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Graduate Catalog 2016/2017

Art History (ATH)

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Master of Arts (M.A.)
CIP Code: 50.0703
College of The Arts (FA)
Total Minimum Program Hours Required (Post Bachelor's Degree): 38

Contact Information:
College of The Arts
School of Art and Art History Department (ART)
4202 E. Fowler Avenue FAH110
Tampa FL  33620

Program Director or Coordinator:
Helena Szepe
Phone: 813-974-2360


Faculty Search: The Arts Faculty List

Program Information

The School of Art and Art History offers MA studies in art history from the Renaissance to the present. Students receive individual attention from an active, award-winning research faculty, who expose students to the most recent approaches in the field. The MA program is unique in featuring small, intensive seminar-style courses. We see art history as an integral part of social and cultural history in a global context and our classes are interdisciplinary in scope. Course work can be supplemented by international travel and study-abroad programs sponsored by the School of Art and Art History. Our graduate curriculum is supplemented by additional course options at the University of Florida through our consortium agreement with UF: MA students may take graduate seminars in art history offered at UF and UF graduate students participate in our classes. Our strong links with area museums facilitate internships and future employment. The MA program provides an excellent foundation in graduate level art-historical analysis, research, and writing, an outstanding springboard for either continuing graduate studies (PhD) or professional work in a variety of arts fields.

Proficiency in a foreign language relevant to the student's area of specialization is required. Students consult with their advisors to determine the foreign language most appropriate to their scholarly interests.

Major Research Areas
M.A. Art History students are guided by the art history faculty in selecting their area of research after completing a year of graduate study. This program features an endowed chair in modern and contemporary art history.


Accreditation Information:

Accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of College and Schools.


Admissions Information

Admission Deadlines

There is an established University deadline for the submission of admission application materials. Programs may have earlier deadlines than the University deadline. The deadlines reflected below are the earliest of the two deadlines. Graduate Programs may continue to accept and process applications after the published deadline if space exists within the program. Check with the Program for availability.

Application Deadline (domestic application)

Fall: January 15
Spring: ---
Summer: ---

International Students

Foreign applicants who are outside the U.S. are required to apply for a visa. Depending on the country of origin, this may take a few months. So the deadlines for these international applicants may be earlier than the Program deadline and these applicants must apply prior to both deadlines. They are strongly encouraged to apply as early as possible. Foreign applicants who are in the U.S. and are currently on a visa may use the domestic application deadline dates. In addition to meeting the published application deadline for the Program of interest, all immigration documents should be submitted as soon as possible, but must be on file at USF no later than the following processing deadlines:

Fall: January 15
Spring: ---
Summer: ---

Admission Requirements

You must comply with general University policies and meet general University Admission requirements in addition to those listed below.

Must meet University requirements (see Graduate Admissions) as well as requirements listed below.

Program Admission Requirements

Admissions is competitive. The MA Art History program accepts applications for fall admissions only. The electronic application and fee payment for USF graduate Admissions must be completed by January 15 at Supportive application materials can be submitted online beginning September 30 to January 15 at All official transcripts must be postmarked by January 15 and sent directly to the School of Art and Art History.

  • Departmental Requirements plus a research paper dealing directly with Art History or a related discipline (literature, political history, psychology, philosophy or classical studies).
  • Three letters of recommendation from people who can professionally assess the applicant's ability to do scholarly and academic work.
  • A short essay of one to two pages explaining the applicant's research interests and goals for graduate study in art history.
  • A personal interview by the Art History faculty may be requested.

Undergraduate Deficiencies in Art History

  • Students pursuing graduate studies in Art History, who do not have an undergraduate degree in Art History will be expected to complete four undergraduate Art History survey courses plus two courses in critical studies.
  • Exceptions can be granted only with consent of the Art History faculty.

Language Requirements
Reading knowledge of the foreign language most relevant for study and research in the student's area of specialization must be acquired before the end of the second semester of enrollment in the program. Please see the Academic Advisor for exceptions to this rule.

The student may take appropriate courses in the Division of Language or Classics Program. Whenever the courses are available, the student should be encouraged to take one of the special one semester foreign language courses designed for graduate students.

When these courses are not available, the student may take two semesters of a beginning foreign language course. These courses may not be taken pass/fail or audit. In order to fulfill the foreign language requirement, the student must receive a letter grade of “B” or better in both courses. Courses taken to fulfill the foreign language requirement will not count toward hours necessary for graduation and the grades in these courses will not be computed in the student's graduate GPA.

Students may elect to take the GSFLT (Graduate School Foreign Language Test). The student must achieve a score of 450 or above on the test in order to fulfill the foreign language requirement.

Students may take a proficiency exam in which they translate, from a foreign language into English, materials relevant to their particular disciplines. The form of these proficiency exams should be devised by the appropriate language professors from either of these two units.


Admissions Status: Apply (Direct Receipt)


Program Degree Requirements




Thesis Option Course Requirements


Six critical studies seminars in art history
Thesis Writing


Qualifying Paper Option Course Requirements


Eight critical studies seminars in art history
Writing the Qualifying Paper


To learn about a range of art-historical methods, graduate students are required to take the critical studies seminars in a variety of historical periods and taught by different faculty.  A student should, if possible, have at least one graduate class in these three areas:

  • Ancient/Medieval
  • Early Modern (15th-18th centuries)
  • Modern (19-21st centuries).

Museum experience is encouraged for all students, but course credit for museum internships is limited to those seeking a Certificate in Museum Studies.

