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Art and Art History Department

MA - Art, Concentration in Art History and Visual Culture

The Master of Arts in Art History and Visual Culture offers a broad education in art history including preparation for a Ph.D. degree program. It also helps to prepare students for a graduate library degree with a specialization in art history as well as a variety of positions including community college professor, researcher, museum curator, art administrator, conservator, and visual resource librarian.

Additional information is available in the Art & Art History Department Office and on the department website: www.sjsu.edu/art/.

Admissions Requirements

Admission to Classified Standing

Depending on their level of preparation, applicants can be admitted in either classified or conditionally classified standing. Admission requires two steps.

In addition to the university admission requirements as outlined in this catalog, applicants must meet requirements for their area:

  • Art History and Visual Culture: completion of 30 or more college-level semester units or equivalent in Art History courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA. At least 24 units should have been in upper-division Art History courses. Courses in related academic areas will be assessed in reviewing qualifications of applicants. Reading knowledge of a foreign language related to the subject of the intended thesis research is strongly recommended.
  • Art Education: Completion of 45 or more college-level semester units or equivalent in appropriate Art courses with a minimum 3.0 GPA. At least 12 of these units must have been in Art History of which 6 units were upper-division courses and 3 units were in Art 138, Studio Art Experiences for Young People, or their equivalent.

Applicants from countries in which the native language is not English must achieve a minimum English-language proficiency test score as indicated on the Graduate Program Test Requirements webpage at GAPE.

Admission to Conditionally Classified Standing

Applicants who meet minimum requirements for admission to the Graduate Division but do not meet all other (programmatic) requirements (i.e., lacking prerequisites or GPA) may be admitted to conditionally classified standing. They will be advanced to classified standing when the Art History graduate advisor certifies they have satisfied all appropriate requirements.

Requirements for Advancement to Graduate Candidacy

Candidacy denotes that the student is fully qualified to complete the final stages of the MA - Art and is thus eligible to enroll in ART 299 (Master's Thesis) or ART 297B (Master's Project). In order to advance to candidacy, students must meet the university requirements for candidacy. General university requirements for advancement to candidacy for the MA degree are detailed in the Graduate Policies and Procedures section of this catalog. Candidacy includes successful completion of the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For graduate courses that meet the GWAR, refer to the GWAR Course List on the Graduate Studies website.

Additional departmental requirements for candidacy include

  • Secure commitment of three faculty members of the university, two of whom must be members of the Art and Art History faculty, to serve as members of the student's MA - Art project or thesis committee, with one regular Art faculty member agreeing to serve as chair. For candidates in Art History and Visual Culture, the chair of the committee and at least one other committee member must be art historians. This committee must approve the student's proposed program for the MA - Art degree no later than one month prior to the end of the semester preceding the one in which enrollment in the final project or thesis course(s) is planned.
  • Submission of a proposed curriculum program conforming to university and departmental requirements. The proposed program must be approved by the Art graduate committee before the student may be considered for the MA - Art. The proposed program must list a total of 30 semester units, of which at least 15 must be in courses at the 200 level. The proposed program must include the required seminars and ART 299 (Master's Thesis) or ART 297B (Master's Project). Electives to complete the 30 units may be drawn from approved 100 and 200-level courses.
  • Passage of the first of two comprehensive exams and the language exam.

Requirements for Graduation

University Graduation Requirements

Students must complete all residency, curriculum, unit, GPA, and culminating experience requirements as outlined in the Graduation Requirements section of the Graduate Policies and Procedures.

MA - Art Graduation Requirements

Requirements in the two areas or tracks are as follows:

  • Art Education: Of the 30 units required, 21 must be in Art courses and 9 units may be in related areas of study. The upper-division writing requirement and EDLD 221, ART 260, and one seminar must be completed before candidacy may be granted.
  • Art History and Visual Culture: Of the 30 units required, 21 must be in Art History and Visual Culture courses and 9 units may be in related areas of study. Five seminars (15 units) must be included. The MA - Art student with a concentration in Art History and Visual Culture must demonstrate reading knowledge of a foreign language related to the subject of the intended thesis research. The student must also pass a two-part comprehensive written examination designed to test general competence in Art History and Visual Culture. The second part of the exam is based on the candidate's thesis proposal once that has been approved by a pre-thesis committee. Attainment of candidacy and eligibility to enroll in ART 299 (Master's Thesis) will be contingent upon satisfactory completion of all comprehensive and language examinations.

Thesis Requirements

  • The thesis must meet university requirements as stipulated in this catalog and in the SJSU Master's Thesis and Doctoral Dissertation Guidelines (pdf). It will be written under the guidance of the candidate's thesis committee chair with the assistance of the thesis committee.
  • Thesis Examination: The candidate for the MA - Art degree must successfully pass a final oral examination based on the thesis.

Course Requirements

Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement
At SJSU, students must pass the Graduation Writing Assessment Requirement (GWAR). For information on the GWAR, please see http://info.sjsu.edu/gcw.html.
Requirements of the Masters30
Core Requirements15
Complete Five courses from:
ARTH 270. Seminar in Ancient Art3
ARTH 271. Seminar in Medieval Art3
ARTH 272. Seminar in Renaissance Art3
ARTH 273. Seminar in Baroque Art3
ARTH 274. Seminar in Nineteenth Century Art3
ARTH 275. Seminar in Twentieth Century Art3
ARTH 276. Seminar in Oriental Art3
ARTH 277. Seminar in Historiography3
ARTH 278. Seminar in Myth and Symbol3
ARTH 279. Seminar in Interdisciplinary Studies3
ART 282A. Seminar in the Theory and Criticism of Contemporary Art3
ART 282B. Seminar in Contemporary Art3
ARTH courses are repeatable for credit when course content changes
Electives12
Up to 12 units of departmental graduate advisor-approved 100-level electives. Six units may be taken from other departments with graduate advisor approval.
Culminating Experience3
2 Comprehensive Qualifying Exams
Language Examination
Complete one option from (Plan A or Plan B):
Plan A (Thesis)
ART 299. Master's Thesis or Project3
Plan B (project)
ART 297B. Master's Project3

Total Units:30

Elective courses must be planned in consultation with the Art History and Visual Culture Graduate Advisor.

The maximum number of upper-division undergraduate units that can be applied toward the master's degree is 15.

Upon completion of the degree requirements, the student must have achieved minimum candidacy and SJSU cumulative grade point averages of 3.0 in order to graduate.