Graduate Admission Requirements

art history students in museum

Students with a bachelor’s degree in art history or in a related field (e.g., history, anthropology, literary studies, religious studies, or philosophy) are invited to apply to VCU Department of Art History graduate programs. Applicants who have completed at least 18 undergraduate semester credits in art history are preferred.

Applications are reviewed by the full-time faculty members, who assess an applicant’s overall package of materials, with particular attention to the statement of interest and writing sample. Applicants are accordingly advised to submit a writing sample that has a clearly articulated thesis statement; identifies and interprets primary and/or secondary sources in support of a well-argued thesis; and offers a coherent, cohesive narrative.

The statement of purpose, 750-1000 words in length, should

  • briefly recount your academic background;
  • describe an avenue of inquiry that you expect to explore;
  • note your professional goals beyond graduate study;
  • explain why VCU art history is suited to your interests.

Applicants are advised to correspond with faculty members with whom they wish to work.

While there are no steadfast quantitative criteria for admission, most students have a GRE Verbal score of 155 or higher, a GRE Writing Score of 4.0 or higher, and a GPA of 3.2 or higher on the last 60 hours of undergraduate coursework. Students who enter the PhD program after completing an MA at VCU or elsewhere typically have earned a GPA of 3.8 or higher on MA coursework.

Applicants are also required to submit 3 letters of reference. Applicants to the Historical Studies concentration should solicit letters from faculty members who can assess the applicant’s preparation and promise for graduate work. Applicants to the Museum Studies and Curatorial concentrations should solicit 2 letters from faculty members who can assess the applicant’s preparation and promise for graduate work and 1 letter of reference from a museum professional who can describe the applicant’s professional experience and promise.

To learn more about our admissions statistics and student demographics, prospective students can visit the VCU Office of Planning and Decision Support website.

The Department of Art History began accepting 2020-2021 applications for the MA programs in Historical and Museum Studies starting April 15, 2020. The Department of Art History is currently not accepting applications for the PhD programs in Historical and Curatorial Studies.