirements for an online master’s in art history?

Although a strong interest in art is a good start, each program has its own standards when it comes to the qualities desired in a prospective student. To be admitted into an online art history master’s degree program, you may be expected to:

  • Have a bachelor’s degree with a 3.0 minimum GPA
  • Submit letters of recommendation
  • Draft an essay describing why you want to earn the degree
  • Complete an academic writing sample
  • Submit a resume

How long will it take to finish my master’s in art history online?

This depends on the specific program. In general, expect to complete a master’s in art history in two years on a full-time basis. Part-time students can take up to four years, depending on how many courses are taken each semester.

Can I earn a master’s in art history 100% online or do I need to visit campus?

You don’t necessarily have to visit campus. Some colleges require that you travel to campus to participate in a capstone project, but you can usually expect to work through your courses entirely online. To clarify expectations, carefully review the information provided by the schools you’re considering.