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You love art

Now become the expert you've always wanted to be and register in our World Art History Certificate Program

Art is all around us. It excites us, enriches our lives, and enlivens our imaginations. But to truly appreciate any work of art, we need to understand the context and culture in which it was produced. That's why Smithsonian Associates offers the exciting World Art History Certificate program.

The program forgoes exams and papers and focuses instead on a flexible, personalized approach to expanding your knowledge and appreciation of art. The wide-ranging offerings are designed to provide a global perspective on art and architecture and are inspired by the rich resources of the Smithsonian's collections, those of other Washington institutions, and museums around the United States and the world.

Under the guidance of expert teachers, examine the major creators, movements, and historical periods that shaped art across civilizations and centuries. Take in-depth looks at masterworks and explore specialized topics. Choose the courses that speak to your own interests—and complete the program requirements at your own pace.

New topics and speakers that reflect notable exhibitions, art news from around the world, and new scholarly research are regularly added to the programming calendar. Sign up for e-alerts to stay up-to-date on the latest offerings.

How the Program Works

Participants select core courses and electives from among Smithsonian Associates' lectures, courses, seminars, study tours, and studio art classes. Each World Art History Certificate core course or elective carries a value of one credit or one-half credit.

  • A total of 4 core course credits and 6 elective credits are needed to complete the certificate program. Courses are identified on each program description and are worth 1 credit. Electives are designated as carrying 1/2 credit or 1 credit on each program description.
  • Participants can begin at any time. Courses are ongoing, and new topics are added regularly.
  • The certificate program can be completed remotely through Smithsonian Associates' online programming on Zoom.
  • Program participants can track their credits online.
  • All certificate program offerings and their credit value are noted in the monthly Smithsonian Associates program guide and in online listings.

Benefits of Registering:

  • Receive early notifications about upcoming offerings
  • Receive invitations for informal gatherings with course leaders and other program participants.
  • For a limited time, new participants receive a World Art History Certificate tote bag.
  • Graduates receive both digital and paper copies of their certificate.

Core Courses

Core courses focus on principles of viewing and appreciating art and architecture; cultural and historical overviews; and examinations of specific artistic periods, forms, and movements.

During each quarter of the calendar year, three core courses are offered: one during the day, one in the evening, and one on a weekend. Topics are staggered so that core course offerings do not cover the same material or time periods concurrently.


Electives include one-time seminars or lectures that focus on individual creators or specialized topics in art, architecture, and art history. Select in-person study tours and studio arts classes are also offered as electives.

Program Fees

There is a $40 fee to register in the certificate program.

Registration in the World Art Certificate program does not automatically entitle you to register for programs at the member rate. You will need to become a member to access the discounted rate for programs/classes.

Terms & Conditions

The requirements for this certificate program must be met within two years of registration date. If the requirements for the certificate are not completed in two years, another $40 fee is required to continue in the program. All participants pay the applicable advertised price for each program, study tour, or studio arts class they select. Credits will not be given retroactively and are counted from the day of the registration for the program.

How to Register