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Top 3 Online Art History Master’s Degree Programs

An online art history master's degree student

What inspires you? The great paintings and sculptures from antiquity? Today’s world of galleries and art sales? The themes and trends in photography, fashion, or video art? Understanding how artworks relate to culture and gathering the language and critical inquiry skills to discuss them is just part of what you will learn in an online art history master’s degree. Being immersed in the art and culture of past societies around the world or around the corner can be an inspiring and pleasurable endeavor, but it can also lead to art history degree jobs in museums, education, auction houses, writing, and more. If your passion is in thinking and writing about artworks from any period in the past to the most contemporary visual arts, then an online master’s in art history may be a great way to get that degree while keeping your current job and family life.

What is an Online Art History Degree Like?

Art history graduate programs come in slightly different flavors, with various online art colleges offering courses that cover different periods in art. Some will have more courses that connect the ancient world of art to the renaissance or medieval periods in art history, while others may emphasize art from modern to contemporary. All will require looking at many different photos of artworks and reading theories that pertain to how the works were created, how they fit into a cultural context, the techniques and styles of different artists, and meanings that artists and viewers assigned to the work. All art history master's programs will cover research skills, as these are important to careers in the field. With these tools, each student will complete a capstone project or written thesis on a topic within art history.

You can expect to study hard, write about art and theory, and interact with other students and faculty in online forums while you get your Master of Arts art history online degree. Like any other degree, each class will require at least a few hours of studying each week. Most programs will allow you to study at times most convenient to you, without having to attend any “live” online sessions. You will participate in discussions in online forums, complete homework, and watch presentations that your professors assign. How much time you will require each week will depend on how many classes you take and the workload for each class.

Who Earns an Online Master’s in Art History?

People from all walks of life who are interested in the visual arts enroll in graduate schools for art history. Some may already have an undergraduate degree in art history or fine art, but many have completely different careers, yet are inspired to take their interest in art to the next level with an online master’s in art history. There are other online art school majors that relate to art history, like museum studies or arts administration programs, but an art history degree online can allow graduates to pursue art degree jobs in both museums and arts administration as well as other settings to work with art. Many people who decide on this degree may be teachers who want to specialize more in the history of art, art lovers who want to pursue their interest as an avocation, artists who want to apply their visual skills to historical topics in art, or people who are simply interested in the visual history of culture. Art history graduate programs can prepare graduates for a doctoral degree in art history or to go on to researching or archiving important works of art. The possibilities for graduates are broad, with jobs in museums and galleries, corporate consulting, education, libraries, and the commercial world of art dealing.

Is an Online Art History Master’s Degree Worth It?

The wonderful part of taking an online art history master’s degree is that you can access amazing materials and resources online, interact with your classmates and faculty, and do all of this work at times that fit in with your life. Whatever your current job, when you attend online art colleges, you can get an affordable art history degree online while you continue earning money and staying exactly where you live. You can pursue your dream and immerse yourself in the wonderous history of visual arts without quitting your job, moving to a different city, and upending your life. On top of this, online art school can make your vision of the future something you can afford right now, with low costs for online attendance, all while gaining the skills and knowledge that most interests you. So, with low tuition, convenient classes you can schedule around your life, and the rich visual history of art waiting in your computer, this can be a terrific way to become an art history major without taking a lot of risks. When you complete your degree, you can seek ways to apply your skills to positions that will pay well while they inspire you every day. Having work that you love can be the greatest reward of pursuing a degree in a field you are passionate about, and it helps that many of the jobs you can find pay very good salaries.

When you are deciding on what program to take, you can look at art history graduate programs rankings, but like many fields in art, your career after your online art school will be largely decided by you. Large museums might be impressed by a well-known school, but your skills and knowledge will be what can set you apart from other art history majors, so it may be less important to go to a famous school. What is most important is to figure out which of the many art history master’s programs has the classes you are interested in taking, will fit your schedule and your budget, and can help you to shape your future into a life that will be fulfilling. For most people who are inspired by the history of art, studying with great teachers and becoming engrossed in artworks through the ages will be enough. There are many graduate schools for art history, but we have chosen the most cost-effective online schools that provide high-quality online art education.

Top 3 Online Art History Master’s Degree Programs

  1. Lindenwood University

    Degree: Master of Arts in Art History & Visual Culture
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    The online master’s in art history from Lindenwood University can be completed in as little as one year, depending on how many courses you take at a time. Full time or part time study is possible. Students can decide on a thesis or non-thesis option to complete the program. The 36 credits of study include such courses as Ancient Art, Twentieth-Century Art/Modern, Non-Western Art, History of Games & Critical Theory, and History of Costume and Fashion to 1900. The many great courses allow students to follow their interests when choosing 18 credits of their program, while there are 18 required core credits. There are also required courses in research methods, seminars, a comprehensive exam, internship options, and courses to help with the thesis or directed project near the end of the program. Applicants should have a 2.8 GPA from their undergraduate work, and if their bachelor’s is not in a related field, they may be required to take leveling courses. For those with a GPA lower than 2.8, either GRE scores or three recommendation letters will be required. Students may be able to apply up to 9 transfer credits to the program.

    Lindenwood University is bound by Judeo-Christian values, including integrity, excellence, dedication, creativity, and community. There are multiple start dates per year, grants and scholarships available, and the school accepts military benefits. In addition, payment plans are available. The complete program is online, with no campus visits required, though internships may require on-site work. All classes are asynchronous online, meaning that it is easy to fit in your studying around work and family life. While most students finish the program in two years, students can take up to six years to complete their degree if needed. For an incredibly low-cost, flexible, and interesting art history degree online, the Lindenwood University MA is a great online art program.

