A master's in art and art history is a gateway into the art world, from museums and galleries, to graphic design and academic research. Art history equips you with a strong historical framework coupled with the analytical, critical analysis, and communications skills necessary to make informed interpretations of artistic developments. These interpretive decisions guide curatorial outcomes, market values, and investigative analyses that dictate the contemporary art market. In terms of job outlook, the growth of related carriers in curation, archives, and museum work is projected at 13% between 2016 and 2026, nearly twice as fast as the average job growth according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).

What Are The Best Online Master's in Art & Art History Programs?

Rank School Location Cost Graduation Rate Description Toggle

Azusa Pacific University

Azusa, CA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 67%

Azusa Pacific University offers a master of arts in modern art history, theory, and criticism that trains learners to interpret and comment on contemporary works. Graduates of this online art history master's program possess research skills and aesthetic knowledge for making scholarly field contributions. The program also explores historic characteristics that shape modern art.

To earn APU's master's in art history online in two years or less, learners complete 36 units in asynchronous courses such as regional modernism, methodologies of art history, visual culture, and writing art criticism. Students must also complete a thesis and prove literacy in a foreign language. Further, APU students can explore worldwide art through study abroad programs in the spring, fall, or summer. Destinations include France, Italy, England, Israel, and Thailand. Graduates with this degree earn positions as teachers, curators, museum administrators, and archivists.

Applicants must hold a bachelor's and a minimum 3.0 GPA, and they must submit a letter of intent, two recommendations, a resume, and transcripts. APU may also insist on a Skype interview. Once accepted, candidates complete a two-week virtual orientation before beginning courses. APU's master's in art history online is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Modern Art History, Theory, and Criticism
Tuition: $630/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 17-24 months

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum
Standardized Tests: GRE, CBEST, MSAT, CSET, or PRAXIS/SSAT (if GPA requirement not met)

Phone: (626) 815-2064
Email: art@apu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


University of Nebraska at Kearney

Kearney, NE Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 61%

The University of Nebraska Kearney delivers a master of arts in education in art education with two emphasis areas: classroom education and museum education. Current art teachers can pursue the classroom emphasis for new teaching concepts and techniques. The museum emphasis explores exhibits and programs that connect artists, citizens, and teachers. Candidates who obtain this master of arts in art history online may qualify for positions as art directors, exhibit designers, curators, and children's museum educators.

The program includes 36 credits, with common asynchronous classes centering on art across the curriculum, art methods for young children, modern art history, and cultural studies through art. Students must also complete a research paper. Nine credits may be transferred into the program, but students wishing to do so must hold a bachelor's in a related field. Finally, UNK offers study abroad and exchange programs to places such as Ireland, Spain, France, Japan, and Australia.

Applicants to UNK's program submit a resume, recommendation letters, and a personal statement. Online students can access resources from Calvin T. Ryan Library, including e-books, articles, databases, and dictionaries. The Academic and Career Services department also provides students with Handshake accounts for job searches and provides mock interviews through Big Interview.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Education - Art Education
Available Concentrations: Classroom education; museum education
Tuition: $302/credit in-state; $482/credit out-of-state
Credit Requirements: 36 credits

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Phone: (800) 717-7881
Email: Gradstudies@unk.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Lindenwood University

St. Charles, MO Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 50%

Lindenwood University's School of Arts, Media, and Communication offers a master of arts in art history and visual culture that examines techniques and meaning behind masterpieces. Students learn to conduct research and present findings on paper and in person as art historians. Of importance to art majors, Lindenwood offers courses abroad, including a Renaissance art and culture course in Florence.

Lindenwood's online art history master's requires 36 credits, earned through graduate seminars and research courses, art history electives, and a required thesis or project. Candidates can complete this online degree in two years, or they can graduate in one year through the fast-track option. Fast-track students, however, must hold a related bachelor's and 3.5 GPA (learners with lower GPAs must take the GRE); this path also requires foreign language experience.

Candidates must submit GRE scores or hold a minimum 3.0 GPA to enter Lindenwood's online art history master's degree program. Other requirements may include recommendation letters, a statement of purpose, and an interview. Online students benefit from career assistance through Handshake, Focus 2, and Resume Maker, which help students determine suitable professions, find open positions, and improve application documents. The library also provides online students with access to digital resources.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Art History and Visual Culture
Tuition: $495/credit
Credit Requirements: 36 credits
Program Length: 2 years

Format: Online or hybrid

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0
Standardized Tests: GRE (if GPA requirement not met)

Phone: (636) 949-4863
Email: jhutson@lindenwood.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Fort Hays State University

Hays, KS Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 44%

Fort Hays State University delivers a master of liberal studies with an art history concentration that builds research and presentation skills and provides knowledge of different artistic eras, including ancient, medieval, baroque, and 20th century artistic movements. Candidates can finish this program in about two years, but they must maintain a minimum 3.0 GPA. Related careers include curators, postsecondary educators, and critics.

