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About the Program

The MA in Contemporary Art combines the art historical study of art since 1960 with practical, real-life skills to prepare students for a career in this exciting and growing field. Located in the most important center of the art market, visits and focused travel augment lectures and seminars, taking the program outside the classroom to artist studios, galleries, museums, and private collections. The MA program prepares students for a wide range of careers in the art world, including ethical issues associated with contemporary art; it also cultivates communication and connoisseurship skills necessary to study and evaluate objects, and to engage directly with the marketplace. Students gain knowledge of a wide array of contemporary art including painting, sculpture, photography, and time-based media, as well as digital and ephemeral work. They also analyze methods of display and issues around the curation and collection of art.

About Our MA Students

The MA Contemporary Art student is an independent thinker, has strong observation and communication skills, and is aware of the latest developments in contemporary art and culture. Our typical student is dynamic, entrepreneurial, and eager to work on both academic and practical levels, combining academic rigor in the discipline of contemporary art history with market knowledge of current trends and developments in the international art world.

Core Curriculum

Each MA program at Sotheby’s Institute begins with a shared core curriculum, Navigating the Art World, that introduces students to the structure of the art world and its legal and ethical framework, builds their quantitative skills, and strengthens their analytical and communicative capacity.

MA Contemporary Art Meet Kathy Battista, Director of Contemporary Art in New York
The Details
  • Curriculum-at-a-Glance


    ACADEMIC YEAR 2016-17
    Program Structure
    Semester 1

    • Navigating the Art World Part 1

    • Art Law

    • Principles of Business 1: Economics & Finance

    • Principles of Business 2: Strategy and Marketing

    • Art Production: From the Studio to the Museum

    • Field Study (local and regional)

    Semester 2

    • Theories of Postwar Art

    • Contemporary Art 1960–1980

    • Elective (Contemporary Art-specific): Curating

    • Contemporary Art, Curating in the Commercial

    • Gallery, Latin American Art, Art Criticism and Writing

    • Elective (Institute-wide options): Research and Valuation I, Emerging Markets, Art Law 2, Collection Management: Collection Management, Fine Arts in America, Decorative Arts in America, History of

    • American Collections

    • Field Study (e.g. Beijing and Shanghai, Dubai and Doha, Havana, Mumbai and Dehli)

    Semester 3

    • Global Art Production, 1980–Present

    • Theories of Contemporary Art

    • Elective (Contemporary Art-specific): Curating

    • Contemporary Art Part 2, Advanced Topics in

    • Contemporary Art, Artists’ Foundations and Estates, Contemporary Asian Art)

    • Elective (Institute-wide): Advanced Topics in Valuation, Fine Arts in America 2, Decorative Arts in America Part 2

    • Master’s Project Seminar

    • Field Study (past trips include Venice and Milan, Sao Paulo and Inhotim, Los Angeles, Marfa and Houston)

  • Faculty
  • Course Fees

    Course Fees

    Program fees 2016-2017
    Semester 1: $22,300
    Semester 2: $23,300
    Semester 3: $23,300
    Travel Study Fees: $6,800 for first year only

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    to apply.

    Note: course offerings subject to change pending annual curriculum review
  • Program Prospectus

    Program Prospectus

    A digital version of our 2015/16 prospectus will soon be available online.
    Please contact for more information.

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