JD / MA Program in Law and History of Art

Program Overview:

The goal of the program is to produce Law School graduates sophisticated in the understanding of artworks and their histories. Art law is becoming a field of increasing prominence both in legal practice and legal research. For law students interested in the area, an MA in art history would provide invaluable experience with art in a curatorial or museum context and in an academic setting, with potential application to law practice. Students will be introduced to methods of art historical research and to theories of visual culture as well as to the analytic language of the art historical discipline.


The JD/MA in Art History Program admits a small number of carefully selected applicants each year. This policy assures the individual student attention that is critical to a productive academic experience.
Admission to the program is contingent upon admission to the Law School. Admission to the JD/MA Program in Art History is not necessarily dependent upon previous art historical course work or any other specific program of study at the undergraduate level. Students are selected for intellectual promise, skill in spoken and written communication, and conceptual and analytical ability. All prospective students are encouraged to contact the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Culture before applying, in order to discuss the program and its suitability for their individual goals.

Coursework Requirements:

The JD/MA in Art History student is required to complete a total of eight graded courses (24 graded units) for completion of the MA degree. Of the eight courses, the student may request permission from her advisor to take up to two courses in other departments and up to two independent studies, depending on whether the student elects the thesis or the non-thesis degree track (see Thesis and Non-Thesis Track below). Students should select courses that enable her/him to gain mastery in one field within the discipline (see Plan of Study below). For students electing to write a thesis, work in these areas will form the basis of their Master’s thesis. Please note that the Graduate School establishes specific J.D./M.A. requirements that students should read carefully. These requirements can be found at Requirements for JD/MA/MS. In particular, note that the student will pay tuition for 30 credit units even if only 24 credit units are graded (the remaining 6 credit units will be recorded as ungraded research units). Students should also note that joint degrees are interdependent. If the full requirements of both degrees are not met, the student will not receive either degree.

Plan of Study:

Upon acceptance into the program, each student must write up a one-page plan of study in consultation with an advisor within the Department. The plan of study should specify a major area of concentration as well as a specific subject area (i.e. medieval art with a concentration on sculpture; contemporary architecture with a concentration on public
monuments). This plan of study should also outline the relationship between these subject areas and the student’s interests in law and legal issues (i.e. the trafficking of spolia; intellectual property). It should be updated and revised each February, at which time it is submitted to the entire faculty for review.

Working with an Advisor:

All students must select a primary advisor. This advisor should have expertise in the area of concentration designated by the student. Students on the thesis-track must also assemble a committee of two additional faculty members whose work intersects with that of the student’s elected subfields.

Thesis and Non-Thesis Track:

The JD/MA program in Art History enables students to follow one of two tracks, a thesis-track or a course-intensive track.