Graduate Study

Graduate Study

The Master of Arts program enables students to gain a deeper understanding of the history of art, its objects, and its methods. An integral component of this program, which sets it apart from many others, is “the museum experience”: the opportunity to study in art museums and work with museum professionals. Closely linked to the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, the program also utilizes other significant art resources found in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, such as the Dallas Museum of Art, the Sid Richardson Museum, the Meadows Museum, the African-American Museum of Dallas, the McKinney Avenue Contemporary, the Trammell and Margaret Crow Collection of Asian Art, and the Nasher Sculpture Center. Centering on the art object, the program allows students to expand their knowledge of the historical, stylistic, and theoretical dimensions of the visual arts, while having the practical experience of working directly with art objects and in museums with professional staffs. Graduates of the program will be prepared to engage in work at the Ph.D. level and pursue careers in the teaching and art museum professions.

Graduate students in the art history program benefit from generous funding opportunities. Each year, four to six applicants are awarded full tuition waivers along with stipends of up to $10,000. Among these stipends are the prestigious Kimbell Fellowships.

Internships

Each graduate student will complete a semester-long internship in an art museum or related institution. The objective of the internship is to provide the student with the practical experience of working in an arts institution. The internship may take a variety of forms in a range of departments, but will, in every case, afford the student the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the arts profession.

Travel Opportunities

TCU Art History graduate students have opportunities for research travel with grants available on a competitive basis from the Mary Jane and Robert Sunkel Art History Endowment. Recent Sunkel grants have funded graduate student travel to New York, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Paris, London, Dresden, Italy, Mexico, and Cuba.

 

Admission Requirements

Applicants will normally have completed 18 semester hours (6 courses) in art history. The department will consider applications from qualified students in other fields. Applicants are expected to have studied one foreign language–French, German, Italian, Spanish, or one approved by the department–for two years or have reading proficiency. The TOEFL exam is required for foreign students. The application must include:

  • a statement of no more than 250 words describing the applicant’s academic and professional objectives
  • a writing sample that demonstrates art history research skills, not to exceed 20 pages in length
  • Three letters of recommendation
  • GRE General Test

February 1: Deadline for receipt of applications to the M.A. program.

For further admission information and application instructions, visit the Office of Graduate Studies web page.

Degree Requirements

The program requires 36 hours of course work, including the thesis. Upon approval of the faculty, entering students may transfer in up to 6 hours of graduate study in art history. Passing a reading proficiency examination in a foreign language is required.

Required Courses

  • ART 70003: Art Historical Methods (3 hrs)
  • ART 70013: The Art Museum (3 hrs)
  • ART 70100: Museum Seminar (3 hrs)
  • ART 70983: Art Museum Internship (3 hrs)
  • Thesis (6 hrs)

The remaining 18 hours are elective courses; students are strongly encouraged to enroll in courses that reflect chronological and geographical diversity. Students are advised to take at least one course from each art history faculty member in their areas of specialization. Examples of recent graduate seminars include: The Post-Modern Body; American Art in 1939; Gender in Mesoamerican Art; Gender, Saints, and Sinners in Early Modern Italy; Surface Issues: Painting from 1750-1890. Generally, a student may not earn more than 3 hours of graduate credit in coursework taken outside of the art history program.

Thesis Requirement

The thesis is to be fulfilled by a paper, or its equivalent, that demonstrates advanced research skills. The thesis should be the result of independent study, the revision and improvement of a seminar paper, or writing generated by the student’s museum internship. In all cases, the topic must receive approval of the student’s advisor. The thesis will be overseen by department faculty members, in conjunction with a museum professional.

Foreign Language Requirement

Students are required to pass a reading proficiency examination in French, Italian, Spanish, German, or another language approved by the faculty upon entering the program. Students will be expected to translate two passages into English, one with the use of a dictionary and one without dictionary.  Each passage will be no more than 250 words, and students will be given 30 minutes to complete each portion of the exam.

Foreign language exams are administered to ensure that students can do art historical research in a foreign language.  To this end, students are encouraged to make sure that they have a good understanding of basic grammar and vocabulary, as well as important art historical terminology. Students whose basic knowledge of a language or mastery of basic terminology in art history appears to be unsatisfactory will not receive a passing grade on the exam. Language exams will be graded on the following scale: high pass; pass; low pass; fail. The dictionary and non-dictionary portions of the exam will each be graded separately. Students are required to pass both sections of the exam for the M.A. in art history.

Students who do not pass the examination have two options:

  • Option 1: Retake and pass the examination at the beginning of the following semester.
  • Option 2: Enroll in two semesters (or an approved equivalent) of second-year foreign language study and earn at least a “B” in both semesters (or the equivalent). This option must be completed before the beginning of the second year of graduate study.  Students who elect this option should be aware, however, that our fellowships do not provide funding for foreign language study, so they must make their own financial arrangements if this course is selected.

Final Oral Examination

This university requirement will be fulfilled by a “capstone conversation” between the student and her/his thesis committee by reviewing and assessing the student’s work and progress.

Current Courses

Core Graduate Courses

ART 70003 Art Historical Methods
Seminar focusing on the historiography of art history and current methodologies employed by the discipline. Topics include the origins of art history; research techniques employed to study the production and reception of the art object; the premises and results of contemporary modes of interpreting the art object, as well as current issues in the field.

ART 70013 The Art Museum
Seminar assessing a broad range of historical and contemporary issues, practices, and concerns of art museums, and which examines more specifically, the collections and philosophies of the Amon Carter Museum, the Kimbell Art Museum, and the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The class includes numerous museum-site sessions.

ART 70100 Museum Seminar
Seminar offering students the opportunity to study an art historical topic in depth, within an art museum environment. The specific topics vary, but always center on direct encounter with actual works of art. The seminar will meet the majority of the time in a museum and include the participation of museum professionals. Examples of recent museum seminars include: Love and Marriage in Eighteenth-Century Portraiture; Art of Mexico; Bernini; and American Art in 1939.

ART 70300 Special Topics Seminar
Seminar offering the opportunity to study various significant topics in depth.

ART 70983 Internship
Semester-long internship in an art museum or related institution. The objective of the internship is to provide the student with the practical experience of working in an arts institution. The internship may take a variety of forms in a range of departments, but will, in every case, afford the student the opportunity to make a tangible contribution to the arts profession. An internship contract is drawn up between the student, her/his advisor, and a museum professional, who serves as the intern’s supervisor.

ART 70996 Thesis
Completion of a paper, or its equivalent, that demonstrates advanced research skills. The thesis should be the result of independent study, the revision and improvement of a seminar paper, or writing generated by the student’s museum internship. In all cases, the topic must receive approval of the student’s advisor. The thesis will be overseen by department faculty members, in conjunction with a museum professional.

 

“The graduate program at TCU provided a perfect mix of academic training and museum-based experiences. Thanks to close ties with local art museums, I was able to take classes in the museums, learn about different job opportunities across the field, and was able to intern at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth. The practical experience gained from learning in museums paired with the critical thinking and writing skills gained in the classroom were invaluable assets as I transitioned into my current job.”

– Alejo Benedetti, MA 2015, Curatorial Assistant, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art