In the company of artists, prominent historians, and critics, and surrounded by world-class museums, galleries, and art spaces, there is no better place to make a career happen.
The MA Program
On a campus that is itself an expression of 20th and 21st-century art, the Art History MA program, Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism, and Theory, provides a unique academic experience, which values the making of art, as well as its interpretation and critique in modern and contemporary culture.
The two-year curriculum explores the critical background of 20th and 21st-century art and visual culture. And through MA colloquia, we introduce students to the world of some of the most prominent critics, artists, and historians working today. Immersed in a rigorous exploration of art history, its methodologies, and challenges, students prepare to engage in contemporary debates as scholars, critics, and museum professionals.
The Purchase Difference: Location and Access
Students in the Art History MA program study art history, theory, and criticism with a focus on modern and contemporary art. There are particularly encouraged to immerse themselves in the rich study, work, and research opportunities found in New York City just 30 miles south, the surrounding region, and right on campus.
Our program features courses centered on object-based inquiry that incorporate the collection and exhibitions of the internationally acclaimed Neuberger Museum of Art located right on campus, as well as works created by faculty and graduate peers in Purchase College’s elite conservatory programs where artmaking is an everyday practice.
The Prerequisite is Curiosity
Whether transitioning into a second career or just starting out, our students come from a wide range of backgrounds. A typical student entering the Art History MA program does have a background in the field, but we encourage students with different backgrounds to apply if they show a demonstrable interest or related experience and are willing to fulfill prerequisites in order to complete the program.
Because we are a small and selective cohort, we also encourage (but do not require) students to arrange an on-campus or remote interview as part of the application process.
For those interested in further specialization, the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art, Criticism and Theory offers two additional tracks within the degree: the dual MA/MFA option and the MA/M+ Curatorial Studies option.
MA/MFA Dual Degree
For students who qualify for acceptance into both programs, the MA program in Art History may be taken in conjunction with the MFA program in Visual Arts offered by the School of Art+Design. The dual MA/MFA degree allows for close interaction between departments, resulting in a curriculum designed for collaborative study.
Through cross-participatory critiques, discussions, and assignments, the educational experience is broadened, leaving students with not only a deep understanding of art and art practices, but also an invaluable comfort working with makers.
In conjunction with theoretical teachings and seminars, students gain a critical mindset as they pursue professional application in the highest ranks of the field. Prospective graduates students must apply separately for admission to each program.
The MA/M+ Track
The Museum + Curatorial Studies (M+) track within the Art History MA program is a hands-on course of study in the history, theory, and criticism of modern and contemporary art, as well as the histories, functions and futures of its institutions.
Centered on the Neuberger Museum of Art and its rich permanent collection, this program uniquely connects the museum, the department of Art History, and the School of Art+Design to provide practical experience necessary to the contemporary arts professional.
The curriculum is designed to build upon the Art History MA’s grounding in modern and contemporary art history, theory, and criticism, critical and visual studies, and critical writing, deepening students’ understanding of how arts institutions function, and rethinking the social role of the arts within our current moment.
Working with the Neuberger’s permanent collection, students produce a year-long program of academic inquiry and public programming, including research, critical and historical texts, gallery tours, symposia, and invited speakers. Workshops with guest speakers, engagement with New York City area institutions, and museum and gallery internships further prepare students for careers including curating, art writing, museum education, collection management, museum design, interpretation, digital platforms, registration, and academia/PhD programs.
In collaboration with faculty, museum professionals, practicing artists, historians, critics, and fellow graduate students in the MFA track, M+ students will imagine what it means to make a Museum Wide Open.
Meet Our Alumni:
Kristen Galvin ’08Assistant Professor and Director Art History
Meet Annabel Rhodeen Spring, MA ’12
In this new Alumni Spotlight series, I am excited to introduce you to Purchase College alumni who worked at the Neuberger Museum of Art while they were students and to talk with them about where they are today.
My first interview is with Annabel Rhodeen Spring who earned her Masters in Modern and Contemporary Art History, Criticism, and Theory from Purchase College in 2012.
Sarah G. Sharp MA/MFA ’08Assistant Professor at University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Chelsea Spengemann, MA ’11
Independent curator and consultant with a specialization in artist estates
Caitlin Monachino ’17She’s the digital media coordinator at a contemporary art museum and a freelance writer.
Margaret Winslow MA ’08Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art at the Delaware Art Museum.