Decorative Arts & Design History

Smithsonian Associates in partnership with
The George Washington University

MA in Decorative Arts & Design History


The MA in Decorative Arts & Design History at The George Washington University-Corcoran School of Arts and Design provides a one-of-a-kind academic experience for graduate students through its partnership with the Smithsonian Associates. The Smithsonian grants specialized access to students, from working one-on-one with curators to researching in historic collections. Students are connected to its expansive network of professionals, scholarly communities, and state-of-the-art educational facilities.

The professional training offered in this 42-credit degree provides a balance between connoisseurship and study of the history, function, and aesthetic development of objects. Offering historical approaches to global histories, our wide-range of graduate seminars are enhanced by proximity and connection to some of the world’s prominent collections. Summer opportunities include study abroad and domestic and international internships.

The program accepts students on a rolling admission basis. Students can enroll on a full-time (9 credits minimum) or part-time basis. Most courses are held at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. and some on the Foggy Bottom campus of George Mason Washington University. Courses are taught by professors from GWU as well as experts scholars and practitioners working in the decorative arts at museums, galleries, and universities.

Graduates have gone on to careers as curators and collection managers in museums and historic houses. Others work in the commercial art market, publishing, and education. Ninety percent of all graduates are employed in the field of decorative arts.