Master of Arts, History of Art

The Newcomb Art Department offers a two-year MA program in Art History that prepares students for careers in museums, galleries, non-profits, and foundations, or for further study at the doctoral level. The program emphasizes conceptual thinking, current research methodologies, and critical understanding of art practices within their cultural contexts. Faculty members specialize in a wide range of artistic practices, from Pre-Columbian to Contemporary, and the program benefits from affiliate faculty in Tulane's Department of Classical Studies and the Stone Center for Latin American Studies. About a third of our graduates have continued toward their doctoral degrees either at Tulane or elsewhere. The program welcomes students who have majored in fields other than art history.


Tulane is a Tier-1 research university located in the dynamic city of New Orleans, an international and culturally rich setting. The city's highly regarded art insititutions include the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Contemporary Arts Center, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, as well as a number of galleries, artist-run spaces, and the Prospect.New Orleans triennial of contemporary art. Students are encouraged to take advantage of internships at local art insitutions such as New Orleans Museum of Art, and study with museum collections. 


Generous financial support is available in the form of fellowships, teaching assistanships, and tuition waivers. Typically all admitted students are offered tuition waivers and most receive stipends. For 2019/20 the MA stipend was $18,264. 

Admission requirements

Application to the program is made online through the Graduate School. Application deadline is January 10th. All requirements can be completed online. The following must be uploaded by January 10th, along with the $50 application fee*

  1. a completed application form, including a Statement of Purpose
  2. three completed confidential recommendation forms and letters
  3. international students should send score results for the TOEFEL
  4. unofficial transcripts of all undergraduate records and any previous graduate work (official transcripts are required of all students who accept admission)
  5. a writing sample (e.g., a term paper) that demonstrates research, analytical, and writing ability

* McNair Scholars are eligible for a waiver of the application fee. McNair scholars should e-mail documentation of their McNair scholar status to: to obtain the waiver. 

To be competitive, applicants should have earned strong grades as an undergraduate, achieving at least an overall 3.2 grade-point average and 3.4 in the major.

Application instructions

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Application timeline

Application opens: early fall
Application deadline: January 10
Classes start: August 24


The MA requires 30 credit hours (8 courses at the 6000 or 7000 level and 2 thesis-writing independent studies), plus a thesis.

According to their specialization, students will fall into one of the following two tracks: ancient and early modern studies (track I), or modern and contemporary studies (track II). Distribution requirements call for students in both tracks to take one class in each of the following three areas: 1) Classical, Byzantine, Medieval, Pre-Columbian; 2) Renaissance, Baroque, Colonial Latin American; 3) American; Modern Europe, US, Caribbean, and Latin America. Students in each track are also expected to take three classes with the regular faculty teaching in the area that most closely relates to their own research, and who will most likely be in their theses committees.

600-level courses are seminars taken by juniors and seniors as well as graduate students. The 700-level courses are for graduate students only and are sometimes taught in tandem with 300-level courses for undergraduates. Recent courses have included: Medieval Manuscripts; Giotto and the Art of the Narrative; Leonardo’s World; Renaissance Empires of Exchange; Early Modern Copies; Jesuits and the Globe; Race and National Mythologies in American Art and Visual Culture; Interracial Themes in Western Art from the Queen of Sheba to Barack Obama; Scandals of Modern Art;  Paris: Capital of the Nineteenth Century; Reading Abstract Expressionism; Art and the AIDS Crisis; Mexican Manuscript Painting; Images and Meaning; Global Surrealisms; Art History: Theory and Methods. With the permission of their graduate advisor, students may take two courses outside the art history program.

Language requirement

Reading proficiency in at least one foreign language relevant to the student's work is required. French, German, Italian, Latin, and Spanish are especially useful for research in art history. The requirement is satisfied by passing a reading exam. Because reading knowledge of foreign languages is necessary for research in most art-historical fields, students are urged to take their language exam early.


An important step in the MA program is the writing of a thesis and its subsequent oral defense. The thesis may be the outgrowth of a seminar paper, or it may focus on a special interest of the student insofar as it falls within the area of competency of the faculty. Students work with their graduate advisors in selecting the appropriate topic, establishing the thesis committee, and preparing the thesis prospectus by the end of the first year. A member of the thesis committee may be from another department or school in the university. While moderate in length and considerably more limited in scope than a doctoral dissertation, the MA thesis should demonstrate the student's ability to do research of publishable quality. The defense usually takes place a month before the end of the last semester.

Local resources

Among the important resources available at Tulane is the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library that, with well over a million volumes, possesses relatively large holdings in the history of art. Its Latin American Library is one of the finest specialized collections in the country. Howard-Tilton's Southeastern Architectural Archive and its Louisiana Research Collection serve students of American art. Tulane University is also home to the Middle American Research Institute, the Newcomb Archives and Vorhoff Library, and the Amistad Research Center with its extensive African-American collections. The university enjoys excellent working relationships with other local institutions, such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the Louisiana State Museum, and the Contemporary Arts Center.

Contact us

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If you have any questions regarding admission into the graduate program, please check our Graduate Admissions page and our Frequently Asked Questions section. If you are interested in scheduling a campus visit or have other questions about the program requirements, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Dr. Adrian Anagnost,

If you have further questions about the application process, please email Molly LeBlanc,

Art History Graduate Program Handbook (pdf)

[revised 01/05/2021]