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Art History, Theory, and Criticism: Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History

The Master of Arts (MA) in Modern and Contemporary Art History is a two-year, 36-credit masters program specializing in modern and contemporary art and design in international contexts. Two years of intensive study culminate in an original contribution to scholarship in the form of a Masters thesis.

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Miami Graduate SAIC Day
December 8, 2-6 p.m.

Discuss your work one-on-one with key faculty members from our graduate departments.

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Priority Application Deadline: 12/1

SAIC offers a priority application deadline and reduced application fee for students submitting their graduate application and payment by December 1.

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Application Deadline: January 15

If you are ready to apply to the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) Master of Arts in Modern and Contemporary Art History, you will need to first submit SAIC's Graduate Application form and then a corresponding ePortfolio for the Art History department. ePortfolios are required for each additional program to which you wish to apply. If you are applying to the Dual Degree program please DO NOT submit an additional ePortfolio for either Modern and Contemporary Art History or Arts Administration and Policy. All submissions happen via the software SlideRoom. Admission to SAIC is for the Fall term only.

 

Completed Online Application

SAIC requires applicants to apply online. Filing an online application requires a valid credit card and a current email address. You may apply to up to three programs with one application and fee. If you are applying to either the MFA in Studio or the Post-Baccalaureate Certificate in Studio you may select up to three departments of entry. Applications must be submitted prior to 11:00 p.m. (CST) on the appropriate deadline.

Start your application here: SAIC Graduate Application

Questions? Contact the Office of Admissions at gradmiss@saic.edu or 800.232.7242.

 

Nonrefundable Application Fee

When you click the "submit" button on your the Graduate Application form, you will be prompted to enter credit card information pay the application fee. Your application form is not fully submitted until you have entered your credit card information. Under no circumstances will an application fee be waived or refunded. After you submit the application form you will be directed to a dashboard where you can begin working on your ePortfolio(s).

Application fee: $90

Application fees will be discounted by 50% through December 1.

 

Official College Transcripts

During the application process an unofficial transcript is acceptable for review pending an Admissions decision. Official transcripts are required upon admission. Include transcripts both official and unofficial from all universities/colleges from which a degree was obtained or prerequisites were fulfilled. You can attach unofficial transcripts as .pdf or .jpg files in the Educational History section of the application form. If you are in the process of completing a bachelor's degree when you apply, a transcript showing your first three years of study is acceptable.

Transcripts are considered official if sent directly from the degree- or credit-granting institution to the SAIC Graduate Admissions Office. Hard copy transcripts are considered official if the documents remain in the registrar's original signed and sealed envelopes.

Official transcripts can be sent both in digital and hard-copy format. Digital transcripts can be sent from the degree- or credit-granting institution to gradmiss@saic.edu. Hard copy transcripts can be mailed to:

SAIC Graduate Admissions
36 S. Wabash Ave., Suite 1201
Chicago, IL 60603

 

Statement of Purpose

You must upload one 500- to 700-word statement that describes your work or research. Discuss how you came to focus on the medium, body of work, or academic area you wish to pursue at the graduate level. Also discuss future directions or goals for your work and describe how this area of study is particularly suited to your professional goals. Upload your statement of purpose to your online application.

 

Letters of Recommendation

You are responsible for securing three letters of recommendation from persons who are qualified to write about your potential for success at SAIC. If you are currently a student or are a recent graduate, we recommend you request letters of recommendation from current or former instructors.

Letters of recommendation should be submitted electronically via the References section of the application form. In this section you will be asked to provide an email address for each of your references. Once you click "send request," an email will be sent from SlideRoom to your references with instructions on how to submit their recommendations online.

If your references are unable to provide an online recommendation please contact the Graduate Admissions office at gradmiss@saic.edu.

 

ePortfolio

Applicants are required to submit an ePortfolio. You must submit a separate ePortfolio for each program or studio department to which you apply. After you pay the application fee and submit the application form, an ePortfolio for each of the programs you selected in the application form will automatically appear in your SlideRoom dashboard.

Submit a 15- to 25-page critical writing sample that demonstrates knowledge of the field, ability in research, and clarity of argumentation. Submissions should be written on a topic in modern or contemporary art history from the 19th century to the present, but papers dealing with earlier historical eras will be accepted if they are in dialogue with current debates and methods. Additionally, topics dealing with relevant theories and philosophies, visual studies, and film studies will be considered. Text documents must be in .pdf format (up to 10 MB each).

 

Interviews

The Department of Art History does not conduct candidate interviews. Applicants are welcome to contact the Art History department to request an informational interview with the program coordinator at 312.345.3788 or saicarthiartsadnaj@saic.edu.

