Best Online Art History Degrees

Students who pursue an online art degree at the bachelor's level open themselves up to rich plans of study that mine the movement of art across the centuries and around the globe. Whether you are studying American folk art of the 20th century or Egyptian paintings on burial shrouds from 100 B.C., art history allows learners to fully immerse themselves in the creative talents of those in the past.

Graduates of an online art degree find work in various entry-level positions. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that roles for curators and museum workers will grow by 13% between 2016 and 2026, making it a great time to enter this field. Many degree seekers decide to pursue distance learning due to the flexible and convenient format.

Keep reading to learn more about the best online art degrees along with available careers, average salaries, common courses, and scholarships for prospective students.

How Much Can You Make in an Art History Career?

Online art history degree graduates qualify for a variety of entry-level positions, with roles available in professional and creative settings. Some graduates feel drawn to traditional curatorial jobs in museums, while others may want to pursue an advanced degree and work as teachers or librarians. No matter your area of interest, plenty of careers exist that offer reasonable salaries and high job growth rates.

Remember that no degree guarantees a specific career or salary, but the table below provides details on jobs commonly held by graduates of these programs.

Museum Technician or Conservator

These professionals work in museums, historical societies, and art foundations to ensure artwork in their charge stays carefully preserved. They may conserve individual pieces or work to carefully unpack and pack rotating exhibitions. Conservator positions generally require a master's; however, a bachelor's in art history provides the foundation for graduates to pursue an advanced degree in the field. Students interested in museum technician jobs can often enter the field with a bachelor's.

Median Annual Salary: $43,020

Job Growth: 13%

Curator

Curators work in museums, libraries, and historic associations to design and implement exhibitions. They may work with other museums to loan work, write art explanations, and liaise with marketing professionals to bring awareness to the exhibit. Curators typically need a master's degree, though small museums may hire graduates of online art degrees with prior experience.

Median Annual Salary: $53,780

Job Growth: 13%

Craft and Fine Artist

Whether working in painting, ceramics, sculpting, or glassblowing, craft and fine artists spend their days creating original artwork. They may sell these directly to patrons, share them online, or exhibit them in art galleries.

Median Annual Salary: $48,960

Job Growth: 6%

Historian

Historians use their extensive knowledge to make history more accessible to the general public. They may write books, educate the next generation, or partner with museums and other foundations to share historic information. Bachelor's graduates may enter entry-level, nontraditional historian roles while pursuing an advanced degree in the field.

Median Annual Salary: $61,140

Job Growth: 6%

Librarian

Librarians ensure the public can access books, printed materials, and digital services through public libraries and associations. They manage databases of available items, teach patrons how to use search tools, and oversee the purchasing of new materials. Though librarian positions typically require a master's degree, a bachelor's in art history serves as the first step for students pursuing this career.

Median Annual Salary: $59,050

Job Growth: 9%

While the table above provides a general sense of average salaries, degree seekers should remember that several factors can affect potential earnings. These include geographic location, industry, level of experience, highest degree attained, and employer.

Data from the BLS suggests that Washington, D.C., New York, New Jersey, California, and Nevada offer the highest wages for curators. Industries with the highest salaries include the federal executive branch, information services, colleges and universities, social advocacy organizations, and elementary and secondary schools.

FL TX NM AZ AK CA NV UT CO OR WA ID HI OK MT WY ND SD NE KS MN IA MO AR LA MS AL GA SC IL WI MI IN OH TN KY NC WV VA PA NY ME VT NH RI CT NJ DE MA MD DC

What Courses Can be Taken for an Online Art History Degree?

When learners enroll in an online art degree at the bachelor's level, they gain a foundational understanding of many different art history movements and styles. Few programs at this level offer specializations; most choose instead to provide a broad overview of the field. When looking at the courses discussed below, remember that this table provides only a general idea of what to expect. Learners should visit program websites to get a sense of individual degree requirements.

