Art History


Jennifer Visocky-O’Grady,
Chair and Graduate Program Director

The History Department and the Art Department offer an interdisciplinary program that leads to a Master of Arts degree in History with a specialization in art history. The program provides a comprehensive approach to the integral study of history and art and allows for advanced training that broadens and deepens the student’s knowledge about the relationship between art and history.

The program is broad in scope rather than highly specialized. Depth in a specialized area is achieved through independent study, thesis, and related courses in history or approved electives. The program is designed to accommodate both full-time students and those students who are currently working but are free for classes after 4 p.m. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the program and the number of credits required, it is expected that the student will usually take two years (or longer if part-time) to complete the degree.

Although the Art Department is responsible for admission decisions for the art history specialization, the History and Art departments jointly supervise thesis advising and approve applications for graduation.

For non-degree students, graduate courses in art education and studio art also are available.

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Admission Information

In addition to College of Graduate Studies requirements for admission, applicants who wish to pursue the art history specialization must have:

1. At least a 3.0 grade-point average in history/art history courses.
2. An undergraduate major in history/art history or a sufficient number of undergraduate courses in history/art history to indicate probable success in a graduate program. Under special circumstances, an applicant may make up undergraduate deficiencies by enrolling as a non-degree graduate student. For some students, additional courses or study may be required if not completed as an undergraduate.
3. Completed the equivalent of five undergraduate quarters or four semesters of a foreign language, preferably German or French; however, a language of immediate pertinence to the applicant’s chosen field of study will be considered. An examination in reading and translation in the language must be taken during the first twelve hours of graduate study.

Results of the Subject Test of the Graduate Record Examination are desired from all applicants. Results of both the General and Subject test of the GRE are required of applicants who do not meet the minimum grade-point average set for admission to the College of Graduate Studies.

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Career Information

The Art History program prepares students for entry into doctoral programs in art history, for secondary-level teaching in art history and cultural studies, archival management, historical preservation, art gallery and art museum curatorial employment, art consulting, and slide-library work.

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Faculty Research and Publications

All members of the graduate faculty participate in the activities of local, national, and international art and historical associations and are active in research and publication. In recent years, faculty members have made important scholarly contributions in the form of books, articles, and catalogs on such diverse topics as African ivories, African perspectives on 15th- and 16th century art, Buddhist sculpture, Cleveland architecture and the city’s struggle for self-identity, Gothic fan-vaulting, Hindu temple art, Jaina manuscript painting, Hindu and Buddhist iconography, Indian mandalas, Tantric art and erotic rituals, navigation and maritime goddesses and serpent deities of Orissa, Modern Jewish Art, Jewish American Artists, and a historic perspective on Cleveland’s landmark Terminal Tower.

Current faculty information can be located on the Cleveland State University Faculty Profile page.

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Financial Assistance

A number of graduate assistantships are awarded on a competitive basis to qualified students. Assistantships provide tuition support and a stipend in exchange for ten hours of service per week in the research and instructional programs of the faculty. Interested students should apply to the Graduate Advisor in advance of the academic year.

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Research Program

Graduate study enables participation in the research of the graduate faculty, which is sponsored by local, national, and international agencies and is widely published in leading professional journals and books.

Graduate student research is often presented at regional and national conferences.

Graduate students have access to the Ingalls Library of The Cleveland Museum of Art, one of the foremost collections in the nation, and to the considerable collections of the Cleveland Public Library. Excellent interlibrary loan, OCLC facilities, and general computer-research services on campus assure rapid acquisition of additional material. Computer applications to the history of art are encouraged and well supported by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences.

Special exhibits and shows in the Cleveland State University Art Gallery afford graduate students experience in curating and publishing exhibition catalogs.

Additional practical experience and funding is facilitated by internships at the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Western Reserve Historical Society, and local art galleries.

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Degree Requirements

Upon admission to the program, the student must immediately contact the Graduate Advisor in the Art Department to develop a general plan of study, which is recorded on a program planning form. This form provides the basis for subsequent consultations.

Students may pursue either of two plans for the art history specialization. Plan A requires the writing of a thesis and is intended primarily for the student who plans to study for a Ph.D. in Art History. Plan B is intended primarily for the student seeking only an MA degree and requires additional course work in lieu of the thesis. Plan B is designed for breadth and flexibility rather than specialized concentration. Prospective students select a program in consultation with the Graduate Advisor. Students in plans A and B must complete their approved courses with at least a 3.0 grade-point average, and all students must earn a minimum of twenty hours of credit at the 600 level.

Plan A (36 hours)

1. Sixteen hours in 500- to 600-level art history courses, including at least one art seminar (ART 695) and a maximum of four hours of independent study (ART 697).
2. Twelve hours in 500- to 600-level history courses, including HIS 601 and one reading seminar.
3. Eight hours of thesis (ART 699).

Students anticipating further study are encouraged to begin acquiring a second foreign language in order to meet the Ph.D. program requirements at other universities.

Plan B (40 hours)

1. Twenty-four hours in 500- to 600-level art history, including two art seminars (ART 695) and a maximum of four hours of independent study (ART 697).
2. Sixteen hours in 500- to 600-level history courses, including HIS 601, HIS 695, and one reading seminar.

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Exit Requirements

Each candidate, whether pursuing Plan A or B, must prepare a twenty-minute slide presentation as an exit requirement. Candidates also are expected to attend and participate in their colleagues’ presentations. These slide presentations should demonstrate an original approach to a well-defined topic developed from one of the student’s seminar papers. They afford the candidate the opportunity to refine and distill research, following the guidelines of professional art historical society meetings.

For Plan A candidates, the thesis committee must consist of two faculty advisors from the Art Department, one from the History Department, and one member external to the degree program. The guidelines for the thesis are decided on by agreement between the student and the committee. The committee notifies the Graduate Advisor when the thesis has been completed successfully.

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