Best Online Master’s Degrees in Art History

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.

Art historians analyze visual arts to better understand the places and people at the time of their creations. These arts include paintings, architecture, sculptures, and inscriptions, among others. They look for meaning in art, and sometimes how the art and/or the meaning has changed over time.

For many art historians, a master’s degree is a great way to enhance skills or dive deeper into a subject introduced while earning a bachelor’s. But which master’s program is right for you? And can you take coursework online? The following page gives you a detailed look at online master’s degree programs in art history, starting with our ranking of the best options available today. See which schools topped our list for 2022.

2022’s Best Online Master’s Degree Programs in Art History

About the ranking
1
Gainesville, FL
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

The University of Florida takes a global approach for its Master of Arts in Art History program. Students complete 36 credits, including required courses in research methods and research for the master’s thesis. They also take courses and seminars related to their chosen area of emphasis:  Ancient, Renaissance/Baroque, Modern/Contemporary, or Non-West. The program culminates in a scholarly thesis on a topic related to the student’s emphasis. Most classes for the MA degree are attended on UF’s main campus in Gainesville. However, several courses are available via distance learning in fully-online, partially-online, or hybrid formats. Students can apply up to 30 credits earned in their MA program toward a PhD in Art History at UF.

Program Highlights:

MA in Art History

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 2+ years
  • Cost: $12,740/year (resident); $30,134/year (non-resident) 
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (school); National Association of Schools of Art and Design (department)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #1
Students w/Institutional Aid #18
Institutional Aid per Student #17
2
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

USF’s Master of Arts in Art History prepares students for careers in art collection, education, and cultural institutional settings as well as for continuing into a PhD program. This MA program features small, intensive, seminar-formatted courses tailored to a student’s art history field of interest. Students can supplement their program through school-sponsored international travel and study abroad opportunities. Most of the degree work requires in-person attendance on USF’s Tampa campus. However, some required courses, seminars, and electives are offered online in either a fully-online or hybrid format. Students elect to research and write either a thesis or qualifying paper as the culminating activity of their degree studies.

Program Highlights:

MA in Art History

  • Credits: 38 (thesis option); 42 (qualifying paper option)
  • Length: 2+ years 
  • Cost: $431.43/credit (resident); $877.17/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially-Online

Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (school); National Association of Schools of Art and Design (department)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #3
Students w/Institutional Aid #13
Institutional Aid per Student #15
3
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

The curriculum for the Master of Arts in Art History program at the University of Arizona is designed to provide a broad foundation in art history generally and depth of knowledge in a specific major subject area chosen by the student. Subject areas include American, Ancient, Architectural History, Contemporary Art and Theory, History of Photography, Latin American, Modern, and Museum Studies. The 30-credit hour program combines mandatory methods courses with subject area courses, elective courses, and seminars and culminates with either a scholarly thesis or oral examination. This campus-based program requires in-person attendance on UA’s Tucson campus for most classes. Some required and elective courses are available online in asynchronous or synchronous formats. An accelerated program is also available for high-achieving UA undergrads that allows the application of 12 credit hours of graduate-level art history coursework to fulfill both bachelor’s and master’s degree requirements.

Program Highlights:

MA in Art History

  • Credits: 30
  • Length: 2+ years
  • Cost: $989.12/credit (resident); $1,918.12/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (school); National Association of Schools of Art and Design (department)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #5
Students w/Institutional Aid #5
Institutional Aid per Student #4
4
Houston, TX
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

The University of Houston’s Master of Arts in Art History program provides the opportunity for bachelor’s degree holders, regardless of major, to obtain a solid art history foundation in preparation for PhD studies or careers in galleries and museums, art criticism, art education, and artist management. Students work closely with faculty mentors in one of several research specializations, including Northern European and Italian Medieval and Renaissance Art; Global Modern and Contemporary Art and Design; Museum Studies; Art Criticism; and History of Photography. Students also have access to internship opportunities with museums, collections, and other art institutions in the Houston area. The program culminates with either a program-approved written thesis, curatorial project, or series of capstone examinations. Coursework is attended primarily on UH’s main campus, but some courses are available in a hybrid format.

Program Highlights:

MA in Art History

  • Credits: 36
  • Length: 3 to 4 semesters + thesis
  • Cost: $412.74/credit (resident); $920.74/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially-Online
  • Accreditation: Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (school)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #4
Students w/Institutional Aid #14
Institutional Aid per Student #11
5
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

The Master of Arts in Art History program at Kent State combines a comprehensive view of world art with specialized study leading to a scholarly thesis. Specializations include American, African, Asian, African, and European art in various periods along with additional subthemes like critical theory and curatorial studies. The 35-credit hour curriculum includes a required course in research methods and resources, 27 credits of elective coursework covering ancient, medieval, modern, non-western, and Renaissance/Baroque art, and specialization area courses. Students also complete six credits of thesis research and preparation. Most classes are on Kent State’s main campus with additional courses offered online in synchronous and asynchronous formats. All MA in Art History students must complete a Candidacy Review Examination in the fourth semester to obtain candidacy for their degrees. They must also demonstrate a reading knowledge of German, French, or other approved foreign language to graduate. 

Program Highlights:

MA in Art History

  • Credits: 35
  • Length: Approx. 2 years + thesis 
  • Cost: $536.00/credit (resident); $999.00/credit (non-resident)
  • Mode: Partially-Online

Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (school); National Association of Schools of Art and Design (department)

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #9
Students w/Institutional Aid #8
Institutional Aid per Student #13
6
Salt Lake City, UT
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation NWCOCU

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #11
Students w/Institutional Aid #10
Institutional Aid per Student #12
7
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #10
Students w/Institutional Aid #11
Institutional Aid per Student #10
8
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #12
Students w/Institutional Aid #9
Institutional Aid per Student #18
9
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #7
Students w/Institutional Aid #16
Institutional Aid per Student #6
10
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #14
Students w/Institutional Aid #3
Institutional Aid per Student #9
11
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #6
Students w/Institutional Aid #16
Institutional Aid per Student #8
12
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #17
Students w/Institutional Aid #5
Institutional Aid per Student #16
13
Philadelphia, PA
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation MSCHE

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #15
Students w/Institutional Aid #7
Institutional Aid per Student #5
14
Type:
Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation #N/A

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #19
Students w/Institutional Aid #2
Institutional Aid per Student #1
15
Saint Charles, MO
Type:
Private, Not-for-Profit
Cost:
$$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #18
Students w/Institutional Aid #1
Institutional Aid per Student #3
16
Lawrence, KS
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation HLC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #16
Students w/Institutional Aid #12
Institutional Aid per Student #7
17
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #8
Students w/Institutional Aid #18
Institutional Aid per Student #14
18
Type:
Public
Cost:
$$

School Services & Accreditation

Career Services Yes
Academic Counseling Yes
Accreditation SACSCOC

School Ranks in Category

Online Programs (in Subject) #1
Online Students #13
Students w/Institutional Aid #14
Institutional Aid per Student #19

Inside Look: Three Popular Online Art History Master’s

When looking into online art history master’s degree programs, you’ll want to get as much information as you can. To help you get a better idea of what a quality program looks like, we’ve profiled three that score high marks in affordability, study flexibility, and academic rigor. See what each has to offer below.

University of Houston

university-of-houston-logo

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

lindenwood-university-logo

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

azusa-pacific-university-logo

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

36

$401.18/credit

$14,442

36

$495/credit

$17,820

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.