Complete Guide to an Online Art History Degree
Prospective art history students will find accredited online degrees at the associate, bachelor's, master’s, and certificate levels in our comprehensive list of online art history degrees. Art historians preserve the history of human artistic expression, and through teaching, help members of a society develop an understanding and an appreciation for art. Applying interdisciplinary tools and perspectives, art historians study and interpret artwork, attempting to understand it, and then convey its meaning and significance.
Before enrolling in an online art history program, students are strongly encouraged to verify that their institutions of choice have received regional accreditation. In addition to regional accreditation, some art history degrees at art colleges may have received programmatic accreditation from the National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD). Institutions that have earned regional and programmatic accreditation have met rigorous academic standards that help to ensure students receive a quality education.
Comprehensive List of Accredited Online Schools - Art History Degrees (8)
Online Art History Degree Overview & Career Information
Online associate, bachelor's, master’s, and certificate programs all help to prepare students for employment in the art world, but some positions require higher levels of education than others. An associate degree in art history provides general education, basic critical thinking skills, problem-solving skills, and an introduction to art history, preparing graduates for entry-level and internship positions.
Bachelor's level coursework provides students with comprehensive exposure to the history of art. Students learn the research skills necessary to determine the significance of various artworks regarding style, genre, technique, and iconography of works. This exposure prepares them for entry- to mid-level employment job opportunities in museums, galleries, and studios.
Graduate studies in art history provide education in specialized understandings of art and its cultural significance, as well as art preservation practices. Such education programs help to prepare graduates for high-level jobs at museums, galleries, and universities, where they can use their in-depth knowledge in management and other leadership positions.
Online bachelor's degree programs in art history cultivate skills such as critical thinking, problem-solving, human relations, and creative expression, which prepare students for a broad range of art and non-art-related careers. With art history knowledge, bachelor's degree program graduates may pursue different entry-level jobs in the art field, such as museum technician, tour guide, art consultant, or gallery assistant. The same knowledge and skills gained in a bachelor's program can make graduates eligible for non-art-related entry and middle-middle level positions in marketing, business, journalism, retail, web design, and educaton, with titles such as store manager, business analyst, office assistant, and public relations specialist, to name a few.
Online undergraduate art history coursework emphasizes a broad understanding of art aesthetics and iconography throughout the ages, and of the particular socio-cultural contexts in which artworks were created. Students should expect to take classes in specific art periods, ranging from the prehistoric to the contemporary, as well as art theory and practice in western and non-western regions of the world. Electives provide students opportunities to supplement their art history knowledge with general history and other culture-related topics that give more context to art as a human expression. An online bachelor’s degree in art history requires 120-130 academic credits and takes a full-time student around four to five years to complete.
Online bachelor's degree in art history programs are offered by four-year colleges and universities, and art schools, and require a high school diploma, GED, or completion of transfer requirements from a community college to gain admission. Some institutions may ask students to submit standardized test scores, such as the SAT or ACT, to gain entrance.
Online master's degree programs in art history prepare students for higher-level positions in the art field, such as curator, museum director, art authenticator, librarian, and art publisher. Non-traditional careers include art exhibit installer, art investor, art economist, and art crime investigator. For students interested in positions in academia, the degree program prepares them for future art-related doctoral programs. The courses in online art history master's level programs continue in-depth study of specialized art topics from various historical periods and take a research-based approach to the material. In addition to the coursework, students are required to write a thesis on a topic of interest. Master theses are highly specialized, requiring faculty supervision. Online master's programs in art history are offered by universities and some for-profit higher education institutions.
Typical programs require 30-40 academic credits, which take a full-time student about two years to complete. Some online master’s programs require a small amount of time on-campus to facilitate orientation to the program and to familiarize students with the teaching staff. Some schools may offer stipends to online graduate students to defray the cost of required campus visits. Online art history graduate programs require applicants to have a bachelor’s degree in art history or a closely related subject from an accredited college or university to gain admission. Some schools require GRE scores, English Language Proficiency, and competency in a foreign language.
There are very few online art history certificates available. One such certificate is a Museum Studies and Digital Curation certificate. This certificate is available to graduates of bachelor programs and is an additional training in the latest museum digital curation techniques. Museum Studies and Digital Curation focuses on the skills needed to effectively manage a museum’s digital assets, which includes data collections, photographs, and digital art itself, as well as aid in the actual digitization of a museum’s growing collection of assets. This certificate can help in securing internships or supplement skills gained from both undergraduate and graduate art history programs, and can help in securing newly created positions such as digital curator, digital archivist, and digital media manager.
This online program requires six courses, which take about a year to complete. While the courses are completely online, this specific program requires an internship that must be done in person. Students in this online digital curation program will take courses that heavily emphasize the management of digital information. Entry to this online art history program requires an undergraduate degree in art history, and is also offered as a supplement to a Master of Arts in Art History program. This program is currently being offered by a private institution.
The Importance of an Accredited Online Art History Degree
Students deciding where to pursue their online art history education should verify that their school choice is accredited. Accreditation ensures that the degree programs offered by an institution meet specific levels of quality as determined by various accreditation agencies that report to the U.S. Department of Education. Accreditation can be granted at the institutional level or for specific programs. Accredited education institutions and employers may only accept academic credits earned at accredited schools. A list of active and recognized accreditation agencies can be found on the USDOE website.
Students should know the difference between regional and national accreditation agencies. Both types of agencies are similar in that they ensure that an institution meets specific standards of quality, and both can be recognized by the USDOE. The difference between the two is the type of colleges and universities, and programs, they accredit. Regional accreditation agencies mostly accredit degree-granting institutions, while national accreditation is given to trade or vocational schools. Some regionally accredited institutions may choose to accept transfer credits only from other regionally accredited institutions, so students should make a note of whether potential schools will take their credits before applying.
Careers in Art History
The art history career path gives a degree-holder many career options. Students who have completed online degrees become increasingly proficient in art preservation. It is not a surprise that many art history graduates go on to work in museums, studios, and galleries. Though online associate and bachelor’s degrees give graduates entry-level positions in the art field, advanced positions require more advanced degrees. Associate degrees in art history show that a person has learned critical thinking and problem-solving at the college level, and has a basic familiarity with the art history and concepts. This knowledge can help the person find internships or entry-level positions in art-related or retail settings.
Those with online bachelor’s degrees may be eligible for jobs in art administration, art and architecture preservation, art auctioning, antiques dealing, exhibit setup, art investment, and media. Art history master's degree holders are qualified for higher-level jobs, which include curator, museum director, conservator, art librarian, gallery management, and teaching positions. Outside the art field, degree-holders may apply for a wide variety of jobs in marketing, publishing, administration, editing, and law. Graduates at any degree level benefit from having previous experience in art handling, which makes it vital to gain experience while working on a degree via internships.
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