Thesis and Qualifying paper options
Students either write a qualifying paper or thesis to complete the requirements of the M.A. Program. Students should consult with the Coordinator of the Graduate Program and the faculty to determine which option is the best for them; the final decision rests with the faculty.  For either option, a B+ average or above is required in courses taken to fulfill Program graduate credits, for students to move on to this final phase of their graduate studies.

The M.A. in Art History is a two-year program for students who attend full time, but the thesis option often takes longer to complete.

Qualifying paper option
Requires 8 seminars in art history (32 hours), with 8 additional hours of electives, plus 2 hours for preparing the qualifying paper (in the fourth and final semester).

The qualifying paper should demonstrate the student's ability to do significant art-historical research, to persuade by effective use of evidence and argument, and to write fluently and clearly. The qualifying paper will usually be a substantially revised seminar paper and should be about 15-20 typed pages in length, excluding endnotes, bibliography, illustrations or other materials. Students choosing this option should form a qualifying paper committee by the end of the second semester of their first year. The Committee is composed of a major professor and a second  faculty member. Members of the Committee are faculty in the School of Art and Art History, of which one must be tenured or tenure-earning. The major professor will usually be the professor who oversaw the writing of the original seminar paper. Students pursuing this option download the relevant form at Students are responsible for collecting committee members' signatures. The M.A. Program Coordinator must authorize all committee assignments with his/her signature.

When submitting drafts of the qualifying paper to committee members, students must allow faculty members two weeks to read any given version.  Remember that first drafts usually have to be extensively revised, often several times, before the qualifying paper is accepted. Faculty are not normally available during the summer to read qualifying paper drafts.

The qualifying paper committee must approve the qualifying paper before the student can graduate. Qualifying papers must be submitted two weeks before the last day of classes of the semester in which the student wishes to graduate.  The major professor, in consultation with the other faculty member, notifies the Academic Advisor of the School of Art and Art History of approval of the paper before the end of the semester. If a paper is not approved, the student may revise and resubmit it a second time. It is the student's responsibility to stay abreast of Graduate School deadlines and registration requirements in the final semester, which are available online at

Thesis option
Requires six seminars in art history (24 hours), with 8 additional hours of electives, plus 6 hours of thesis writing (4 hours in the third semester and 2 hours in the fourth and final semester).  Students writing the thesis should work with faculty during the second semester to begin developing potential topics.  By the end of the first year, students who wish to write the thesis should decide on a thesis topic with a major professor from the art history faculty. The topic is usually related to research done in a seminar. During the following summer students prepare the thesis proposal.  The proposal should define a significant research problem and explain how the topic has the potential to contribute to scholarship in the field; it must include a research plan and a critical review of the scholarly literature on the subject area.  Thesis proposals will be presented to faculty and fellow graduate students in a public forum at the beginning of the third semester.  Each presentation is followed by discussion, which provides an opportunity for students to receive suggestions and recommendations from faculty and peers. If the proposal is declined, the student will be eligible to pursue a Qualifying Paper.

If the art history faculty approves the thesis topic, the student should form a thesis committee by the end of the semester in which they have successfully proposed a thesis topic,  and have thereby achieved thesis candidacy.

The committee is composed of at least two members and the major professor. The major professor and at least one other committee member must be chosen from tenured or tenure-earning art history faculty, or otherwise as approved by the Coordinator of the M.A. program.  Students forming the thesis committee download the relevant form at Students are responsible for collecting committee members' signatures. The M.A. Program Coordinator must authorize all committee assignments with his/her signature.

While moderate in length and considerably more limited in scope than a doctoral dissertation, the M.A. thesis must demonstrate the student's ability to do original, independent research of publishable quality. The thesis should be approximately 35-40 typed pages of text – the usual length of a journal article – excluding notes, bibliography, illustrations or other materials. When submitting drafts of the thesis to committee members, students must allow faculty members two weeks to read any given version. Remember that first drafts will have to be extensively revised several times before the thesis is accepted. Faculty are not normally available during the summer  to read thesis drafts.  The thesis committee must approve the final thesis before the student may schedule a date for the M.A. Thesis defense. The examining committee will consist of the thesis committee and at least two additional questioners who are chosen by the student in consultation with the thesis committee. Students should keep in mind that the questioners must also be allowed two weeks to read the draft of the thesis after it is accepted for the defense by the thesis committee. The oral defense is open to the public. No defenses are scheduled during the summer.  Immediately after the orals, the examining committee meets to determine whether the student has passed the oral examination and whether the thesis is acceptable in its current form.

NOTE: It is usually necessary to make some changes in the thesis after the oral defense. Allow at least one week between the oral exam and the Graduate School deadline so that you will be able to make the changes.

Ideally, the student will complete the thesis and submit it in the fourth semester. It is the student's responsibility to stay abreast of Graduate School deadlines and registration requirements in the final semester. Check with the USF Graduate School for specific deadlines and requirements for the M.A. thesis and graduation. These are available online at All theses must be submitted electronically.

Transfer of Credit - There is no automatic transfer of special student credit or graduate credit earned at other institutions or from other graduate program in the university towards M.A. Degree requirements.  The School of Art and Art History has designated a six hour limit on all credit taken as special student status.  Any transfer of credit or special student hours to be used toward M.A. degree requirements are only granted after a faculty review at the time the student has been accepted into the M.A. program.




Thesis: Master's







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Registration Process

First, contact your graduate program advisor for guidance courses to register for. Obtain any electronic course permit if necessary. Register for the new student orientation online at Then go to the link to OASIS, USF's on-line registration system to register for your classes. Follow the directions given on-line.

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