Students can earn this master's in art history online by completing 31 credit hours in courses such as information literacy, origins and implications of the knowledge society, and ways of knowing in comparative perspective. Candidates must also take comprehensive assessments, one of which addresses liberal arts core classes, the other of which focuses on art history. The department provides online resources, including a writing style guide and the liberal arts handbook, the latter of which offers tips on studying, test-taking, and preparing for graduation.

Applicants to FHSU's art history program should hold a bachelor's in studio art or art history. Other requirements include 12 undergraduate credits and a writing example in the field. Candidates who fall short of these criteria must obtain special consent to enter this art history master's program online. Online learners can access the library's digital resources and benefit from online tutoring through Smarthinking. Finally, a career services offices assists students with resumes and interviews.

Program Overview
Program Name: Master of Liberal Studies
Available Concentrations: Art history
Tuition: $288/credit
Credit Requirements: 31 credits
Program Length: 2-2.5 years

Format: Online
Instruction Style: Asynchronous

Admission Requirements
GPA: 3.0 minimum

Phone: (785) 628-4384
Email: esbittel@fhsu.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter


Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Natchitoches, LA Cost: $$$$$ Graduation Rate: 39%

Northwestern State University of Louisiana offers 40 virtual programs and ranks as one of U.S. News & World Report's top regional universities in the South. NSU's 33-credit master of arts in art explores artistic pieces and the historic factors that shape them. Learners can focus on areas such as sculpture, paint, photography, printmaking, illustration, and ceramics.

Students must complete research courses, a graduate seminar, a thesis exhibition, and a comprehensive exam. Earning this master of arts in history online degree requires on-campus residency for one semester or two summer experiences; summer residencies last three weeks each. What's more, online students can access career resources, including videos on professional wardrobe and interviews, as well as 24-hour crisis assistance and advice on mental wellness. Finally, like their on-campus counterparts, virtual students can explore digital resources through the school's libraries.

Admission to NSU's art history program requires GRE scores and recommendation forms. Candidates can also apply for graduate assistantships and department scholarships. In-state and out-of-state learners for this program pay equal tuition. This art history program is accredited by the National Association of Schools of Art and Design.

Program Overview
Program Name: MA in Art
Available Concentrations: Paint; sculpture; ceramics; digital media; jewelry/small metals; fibers; photography; printmaking; drawing; illustration; graphic design
Tuition: $475/credit
Credit Requirements: 33 credits

Format: Hybrid

Admission Requirements
Standardized Tests: GRE

Phone: (318) 357-6560
Email: defordm@nsula.edu
Social Media Accounts: Facebook; Twitter

What Else can I Expect from an Online Master's in Art & Art History Program?

Art history master's degrees online are highly individualized programs, and the specifics of the curriculum depend on the focus area you choose. Most coursework focuses on a particular time period or cultural specification, and many programs require qualifying foreign language exams to prepare students for independent research. The following sections explain the types of general coursework and key characteristics to expect in an online degree in art and art history.

Curriculum for an Online Master's Degree in Art & Art History

Most master's level coursework addresses historical and cultural movements or specific communities, such as the Victorian era, 1960s Pop culture, or art of the African continent. Even so, foundational coursework exploring theoretical methodologies and art criticism are integral to the field, regardless of one's particular specialization. The following list details common courses and the resulting skills typical in art history programs.

  • Art Historical Methodologies: Delve into the evolving history of art history, from its beginnings in symbolic and iconographic interpretations, through the political and psychological approaches now dominating the discourse. This class introduces you to field founders like Hegel and Kant, Panofsky and Warburg, and more contemporary theorists like Foucault, Derrida, and Lacan that shape our modern view of the past.
  • Art Historical Criticism: Gain a deeper understanding of art historical discourse through the foundations of art criticism. This course trains students to identify and break down arguments, and form counterarguments. Students edit and refine texts to build critical analysis and composition skills, which are integral to many jobs in the art world.
  • Master's Thesis: Research: Work closely with a small cohort of classmates and your academic advisor to execute individual research for your final thesis. This class will keep you on track as you identify a research topic, compose and submit a thesis proposal, and begin independent explorations.
  • Master's Thesis: Writing: Write independently or in groups in this second half of the thesis process. Expand your thesis proposal into a publishable research presentation, and hone your communication and writing skills in the process.

How Long Does it Take to get an Online Master's in Art & Art History?

Online programs offer the flexibility to enroll in the course load that best fits your lifestyle and career objectives. Typically, an online graduate degree in art takes between one and a half and two years to complete. The length of time is often dependant upon pre-existing language skills. Do you have the language background necessary to complete your master's thesis research? In most cases, students must demonstrate reading knowledge in the language of the country or community in their specialty (for example, reading knowledge of Italian for students of Italian renaissance art). The challenges of independent research and final thesis composition are also important factors to bear in mind, as the more obscure or theoretical the topic, the more time is potentially required for its execution. Be sure to think strategically about your personal skills and potential career directions when selecting your art history program.

