John Cabot University
Art History Master's Degree
15 months

The Master of Arts (MA) in Art History at JCU guides students toward professional mastery of the materials and methods of art history with emphasis on first-hand research in the museums, monuments, and archaeological sites of Rome. The degree can be completed in approximately fifteen months of full-time study, and students receive a degree from John Cabot University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This Master of Arts in Art History is the first graduate degree program in art history based entirely in Rome offered by a US-accredited university. The program has a dual focus: the visual cultures of Rome and the Mediterranean across time, from antiquity to the present; and the acquisition of technical skills for primary research. It also stimulates critical perspectives on the history of Roman art worldwide.

Application Requirements
Complete online application
Personal statement (600 words)
Curriculum vitae/Resume
Writing sample (see Academics)
Official transcripts (see Academics)
Copy of undergraduate degree
GRE scores (see Academics)
3 letters of recommendation (see Academics)
Evidence of English language proficiency
Passport scan (photo page)
Italian privacy consent form

Degree Length
15 months; Fall, Spring, Summer, Fall

Application Closes: March 1
Late decision apps accepted until June 1

Program Dates
Mid August – Early December

Eligibility Requirements

Age: 18+

Academics: Completed Bachelor’s degree, with at least 12 semester credits in art history, with GPA of at least 3.0 or equivalent.

*contact SAI if you don’t meet requirements

Undergraduate GPA:* 3.0 (on a 4.0 scale)

Language:* Italian, French or German reading ability strongly recommended.

Program Design
Taught by JCU’s international faculty, the degree program can be completed in three semesters of full-time study (Fall-Spring-Fall) and an intervening summer. It unfolds in three phases: a structured Foundation Year (Fall-Spring); a Master’s Exam (Summer); and a Thesis Semester (Fall).

Seminars and courses take place at JCU’s campuses in the centrally-located Trastevere district of Rome and in nearby Roman museums, churches, palaces, monuments, archaeological parks, archives, rare book libraries, restoration labs, study collections, artists’ workshops, public installations, and contemporary art galleries. These venues of visual culture and documentation constitute the laboratory of the degree. Some courses involve travel to other parts of Italy—for example, to Naples, Florence, or Assisi.

Philosophy & Method
Inverting conventional practice, John Cabot University’s MA in Art History begins by scrutinizing material objects and built environments in person, rather than through photographs. With this point of departure, it cultivates visual-contextual analysis and skills for primary research while stimulating alternative perspectives on deeply rooted disciplinary habits. What happens, for instance, when we turn away from comparisons chosen to demonstrate clear patterns and chronological sequences and attend instead to the untidy fragments that emerge from a newly excavated archaeological site? How does the experience of a building in continuous use for two thousand years challenge ideas about historical periodization or the ways objects acquire and convey meaning?

Student Profile & Career Opportunities
The degree is designed to serve as a foundation for art-historical careers in museums, galleries, schools, art consultancies, art publishing houses, and related entities; as preparation for Ph.D. (doctoral) level study in the history of art at other institutions; as continuing education for teachers of art history, history, classical studies, and related subjects; or as career enhancement for current and future professionals in areas where primary research skills and expertise in Roman visual culture offer creative advantages and possibilities for specialization. Examples include library and information science, cultural heritage management, historical fiction and script writing, scenography, art conservation, and game design.

Students receive a degree from John Cabot University, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education. This Master of Arts in Art History is the first US-accredited graduate degree program in art history based entirely in Rome.

Seminars and courses for the MA are taught by professors of art history from John Cabot University’s Department of Art History and Studio Art. Faculty members teaching for the MA come from diverse national backgrounds and hold PhDs and other advanced degrees in art history and archaeology from leading institutions, including the Courtauld Institute, the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University, the Universities of Oxford, Chicago, Munich, Pennsylvania, and Edinburgh, Duke University, Boston University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. All have a long experience of Rome, of Italy, and of art-historical inquiry.

Faculty research specializations span the chronological range from classical antiquity to the present, concentrating on subjects as diverse as Mannerist painting, ancient Roman portraiture, medieval manuscript illumination, Baroque antiquarianism, nineteenth-century American art criticism, and contemporary photography in Europe and in Africa. Research Seminars are periodically enriched by the participation of prominent guest lecturers from other universities, foreign academies, museums, and learned societies.

