10 Best Online Master’s in Art and Art History Programs 2021

OSR 10 Best Online Masters Art - History_OSR-BachelorsWhether you want to teach art, analyze artwork, or work in a gallery or museum exhibit, you should consider a master’s degree in art and art history!

You will need to earn a bachelor’s degree in art, art history, or a related field to apply for most master’s programs. The advanced study within a master’s program will offer a focused exposure to international artwork that broadens your understanding and appreciation of the global art experience. A master’s in art or an art history program is a prerequisite for most PhDs. 

What Is an Online Master’s in Art and Art History?

Pursuing a fine arts master’s degree will only broaden your exposure and add dimension to your creative process. The advanced degree focuses on historical art and modern influences in art. It also creates a global view of the industry for both seasoned and emerging professionals. Key components of a top art or art history master’s program are international exposure to artifacts and artists, historical research, art analysis training, and hands-on internship opportunities. Earning a best master’s degree in art and art history can open job opportunities as a museum curator, a conservator, or an archivist.

How Much Can You Earn With an Online Master’s in Art and Art History?

Obtaining a master’s from a best art history graduate program could lead you toward several different careers with varied potential earnings. According to the 2020 US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, art historians with a master’s degree earned about $63,100 annually while curators earned $56,990 annually and archivists earned $56,760 annually. Museum and historical institution salaries came in last at around $48,190. For master’s holders that choose to work as fine artists, earnings are determined by the prices of the individual art pieces the artist sells. There is unlimited earning potential for a gifted artist that finds commercial or collector success in the fine arts industry.

What Is Required For an Online Master’s in Art and Art History?

In order to pursue an online master’s in art and art history, a bachelor’s degree is typically a prerequisite. Applicants to most art or art history master’s programs will also need to prove proficiency in English and a second language. Also, students will need to prepare a portfolio of existing projects and coursework done in their undergraduate career to submit alongside their application. The academic study for the art and art history master’s will include theory, historical art research, emerging and modern art influences, and multicultural art traditions. Also, students should expect to engage in peer reviews and hands-on art and artifact project work. Since art and art history have an international appeal, study-abroad opportunities and international co-ops and internships will set applicants’ resumes apart after graduation.

What Are the Best Online Master’s in Art and Art History?

OSR uses six data points: three school-wide and three program-specific. For school-wide, OSR uses Student Satisfaction, Admission Rates, and the number of programs the school offers online. For program-specific, OSR checks the Median Debt of graduates from that program, how many degrees are offered within that program’s umbrella department, and what percentage of students at that school graduated from that department.

The six statistics are displayed by each school. The sliding bar under each statistic represents how that school compares to other US institutions. “Not reported” means a school did not release that information to the US Department of Education. A more detailed description of the OSR process can be found on the methodology page

Best Online Master’s in Art and Art History FAQ

Why is the study of art and art history important?

According to Shelley Esaak of ThoughtCo.com, we should study art history because it is “our history.” Before there were books, videos, and photographs, our history was depicted through art. While commercial artists, graphic designers, and fine artists need no education at all to enter the creative and unpredictable work of art, there are clear reasons for higher education in art. A master’s degree is a crucial step in the career path of a curator, archivist, or even an instructor wishing to teach at the college level.

While art is largely a subjective field, there are historical and modern criteria for analyzing and critiquing art. Beyond a bachelor’s program, a master’s program will hone the participants’ skills in critical thinking, analysis, and communication. In addition, master’s programs prepare professionals with the leadership skills needed to work in art education, museums, galleries, or historical research. 

Is a master’s in art and art history necessary with access to the internet?

You may be wondering, “is a degree in art history worth it”? According to Scott Rayburn’s article for the New York Times on “How Important is Art History in Today’s market,” the elitist reputation of an art and art history degree study is fading. Rayburn points out that digital access has modernized the spreading of current and ancient art, making this creative knowledge more available to the masses. What was once a “niche” market requiring a very specific set of skills and degrees is now becoming a more widely appreciated subject, available at the click of a button. However, the digital peak in the interest of art and art history proves that studying it is still valuable as classroom teaching will bring a deeper understanding to those who are seeking more than an internet search could provide.

