Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the Program?

The Program lasts two academic years (September to May) and leads to a Master of Arts degree in Art History.

Where is the Program located?

Administrative and some faculty offices are in the Clark’s Manton Research Center. The Program’s seminar room and student mailboxes are also located at the Clark. Each graduate student is assigned a carrel in the Clark Library. Carrels have internet hookups to the Williams College network and are linked to printers.

Who teaches in the Program?

The Program draws its faculty from a rich and diverse constellation of institutions located in Williamstown, North Adams, and elsewhere. Members of the Art Department and other faculty at Williams teach in the Program on a regular basis. Core faculty also includes curators, directors, conservators, and research staff at the Clark, WCMA, MASS MoCA, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Graduate students also have extensive formal and informal contacts with the Clark Fellows, whose offices are located in the Clark Library. The Robert Sterling Clark Visiting Professorship brings distinguished art historians from outside the region to teach in the Program. Students may enroll in undergraduate classes for graduate credit, on a limited basis. The College also appoints a range of visiting faculty in religion, humanities, and other departments, including Mellon postdoctoral fellows, many of whom focus on visual materials.

Who are the Clark Fellows?

Through its division of Research and Academic Program, the Clark provides residential fellowships for leading art historians and other experts in the visual arts from both the United States and abroad. Visiting Fellows have offices in the Clark and interact with graduate students both socially and intellectually. Read more about the Clark Fellows, including rosters of residential scholars and other research programming at the Clark.

What are the QP and Symposium?

Not only written work but debate and discussion constitute core intellectual values of the Program. These are expressed in the Graduate Symposium, which typically attracts a substantial public audience. Students select a paper from one of the seminars taken at Williams and expand that paper—with further thought, research, and consultation—into a longer text of professional quality. A draft of that expanded paper, the Qualifying Paper (QP), is the subject of a discussion held with faculty readers. With the completion of their QP, students develop a key strand of the paper into an independent 20-minute presentation. Following a series of practice runs before select faculty and students, the final version of the presentation is delivered at the annual Graduate Symposium.

When is the Symposium?

Since its founding in 1996, the Graduate Symposium has taken place on the Friday, and sometimes the Saturday, of the Williams College Graduation Weekend.

Where is the Winter Study Trip scheduled for next year?

Itineraries for the January winter study trip are set approximately six months in advance. They vary from year to year, depending on the availability of teaching faculty. Recent destinations have included numerous cities in Central and Western Europe rich in museums and works of art in situ. In 2009 destinations included Russia and Finland; in 2010 the itinerary was Sicily and Italy, with visits to Palermo, Naples, Rome, Florence, and Venice. In 2011 winter study took place in Greece and France, with visits to Athens, Delphi, Olympia, Nafplia, and Paris. In 2012, students traveled to Paris, Rome, and Naples, and in 2013 to Rome, Copenhagen, and Stockholm. The January 2014 trip focussed on England and France, with visits to London, Salisbury, Bath, Cambridge, Lincoln, and Paris. China is the likely destination in 2015, in March instead of January.

Does the Program operate in the summer?

There is no summer curriculum. In between their first and second years, many graduate students undertake internships in art museums across the country. Others stay in Williamstown, where work at the Clark, WCMA, and MASS MoCA is often available. Students also use the summer to hone their language skills through programs in the U.S. and abroad.

Where do graduate students live?

Entering students have the option of living at Fort Hoosac, a large college-maintained house two doors from the Clark. Fort Hoosac includes furnished, networked, single rooms with shared baths, as well as a living room, dining room, and kitchen facilities. Second-year students generally live off campus in rented houses or apartments, many of which are passed from generation to generation.

What kind of library resources are available?

The Clark Library is one of the largest art libraries in the country. Open stack and non-circulating, it offers a productive environment for study. The Clark’s reference librarians provide training and orientation in library research for the visual arts. The Williams College Libraries (Sawyer, Schow Science, and Chapin) also provide substantial text, electronic, and reference resources. Graduate students are assigned individual carrels in the Clark Library. The Clark Library is open seven days a week and most evenings throughout the year.

What are the possibilities for curating exhibitions?

The most common avenue is through work-study assignment to an institution and/or department responsible for exhibitions. Entering students meet with supervisors from the various institutions and select the work-study positions that most interest them. It is rare that students do not receive their first or second work-study choice. Returning students generally identify such roles in the spring of their first year. Summer employment offers another arena for curatorial work, as does enrollment in one of the occasional seminars that have served as preparation for exhibition projects. Read more about curatorial and exhibition opportunities under Internships & Work Study.

Are there work-study opportunities beyond exhibitions?

The Program offers work-study internships in all aspects of museum practice, including education, administration, publication, registration, and other areas, in addition to positions in curatorial departments.

Can I get teaching experience?

Graduate students may have the opportunity, in a work-study position, to serve as teaching assistants in undergraduate classes in the Williams College Art Department.

Where do students go after graduation?

Program alumni have an exceptional record of professional and academic success. Many have gone on for the Ph.D. at leading institutions. Some continue their studies immediately, while others have waited one or more years and experienced daily life in museums or other art environments. A substantial number of graduates also move directly into the museum field, either by securing highly competitive internships or entry-level curatorial positions across the country. Graduates have also pursued other professional opportunities in the art world with a high degree of success and accomplishment. The Program provides advice on an individual and group basis to all students seeking counsel. The Program also maintains a Listserv that disseminates notices of employment and internship opportunities. In addition, Williams College maintains an active and resource-rich career counseling service open to graduate students.

Must students commit to a particular field of study?

Graduate students are not required to commit to any one area of specialization. Many students arrive at Williams as generalists and over the two years gradually focus on a particular field, area, method, or approach. Other students arrive with a commitment to a given field and find ample opportunity to pursue their chosen interests.

How many students are admitted?

Approximately 12 students enroll each year, from a total applicant pool of 100 or more. Since the Program lasts 2 years, the total cohort is around 24.

I did not major in art history. Can I still be admitted?

The atmosphere of the Program is interdisciplinary. It welcomes applications from students in a wide range of fields, providing they have an interest in studying the visual arts at an advanced level. Some of the most successful of the Program’s graduates have come from outside the discipline.

What is the general structure of courses?

Most graduate courses are seminars, with emphasis on discussion, debate, and writing.

How does the Program support language training?

The Program provides a sequence of courses to prepare students for reading German and French. These are coordinated so as not to interfere with other courses offered by the Program. Williams College also offers a wide selection of undergraduate instruction in languages, including Chinese (Mandarin and Taiwanese), Japanese, German, French, Italian, Spanish, and Russian, as well as support for elementary Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, and Swahili. There is also instruction in Greek and Latin. Read more about the Program’s language requirements under Academic Regulations & Requirements.

When is the application deadline, and when will I hear if I am admitted?

The deadline for applications is Monday, January 5, 2015. Notifications of admissions decisions are made in March. For more information, see page on How to Apply.

Does the Program offer financial aid?

The Program offers a limited number of merit and need-based scholarships. Scholarships may take the form of tuition relief and, on occasion, a stipend for living expenses.

Can I visit the Program for an interview?

You may visit the Program at any time. However, an interview is not required to be considered for admission. If you wish to schedule an interview, either in person or by telephone, please contact Karen.E.Kowitz@williams.edu or George.E.Ferger@williams.edu.

Can I attend part-time?

The Program is full-time.