Application Details
Please note the following application deadlines for the 2019/2020 academic year:

  • Regular Decision: March 1, 2019 (Decision Notification: April 1, 2019)
  • Late Decision: June 1, 2019 (Decision Notification: June 15, 2019)

Additionally, following is further detail regarding the application requirements:

  • Complete online application
  • Personal statement (600 words)
  • Curriculum vitae/Resume
  • Writing sample (10-15 pages) of your academic writing (in English)
  • Official transcripts of all post-secondary (undergraduate and graduate) study undertaken to date. Transcripts should demonstrate at least 12 semester credits in art history, with GPA of at least 3.0 or equivalent.
  • Copy of undergraduate degree as proof of completion of a Bachelor’s degree
  • GRE scores (US applicants and graduates of US universities and colleges only)
  • 3 letters of recommendation from professors evaluating your academic work
  • Evidence of English language proficiency (for non-native English language speakers) in the form of an official letter from the institution at which the applicant holds a bachelor’s degree (or equivalent) attesting that English was the principal language of instruction for the degree; or scores on one of the following English language proficiency tests: TOEFL 100; IELTS 7.0.
  • Passport scan (photo page)

Students follow the four term structure below. For a full description of the program structure see Art History Master’s Degree.

Foundation Year (Fall & Spring semesters)

  • Six graduate-level courses in the history of art and architecture
  • Two methodological foundations courses
  • Cultural events

By the end of the Foundation Year, students must demonstrate reading knowledge of one of the principal languages of European art history: Italian, French, or German.

Summer Term

  • Master’s exam
  • Additional independent work: thesis research, research-related travel, internships in or outside of Rome, supplementary language training, or other professional or educational activities.

Thesis Semester (Fall)

  • Master’s thesis
  • Thesis Colloquium
  • Art-Historical Apprenticeship (can be completed during Summer term as well)
SAI Program Fees* USD
Application Fee $125
Program Fee
Includes tuition, Master’s degree and SAI Select Services, no housing (see What’s Included).
Contact SAI
Optional / Additional Fees:  
International Mailing Supplement
Students residing outside the U.S. are charged an international mailing supplement to ensure visa paperwork arrives in a timely manner.

*prices are subject to change

Financial Aid
JCU participates in the Title IV Federal Direct Loan Programs for graduate students who are US citizens or Permanent Residents of the US. Please contact SAI to learn more about obtaining a student loan for your Master’s degree. Additionally, JCU offers a number of fellowships, grants, and research assistantships to Master’s Degree students. All students will receive details regarding these opportunities as they arise.

Budget Low Est. High Est.
Airfare to/from Rome
$900 $1,800
Visa and Permit to Stay fees.
$300 $300
Books, Supplies & Course Fees
$150 / course $200 / course
SAI can provide recommendations.
$800 / month $1,500 / month
Combination of cooking at home and eating out.
$600 / month $1,000 / month
Personal Expenses $250 / month $350 / month
Transportation within Rome
Public transportation with some taxi rides.
$100 / month $250 / month
Weekend Travel
Cost varies greatly by student.
$300 / month $1,000 / month

This is an SAI Select Services Program; it includes the important on-site services!

  • Academic Master of Arts Degree awarded by John Cabot University (JCU)
  • Program tuition
  • Student health insurance providing full coverage and medical emergency evacuation
  • SAI orientation to the host city and school
  • SAI staff on-site providing assistance as needed and 24-hour emergency support

Pre-departure and Re-entry services

  • US-based admissions counselor assigned to you, providing friendly assistance
  • Helpful pre-departure tools and resources
  • Assistance with student visa application
  • Assistance with financial aid and loan processing
  • Paid registration fees for national re-entry conferences
  • SAI alumni network

Housing is not included in SAI Select Services Programs. However, your SAI Admissions Counselor will be happy to provide you with information and recommendations for local housing agencies, as well as school-provided apartments. Students who do not have prior housing arrangements should begin speaking with their Admissions Counselor as soon as possible.

Passports should be valid for 3 months after planned departure from Italy.

Student Visas
In accordance with Italian law students studying in Italy for 91 days or more are required to obtain a student visa. Those with Italian/EU citizenship are exempted. Non-US nationals should consult their local Consulate for information on student visa requirements.

Students must appear in person at the Italian Consulate to present their student visa application. Our Student Visa Office is available to assist students in getting ready for the appointment; SAI provides student visa consulting for all our students at no cost.

About SAI

SAI is dedicated to providing academic and cultural learning experiences abroad that enhance global awareness, professional development and social responsibility. We concentrate our programs in Europe, with a focus on in-depth learning of individual European countries and their unique global role in the geopolitical economy, humanities, and in the arts.