With a master’s degree in art history, you can teach art history or fine art at the college level. Careers in public museums and private art galleries are also available to those with the educational experience of an art history master’s degree. And as the digital community continues to expand, curators of modern art will be in demand as well.  

Identify the specialty art focus that drives your own creativity and then review the universities below for details on their esteemed programs.

What is the cost to get an art history degree?

You will find a huge range for tuition and fees from school to school when looking at a master’s in art history. Tuition will vary among private and public schools as well. For example, the full-time cost for a graduate student for one year at the Academy of Art University is estimated to be $25,992. The average cost at Savannah College of Art & Design – Georgia is $38,475.  Whereas a full-time online graduate student at FHSU is $5373.90 per year.

  1. Academy of Art University

    Academy of Art University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $23,568(in state) / $23,568(out of state)
    • Complete with 36 units
    • Reading proficiency in another language is required
    • Final thesis completion required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction76.80%
    Programs offered online32

    Program Level

    Median Debt$83,689
    Programs in Department12
    Popularity at School72.74%
    100%
    OSR Score

    Earn a top-ranked online master’s in art from the Academy of Art University. Your education can open employment opportunities as a:

    • curator 
    • appraiser 
    • research
    • art writer or reviewer 

    Your coursework in this best online art master’s includes:

    • art history methodologies and theory 
    • art and culture in a global society 
    • directed study 
    • figure studio
  2. Savannah College of Art and Design

    Savannah College of Art and Design

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $36,765(in state) / $36,765(out of state)
    • Total of 45 credit hours required
    • Foreign language proficiency exam required 
    • Minimum 3.0 GPA in bachelor’s program

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.60%
    Admission Rate93%
    Programs offered online5

    Program Level

    Median Debt$75,851
    Programs in Department7
    Popularity at School55.35%
    72%
    OSR Score

    With a master’s degree from Savannah College of Art and Design in art history, you’ll study the evolution of art as a form of visual expression. This top art history master’s program emphasizes:

    • conducting research 
    • interpreting art and research
    • and leading critical analysis of art and artifacts

    A key feature of study includes study abroad programs and internship programs that connect you with galleries and museums around the world.

  3. University of Utah

    University of Utah

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $6,725(in state) / $23,740(out of state)
    • Total of 30 credit hours for completion 
    • Two-year completion timeframe
    • Two letters of recommendation for application

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.20%
    Admission Rate66%
    Programs offered online113

    Program Level

    Median Debt$15,000
    Programs in Department8
    Popularity at School6.41%
    72%
    OSR Score

    The fine arts master’s degree in teaching from the University of Utah is specifically designed to develop teaching-related art skills for students planning a career in the instructional side of art. Students will engage in group assignments, peer reviews, and will participate in discussion forums. Course study for this MA in Teaching Fine Arts will include art theory and art application.

  4. Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Northwestern State University of Louisiana

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,738(in state) / $16,526(out of state)
    • Two three-week, in-person summer sessions required
    • Total of 33 credit hours required
    • Graduate Thesis Exhibition required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction77.00%
    Admission Rate80%
    Programs offered online19

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,500
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School3.84%
    65%
    OSR Score

    The online master’s of art in the study of fine and graphic arts from Northwestern State University of Louisiana frames the degree with both historic and modern influences. Graduates will participate in art theory study, portfolio production, and hands-on project training to prepare them for a career in today’s art industry. The three focus areas available are:

    • design 
    • new media 
    • photography
  5. Case Western Reserve University

    Case Western Reserve University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $43,854(in state) / $43,854(out of state)
    • Total of 30 unit credits for completion 
    • Two submitted research papers representing past work, for application 
    • GRE scores required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.40%
    Admission Rate33%
    Programs offered onlineNot Reported

