1. Skip to navigation
  2. Skip to content
  3. Skip to sidebar

M.A. Program in Art History

Individualized M.A. Program

DESCRIPTION: The Master of Arts degree offers a broad grounding in art history, while also allowing students to pursue an area of specialization. The two-year program emphasizes the development of both oral and written communication skills, informed criticism, and original research.


CURRICULUM: Graduate studies are conducted in small-enrollment seminars and independent research projects developed by students with consenting professors. Courses generally reflect current research interests of the faculty and include examinations of methodology, period studies, major figures, and topical themes. A language exam and art history qualifying exam are administered during the first semester of graduate study. The comprehensive exam must be passed successfully before students enroll in the second semester.  The language exam must be passed by the beginning of year two. In their last semester, students participate in a non-credit pro-seminar in which they prepare a qualifying paper for presentation at a public symposium sponsored by the Department of Art and Music Histories.

Specialized Program in Italian Renaissance Art

 DESCRIPTION: Since 1964 the Department of Art & Music Histories at Syracuse University has conducted a special Master of Arts program devoted to the study of Renaissance art in Florence. This is the only MA art history program accredited in the United States where most of the study—two of the three semesters—is conducted in Italy. By focusing on Italian Renaissance art, the program allows students to explore one period in depth from a variety of perspectives. Courses promote careful analyses of stylistic and technical information, detailed consideration of original audiences and historical settings, and close readings of Renaissance documents and texts. The Florence program offers highly motivated students a unique opportunity to carry out advanced research, including first-hand examination of art, architecture, and urban settings. Already at the master's level, students make original contributions to the field: they collaborate in a research topic and present the results of their study at the annual Symposium in Florence. This experience serves as a point of departure for employment in the art world or continued studies in a Ph.D. program.


CURRICULUM: Courses held in Florence and in Syracuse, New York- all classes are seminars given by internationally recognized scholars- provide the necessary analytical tools and practical skills for the study of Italian Renaissance art. Students explore art historical literature and historiography, Renaissance history, the collection and display of art, patronage, iconography, sources and documents, artistic techniques, and conservation. Especially in Florence, the program encourages a ‘hands-on’ approach: students examine art and architecture on-site and in conservation studios, and original documents in archives. The size of the program, usually six to eight participants per year, facilitates lively discussions and collaborations. Most students receive financial support, and the four top-ranked candidates enter the program with fellowships carrying full tuition and a stipend towards their living expenses in Italy ($19,480 for 2011-12) In this terminal degree program, professors have the time and incentive to work closely with students as advisors and mentors, creating a dynamic intellectual atmosphere.

The Director of Graduate Studies, with the assistance of the Graduate Committee, the Department Chair, and the Resident Director of Syracuse University in Florence, secures each year the Program's curriculum and faculty, drawing mainly on the Department of Art and Music Histories.  Regularly scheduled courses treat the history, contexts, and interpretation of works of art produced in Italy from the high Middle Ages to the early Baroque, and the history and techniques of art conservation over the centuries.  The content of seminars changes to reflect current research interests of participating faculty.  Over the prescribed 3-semester program, candidates complete 30 graduate credits.  The first semester's courses are given in Syracuse (fall semester); those of the spring and second fall semester, in Florence.


ADMISSION REQUIREMENTS: Candidates for this program have taken undergraduate studies in the cultural history of Italy with emphasis on the visual arts, and have already acquired a working knowledge of the Italian language. They apply through the regular admissions process of the University's Graduate School.  Applicants are screened and ranked by the Department of Art and Music Histories’ Graduate Committee, which forms the advisory committee to the Program. One committee member holds the post of Program Coordinator (currently Gary Radke). The Coordinator is professionally engaged in Italian Renaissance studies; serves as principal academic adviser to all candidates in the program; and conducts one of their seminars in the opening semester of the program.  Non-academic matters, such as travel and living in Italy, are handled by the staff of SU Abroad.

Gary Radke discusses "What Good is a Degree in Renaissance Art History?" Watch it here.