MA in Digital Art History

digital art history images

The Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, in connection with the Wired! Lab for Digital Art History & Visual Culture, offers a Digital Art History track as part of Master of Arts degree in Digital Art History/Computational Media. The department also offers a track in Computational Media.

The 18-month Digital Art History program integrates historical disciplines and the study of cultural artifacts with digital visualization techniques for the analysis and presentation of research. The program builds on courses and well-developed strengths at Duke University, and requires 10 courses over three semesters in addition to summer research. Students affiliate with an existing faculty research initiative, from which they will develop their own independent research project for the M.A. thesis. Common themes that unite the various projects are the visualization of process, the representation of change over time, recontextualizing displaced objects and object biographies.

The M.A. prepares students for future work in such fields as public history, city planning and architectural design, cultural heritage, museum exhibition design and visualization-based journalism, and provides a springboard for more advanced study in art history, archaeology, architectural history and visual studies. Limited funding may become available in the form of grants and assistantships to students upon positive progress in the program.

Contact us for more information.

Who Should Apply

The ideal candidate seeks engagement with digital humanities, digital art history, digital architectural history and digital archaeology, and conceptualizes digital visualization as a way of doing research. The program encourages applicants from across the Humanities and Social Sciences, whether from stablished disciplines, such as history, archaeology, and art history, or emerging fields of study, such as spatial history, media arts & sciences, and cultural geography.

To apply, prospective students must submit an online application through the Duke University Graduate School. Applications must include a statement of purpose, three letters of recommendation, a writing sample, as well as transcripts. For the 2023 application cycle, scores from the GRE General exam are optional. International applicants must submit English language proficiency test scores if English is not their first language.

The statement of purpose should convey an applicant’s interests in our program and their reasons for wanting to pursue master’s level graduate study in digital art history.  The personal statement can and should be written from a first-person perspective, highlighting the applicant’s strengths and relevant background/experience.

The writing sample is intended to convey a sense of the applicant’s capacity for scholarly writing. Generally applicants submit a paper that they may have written for an undergraduate course, 10-20 pages.  In the case of longer written materials, applicants submit a sample of 10-20 pages, with a paragraph explaining how the selection fits within the longer work.  The topics vary depending on the academic background of the applicant, but ideally they relate in some way to -- and reflect the student’s  interest and prior training in -- digital art history.

More information on application requirements can be found at the Graduate School’s Online Application FAQ.

Please note that Duke University does not provide financial support for master’s-level graduate study, but applicants are urged to compete for national and foundation awards or seek student loans. Questions about financial aid should be directed to the Graduate School’s financial aid coordinator. In addition, many MA students take on teaching and research assistant positions, or other jobs on campus, after they arrive. Limited funds to support thesis-related research may also be available.

M.A. Degree Requirements

Typical Program of Study

Year 1 Fall

Year 1 Spring

Year 1 Summer

Year 2 Fall

MA Proseminar

Grad Seminar 1

Practice Course

Practicum Experience 1

MA Proseminar 2

Grad Seminar 2


Practicum Experience 2

Summer Research and Training

Thesis Credit 1

Thesis Credit 2

Final Thesis Exhibition

See recommended graduate seminars and electives