    Program Level

    Median Debt$24,500
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School2.73%
    63%
    OSR Score

    The MA of art and art history from Case Western Reserve University is specifically designed to investigate in-depth, art historical problems. Students study scholarly and bibliographic resources, the basic art historical periods, and train on art methodologies. Coursework will include:

    • world art 
    • modern/American art
    • baroque/renaissance art
    • ancient art 
    • medieval art
  6. Fort Hays State University

    Fort Hays State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $3,497(in state) / $9,961(out of state)
    • Bachelor’s in art history or studio art
    • Total of 31 credit hours for completion 
    • Professional resume

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71.20%
    Admission Rate89%
    Programs offered online22

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,000
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School1.86%
    62%
    OSR Score

    Earn a master’s in art history from Fort Hays State University. Students will find that this top online degree is all about developing a personal, creative form of visual art expression. A concepts of art class must be taken on campus but the other online coursework includes:

    • ancient art history
    • non-western art history
    • medieval art
    • baroque/renaissance art history
    • 18th-19th century art history
    • 20th-century art
  7. University of Nebraska at Kearney

    University of Nebraska at Kearney

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,712(in state) / $12,528(out of state)
    • Two letters of recommendation required 
    • Total of 36 credit hours for completion
    • Statement of purpose for applying for the program required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction71.40%
    Admission Rate82%
    Programs offered online7

    Program Level

    Median Debt$20,980
    Programs in Department2
    Popularity at School4.82%
    60%
    OSR Score

    The master’s of art in art education online degree from the University of Nebraska at Kearney offers students a practical way to incorporate art into teaching a curriculum. It is specifically crafted for existing K-12 teachers or for professionals in museum education jobs. Choose from two concentrations:

    • classroom education
    • museum education
  8. Radford University

    Radford University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $8,336(in state) / $16,862(out of state)
    • Total of 60 credit hours for completion 
    • Electronic portfolio required 
    • Minimum GPA of 2.75

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction74.80%
    Admission Rate74%
    Programs offered online2

    Program Level

    Median Debt$23,250
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School7.55%
    60%
    OSR Score

    The online master’s of fine art from Radford University graduates students who are prepared to work as a professional artist, graphic artist, or to teach studio art in a university. This curriculum focuses on hands-on fine art experience through project work. Students must successfully submit a first-year review and a second-year review. Student work is chosen to be featured in the student gallery on the university website.

  9. Azusa Pacific University

    Azusa Pacific University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $17,472(in state) / $17,472(out of state)
    • Total of 36 total units for graduation
    • Complete in 17-24 months for completion 
    • Integrated with a Christian world-view

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.60%
    Admission Rate60%
    Programs offered online4

    Program Level

    Median Debt$49,821
    Programs in Department1
    Popularity at School5.44%
    58%
    OSR Score

    The online master’s of art in modern and contemporary art history degree from Azusa Pacific University is built for students with an existing professional career. While employed they will learn to understand the historical methods and research practices of art. They will develop essential skills in:

    • research
    • critical thinking
    • visual analysis
    • written communications 
    • verbal communications
  10. Wichita State University

    Wichita State University

    Quick Facts

    • Tuition: $5,302(in state) / $13,022(out of state)
    • Total of 30 credits for completion 
    • 3.0 GPA required
    • Final project required

    School Wide

    Student Satisfaction75.20%
    Admission Rate94%
    Programs offered online15

    Program Level

    Median Debt$21,000
    Programs in DepartmentNot Reported
    Popularity at School4.02%
    58%
    OSR Score

    The online master’s of art in arts leadership and management from Wichita State University offers students training to work in non-profit arts organizations, in leadership roles. Coursework focuses on the skills needed to run the business side of an organization as well as the leadership skills needed in the art community. Management classes include: 

    • fundraising 
    • strategic planning 
    • audience development