Since 1996 the MA in the History of Decorative Arts program has offered a one-of-a-kind academic experience to the newest generation of decorative arts professionals. Located at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the program is distinguished by several important aspects that set it apart from other courses of graduate study:
A comprehensive grounding in the history of European and American decorative arts complemented with a consideration of non-Western art. In addition to theoretical and contextual studies, academic skills are built through courses that focus on furniture, ceramics, glass, costume, textiles, and metalwork. Study abroad opportunities are available to students through our partnership with the University of Glasgow.
Students are guided in their studies by recognized educators and specialists, and have access to a wide network of decorative arts professionals.
The 48-credit masters degree program consists of sixteen 3-credit courses. Students select half of their course work as electives, enhancing general training with opportunities for personal specialization. Internships are encouraged, and the program offers an active summer schedule of courses, including domestic and international opportunities.
The Smithsonian's museums and research facilities as well as Washington's world-renowned public museums, private collections, archives, and libraries provide exclusive settings for behind-the-scenes study.
Internships with a professional arts institution, organization, or individual are a structured part of the course of study, and multiple placements are guaranteed to every student.
Program graduates are in high demand for positions at museums, historic organizations, and in the commercial art and design marketplace. Our first class graduated in 1998, and of the over 200 alumni, 80% are employed in the field of the decorative arts.
For a select list of professional positions held by our students and alumni, see Professional Employment of Alumni and Students.