Smithsonian Associates
in partnership with
The George Washington University's Corcoran School of the Arts & Design

M.A. in Decorative Arts & Design History

Support our Graduate Students

Unparalleled Academic Experience

The graduate program in Decorative Arts & Design History provides students with an unparalleled academic experience.

Gain professional training in the field of decorative arts & design history.

Learn from leading curators and scholars at the Smithsonian.

Pursue academic study in European and American object and material culture, design, and craft.

Access Smithsonian collections and explore museum collections throughout the Washington, DC, region and abroad.

About the Program

The MA in Decorative Arts & Design History program offers a one-of-a-kind academic experience to the newest generation of decorative arts professionals and design historians. Located at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, the program is distinguished by several important aspects that set it apart from other courses of graduate study.

Expert and Engaged Faculty

Students are guided in their studies by recognized educators, scholars, curators, and specialists and have access to a wide network of decorative arts professionals.

Curriculum that Fosters Individual Focus

In this 42-credit master's degree program, students select from a variety of course electives, enhancing general training with opportunities for personal specialization. Students participate in internships at area museums and collections to effectively prepare them for a career in the field. The program also offers summer courses, including domestic and international opportunities.

A Doorway to Insider Access

The Smithsonian's museums and research facilities as well as Washington's world-renowned public museums, private collections, archives, and libraries provide exclusive settings for behind-the-scenes study.

Internships that Complement the Classroom

Internships with a professional arts institution, organization, or individual museum professionals are a structured part of the course of study, and placements are guaranteed to every student.

A Competitive Edge in the Professional World

Program graduates are in high demand for positions at museums, historic organizations, and in the commercial art and design marketplace. Our first class graduated in 1998, and of the over 200 alumni, 80% are employed in the field of the decorative arts.

45%
Museums, historic houses as curators, collections managers, and educators
25%
Commercial art market at auction houses, appraisal firms, galleries, and dealers.
30%
Publishing, doctoral study, interior design, non-profit management, and teaching.