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Most schools have rolling admissions and financial help so you can start your degree in a few weeks!

Students who complete a master’s degree in art and art history are prepared to work as high school or university art teachers. They can likewise pursue careers as museum curators, authenticators, or conservators.

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the median pay for high school teachers in 2021 was $61,820, while postsecondary teachers earned an average of $79,640. The average annual salary for museum archivists and curators was $50,120. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the average cost of a master’s program at a private institution in 2020-21 was $26,621. In general, it takes two years of full-time study to complete.

How to Choose an Online Master’s in Art and Art History Program

Choose your area of study

First, consider your desired career path and why you want to earn this degree. Depending on whether you plan to become a teacher or professor, curator, art director, conservator, or fine artist, you’ll want to look for specializations that will best help you prepare for the specific field in which you’d like to work.

Some programs may offer concentrations in museum studies and curating, while others target education, conservation, or specific business courses to help you with gallery management. Also, you’ll want to look at the university’s internship options.

Research schools and programs

After you’ve determined your area of study, it’s time to research to find out what programs are offered and by which schools. As mentioned, you want to look for programs with specific courses and/or concentrations related to your career path. Aside from academic considerations, there are other important factors to consider:

  • Is the school accredited? If so, by whom? While this certainly affects the quality of the education you’ll receive, it can also affect your eligibility for financial aid, what employment opportunities are available after graduation, and what postsecondary programs you can apply for.
  • What is the cost of the program? You should know how much you are willing to spend on your education, so before you get too far into your research, check the cost of each program. Some programs can be ruled out immediately, so you can focus on the ones that make sense financially.
  • Where is the school located? If you want to study online, it may seem that the school’s location isn’t important. However, some programs may be offered in a hybrid format that requires you to take some classes on campus. Not only that, but there may also be orientations, special events, career days, or meet-and-greets held at the university that you’d like to attend. Because of these kinds of offerings, your proximity to the school may be a factor in your decision.
  • Is learning synchronous or asynchronous? Asynchronous learning gives you much more control over your schedule, while a synchronous curriculum makes building better relationships with fellow students and teachers easier. Determine what’s best for you in this area. You’ll also want to investigate options regarding full- and part-time study, as you may have a preference, or your position in life may require specific provisions in this area.

Prepare for tests and applications

Entrance exams aren’t generally needed for this degree, but admissions vary depending on the institution. Some have rolling admissions, while others set a specific date when all materials need to be submitted. Some universities offer several start dates throughout the year, while others require that you begin at the same time as on-campus students. Check these deadlines and any GPA requirements, and remember to get a copy of your transcripts.

Select your program

Once you’ve gathered all your information, the next step is to select your program. Remember, no program is going to be perfect in every way. You can narrow your list down by deciding your priorities and establishing where you’re willing to compromise and where you’re not. Carefully weigh all the pros and cons and determine which programs suit you best. Don’t limit yourself to just one; apply to several and make a list in order of preference.

Determine how you’ll pay for your degree

Check to see if the school or other institutions offer scholarships. Financial aid is often available via federal and state loans and grants; work-study programs are also typically available. Financing is usually accessible through the university. If your schedule allows time for it, working a part-time job could also help cover the costs of your degree.

Best 50 Accredited Online Master’s in Art and Art History Programs

Best Online Master's in Art and Art History Programs Badge

Azusa Pacific University

University of Nebraska at Kearney

Lindenwood University

Fort Hays State University

Northwestern State University of Louisiana

Eastern Illinois University

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How We Rank Schools

This list features graduate programs for aspiring art teachers, curators, and fine artists — including Master of Arts in Art History and Master of Arts in Art Education. Most of these programs are online, but hybrid programs are listed.

The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) accredits some of the programs on this list. You’ll also see programs accredited by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC), which accredits 19 colleges and universities based on rigorous quality criteria. Other regionally accredited programs are listed; choosing an accredited program lets students transfer credits and degrees to other schools.

Once we compiled our list, our team evaluated each program based on its cost, flexibility, course offerings, outcomes, reputation, and faculty. We then gave each program an Intelligent Score on a scale of 0 to 100. For a more extensive explanation, check out our ranking methodology.

What Can You Expect from an Online Master’s in Art and Art History Program?

When taking a degree program online, course material is delivered via an online learning platform such as Blackboard, Canvas, or Moodle. Each student has a portal to get and submit assignments, access university resources, see the class syllabus, due dates, and grades, and communicate with other students and instructors via chats and message boards. The learning format can be synchronous, asynchronous, or a combination of both.

A master’s program in art and art history provides students with a broad historical and theoretical understanding of the visual arts. It helps them develop critical thinking, methodological, research, and writing skills. The degree generally takes two years, but some schools offer accelerated options. Many programs can be completed entirely online, with no requirement to attend on-campus classes or lectures.

Potential courses you’ll take in an online program to earn your master’s degree in art and art history

  • Visual art and technology. Students learn about how technology has played a role in developing the visual arts. Starting from the Industrial Revolution and through the Gilded Age, two world wars, the Cold War, and the Digital Age, art and technology have been inextricably tied to one another and have evolved side by side.
  • Approaches to art history. Art historians differ in how art history should be analyzed, and this course presents different methods, models, and perspectives. Students learn how to understand and analyze art throughout history, from movements, institutions, and audiences to artists and art objects.
  • Religious art. Much of the art produced throughout history has been directly or indirectly influenced by religion, and students learn what a powerful force this has been in shaping both artistic styles and subjects over the centuries.
  • Focus on various places and time periods. A master’s degree in art and art history has courses dedicated to studying art from multiple locations, such as Italy, Africa, the Americas, Japan, China, India, and other countries. Other courses focus on different periods, from ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia to Greece, Rome to the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

What Can You Do With an Online Master’s in Art and Art History?

