Specialization in Design History
within the Master of Arts (MA) in Modern and Contemporary Art History 

Graduate students in the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism's graduate degree programs may elect to follow a specialized pathway in Design History. Coursework in this specialization focuses on the production of knowledge, discourses, practices, and domains of objects that have been understood to fall under the broad category of design. As with the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History degree as a whole, seminars and research topics focus on the modern and contemporary periods.

Students following the Design History pathway will study the theories and practices of design and examine the conception, production, interpretation, and consumption of design.

MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History students electing to follow the Design History pathway are expected to take ARTHI 5011 as their methods seminar, followed by at least four seminars in the Design History curriculum. Thesis topics should address the history and theory of design or architecture.

Recent graduate seminars and courses in Design History include:

Curricular Requirements for the Design History Pathway36 credit hours total
ARTHI 5011: History of Art and Design History 3 credit hours

4 graduate seminars (5000-level) in Design History


12 credit hours

Global Issues seminar (5000 level) that focuses on art worlds outside of Europe and North America or focuses on Global Art Theory.

A list of courses that satisfies this requirement is available from the department every semester

3 credit hours
2 additional seminars in Art History 6 credit hours
2 interdisciplinary electives (4000-6000 level) or additional Art/Design History seminars 6 credit hours
ARTHI 5999 and ARTHI 6999 Thesis sequence in second year 6 credit hours
Completion of thesis  

Degree requirements and specifications

  1. Completion schedule: Students have a maximum of four years from entry into the program to complete coursework and submit a final, approved thesis. This includes time off for leaves of absence. Credit for Thesis Research and Writing (ARTHI 5999 and 6999) is granted only after the thesis is approved and final copies are submitted to the Department.
  2. Thesis in Progress: Students who have not submitted a finished thesis for review and approval by the end of the final semester of enrollment are given a Thesis in Progress grade (IP). All students with a Thesis in Progress grade (IP) will be charged the Thesis in Progress Fee in each subsequent full semester until the thesis is completed and approved and the grade is changed to Credit (CR). If the statute of limitations is reached without an approved thesis, the grade will be changed to No Credit (NCR).
  3. Transfer credits: A minimum of 30 credit hours must be completed in residence at SAIC. Up to six transfer credits may be requested at the time of application for admission and are subject to approval at that time. No transfer credit will be permitted after a student is admitted.
  4. Curriculum: The program requires 36 credit hours, and each individual course is generally three credit hours. Courses are subject to approval by the Art History Graduate Program Director.
  5. Art History requirement: From the Graduate Seminars and additional courses in Art History, at least one course (3 credit hours) must be taken from the list of courses designated 19th-century art history and at least one course (3 credit hours) designated early-20th-century art history. A list of courses that satisfies this requirement is available from the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism every semester.
  6. Global Issues Seminar: If the Global Issues seminar is also designated as Design History, students may use it to also fulfill one of the four graduate seminars in Design History. In this case, students would then be expected to take 3 Additional seminars in Art History rather than 2.
  7. Electives: Electives can be taken from the following departments and programs without additional approval from the Graduate Program Director: Art History, Theory, and Criticism; Visual and Critical Studies; Arts Administration and Policy; Art Education; and Writing. Graduate seminars and upper-level courses in departments other than those listed above may be allowed as electives, contingent upon prior approval from both the Art History Graduate Program Director and the course instructor.
  8. Internship/Co-op Option: Students have the option of taking up to three hours of credit through the co-op internship program. These credit hours can be taken as part of additional courses or electives, but internship credits never count toward the required number of seminar credit hours.
  9. Full-time Status Minimum Requirement: 9 credit hours

Core Design History Faculty

Bess Williamson, Design History Coordinator and Assistant Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Shiben Banerji, Assistant Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism

Michael Golec, Associate Professor, Dept. of Art History, Theory, and Criticism