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    Master of Arts in Art History & Visual Culture


  2. Azusa Pacific University

    Degree: Master of Arts in Modern Art History, Theory, & Criticism
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    With 8-week terms, the Azusa Pacific University online art history masters degree makes for a very convenient way to study art history. Courses are all offered in asynchronous online format with no campus visits required. Students can complete the program in 17-24 months. The program focuses on modern and contemporary art topics, but includes historical and current critical methods while encouraging original research. The 12 credits of core courses include History of 19th Century Art, Criticism, and Theory; Methodologies of Art History; and Writing Art Criticism. Students can choose 18 credits of electives from courses such as Directed Experience, Theories and Practice of Abstraction, Visual Culture, Regional Modernism, Modernism and Religion, and more. Students take two capstone classes. There is a foreign language requirement, which can be fulfilled by taking a course at Azusa, demonstrating proficiency with a CLEP exam, or showing proof of a course taken at another university with a grade of B- or higher. Note that American Sign Language does not fulfill this requirement, and native speakers of another language may be exempt.

    Applicants should have a bachelor’s from an accredited university with a 3.0 GPA, though some with lower GPAs may be admitted with additional proof of competency. While APU is a Christian institution, students from all faiths are welcome. The study of art as it relates to religions of the world is covered, and students should be open to learning about the Christian faith. The 36-credit program is affordable, and APU offers financial aid and payment plans in addition to helping students access outside support of various types. For students who seek an online art education that encompasses contemporary art and utilizes a Christian faith perspective, the APU program is terrific. For any art history major who wants an affordable, convenient, and thorough masters in art history online, the APU program could be a great choice.

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    Master of Arts in Modern Art History, Theory, & Criticism


  3. Academy of Art University

    Degree: Master of Arts in Art History
    Total Cost (In-State & Out-of-State):

    Academy of Art University’s online masters in art history is unique in that it sits within a well-established school of fine art and design with practicing artists all around. Delving into the academic study of art history in this environment provides a lively and grounded understanding of not just the history of art, but of how the contemporary art world has been built upon that history. Courses in this 36 credit program include Art History Methodologies and Theory, Egyptian Art and Archeology: to the Death of Cleopatra VII, Crossing Borders: Art & Culture in a Global Society, Italian Renaissance Art, Dada & Surrealism, and Figure Studio. Applicants to this online art history degree should have a BA in art history or related field, or at least 12 credits of undergraduate work in art history with two courses at the upper level. Students who are not native English speakers will be required to submit TOEFL scores. Foreign language proficiency in French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish or Greek is required, with either 12 credits of language taken during the MA program, 12 units transferred from another institution, or passage of a proctored exam.

    Students can customize their program schedule to meet their needs, but the whole program can be completed in two years or less. Another option for students at AAU is a study abroad summer program in Florence, Italy. Academy of Art University has a very sophisticated online interface for learning, with some of the best technological teaching formats for fine arts, making the online experience with this program exceptional. A vibrant online artistic community is a feature that many students enjoy. With the combination of studio art and art history classes in the top-notch online art history master’s degree, students will gain a great education that will prove valuable to any art world career that they choose.

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    Master of Arts in Art History


What Can You Do with an Online Art History Master’s Degree?

Graduates of art history master’s programs can go into traditional jobs in the field such as becoming and archivist, museum curator, researcher, museum educator, historian, librarian, teacher, museum inventory specialist, or public art program manager, just to list a few. For those who are more interested in art history degree jobs that touch the commercial world more, they could consider becoming an auction house manager, appraiser, art restorer, art dealer, antique connoisseur, or a corporate consultant.

Not everyone who enrolls in online art school will want to go into the traditional art history degree jobs, and there are many careers where having this degree can enhance your professional knowledge and skill but doesn’t result in museum or art dealer positions. For some people, art degree jobs can be more freelance and independent like being a fine artist, an art critic, a writer, a publisher, a photo editor, or another career where you can work in a studio or for a publishing entity. If you get your master of arts art history online, you can also apply those skills as an art director for film or television, an arts administrator for current arts organizations, or you could work in visual technology for any number of web-based companies.

Art History Careers

If you take your master’s in art history online to get a job working at a museum, the outlook for those jobs is that they are predicted to grow 11% between 2019 and 2029, which is much faster than average. So, if you want to become an archivist, a curator, or a museum worker, there are many jobs in this area. The median salary is $52,140 for this category of professionals, although curators make more, with a median of $56,990. Becoming a librarian pays slightly more, at a median of $60,820, and these positions are expected to increase 5%. Similarly, becoming a writer pays a median of $67,120, but writing jobs are predicted to decline by 2% during the same period.

For those who want to teach, being a high school teacher at a private school which may not require a teaching license is an option, with a salary median of $58,550 for those who teach in private schools. College instructors and professors make more, at a median of $80,790 per year, but most full time university jobs will require a PhD. However, community colleges and adjunct teaching positions may accept just the online master’s in art history. To go another route, graduates might pursue a position as an art director for magazines, television, or film, and these careers have a median salary of $97,270 per year. For those who want to work at an auction house, employees of Sotheby’s average $87,805 per year, but the highest earners can make over $200k.

Start Your Art History Degree Now!

With the affordable and respected art history graduate programs ranking on our list, there is no reason to delay your degree. If you love art, culture, and to explore the visual language of art, then now is a great time to start on the road to getting your online art history master’s degree. You can start almost anytime, with many school having multiple start dates every year, and since you can study entirely around your schedule, you can begin to live your dreams today!

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