Art History Careers
Art history students pursue careers in a wide range of professions both inside the art world and beyond it. Our Art History page provides information about art history as preparation for professional life. The following resources will give you an idea about the types of careers you might pursue in the field.
- Career Alternatives for Art Historians. Created by an “insider” (Notre-Dame Art History Professor Emeritus Charles M. Rosenberg), this very useful page lists types of jobs along with the skills and background required for each, as well as links to relevant job listings. Dr. Rosenberg enlisted the assistance of colleagues in specialized fields to help with the compilation of those sections of the page. He also provides sample job listings, information (and references to articles) about prospects for employment in the field, and sage wisdom.
- What can I do with a degree in Art History? (Portland State University). List of job titles reported by Art History graduates, a summary of transferable skills possessed by Art History majors, and an access link to “Vocational Biographies” – career stories of real people (many with Art History backgrounds) in various professions.
- Occupational Outlook for the Fields of Education, Training and Library Occupations. From the U.S. Government Bureau of Labor Statistics.
- Asuza Pacific University has compiled lists of top traditional careers in art history, top non-traditional art history careers, and top self-employed jobs for art historians.
One of the most valuable things you can do to learn about careers and to gain experience is to pursue an internship. Start by exploring the links below but be sure to check in with the B.C. Career Center regarding the process of looking for and making the most of an internship, as well as for specific available internships.
Internships in the Visual Arts
- College Art Association. Job and internship listings, career resources and other opportunities (grants, calls for papers, etc.).
- Academic Jobs Wiki: Art History
- H-Net Job Guide. If you’re interested in pursuing a career in academia, this resource, which posts academic position announcements in the humanities, will give you an idea of the types of positions available.
- Association for Art History. British, but listings are worldwide. Job, speaking and funding opportunities.
- Museum Employment Resource Center. Jobs and other information related to the museum, heritage management, and cultural resource communities.
- American Alliance of Museums. Museum job listings and career development and management resources.
- hireCulture. The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s job search engine for art-related careers in Massachusetts.
- The New York Foundation for the Arts. The emphasis is on openings in the greater New York City area, but listings from all over the U.S. are included as well.
- Preservation Directory. Job and internship listings in the fields of Preservation and Cultural Resources.
- Visual Resources Association: Emerging Professionals and Students Group. Jobs and career resources for the image management field.
Additional job posting sites are listed at the bottom of the Careers and Graduate Study page.
Although you can find entry-level jobs in the art world with a B.A. degree, to advance in many institutions and organizations you will need to pursue graduate study, either for a master’s degree or doctorate depending upon your career path. For instance, many positions in museums, historic houses, arts organizations and auction houses require an M.A. in Museum Studies, Historic Preservation, Arts Administration or Art Business. Students interested in Art Law will need to obtain a J.D. at a law school that teaches this specialization. If you wish to hold a research position, such as professor or museum curator, you will need a Ph.D.
To prepare for graduate school:
- Meet with your advisor in the Art, Art History, and Film Department.
- Use the College Art Association’s Directory of Graduate Programs in Art History to research programs.
- Consider what type of graduate program matches your career goals.
- Study the languages you will need: M.A. programs normally require one foreign language; Ph.D. programs require two or more, one of those likely being German. Specific requirements vary by program.
- If you are interested in doctoral programs, determine which art historical field you wish to specialize in, which graduate programs are strong in that field, and which scholars you wish to study with. One way to do this is to familiarize yourself with the work of the scholars in your field of interest.
- When researching specific programs, seek out current students in and alumni of that program to ask them about their experience in it.