Master's Program Curriculum
The intensive, two-year graduate program at the Center assumes that a curator or critic of the contemporary visual arts must be acquainted with the recent history of the arts, the social and cultural conditions of their production, and the critical and theoretical conceptions that inform their reception. It further assumes that study of the arts in the context of contemporary society and culture requires familiarity with a wide range of thought in the humanities and social sciences, including social and cultural history, philosophy, sociology, and economics. Finally, the program assumes that thoughtful exhibition and criticism of contemporary art require both a trained sensitivity to the aesthetic demands of art and study of the institutions and practices of exhibition.
Course offerings in the graduate program include seminars in art history, in theory and criticism, and on issues of curatorial and critical practice; practicums taught by curators, critics, and other arts professionals; and independent research courses and writing tutorials. Students are required to complete an internship with an artist, curator, or other arts professional between their first and second years; they also have opportunities in practicums and seminars to work with curators, scholars, and critics in the preparation of exhibitions and publications.
Upon satisfactory completion of course work and other requirements of the graduate program, students are awarded the degree of master of arts in curatorial studies.
Master's Degree Requirements
Candidacy for the master's degree requires satisfactory completion of a total of 40 course credits:
The final master's degree project does not itself carry any course credit.
Two-Year Academic Schedule
The typical course schedule for a student in the graduate program is outlined below. All required seminars, proseminars, and practicums must be taken in the semesters indicated. Practicums meet for two and a half or three hours each week; other courses typically meet for two and a half hours each week, although some may have additional discussion sessions. Courses are held on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays at the Center and on Thursdays at museums, artists' studios, and other locations, often in New York City. Fridays are left free of regularly scheduled courses so that students can view current exhibitions and visit museums in New York City and elsewhere in the area.
The summer internship provides students an opportunity to conduct research and gain practical experience through work with an artist, curator, or other museum or arts professional. Internships involve a minimum of three days' work each week for eight weeks during the summer between a student's first and second years. Internships may be based in a museum department, gallery, artist's studio, or arts publication office and are supervised by the arts professional or artist with whom the student is working. The graduate program staff helps students find placements for their internships; some placements may be competitive. Internships should result in a substantial piece of work—for example, preparatory work for an exhibition, an analysis of a segment of a permanent collection, or a survey or catalogue of an artist's archives. Each student is required to submit a written report upon completion of his or her internship. The internship supervisor is asked to provide a written evaluation of the student's work. (6 credits)
Master's Degree Project
As the culmination of his or her study and training, each student prepares a final master's degree project. The project is supervised by a review committee, made up of the student's faculty adviser and two additional faculty members. On occasion, a scholar, critic, or arts professional who is not on the Center faculty may serve on a student's project review committee. Students consult with members of their project review committee at each stage of their final master's degree project.
Each student organizes an exhibition and prepares an interpretive catalogue as a final master's degree project. The exhibition, which is presented at the Center in the fourth semester of study, may include works from the Center's collection or works that the student has obtained on loan from artists' studios, collectors, galleries, or other institutions. The final project is planned and completed in three stages.
Stage I, Exhibition Proposal
A detailed exhibition proposal must be presented to the Graduate Committee in the third semester of study. The proposal must describe the exhibition's subject and its intellectual and aesthetic intentions and must include a checklist of works that the student wishes to borrow from the Center's collection or other sources. The proposal must also be accompanied by a budget and an installation plan, which are reviewed and approved by the Center's registrar. Students present brief prospectuses for their final exhibition projects to the Graduate Committee in the second semester of study.
Stage II, Catalogue Essay Draft
A preliminary draft, twenty to twenty-five pages in length, of the catalogue essay for the proposed exhibition must be submited to the student's project review committee at the beginning of the fourth semester of study. The draft must include an exhibition checklist and a bibliography of relevant literature, including any works cited in the essay.
Stage III, Final Project
The final project consists of the completed exhibition, presented during the fourth semester of study, and its interpretive catalogue. The catalogue must include a substantive essay, twenty to thirty pages in length, exploring the subject of the exhibition; biographical information about the artist or artists represented; a checklist of works exhibited; and a bibliography. The interpretive catalogue is submitted as a master's degree thesis in the middle of the fourth semester of study