Decorative Arts & Design History

Smithsonian Associates in partnership with
The George Washington University

About the Program

The MA program in Decorative Arts & Design History combines unparalleled academic training in interdisciplinary subjects with professional experience located at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC.


The Master of Arts degree in Decorative Arts & Design History (DADH) is offered by a partnership between the Smithsonian Associates and The George Washington University at The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design. This unique graduate program offers students a curriculum that covers a range of historical, cultural, and material topics. In this program, students pursue academic study and professional training honing their research and writing skills as well as developing expertise of the history of cultural and stylistic influences, techniques and technology, and makers and materials through object-based study. Students take courses at the Smithsonian Institution learning from curators, scholars, and leading museum professionals in Washington, DC. For some students, the Master of Arts degree is a terminal degree in preparation for a professional career, working as curators and scholars in galleries and museums; for others, it is in preparation to enter a Ph.D. program elsewhere.


We encourage students to pursue cross-disciplinary studies and to take advantage of programming and events in departments at The George Washington University, The Corcoran School of the Arts & Design, and The Smithsonian Institution. Coursework and Research is enhanced by access to the many resources available across campus including The George Washington University Museum; The Textile Museum, one of the nation’s leading collections of textile arts spanning five millennia and five continents; Luther W. Brady Art Gallery; the collections and archives of the Corcoran Galleries; and the numerous museums, libraries, and archives of the area such as the Freer and Sackler Galleries, the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Museum of American Art, the Renwick Gallery, and the Library of Congress.

Internships that complement the classroom

Internships with a professional arts institution, organization, or individual museum professionals are a structured part of the course of study, and placements are guaranteed to every student.

Constortium Registration
Students wishing to take classes beyond GW have the benefit of registering for courses at the other institutions belonging to the Washington Consortium of Universities. Any graduate student interested in these programs must consult with his/her departmental advisor prior to participation.