Decorative Arts and Design History

Columbian College of Arts and Sciences

Master of Arts (M.A.)
Location(s): Foggy Bottom - Main Campus, Corcoran School of the Arts and Design

Program Overview

The Master of Arts in Decorative Arts & Design History degree program is offered through a partnership between the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and the Smithsonian Associates. This unique graduate program covers a range of historical, cultural, and material topics. Through object-based study, students develop expertise in the history of cultural and stylistic influences, techniques and technology, and makers and materials.
Courses are taught at the Smithsonian Institution by curators, scholars, and leading museum professionals in Washington, D.C. In addition to classes, students also participate in internships with arts institutions, organizations, and museum professionals. The internship experience complements the formal curriculum, enabling students to hone their research and writing skills in both professional and academic settings.
For some students, the Master of Arts in Decorative Arts & Design History is a terminal degree leading to professional careers as curators and scholars in galleries and museums. For others, the degree is completed in preparation for doctoral study.
**This program is not currently accepting applications for Spring or Fall 2021.**

Admission Requirements

Admission deadlines: 

**This program is not currently accepting applications for the Fall 2021 or Spring 2022 terms.**


Fall – April 1 (February 1 for Fellowship consideration)
Spring – October 1

Standardized test scores:
GRE general test is not required however if you feel as though submitting scores for the GRE will strengthen your application, you are welcome to submit them.
The Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), the academic International English Language Testing System (IELTS), or the PTE Academic is required of all applicants except those who hold a bachelor’s, master’s, or doctoral degree from a college or university in the United States or from an institution located in a country in which English is the official language, provided English was the language of instruction. 
Minimum scores for the M.A. program is:
   • Academic IELTS: an overall band score of 6.0 with no individual score below 5.0; or
   • TOEFL: 550 on paper-based or 80 on Internet-based;  or
   • PTE Academic: 53;
Applicants who do not meet minimum English language requirements may be eligible for our full-time Applied English Language program.
Recommendations required:
Two (2) recommendations (academic recommendations are preferred)
Prior academic records:
Transcripts are required from all colleges and universities attended, whether or not credit was earned, the program was completed, or the credit appears as transfer credit on another transcript. Unofficial transcripts from all colleges and universities attended must be uploaded to your online application. Official transcripts are required only of applicants who are offered admission.
If transcripts are in a language other than English, English language translations must be provided. The English translation alone should be uploaded into your application.
Statement of purpose:
In a short essay (500-750 words), state your purpose in undertaking graduate study in your chosen field. Include your academic objectives, research interests, career plans, and an autobiographical statement. Also discuss your related qualifications, including collegiate, museum, other professional, and community activities.
Writing Sample (Optional):
The writing sample should be a complete, polished text (e.g. essay, review) written by the student for an academic course, a publication, or in the course of professional work or community activity.  The writing sample should reflect the applicant’s writing skills and ability to think critically. Include a single document not to exceed 10 pages in length. 
An interview by phone, skype, or in person is recommended.
International applicants only:
Please review International Applicant Information carefully for details on required documents, earlier deadlines for applicants requiring an I-20 or DS-2019 from GW, and English language requirements.
For more information on the admission process, please visit the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Frequently Asked Questions page.
Supporting documents not submitted online should be mailed to:
Columbian College of Arts and Sciences – Graduate Admissions Office
The George Washington University
801 22nd Street NW, Phillips Hall 215
Washington DC 20052
Contact for questions:
[email protected] ~ 202.994.6210 (phone) ~ 202.994.6213 (fax)
8:30 am – 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday