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M.A. Program

The M.A. program in art history and archaeology allows students to delve into advanced research in the discipline, develop expertise in undergraduate teaching and build connections with a broad range of professionals in the field.

Students should consult the department's M.A. requirements, stipulated here, together with those of the Graduate School, outlined in the Graduate HandbookFor further information contact the department's coordinator of graduate studies, Deborah Down.

Program Requirements and Policies

Course Requirements

Successful completion of 30 credit hours is required for the master of arts degree. 

Coursework must include:

  • ARTH692: “Methods in Art History” (3 credits)
  • Seven 600- and 700-level ARTH courses (21 credits)
  • ARTH799 (6 credits) 

M.A. students meet with their advisor every semester to determine course selection.

Art history is a global and transhistorical field, and graduate education at the University of Maryland is fittingly diverse. All students therefore must fulfill distribution requirements. Coursework for the M.A. must include at least one course from each of four topic areas:

  • Art before 1800
  • After after 1800
  • Art outside Europe and the United States
  • Art from Europe and/or the United States

Note that a single course may fulfill one of the chronological areas as well as one of the geographic areas. No one course, however, can fulfill both of the chronological topic areas or both of the geographic topic areas.

A minimum grade of "B-" is required for all courses approved for graduate credit. Two grades below "B-" result in dismissal from the program.

Foreign Language Requirements

All M.A. students are required to take an examination in one foreign language necessary for research in their art-historical field. The languages are to be determined by the major field advisor and approved by the director of graduate studies. Students needing additional preparation are urged to register for an intensive language course. 

Entering students must take their first foreign language examination in the first semester, customarily scheduled by the department for the second or third week of September. If the examination is not taken during the first semester, it will be considered an unsuccessful attempt. If a student fails the examination, another opportunity to take it will be given toward the end of the second semester. If the examination is failed a second time, the student will not be allowed to register for credit after that semester. Resumption of the program may be accomplished by passing the examination at a later time.

M.A. Thesis or Qualifying Paper

To obtain an MA degree, students must submit a paper of 8000-10000 words in length. This may be either a seminar paper that has been extended and rewritten (ie., a Qualifying Paper) or a new piece of research (ie, a Thesis). For the terminal MA degree, a Thesis is required. In conceptual terms, this should be the equivalent of a scholarly article or a dissertation chapter; like one of those, it should present an original argument supported by solid research in the necessary languages, using primary and secondary sources and employing an appropriate method of analysis. Captions must accompany the illustrations on the same page; content of the captions may vary slightly according to the subject. 

The committee will be allowed a minimum of four weeks in which to read the thesis and conduct the oral examination.

Thesis Committee

An M.A. thesis committee comprises three faculty persons (including the advisor), who are members of the Graduate Faculty at the university.  Two of the three members of the committee must be full-time Departmental faculty.  The advisor must submit to the Director of Graduate Studies a list of all committee members at least four weeks before the final copy of the thesis is distributed. If the Qualifying Paper was originally written for a professor other than the student’s PhD advisor, that professor will be on the committee but the advisor will still officially chair the committee.


M.A. Thesis Examination

A final one-hour-long oral examination of the M.A. thesis or Qualifying Paper will be held when the student has completed the work to the satisfaction of the student’s advisor, all other requirements for the degree have been completed, and a 3.0 grade point average has been earned

Based on the committee’s evaluation of the thesis and its own review of the student’s academic record, it will determine whether or not to award the M.A. degree, and whether or not to recommend the student’s advancement to the Ph.D. program. The student’s advisor will submit a brief narrative evaluation report (1-2 paragraphs) reflecting the views of the entire committee to the department.

All students who wish to undertake a Ph.D. program in the Department, and were provisionally accepted before their M.A. work,  are required to submit a Petition to Undertake a Ph.D. Program form [link]. This form must be submitted to the Director of Graduate Studies within two weeks of the M.A. thesis defense. Students who were not provisionally accepted to the Ph.D. program in their original admission to the graduate program will need to formally apply to the Ph.D. program according to the regular deadlines.

Satisfactory Progress

A student must make satisfactory progress in meeting programmatic requirements, demonstrate the ability to succeed in his or her course of studies or research and attain performance minima specified by the graduate program in all or in particular courses; otherwise his or her enrollment will be terminated. All graduate students are required to submit an annual report on their progress to degree to the director of graduate studies.



Specific deadlines for students intending to graduate will be announced on the ARTH graduate-student reflector and are also available from the Graduate School's Deadlines for Graduates. Most of the necessary paperwork for these deadlines can be found on the Graduate School's General Forms for Graduate Students.

Graduate Placement

Recent alumni are currently employed at both public and private research universities, as well as smaller liberal arts colleges. Students from the graduate program have also gone on to work at museums and galleries.

Graduate Placement

Contact Us

Deborah Down

Coordinator of Graduate Studies, Art History and Archaeology

4219 Parren J. Mitchell Art-Sociology Building
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-1487

Elizabeth Honig

Professor, Art History and Archaeology

4216 Parren J. Mitchell Art/Sociology Building
College Park MD, 20742

(301) 405-1490