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College of Arts and Sciences

Preparing for Art History Careers and
Graduate Study

boston college fine arts department

Things to do as an undergraduate to prepare for a career in art history

Art history students pursue careers in a wide range of professions, both inside the art world and beyond it. Our Art History page provides information about art history as preparation for professional life. The following resources will give you an idea about the types of careers you might pursue in the field.

  • Career Alternatives for Art Historians. Created by an "insider" (Art History Professor Charles M. Rosenberg — try to ignore the Notre-Dame seal that appears all over the page's background!), this very useful page lists types of jobs along with the skills and background required for each, and links to relevant job listings. Professor Rosenberg enlisted the assistance of colleagues in specialized fields (for instance, conservation) to help with the compilation of those sections of the page. He also provides sample job listings, information (and references to articles) about prospects for employment in the field, and sage wisdom.
  • What can I do with a major in Art History? List of types of jobs and employers, and the recommended skills, background and "strategies" for each job type. Compiled and updated by career counselors at the University of Tennessee, with input from Art History faculty members. Includes links to professional organizations and US Government Occupational Outlook information for specific professions.
  • What can I do with a degree in Art History? (Portland State University). List of job titles reported by Art History graduates, a summary of transferable skills possessed by Art History majors, and an access link to "Vocational Biographies," career stories of real people (many with Art History backgrounds) in various professions.
  • Occupational Outlook for the Fields of Education, Training and Library Occupations. From the US Government Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Asuza Pacific University had compiled lists of top traditional careers in art history | top self-employed jobs for art historians, and top non-traditional art history careers.

Internships

One of the most valuable things you can do to learn about careers and to gain experience is to pursue an internship. Start by exploring the links below, but be sure to check in with the BC Career Center regarding the process of looking for and making the most of an internship, as well as any additional opportunities they may know about. This blog post offers useful advice about finding and securing an intership.

Art History Job Listings & Career Resources

Things To Do as an Undergraduate to Prepare for Graduate Study in Art History

Although you can find entry-level jobs in the art world with a B.A. degree, to advance in many institutions and organizations, you will need to pursue graduate study, either for a master's degree or doctorate depending upon your career path. For instance, many positions in museums, historic houses, arts organizations, and auction houses require an M.A. in Museum Studies, Historic Preservation, Arts Administration, or Art Business. Students interested in Art Law will need to obtain a J.D. at a law school that teaches this specialization. If you wish to hold a research position, such as a professor or museum curator, you will need a Ph.D.

  • Meet with your advisor in the Fine Arts Department
  • Use the College Art Association's Directory of Graduate Programs in Art History, available at Bapst Library Reserve Desk (call no. N385 .G73 2011) to research programs
  • Consider what type of graduate program matches your career goals
  • Study the languages you will need: M.A. programs normally require one foreign language; Ph.D. programs require two or more including German. Specific requirements vary by program
  • If you are interested in doctoral programs, determine which art historical field you wish to specialize in, which graduate programs are strong in that field, and which scholars you wish to study with (one way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the work of those scholars)
  • In researching programs, ask to speak to current students and alumni of that program

News

In January and February, the Boston Athenaeum sponsored a series of panel discussions on "The Future of Museums." The topics included "Museums and the Public," "Museums and Technology" and "The Future of Museum Governance." Thomas Campbell, Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Amit Sood, Head of the Google Art Project were among the eminent participants in the discussions. Videos of the three events are available here (free registration required).

Temples of Delight
In this recent article from its special series on museums, The Economist reports on the growing success of museums worldwide, a trend that bodes well for those interested in pursuing careers in these institutions.

Additional articles in this series include The Bilbao Effect (if you build it, will they come?), On a wing and a prayer (why so many museums are venturing into new works), Mad about museums (China is building thousands of new museums, but how will it fill them?) and Feeding the culture-vultures (What museums must do to satisfy an increasingly demanding public).

Liberal Arts Majors and Employment
This new report from the Association of American Colleges and Universities provides evidence that, while Liberal Arts majors may start out earning less, their salaries will eventually catch up to – and even surpass – those of professional and pre-
professional majors. The data also strongly suggest that earning a graduate degree can further increase earning power for Liberal Arts majors.