MA in Art (Creative) and Art History: Concentration in Critical & Curatorial Studies

MA in Art (Creative) and Art History: Concentration in Critical & Curatorial Studies

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The Master of Arts (MA) in Art, concentration in Critical & Curatorial Studies combines critical theory, contemporary art and exhibition history, and practical exhibition experience to prepare students for work in the expanding fields of contemporary exhibition development and art writing.

The program is headed by Professor Chris Reitz, the Hite Institute of Art + Design’s Gallery Director, and Professor Christopher Fulton, Director of Graduate Studies for the Critical and Curatorial Studies Program, and begins with a yearlong methodologies seminar that introduces students to the theoretical and critical stakes of contemporary art and curatorial practice. The first year of the program culminates with a class-curated exhibition in the Hite Institute’s campus galleries. In addition to the methodologies course and the graduate seminar, students in the CCS program take elective courses in Art History and outside of the Department of Art + Design with the aim of developing general and specialized knowledge in their respective fields.

art galaryStudents in the program benefit from the Hite Institute’s substantial resources, which include multiple galleries on campus and in downtown Louisville, partnerships with local art museums and galleries, as well as an active speaker and colloquia schedule featuring internationally prominent curators, gallery directors, and artists. Although funding is not guaranteed for every student, there are numerous scholarships and fellowships available to assist CCS graduate students.

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Admission to the MA Program

Core Curriculum (16 hours)

  • 1 hour: CCS 600: Graduate Seminar (to be taken in the first year) (offered fall only)
  • 3 hours: ARTH 642: Theories & Methods of Art History (to be taken in the first year) (offered fall only)
  • 3 hours: 500 or 600 level elective in Art History.
  • 3 hours: 500 or 600 level elective outside the Department of Fine Arts.
  • 3 hours: 500 or 600 level Fine Arts elective outside the chosen concentration (‘Outside the concentration’ means outside the area of focus, e.g.: Art History majors must take a course in Studio Art or Curatorial Studies; Curatorial Studies majors must take a course in Studio Art or Art History.)
  • 3 hours: Thesis Guidance (A final grade for Thesis Guidance is given upon completion of the thesis and its submission to the Graduate School.)


Beyond the core curriculum, the concentration in Critical and Curatorial Studies requires 15 hours. [Note: A minimum of 12 hours (exclusive of Thesis Guidance) must be at the 600-level.]

  • 3 hours: ARTH 542/CCS 646- Special Topics (content determined with advisor)
  • 3 hours: CCS 547/647 - Introduction to Critical and Curatorial Studies I
  • 3 hours: CCS 548/648 - Critical and Curatorial Studies II
  • 3 hours: 600-level Public Administration Arts Management Course (PADM 600, 603, 609 or 612)
  • 3 hours: CCS 649 - Curatorial Internship
  • Thesis with exhibition or curatorial project


The thesis for Critical and Curatorial Studies is a demonstration of the student's abilities to plan, research, develop, administer, implement and document a professional curatorial project. As such, the thesis is a combination of both the scholarly and the applied and, therefore, it can take a variety of forms, from an exhibition to other kinds of curatorial projects developed to meet the particular student's interests, abilities and experience. This activity can be done in cooperation with the university's galleries, the Speed Art Museum or other appropriate institutions authorized by the department, and should be a culminating experience occurring in the final year of study.

Thesis Advisor

Each student will work with a primary professor who serves as mentor and thesis advisor. This advisor will guide and assist the M.A. candidate in the completion of the program.

Thesis Guidance

In the first year of the program, the student should be exploring possible thesis topics. By the beginning of the second year, the student, with the assistance of the faculty advisor, should identify a thesis project and formulate a proposal to fulfill the thesis requirement. He/she should enroll in CCS 645 (Thesis Guidance) at this time since the project will require planning and development in order to be ready for presentation in the final semester.

Once the thesis project idea has been formulated, the student will submit a written prospectus or project proposal to the faculty advisor for approval by the full faculty. The project proposal should demonstrate the student's understanding of critical theory and professional practice, show knowledge and skill in analysis, interpretation and presentation, and include proof of the ability to organize, administer and document an intelligent and professional project.

Thesis Project

The thesis exhibition or project should include several components, including an critical essay explaining the project; written materials to implement the project, including correspondence, timeline or schedules and other planning documents such as budgets necessary to organize and administer the project; exhibition or other publication, such as brochures, catalogs, label or other explanatory text to present the project to the public or other targeted audiences; and image (either slide or digital) and written documentation of the project (i.e. reviews, surveys and other responses generated in reaction to the project). This documentation must be submitted in conformity with the regulations governing the form and presentation required by the Graduate School, the guidelines for which are printed in the Graduate Catalog.

After the project has been approved, the student will select a thesis committee consisting of the faculty advisor, and two members of the graduate faculty, including someone from outside the department. There will be an oral defense during the time of the exhibition, or at an appropriate evaluation point if the project is another kind of curatorial project. This exhibition and oral defense should occur in plenty of time for the student to finish and submit the project documentation and application for graduation to the Graduate School.

For questions about our Master of Arts (MA) in Critical & Curatorial Studies, please email Christopher Fulton, Director of Curatorial Studies.

For questions about applying to the Hite Institute please email Theresa Berbet, Coordinator of Academic Services.

For questions about applying to the Graduate School please contact the Office of Graduate Admissions at:

University of Louisville
Graduate School
2211 S Brook St, Houchens Bldg, Rm 105
Louisville, Kentucky 40292
The United States of America

Email Address:
Phone Number: (502) 852-6495

Application Deadline:

  • February 15, for fall semester admission only