Art of the Renaissance Era This introductory course examines art movements throughout Europe during the Renaissance, with emphasis on how social and cultural change, philosophy, and theology contributed to shifting ideas.
Artists in Studio This hands-on course allows learners to gain basic skills in areas such as sculpture, design, painting, or drawing to help improve their creative skills and better understand the artistic process.
Women Artists of the 20th Century From Frida Kahlo to Georgia O'Keefe, this advanced course educates learners on notable female artists working in the U.S. and Europe during the 1900s.
Art History Approaches Students in this class learn about the various methodologies and theories used in examining art through a historical lens and incorporate case studies to understand how to deploy each.
The Role of Museums in Society This senior-level class explores how museums fit into Western society. The course also provides a history of museums' evolution over time and how they continue to stay relevant in the 21st century.

How to Choose the Best Online Art History Program

Understandably, prospective students typically have many questions before they invest significant time and money into an online fine arts degree. Learners should consider aspects such as school reputation, accreditation, tuition cost, availability of degrees, and faculty credentials when choosing an art history program.

Q: What strategies should I follow in choosing my art history classes?

A: When looking at the degree plans for prospective schools, pay close attention to whether the department specializes in any particular area or era of art history. You should look at how many electives the program offers, as these can help shape your degree and professional goals after graduation.

Q: What should I pay attention to when looking at faculty bios?

A: When reviewing faculty bios, pay close attention to their areas of expertise and interests. If you know you want to work in areas of Asian art history but the entire faculty specializes in European art, you might want to look elsewhere. If you want to work with a specific professor, ensure they are not planning to take a sabbatical during your enrollment.

Q: Should I have any concerns about getting an art history degree online?

A: Online art history degrees transfer seamlessly from the brick-and-mortar classroom to the digital learning platform. Whether logging in for live lectures or tuning in to watch prerecorded sessions, students can easily access all classroom information whenever they need. They can also participate in chat rooms, forums, and other forms of communication to ensure they stay connected with peers and professors.

Q: How do art history internships work with distance learning?

A: Students looking to gain real-world experience before graduation often select a program that offers an internship and/or field experience. Although most schools maintain a list of approved sites, distance learners may need to reach out to the program administrator to find a site in their region.

Q: How does an online art history degree at the bachelor's level help me reach my goals?

A: Graduates who earn art history degrees online at the bachelor's level qualify for various entry-level roles in the field. Many curatorial and technical positions at museums and art galleries look for candidates with baccalaureate credentials, making this a great degree for getting your foot in the door. If you're hoping to work in research or teaching, however, you'll likely need to build on this degree by pursuing advanced education.

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Art History Programs

As tuition costs for online art history degrees continue to rise, students must find innovative ways of lowering their debt burden. Before applying for federal and/or private loans, try to exhaust your efforts in finding scholarships, grants, and other forms of funding that do not require repayment. The scholarships listed below provide insight into available options for learners looking to finance their degree.

Catherine W. Pierce Scholarship

The United Negro College Fund makes this nonrenewable award available to minority students pursuing undergraduate degrees in art history at an accredited school on a full-time basis. Applicants must possess a 2.5 GPA or higher, write a one-page essay, and submit transcripts alongside their completed online application.

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Support Creativity Scholarship

In existence since 2013, this scholarship helps artists and other creative learners finance their education. The $1,000 award does not feature any GPA requirements, but applicants must live in the greater New York area in states including New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania. Applicants must submit all materials by May 1.

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Lifchez/Stronach Curatorial Internship

This internship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC lasts nine months and provides $24,000 in funding to eligible seniors and recent graduates. An additional $2,000 is available for research and educational travel. Applicants must be enrolled in an art history degree to qualify for the award.

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The Frederic Whitaker and Eileen Monaghan Whitaker Scholarship

Students hoping to receive this $2,000 award must submit an essay on art history that deals with two paintings chosen by the foundation. Applicants must send academic transcripts and a completed application by May 17.

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Cynthia and Alan Baran Fine Arts and Music Scholarship

Established in 2004, this award is available to undergraduate students enrolled on a full- or part-time basis in a degree related to fine arts. Applicants should possess at least a 3.0 GPA and submit an online application. Applications are due in March, and the award amount varies.

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