M.A. Program in Art History

Entrance into the M.A. program is limited to the best qualified applicants. Admissions decisions are based on assessment of the undergraduate record, letters of recommendation, a writing sample, the proposal, and professional or publishing experience (where relevant).

1. Residence Requirements

For students entering the Master's Program in Art History, three semesters of full-time resident study at McGill University is the requirement for the degree. "Residence" means that the student is enrolled on a full-time basis during this period (the semester is not connected with housing or accommodations). This designated period of residence represents the minimum time requirements in order to obtain the degree. There is no guarantee that the work for the degree can be completed in this time. Students may register for additional semesters to complete the Program, and most students take 4 semesters (see Time Limitations). A typical timeline for completing the M.A. may be found at this link.

1.1. Course Work

Before classes begin, each student will meet with either the Graduate Program Director or with her or his supervisor to determine an appropriate selection of courses which, when considered with the previous record, balances breadth of coverage and specialization.

The candidate is required to pass, with a mark of 65% (B-) or better, all those courses that have been designated by the Department as forming a part of her/his program. These are the courses that have been entered on the registration form. A few extra courses may be taken, but it is then the responsibility of the student to see that these courses are clearly marked "not required" on the registration form.

MA students who have selected the Graduate Option in Gender and Women's Studies are required to take 6 credits  of GWS coursework (within the total credits that are required for the MA degree); WMST 601 (3 cr.) is a required course and the complementary course can be either WMST 602 or another 3 credit course related to gender and women's studies. All course selection must first be approved by the supervisor/graduate program director.

1.2. General Description

The student takes ARTH 600 Advanced Pro-Seminar  (3 credits) and 6 graduate-level courses (18 credits); two of these 6 courses can be taken outside of Art History but at McGill. Of these two, one course may be taken at another university in Montreal. The student also takes a total of 24 credits of thesis research coursework and writes an M.A. thesis.

All courses taken outside of Art History require the approval of the Graduate Program Director, in consultation with the thesis supervisor and the professor teaching the seminar.

The program is designed to be completed in four semesters, but may be completed in three semesters.

1.3. Program (sample)

All students must register for 45 credits.


Semester 1 (9-12 credits)
·       ARTH 600 Advanced Pro-Seminar (3 credits)

·       Two complementary seminars (6 credits)

 Semester 2 (9-12 credits)
·       Three complementary seminars (9 credits)


Semester 3 (15 credits)
·       ARTH 698 Thesis Research 1 (12 credits)
·       Final complementary seminar (3 credits)

Semester 4 (12 credits)
·       ARTH 699 Thesis Research 2 (12 credits)


1.3.1. Course Offerings

Required courses (27 credits):

ARTH 600 (3 credits) Advanced Pro-Seminar
ARTH 698 (12 credits) Thesis Research 1

ARTH 699 (12 credits) Thesis Research 2


Complementary Courses in Art History area (18 credits [6 courses], from the following, or 6 credits of these [2 courses] can be taken in another department, as noted above):

ARTH 617 Modern Art (3 cr.)
ARTH 618 Art History - 1400-1900 (3 cr.)
ARTH 630 Directed Reading 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 645 Topics: Medieval Art & Architecture (3 cr.)
ARTH 646 Topics: Chinese Visual Culture (3 cr.)
ARTH 647 Topics: Renaissance Art & Architecture 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 648 Topics: Renaissance Art & Architecture 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 653 Topics: Early Modern Visual Culture 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 654 Topics: Early Modern Visual Culture 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 660 Contemporary Art & Criticism 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 661 Contemporary Art & Criticism 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 673 Topics: 18th-C Art & Architecture 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 675 Topics: 19th-C Art & Architecture 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 678 Topics: 19th-C Art & Architecture 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 714 Directed Reading 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 715 Research: Modern Architecture 1750 to Present (3cr)
ARTH 724 Art Criticism 2 (3 cr.)
ARTH 725 Methods in Art History (3 cr.)
ARTH 730 Current Problems in Art History 1 (3 cr.)
ARTH 731 Current Problems in Art History 2 (3 cr.)

Note: These are subject to change. Please consult the calendar for the most up-to-date course offering information.

If desired by supervisor and student, 3 credits of Directed Reading with the MA thesis supervisor (ARTH630) can be taken first year, usually in semester 2 (winter semester), to begin the thesis planning. 

Normally only 3 credits at the 500 level are permitted. As noted above, up to 6 of the 15 credits may be from other disciplines, as approved by the Department; 3 credits may be taken at another approved university.

1.3.2. Language requirements

More information.

1.3.3. Thesis proposal

Before embarking on the M.A. thesis, the student must define the topic with the supervisor; as well, he or she must submit a thesis proposal for approval by the supervisor.

This proposal details the research to be pursued, defines the particular argument to be advanced in the M.A. thesis, and indicates the methodology to be employed. It should be logical and well organized, and should include a preliminary bibliography of primary and secondary material.

1.3.4. M.A. thesis

The MA thesis shall be the result of an extended research project, pursued under supervision of a member of the Department. It should be approximately the length of a journal article, around 40-50 ms pages (not including illustrations and bibliography). The thesis should contain a substantive discussion and display mastery of the particular area of research and relevant scholarship; please consult your supervisor on expectations and format for the thesis. By departmental policy, the thesis will be evaluated by two reviewers: the supervisor, and an examiner chosen in consultation with the supervisor. For procedures on the submission and examination of theses, please follow the link available here: www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/thesis-guidelines.

1.3.5. Style and Format

The Art History program recommends the Chicago Manual of Style, but the student and supervisor can agree to an acceptable style. Students should consult a style guide before submitting course work, proposals, or theses. Guidelines for final submission of the e-Thesis to the University can be found at: https://www.mcgill.ca/gps/thesis/final-e-thesis.