MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History

The M.A. in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism is a fully online program that focuses on modern and contemporary art.

The MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History is an innovative, fully online program that focuses exclusively on modern and contemporary art. Rooted in solid historical training and current critical methods, the program develops students’ skills in visual analysis, close reading of texts, and the cultivation of independent and original research. Upon completion of the program, students are equipped with skills that are vital to further academic study as well as to the pursuit of a variety of careers in the arts.

Program Highlights

  • Courses offered in a convenient online format
  • Part-time or full-time study allowed
  • Courses delivered in accelerated 8-week terms that start several times per year
  • Multiple entry points that enable students to select the best time to start their graduate education
  • Experienced faculty who are professionally active scholars committed to student success

Foreign Language Requirement

Before completing the MA program, students must demonstrate knowledge of a modern foreign language (note: American Sign Language does not fulfill this requirement). Students may fulfill the requirement by:

  • Passing ART 560 Reading and Translating French (offered online by APU). Note that ART 560 does not count as coursework toward the degree.
  • Passing a CLEP language exam with a score of 50 or better. The CLEP exam may be taken at one of more than 1,800 designated test centers worldwide. Available language exams include French Language: Levels 1 and 2; German Language: Levels 1 and 2; and Spanish Language: Levels 1 and 2.
  • Presenting evidence of completion of a semesterlong course in a foreign language from an accredited college or university with a grade of B or better. The course may be at the undergraduate level, but it must cover oral and written aspects of the language. Contact the director of the MA program for more information on how to submit the documentation necessary to fulfill the foreign language requirement in this manner.
  • Native speakers of a language other than English may be considered for exemption from the language requirement, along with students who have completed study in a foreign language at a foreign university. Contact the director of the MA program for more information.


Core Courses12
ART 550History of 19th-Century Art, Criticism, and Theory3
ART 555History of 20th-Century Art, Criticism, and Theory3
ART 565Methodologies of Art History3
ART 575Writing Art Criticism3
Choose 18 units from the following courses:
Directed Experience
Theories and Practices of Abstraction
History of Modern and Contemporary Sculpture
Visual Culture
Regional Modernism
Modernism and the Museum
Modernism and Religion
Special Topics
Optional Foreign Language Course 1
Reading and Translating French
Master’s Capstone6
ART 618Master's Capstone I3
ART 625Master's Capstone II3
Total Units36

This course is available to meet the foreign language requirement; it does not count toward the required 36 units for the degree.


University graduate admission and program-specific requirements must be met before an application is complete (see Admission to the University). Program-specific application requirements are available online.

International students should contact Graduate and Professional Admissions for application procedures.

Program Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete this program shall be able to:
  1. Students obtain advanced knowledge of specialized areas of art history and gain proficiency in interpreting images/objects in ways that consider the historical contexts in which they were produced and received.
  2. Students are versed in the historiography and methodologies of art history and are able to apply the fundamental methods of the discipline in their academic work.
  3. Students are able to assess and critique complex scholarly arguments and to critically evaluate the strength of the visual and textual evidence presented.
  4. Students develop advanced skill in art historical research and are able to locate and enlist research resources in both print and digital form and assess the strengths and weaknesses of various types of resources.
  5. Students acquire the writing and communication skills necessary for the accurate investigation and dissemination of art historical research.
  6. Students demonstrate reading proficiency in a foreign language.
  7. Students graduating with an M.A. in Art History are prepared for entry into a Ph.D. program or the job market.