 

Résumé

A current résumé is optional. You may upload your résumé to the Attachments section in your ePortfolio.

 

International Applicants

International applicants are required to submit evidence of English language proficiency. You are waived from this requirement if you meet any of the following conditions:

  • Your native language is English
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a U.S. accredited university
  • You have an undergraduate degree conferred by a university whose primary language of instruction is English

If you do not meet one of these conditions, you must submit official English language proficiency test scores. You are strongly encouraged to schedule a language proficiency test appointment as early as possible in order to receive official test scores prior to the application deadline. SAIC accepts official scores from both Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) and International English Language Testing System (IELTS). The TOEFL Institution Code for SAIC is 1713. Please upload an unofficial copy of your test score results to the International Requirements section of the application form.

Minimum Required Scores

TOEFL: 100
IELTS: 7.0
For more information about the TOEFL, please click here.
For more information about the IELTS, please click here.

Official test scores that meet the minimum requirement must be received by the application deadline.

 

Academic Records

Transcripts are records of your studies that list the courses you completed, the grades received, and provide evidence of degree conferral. They may include grade sheets, exam results, final diplomas, degrees, or graduation certificates. Official copies are issued in the original language directly by your university. Copies must bear the official stamp or seal of the institution, as well as the signature of the appropriate official such as the dean, rector, registrar, controller of examinations, or office of teaching affairs. Photos, notarized copies, facsimiles, or email transmissions are not acceptable.

Official translations are expected for all educational documents issued in a language other than English. A translation agency or university language department should issue official translations typed on official stationary and the translator must attest proficiency in the original language and indicate their translations are accurate word-for-word.

 

Prerequisites

A conferred four-year baccalaureate degree or its equivalent is required for admission to all graduate programs at SAIC.

 

Historiography seminar—choose one of the following: 3  
  • ARTHI 5007 History of Art History (3)
  • ARTHI 5008 History of Art Criticism and Theory (3)
  • ARTHI 5011 History of Art and Design (3)
 
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  
Graduate seminars in Modern and Contemporary Art History (5000 level)  12 
Additional courses or seminars in Art History, Theory, and Criticism (4000–6000 level)  6  
Interdisciplinary electives or additional courses or seminars in Art History, Theory, and Criticism (4000–6000 level)   6  
Thesis research and writing  6  
  • ARTHI 5999 Thesis I (3)
  • ARTHI 6999 Thesis II (Independent Study) (3)
 
Completion of thesis—a final thesis must be submitted to and approved by the thesis readers and the Department of Art History, Theory, and Criticism.  
Total Credit Hours 36  

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. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Full-time Status Minimum Requirement: 9 credit hours

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:

  • ARTHI 5100: Issues in Architectural History: Chicago as Laboratory
  • ARTHI 5101: Theories of Things: Art/Design/Object
  • ARTHI 5102: Space in Architectural History
  • ARTHI 5122: Critical Traditions in the History of Architecture and Design
  • ARTHI 5547: Typographic Modernity & Print
  • ARTHI 5575: Extraordinary Bodies: Disability/Art/Design
  • ARTHI 4547: Biopolitics and Data Visualization
  • ARTHI 5480: Vernacular, Colonial, Global: Modern Architecture at the End of Empire
Curricular Requirements for the Design History Pathway 36 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
swilliamson1@artic.edu

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

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

 

Globally Recognized Faculty

The department's full-time faculty are the core faculty for the MA in Modern and Contemporary Art History graduate program. Faculty are widely published, internationally recognized experts in fields including conceptual, performance, new media, and other emerging art practices, and in design and architectural history. Research specialties cover Europe, North America, South Asia, East Asia, Africa, and Latin America.

Campus and Citywide Resources

Chicago is a world-class city with a vibrant art scene. MA students have access to major cultural institutions such as the Art Institute of Chicago, its Modern Wing, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and numerous artist-run galleries and community-based organizations in the city's independent art scene.

Students conduct research at SAIC's libraries and research centers, including the John M. Flaxman Library, Ryerson and Burnham Libraries of the Art Institute of Chicago, Video Data Bank, Joan Flasch Artists Book Collection, Fashion Resource Center, Roger Brown Study Collection, and the Gene Siskel Film Center.

In addition, SAIC attracts numerous visiting artists, historians, and critics, creating opportunities for students to interact and network with scholars from the field. The department hosts a number of visiting art historians every year, most notably through its annual Norma U. Lifton Lecture and Art History End-of-Year Lecture.

How to Apply

Visit the graduate admissions website or contact the graduate admissions office at 800.232.7242 or gradmiss@saic.edu.