Accreditation for Online Master's in Art & Art History Degrees

Even more important than choosing one's area of specialty is your choice of school. Completing a master's in art and art history at an accredited institution will set you up for success in your future career. Accreditation attests to the value of your education: it declares to potential colleagues and employers that your degree matches liberal arts standards across the country. At present, no specific accreditation board administers to the field of art history; however, all arts programs are protected under general standards set by the US Department of Education. This standardization is maintained by six governing regional boards, including the Middle States Commission on Higher Education and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. When choosing your graduate program, check their accreditation to ensure the value of your degree post graduation.

The Department of Education is a government administrative body that surveys and regulates education across the United States, from K-12 through higher education. Similarly, the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) is a self-regulating consortium of colleges and universities that standardize degree qualifications across post-secondary education. The regulations set by these groups maintain unilateral quality education across the US, and propel academic departments to consistently revitalize curricula in order to maintain competitive standards. To find out more about the qualifications of your potential graduate institution, take a look at the databases of qualifying programs on the Department of Education and CHEA websites.

Employment Outlook for Master's in Art & Art History Graduates?

Master's In Art & Art History Salary

Today's art history graduates find entering the art world increasingly challenging, as a bachelor's degree is no longer enough to attain well-paid, rewarding roles. A master's degree in art history will open doors and increase your earning potential across multiple career paths. As demonstrated in the table below, salaries both in and outside the art field increase by $6,000 to $30,000 between the bachelor's and the master's level.

Education Specialty Median Annual Wage with a Bachelor's Degree Median Annual Wage with a Master's Degree
Curator, Archivist, Museum Technician $41,300 $50,000
Education Administrator $52,000 $75,000
Postsecondary Teacher $43,800 $50,000
Designer $52,000 $62,000
Sales Manager $80,000 $110,000

Master's In Art & Art History Careers

Master's degrees in art history equip students with a deep understanding of cultural and artistic movements and the analytical and writing skills necessary to engage in art discourse. Art historians are attentive to detail, culturally sensitive, and passionate about individual expression, making this degree useful both inside and outside the art world. The following list details various jobs that require a master's in art and art history.

Art Director

Art directors work for magazines, newspapers, advertising companies, web-pages, and the film industry. By orchestrating imagery in multiple media, art directors design company or institution identities, and communicate those identities to consumers. These directors often manage artists, graphic designers, and administrative staff. In addition to the master's degree, this position requires five or more years of previous work experience.

Median Annual Salary $89,820
Projected Growth Rate 7%


Museum curators conceive, design, and execute temporary exhibitions and permanent displays in gallery spaces. This position requires a strong understanding of art historical trends, theoretical methodologies, and research skills. Curators also must be able to communicate to a non-specialist community, bringing locals and tourists alike into the museum.

Median Annual Salary $47,230
Projected Growth Rate 13%


Become a curator of historical documentation as an archivist. Archivists work with all sorts of documentation (including governmental, legal, and personal) in libraries across the world. Archivists organize, research, and publish on historical documentation to increase awareness of historical events and make primary documents available to a wider audience.

Median Annual Salary $47,230
Projected Growth Rate 13%


An art historian works with archives, libraries, museums, and galleries to reconstruct lost, underrepresented, or contemporary histories. This career utilizes skills acquired from the master's thesis to pursue and publish research topics. Most historians work as professional researchers and teachers. These positions often require additional certification or a Ph.D.

Median Annual Salary $55,110
Projected Growth Rate 5%

Sales Manager

Galleries, museums, and auction houses all need sales managers to function efficiently. Put your art historical skills to use as an acquisitions administrator by recognizing quality or rare works of art for personal or institutional collections. Depending on the company or institution, this position may also require an MBA.

Median Annual Salary $117,960
Projected Growth Rate 7%

Financing Your Online Master's in Art & Art History Program

As you determine how to finance your online degree, be sure to apply for FAFSA, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application will explain the federal assistance to which you are entitled, including subsidized and unsubsidized loans, federal grants and scholarships, and possible work study or internship opportunities. Also, check with your chosen graduate institution for possible department awards, which are typically merit or financially based. Additionally, look for scholarships and grants associated with specific historical fields. For example, students of ancient art history are eligible for funding from various classical and archaeological foundations.


Approximately two-thirds of today's college students rely on loans to fund their education, but there are plenty of overlooked financing options you can use to reduce your overall student debt.


Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a crucial first step for any student with financial needs. Our FAFSA guide features a step-by-step rundown on the process and answers to several frequently asked questions.


Financial aid for online learning is equivalent to what you'll find for campus-based learning, but that hasn't always been the case. Learn about the changes that have taken place, as well as the different funding opportunities available to online students.


Online college programs can be a flexible, affordable option for single parents who are interested in earning a degree and securing their family's financial future. We've compiled a list of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid options geared toward single moms and dads.


Millions of dollars in free money is available to U.S. military personnel, but much of it goes unused. Learn more about grants, scholarships, and other financial aid opportunities available to veterans, active-duty service members, and reservists.

Rankings Archive

Best Online Master's in Art and Art History Programs of 2018
Ranking School Location
1 Azusa Pacific University Azusa, CA
2 University of Nebraska at Kearney Kearney, NE
3 Fort Hays State University Hays, KS
4 Lindenwood University Saint Charles, MO
5 Northwestern State University of Louisiana Natchitoches, LA