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The MA in Art History

With three full-time, two part-time, and several affiliated faculty, we are currently the only program in the Northern Rocky Mountains able to offer students an innovative curriculum that fosters a critical understanding of the production of art and its environment from the ancient world to the present.  While maintaining a commitment to rigorous historical research, we work beyond the traditional boundaries of Art History to explore new perspectives arising from intercultural exchanges, interdisciplinary approaches, and theoretical inquiries.  Faculty have extensive experience in field, museum, and archival research, a strong record of scholarly publications, and strong backgrounds in theory and methods.  We prepare graduate students for careers in academic instruction, art administration, and art criticism.

Students may pursue studies in the following areas:

  • Ancient Greek and Roman Civilization
  • Medieval Western Europe 
  • Renaissance Italy and Northern Europe
  • Baroque Italy and Northern Europe
  • Rococo and Neoclassical France and Britain
  • Modern Europe and the United States
  • Contemporary Europe and the United States
  • Ancient to Contemporary China
  • Ancient Meso-America
  • Colonial to Modern America
  • Decorative Arts
  • Early Modern Print Culture
  • Museum Studies
  • Critical Theory and Methods

The program is supported by the Art History Graduate Offices, the Visual Resources Collection, the Helen E. Copeland Gallery, the Roland R. Renne Library, and the Museum of the Rockies.  Students participate regularly in departmental symposia with the expectation that they will become informed and effective writers and speakers.

We welcome inquiries and applications from students who have an academic background in art history or a broad spectrum of the humanities and social sciences.  Candidates should have the motivation to learn to read a foreign language, to employ analytical structures, and to make timely progress through the two-year program.  At the time of application, all graduate MA candidates are expected to have completed at least 30 units of undergraduate instruction in art history or a related field in the humanities, together with two years of foreign language.

If you have any questions please contact our MA coordinator, Melissa Ragain, at 

Art History Faculty

  • Todd Larkin, Professor Art History – Baroque to Impressionism
  • Regina Gee, Professor Art History – Greek and Roman Antiquity
  • Melissa Ragain, Associate Professor Art History – Modern and Contemporary, Art Criticism
  • Barbara Emberlin, Lecturer Art History
  • Harvey Hamburgh, Emeritas Faculty – Renaissance and Modern Art, Narrative Film

How to Apply

The M.A. Program welcomes applications from all those interested in seeking an advanced degree in Art History. No more than eight students are accepted each year to a thirty-two unit program that emphasizes focused study of cultural production from ancient times to the present and interdisciplinary connections with collateral departments in the Colleges of Arts & Architecture and Letters and Sciences. Art History faculty meet twice a year to read and assess applications, with a particular sensitivity to the students’ work and professional goals.


The application consists of a standardized form and processing fee required by the university as well as individual writings and documents required by the department.

  • You can complete the standardized form on line; please go the Graduate School homepage at
  • A non-refundable application fee of $70 is required for all applicants.

In addition to completing the application and paying the application fee, candidates for admission to the Art History M.A. Program must submit electronically  the following materials 

  • A letter of intent
  • Two writing samples
  • Unoffical undergraduate transcripts  (Official transcripts will be requested for formal admission) 
  • Two letters of recommendation

International applicants may also include an unofficial English proficiency exam score report and if available, a completed and signed Financial Certificate; please see the International Admissions Graduate webpage at for complete details.

Candidates are responsible for ensuring that all requisite application materials are submitted by March 15 for fall admission or October 15 for spring admission.

Guidelines: The faculty consider the letter of intent and the writing samples to be among the most important parts of the application. The letter should describe your main areas of research interest, including the region, period or style of the art to be researched, as well as potential thematic or topical concerns of interest, also include describe what skills you have acquired that will aid you in studying this field. As well as outline the skills or knowledge you will need to acquire as a graduate student in order to pursue your research topic. This may include resources you will need access to effectively conduct research in your chosen topic.  Please describe your ideal career outcomes after acquiring a Master's Degree from our program. 

The writing samples should be a substantial essays, and at least one should be a seminar paper or senior thesis, that demonstrates the candidate’s potential for advanced work in the discipline.

Letters of recommendation are most helpful when they speak of the applicant’s academic and professional achievements in Art History or related fields such as History, Literature, Foreign Language, and potential for graduate study. Letters from professors or curators are generally far more effective than those from counselors, employers, or friends.


Many graduate students receive teaching assistantships and fee waivers to help defray the cost of graduate study. However, financial aid is available to graduate students who show evidence of financial need. While such assistance may take various forms, most graduate students receive aid through loans or the work/study program.

For further information, consult the Graduate School on-line at and contact the Financial Aid Office (located on the lower floor of the Strand Union Building, MSU) at (406)994-2845.

Assistantships are awarded annually on a competitive basis; all interested students, including current TAs, must apply for the new academic year. Teaching assistantships are awarded in the spring for the following academic year. Teaching assistantships carry with them tuition waivers. Tuition waivers cover tuition only. Fees such as registration, building, computer equipment, insurance, etc. are not covered by the waiver.

In addition to teaching assistantships, advanced graduate students may be offered the opportunity to design and teach a summer course.

NOTE: If you are not a Montana resident, you may be eligible for 150% of in-state tuition under the WRGP-WICHE program. The receipt of a WRGP tuition change is not automatic and is subject to an additional review by the Graduate School and the College of Arts & Architecture. If you would like to be nominated to receive one of these limited spots, please request consideration in the application on the bottom of page 7 (check box). Then on page 8 upload a brief memo explaining why you feel you should be nominated. If awarded, you will be notified at the time of admission.

Professional Opportunities

Student should seek out a variety of the professional experience available to them. Students are encouraged to pursue internships or independent projects with:

Recent Awards

Jesine poster

MA Graduate Student Jesine Munson placed first in the category of Architecture, Arts, & Humanities for the 2015 Graduate Student Summit Research Rendezvous Poster Session with her poster entitled "Paul Klee and Comic Modernism." She will receive a $250 travel grant towards participation in a domestic professional conference and plans on attending our annual CAA conference in Washington D.C. and has also applied to speak at Boston University Graduate Symposium on the History of Art and Architecture.  Jesine is currently an adjunct teacher for the School of Art and a doctoral candidate in the American Studies program at MSU. 

MA in Art History Students

MA Art History studentMA Art History studentsMA Art History studentsMA Art History studentMA Art History student and Dr. Melissa RagainMA Art History student and Dr. Melissa RagainMA Art History student and Dr. Melissa Ragain

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