Careers & Graduate School

Are you thinking about a career in art history? Art history students pursue careers in a wide range of professions, both inside the art world and beyond it. Here are some steps you can take to explore and prepare for your career:

Do I need to go to graduate school 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 art history, 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 professor or museum curator, you will need a Ph.D.

To prepare for Graduate School

  • Meet with your major advisor.

  • Use the College Art Association’s Directory of Graduate Programs in Art History 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. Specific requirements vary by program.

  • If you are interested in doctoral programs, determine in which art historical field you wish to specialize, which graduate programs are strong in that field, and with which scholars you wish to study. One way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the work of the various scholars in your field of interest.

  • Speak with current students in and alumni of the programs in which you have interest.