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Master of Arts (M.A.) in Art History

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The Master of Arts program in art history requires a minimum of 30 s.h. of graduate credit and is offered with thesis. M.A. students are expected to acquire a broad knowledge of art history and to become familiar with major periods and monuments of world art. They also become proficient scholars, receiving training in research methods and theory necessary for subsequent scholarship at the PhD level.

M.A. students must maintain a GPA of at least 3.50. Only one semester of academic probation is allowed. All M.A. candidates, including transfer students, must take at least 24 s.h. in residence at the University of Iowa.

M.A. students in art history must earn a grade of B or higher in semester-long upper-level courses in five of the following distribution fields:  Asian, Ancient Mediterranean, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque, 18th- and 19th-century European, American,  and Modern/Contemporary. These courses must be taken after the B.A. is granted.

M.A. students must complete a qualifying paper that demonstrates their ability to conduct scholarly research and convey ideas in writing appropriately for the discipline and for the student's specialization field.

Overview: University of Iowa Graduate Program in Art History


Applications to the M.A. program in art history, with all supporting materials and requests for financial aid, must be received by December 15 for fall admission in the following year.  Please see Apply Now link for complete information.

Required Courses

M.A. students in art history must satisfactorily complete during their first fall semester of enrollment and must register for an art history seminar in their first, second, and third semesters of enrollment. They also must satisfactorily complete every semester that they are enrolled for 9 s.h. or more; students who register for less than 9 s.h. are strongly encouraged to attend the colloquium, as well.

Courses outside the curriculum of the School of Art & Art History's art history division do not carry art history credit. Cross-referenced courses not taught by art history faculty members also do not carry art history credit.

Directed Studies

Directed Studies (ARTH:6040:0IND) is designed for graduate students who already have taken one or more advanced courses in a specific art history field. It provides students with an opportunity to work one-to-one with a professor to continue specific research interests developed in lecture courses or seminars, or on topics that eventually may be the subject of a thesis or dissertation. Directed Studies cannot be substituted for a lecture course already offered in the program. Students must discuss their decision to take Directed Studies with the professor involved and have the professor's approval. The Directed Studies topic must be within the professor's range of expertise.

Students meet with their Directed Studies professor once a week. The hours of work and written assignments required for Directed Studies must be equal to a comparable regularly scheduled course. Directed Studies is not available through Guided Correspondence Study.

Language Requirement

M.A. students must demonstrate proficiency in French or German by the end of their third semester. Students may demonstrate proficiency by a) two years of university-level coursework, b) earning a grade of B or better in a 3000-level advanced language course, c) achieving at least an 80% proficiency score on the level 5 milestone of the relevant Rosetta Stone language program, or d) in exceptional circumstances, making a direct petition to the faculty after receiving the recommendation of their advisor. 

M.A. Committee

The M.A. committee consists of the student's MA thesis advisor and two additional tenured or tenure-track faculty members in art history.

M.A. Qualifying Paper

M.A. students must complete a qualifying paper on a topic that stems from a term paper written for an art history graduate seminar or a 3000-level course.  The paper should be between 5,000 and 7,500 words in length (20 to 30 pages exclusive of bibliography and illustrations). A student chooses an advisor who specializes in the student's field of concentration.  In cases where a student wants to focus on a topic that involves more than one field, the art history faculty strongly recommends that the student work closely with faculty members in both fields.

Final Examination

The final examination constitutes an oral defense of the M.A. qualifying paper. The final examination meeting with the M.A. committee normally takes place toward the end of the student's last semester of course work.