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Master of Art, History of Art

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Since 1960, the MA program in the history of art at Tulane has prepared outstanding students for careers in research, teaching, and museum work. 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. The MA stipend is about $18,100 a year.

Admission requirements:

Application to the program is made online through the Graduate School. The following must be uploaded by January 10, along with the application fee:

  1. a completed application form, including a Statement of Purpose
  2. three completed confidential recommendation forms and letters
  3. score results from the GRE; international students should also 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

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. All applicants to the MA program must take the GRE exam.


The MA requires 24 credit hours (8 courses) at the 6000 and 7000 levels, 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.

The 700-level courses are for graduate students only and are sometimes taught in tandem with 300-level courses for undergraduates. The 600-level courses are taken by juniors and seniors as well as graduate students. Both include seminars on special topics. In recent years, such topics have included: The Use of Antiquity in the Middle Ages; Word and Image in Early Italian Painting; Giotto and the Art of the Narrative; Michelangelo; Cellini; Degas; Manet; Art History and Photography; Modernism in the Americas; African-American Art; Visuality, Representation and the Body; Reading Abstract Expressionism; Revising the 1960s; Postmodern Formations: Art since 1980; Aztec Iconography; Mexican Manuscript Painting; Images and Meaning; and Approaches to the History of Art; Latin American Avant-Gardes of the 1920s. 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 fist 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 Southeast Architectural Archive and its Special and Louisiana Collections serve students of American art. Tulane University is also home to the Middle American Research Institute, the Newcomb College Center for Research on Women, 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.

If you have any questions regarding admission into the graduate program, please check our Graduate Admissions page and our Frequently Asked Questions section.


Application deadline is January 10th. All requirements can be completed online. See:

School of Liberal Arts: applying to the graduate program

School of Liberal Arts application form:

Please email Molly LeBlanc,, with questions about the application process. For other questions about the program requirements, please contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Professor Stephanie Porras,

Art History Graduate Program Handbook (pdf)

[revised 2/4/2019]