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Art History MA Admissions

Prerequisites for Admission

Applicants must have a Bachelor of Arts degree with an art history major or equivalent course work. (At UW this includes 55 quarter-credits in art history covering a broad range of art history in a variety of cultural contexts, both western and nonwestern; a reasonable knowledge of at least one foreign language is also expected.) However, we invite applications from students with degrees in other fields who wish to pursue an advanced degree in art history; such students should have a strong background in art history in addition to their coursework in other fields.


Each year, the School receives more than 60 applications for the MA and PhD programs in Art History. Applications are reviewed by a committee of Art History faculty members. Approximately 3-5 MA / PhD students are accepted each year.

Please note that the UW Art History program does not include course work in art conservation or restoration. For information about museum studies, see the Museum Studies website, email museum@extn.washington.edu, call 206-685-3226, or write the Museology Program, University of Washington, Educational Outreach, Box 359485, Seattle WA 98195-9485.

The Graduate Application Process

Application to the School of Art + Art History + Design graduate programs is completed online through the University of Washington Graduate School web site. The online application cycle opens October 1. If you have any questions while submitting your material for review, please write gradart@uw.edu.

The Graduate School application website will request the following documents:

  • Application for Graduate Study at the University of Washington (online). To finalize your application, please submit the $85 application fee. Once finalized, you will no longer be able to update your online app, however the department can then view your complete application and answer questions.  Your application is not complete without the fee.
  • Transcripts: Applicants are required to submit an unofficial transcript from each institution from which they have obtained a degree. Applicants who are admitted to the program will be required to submit official transcripts prior to matriculation. Please ensure that the student name and school name appear and that the scan is legible. If you are scanning original transcripts, make sure the pages are oriented upright for screen viewing (vertical or landscape).
  • Letters of recommendation: Applicants will be prompted to provide the name and email address of three (max. 4) recommenders. The recommenders will be sent a link to the online evaluation form via email. Each letter of recommendation should be written by someone who is able to comment on your qualifications for graduate study. As part of the application process you will be given the opportunity to voluntarily waive your right to inspect the completed letters.
  • English Proficiency test scores (for international students): Proficiency in English is required for graduate study at the University of Washington. Therefore, every applicant whose native language is not English must demonstrate English proficiency. Graduate School Memo #8 and English Proficiency Tests comparison tables for information on the University’s policy. When requesting official TOEFL scores from ETS use institution code 4854 for the University of Washington. TOEFL scores are valid for two years from the test date. The University of Washington only accepts scores submitted electronically by the IELTS test center. The application will also prompt you to self-report your test scores. If you have not yet taken the test, please enter the test date on the form. Official scores must be received by the application deadline.
    Note: The University of Washington Graduate School is phasing out usage of IELTS. IELTS with a test session date after November 1, 2016 will not be accepted.
  • Resume/Curriculum Vitae: Your resume/CV should summarize your educational background, including institutions and degrees earned. It should also include a summary of academic positions held (e.g. Teaching Assistantships), awards and fellowships, academic publications, and any shows of your work.
  • GRE (Graduate Record Exam): GRE exam scores, which in and of themselves will not make or break an application, are an important factor in your application evaluation. Applicants to the Art History MA + PhD programs are required to report official scores using the UW Institution Code: 4854; Department Code 2301. The application will also prompt you to self-report your test scores. If you have not yet taken the test, please enter the test date on the form. See the GRE web site for more details. GRE scores must arrive in Art History by January 15.
  • Personal Statement: This statement should clearly articulate your goals and the extent to which the program to which you are applying can be expected to prepare you for those objectives. The statement should also describe your background and experience in Art History or an allied discipline as well as preparation for advanced work in the field to which you are applying.
  • Writing Sample: Papers produced for art history classes are generally the most useful evidence for reviewers of your written work. Other helpful submissions include art-history-related articles, catalogue essays, museum publications or other writing dealing with art-historical topics. If none of the above are available, submit samples of writing you feel would be most useful for those evaluating (a) your ability to express yourself clearly in writing, and (b) your ability to deal with subject matter relevant to art history. Writing samples should normally not exceed 50 pages in length; writing samples of 20-30 pages are most common.