Career outlook

The career outlook for individuals with an online master’s degree in art and art history is rich with opportunities, spanning various sectors that value creativity, cultural heritage, and visual expression. While the art world may appear niche, it encompasses a diverse range of professions that offer both artistic fulfillment and competitive salaries. For example, archivists, curators, and museum workers earn a median salary of $53,420 annually, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Career paths

Professionals with a master’s in art or art history can find employment in various industries that value creativity, cultural understanding, and visual communication. These industries include museums and galleries, academia, publishing and media, cultural heritage preservation, art appraisal, art therapy, arts administration, advertising and marketing, and even entrepreneurship. The versatility of this degree allows individuals to explore careers as curators, art historians, educators, writers, conservators, consultants, therapists, administrators, and more.

Here are some common options for those with this academic credential:

  • Art appraiser — assesses the value of artworks for various purposes, such as insurance, sales, or estate planning
  • Art critic — writes reviews, articles, and books about art and artists
  • Art conservator — restores and preserves artwork by addressing damage, aging, or deterioration
  • Arts administrator — oversees the administrative aspects of arts organizations, such as galleries, theaters, or cultural nonprofits
  • Art therapist — uses art as a therapeutic tool to help individuals with mental health or emotional challenges

Museum Curator

Earning Potential: $30,000-$80,000+ annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in art, art history, history or related field

A museum curator is responsible for managing and preserving a museum’s collection of art, artifacts, or historical objects. They play a pivotal role in selecting and acquiring pieces for the collection, conducting research, and organizing exhibitions. Curators collaborate with artists, collectors, and donors to acquire new items. They also perform detailed cataloging, conservation, and restoration work to maintain the collection’s integrity. Curators design and curate exhibitions, developing narratives that engage and educate visitors. They often give talks, lectures, and tours to provide insights into the collection. Curators safeguard cultural and historical heritage, ensuring it remains accessible to the public for education and appreciation.

Art Historian

Earning Potential: $30,000-$80,000 annually

Education Required: Master’s or Ph.D. in art history

An art historian is a scholar who studies and analyzes artworks, visual culture, and artistic movements throughout history. They conduct extensive research to understand the context, symbolism, and cultural significance of art. Art historians often specialize in specific periods, styles, or artists, producing scholarly writings and contributing to the understanding of art’s evolution. They curate exhibitions, teach at universities, and work in museums, enriching public appreciation of art. Art historians play a crucial role in preserving cultural heritage, decoding artistic narratives, and illuminating the profound impact of art on societies throughout history.

Art Gallery Manager

Earning Potential: $30,000-$80,000 annually

Education Required: Master’s degree in art or art history

An art gallery manager oversees the operations of an art gallery, ensuring its smooth and successful functioning. They curate exhibitions, selecting artworks and organizing shows to engage visitors and promote artists. Gallery managers handle sales, client relationships, and negotiations, facilitating art transactions. They coordinate marketing and promotional activities to attract a wider audience. Additionally, they manage gallery staff, including curators and administrative personnel, and handle the gallery’s financial aspects, such as budgeting and pricing. Art gallery managers play a pivotal role in fostering the appreciation of art, supporting artists, and maintaining the gallery’s reputation within the art community.

Online Master’s Degree in Art and Art History Frequently Asked Questions

How do I apply to an online program for a master’s degree in art and art history?

Most programs require a bachelor’s degree in a related field, such as art, art history, visual arts, or design. Applicants with a bachelor’s degree in a non-related area may be accepted if they have prior work experience in a related field. For some master’s programs, such professional experience may even be a requirement.

There is usually a minimum GPA for applicants, generally around 3.0. Transcripts will likely be required. However, there are often provisions for admitting applicants whose GPA is below the stated requirement. Of course, applicants should always speak with an admissions counselor before applying.

How much does an online master’s degree in art and art history cost?

The average cost of a master’s degree in the arts is $65,880, but you can expect to pay much less for an online degree. Remember that there will likely be additional fees for books, software, and other university services that should be considered.

How long does it take to earn an online master’s degree in art and art history?

At a traditional brick-and-mortar university, this master’s degree takes two years to complete. However, the online degree can often be completed in 18 months or sooner. Some universities even offer accelerated programs that can be completed in a year.

Many universities offer both full- and part-time study options, which will also affect the time it takes to earn the degree. The number of credit hours required varies from 30 to 38.

Is an online master’s in art and art history worth it?

While there are numerous benefits, it’s important to consider your specific career goals and whether an online master’s in art or art history aligns with them. Additionally, research various programs to find one that suits your needs and interests, as program offerings vary widely.

This degree will deepen your understanding of art, art history, and related disciplines. You will gain in-depth knowledge of various art movements, artists, and their cultural contexts, making you an expert in your chosen field. A master’s degree can open doors to higher-paying and more prestigious positions in museums, galleries, academia, and cultural institutions. The median pay of a museum director in the U.S. is $51,990, according to

Online programs connect you with a diverse group of peers and faculty members, allowing you to build a valuable professional network in the art world. These programs offer flexibility for working professionals or those with other commitments. You can earn your degree while maintaining your current job or addressing personal responsibilities.

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