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Florence Art History MA Program


On the Florence campus of Syracuse University, students will be about fifteen minutes from the Duomo. Graduate students in art history have their own room in the library building, and all graduate courses are held in smart classrooms. In addition to the Syracuse University in Florence library, with 12,000 volumes, students have access to some of the finest libraries in the world for the study of Italian Renaissance art history: the Kunsthistorisches Institut, the Istituto Nazionale per Studi sul Rinascimento at Palazzo Strozzi, the Biblioteca Nazionale, the Galleria degli Uffizi library, and the Harvard University Center for Renaissance Studies "Villa I Tatt"i. By conducting research at these and other institutions, and attending the frequent lectures and conferences held in Florence, students will meet members of the international scholarly community and participate in the lively intellectual life of the city. In their courses, students will hear on-site lectures by museum directors, explore exhibitions with organizers, and visit conservation projects.



The unique qualities of this program including close contact with art and scholars, a collaborative atmosphere, advanced research on a focused topic, and an international setting distinguish Syracuse graduates when they look for positions in an increasingly competitive art world. Upon completion of the program, many graduates remain at Syracuse University in Florence to work as Teaching Assistants and as Field Study Instructors. Some obtain internships in local museums; others find positions soon after leaving the city at educational or arts organizations in Italy and in the US. Several students each year continue their education in Ph.D. programs, often at highly prestigious institutions.  Other graduates have obtained their doctorates in Europe, at institutions such as the European University Institute (Florence), the Courtauld Institute (London), and Oxford University. Further information about career possibilities can be found here.


M.A. Candidates complete 30 graduate credits in three semesters. The first fall semester's courses are given on the Syracuse University main campus in Syracuse, New York. Courses in the spring and following fall semester are given at Syracuse University in Florence. All courses require extensive readings (of both primary and secondary sources), oral presentations, and written work. Candidates must achieve at least a B average in each semester's course work in order to remain in the program.


Fall Semester, Syracuse.­ On arrival in Syracuse, candidates are given an oral exam in Italian.  Students are required to audit an appropriate Italian course throughout the semester, with a view to reaching a fluency sufficient for the conduct of scholarly work. Prior to the start of classes in the first semester, candidates also take a qualifying test in art history. The test includes 30 slide identifications of major monuments of art history and 20 short definitions of technical terms.  Students who do not pass the test have the opportunity to re-take it at the end of October.  Students who do not meet these skills requirements by the end of the first semester will not be allowed to continue in the program.

For the fall semester in Syracuse, candidates enroll in three courses that total 9 graduate credits taught by faculty in the Department of Art & Music Histories: HOA 620: Seminar in Renaissance Art and Disaster taught by Program Director Gary Radke, HOA 656: Literature of Art Criticism taught by Professor Luis Castaneda, and HST 735: Readings and Research in European History taught by Professor Dennis Romano.  Courses require both oral and written presentations.  Candidates are also required to audit a formal Italian language class appropriate to their level of expertise, and must achieve at least a B average in each semester's course work in order to study in Florence.

During the first semester in Syracuse, staff from SU Abroad meets with the candidates and assists in preparations to secure transportation, housing, visas, and any other requisite legal documents. In  addition to the general orientation for all SU Abroad students, they will participate in a program-related orientation. Travel and living arrangements are ultimately the responsibility of the individual candidate, who is expected to reach Florence in good time for the orientation program. In December, the four designated fellows of the program receive the first of two stipend payments to help cover living expenses for the time abroad.

 Spring Semester, Florence.  ­Syracuse University's official seat in Florence is the Villa Rossa in Piazza Savonarola. All students enrolled in the University's programs of study in Florence report there at a specified date prior to the first spring-semester classes to participate in an obligatory general orientation program of several days' duration.  One session is tailored to the special needs of the incoming graduate students.  During the orientation sessions, the Florence candidates are introduced to the program's faculty.  The Program Director in Syracuse keeps in touch with the candidates throughout their residency in Florence and remains their principal adviser.  A member of the Florence faculty (currently Molly Bourne) serves as local coordinator.

The spring-semester curriculum in Florence takes full advantage of the area's artistic and archival resources. Candidates enroll in four courses counting for a total of 12 graduate credits taught by members of the permanent faculty At Syracuse University in Florence: HOA 620 Seminar in Renaissance Art: Art Theories and Collecting Practice taught by Professor Flaminia Gennari, HOA 621 Seminar in Florentine Art: Public Monuments taught by Professor Molly Bourne, HOA 651 Seminar in Iconography: Visual Language and Material Culture taught by Professor Sara Matthews-Grieco and HST 735 Reading and Research: European History, Early Renaissance Italy taught by Professor Matteo Duni. By March of this semester, candidates choose an advanced research topic that serves as the unifying theme of the culminating symposium that takes place at the end of the fall (and final) semester in Florence. The students identify a topic broad enough to accommodate all candidates in the group, yet sufficiently limited to assure focus and coherence.  Past topics have included "Italian Gardens and their Legacy," "The Patronage of Eleonora of Toledo," and "Gesture in Italian Renaissance Art." Students begin research on  individual topics related to the symposium theme, meeting with the program director in a series of personal and group meetings to firm up the direction of their research. 


Summer, Florence. Candidates are expected to make significant progress on their reseach by the time classes resume in the fall semester, but need not remain in Florence during the summer months. The four Fellows receive the second stipend payment by September.


Fall Semester, Florence.­ Specialized research and the writing of symposium papers occupies the third and final semester. Students register for HOA 622 Seminar in Renaissance Arts and Ideas, taught by Professors Bourne and Duni, which counts for 6 graduate credits. They also enroll in HOA 645 Seminar in History of Art Conservation taught by Professor Diane Kunzelman, for a total of 9 graduate credits.  By the end of October, candidates submit rough drafts of their papers for the approval of a faculty committee in Florence, and the program coordinator. Research papers, the main text of which is approximately 25 pages long, are expected to demonstrate clear argumentation, coherence and originality in order to qualify for public presentation, usually the first or second Thursday in December. 


The Fall Semester Symposium in Florence.  ­Candidates in the Florence Graduate Program complete final degree requirements by participating in the annual symposium held in the Villa Gigliucci, open to the scholarly community.  Students present their research in standard scholarly format, not exceeding 20 minutes in delivered length. They also complete an archival quality copy of their 25-page research paper, plus end notes, bibliography, and illustrations.  Once the final papers have been sent to be accepted and approved in Syracuse, the Director of Graduate Studies certifies to the Graduate School that candidates have met all requirements for the Master of Arts degree in art history. Students with unacceptable papers have the opportunity to complete their degree on the home campus in Syracuse.

For application forms and further information, contact Deb Goddard, dsgoddar@syr.edu Additional information can be found on the SU Florence website.