Master of Arts in Art History (MA)

Master of Arts in Art History (MA)

The M.A. in Art History is designed as a two-year program of study offering a broad range of courses in art history, with many opportunities for advanced study and independent research. The Art History M.A. degree provides a comprehensive foundation in western art, as well as critical, cultural, and visual theories and methodologies. We welcome students in all areas, and our faculty specialize in Classical, Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque Europe, American, and Modern and contemporary art. Areas of focus are Mediterranean Archaeology, including digital methods.

Our M.A. program will develop skills in critical thinking and visual analysis applicable to a wide range of professional and civic pursuits and will prepare the student for further study in the field or for an arts-related career. The M.A. is a necessary preliminary degree for the Ph.D in art history, but it is also increasingly a requirement for entry-level employment in many arts-related fields.

Students wishing to pursue a career in museums have rich opportunities at UNL. Graduate students in seminars work with objects from the Sheldon Museum of Art, which has a world-class collection of American art on UNL's campus, with both depth and curical works by Georgia O'Keefe, Marsden Hartley, Edward Hopper, Arthur Dove and numerous others. Students are encouraged to work with Sheldon's boldings through internships or minors at the International Quilt Study Center. This strength in American art is complemented by the Great Plains Art Museum, another on-campus gallery with a nearly complete set of Remington and Russell bronzes and a broad collection of 20th century Native American and Plains art. Students considering ancient and medieval-renaissance may also take advantage of collections at the Joslyn in Omaha and the Nelson-Atkins in Kansas City.
Funding is available for M.A. students through teaching and curatorial assistantships. Students may also apply for funding through the School of Art, Art History & Design and the Hixson-Lied College of Fine and Performing Arts to attend and present at conferences, and to conduct research, such as archaeological fieldwork in Greece and Turkey.

Mediterranean Archaeology

Students of ancient art at UNL have many opportunities for archaeological fieldwork and to enhance their research with cutting-edge digital technologies. Our focus is Mediterranean and Classical archaeology, spanning the prehistoric through Byzantine periods, and faculty in affiliated departments bring additional expertise in Mesoamerican, historical archaeology of the American Southwest and the Great Plains, and methodology. Our M.A. program will prepare students wishing to expand their knowledge and skills before applying to a Ph.D. in Ancient art, Classical archaeology, and related fields.

Our flagship project is UNL’s excavation at the Roman-era site of Antiochia ad Cragum in Turkey, directed by Professor Michael Hoff. The field school, for graduate credit, includes comprehensive training in archaeological methods and survey, excavation, and exploration of the site’s plentiful architectural and sculptural remains. It also offers a rich source for M.A. theses. Dr. Philip Sapirstein is involved in a number of field projects in Greece and Israel, using a variety of innovative 3D techniques for the recording and visualization of architecture and sculpture. Recent projects include 3D scanning and visualization at Corfu and Olympia.

Digital Archaeology

Digital archaeology is a major strength on campus, and Art History is represented in the Center for Digital Research in the Humanities on campus. The faculty affiliated with this highly interdisciplinary enterprise includes archaeologists with expertise in textual analysis, mapping, GIS, landscape archaeology, 3D recording and visualization, and related fields. We encourage students in our M.A. program to take advantage of these many opportunities for research into ancient art and archaeology—a field currently being transformed by the new opportunities for analysis and publication offered by digital techniques.

Affiliated Faculty at UNL:

Program Requirements

The M.A. program requires a minimum of 36 credit hours, balanced between coursework designed to promote coverage of the field, cross-disciplinary explorations, focused research, and a written thesis. M.A. candidates must pass a written comprehensive exam by their third semester and an oral exam on their thesis research. Competency in a modern foreign language is also required.

Applicants will ordinarily have a bachelor’s degree with an art history major or minor, however we recognize that M.A. applicants may come from a wide variety of backgrounds that may require individual structuring of their programs. Those without a demonstrated background in art history may be advised to take undergraduate courses in art history prior to admission to the program or concurrent with their M.A. studies (these classes will not count toward M.A. program requirements). Regardless of an applicant’s undergraduate major, admission to the M.A. program assumes a minimum of a B average in undergraduate work. In addition, the applicant must meet the standards of admission to the Graduate School, and must take the Graduate Record Examination (GRE).

Minors, specializations, and certificates

The requirements for the M.A. in Art History are flexible in order to allow a minor in any number of fields. Students are encouraged to seek minors, specializations, and certificates in related fields such as:



  • arts administrator
  • instructor
  • gallery manager
  • museum educator
  • museum registrar
  • curatorial assistant
  • restoration specialist
  • preparation for a Ph.D. program

Application to this program

The School of Art, Art History & Design has an entirely online application system. The application for the MA in Art History has two parts. Due to a waiting period between parts one and two, the application will require several days to complete.

Read more about graduate application