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MA in History of Decorative Arts

The MA in the history of decorative arts provides a one-of-a-kind academic training for graduate students. It is offered in partnership with the Smithsonian Associates. The Smithsonian Institution grants students in this program access to its curators and vast collections. They are connected to its expansive network of professionals, research communities, and state-of-the-art educational and conservation facilities.

The professional training offered in this 48-credit degree provides a balance between connoisseurship and study of the history, function, and aesthetic development of objects. It offers European and American based studies enhanced with globally-focused coursework. Summer opportunities include study abroad and domestic and international internships.

The program accepts students for fall and spring. Students can enroll full time or part time. Most courses are held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and some on the Fairfax campus of George Mason University. Courses are taught by full time faculty from Mason and many expert practioners working in the decorative arts at museums, galleries, and universities.

Graduates have gone on to careers as curators and collection managers in museums and historic houses. Others work in the commercial art market, publishing, and education. 90% of all graduates are employed in the field of decorative arts.

Prospective Students

See the webpage for Prospective Students for information on the application process for the MA in the history of decorative arts. Prospective students with questions are encouraged to contact the director, Cynthia S.Williams (willicy@si.edu or 202-633-8651).