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Delve into art from 1960 to the present and develop an in-depth understanding of the artists, theories, and movements that define contemporary art.

Although the program primarily focuses on Contemporary Art from 1960 to the present, students also receive an introduction to art and theory from the post-war period (1945-60), which serves as a springboard for the program and an important point of reference throughout. This program combines art history, curatorial studies, critical theory, and professional development. The program gives students key intellectual and practical skills to work in the production, exhibition, and sale of contemporary art. The program is anchored in the close study of visual art and critical thought, with an emphasis on professional skills and in situ learning in the galleries, museums, and artists’ studios of New York City and beyond. Students are trained to be conversant with art’s objects and ideas as well as the commercial and institutional contexts in which they are embedded, preparing them for a wide range of careers in the art world.

To ensure the health and safety of our students, this Master’s program (starting in January 2021) will be offered in a hybrid format. The program may be completed remotely or customized for in-person components. 

Academic Structure

Designed to immerse students in all aspects of the Contemporary art scene, this program provides students with privileged access to arts professionals and guest speakers drawn from every sector of the industry.

The program’s first semester supplies foundations in the study of objects, ideas, histories, and exhibitions. In the second semester, we examine the history of art since 2000; we survey key institutions — galleries, auction houses and museums — through which contemporary art flows; and a course on business skills covers keys areas in art law, commerce, and fine art valuation. An intensive program of lectures by faculty members and guest speakers of international standing, virtual and in-person visits to major New York and international venues, as well as small group seminars, workshops, and student presentations, help students gain confidence in reflecting and speaking on all forms of contemporary art – from painting and sculpture to video and installation as well as the most recent web-based, collaborative, and multidisciplinary practices

The Master’s degree is awarded for 30 credits across semesters one and two, as well as the completion of a 6-credit thesis or capstone project in the third semester.

In the first semester, Navigating the Art World brings students from all MAs together for faculty lectures and expert panel discussions to investigate the inextricable connections between art and business in today’s economy. In addition to a full course load, students participate in two in-person or virtual field study trips in semesters one and two. Students may elect to undertake an internship to gain practical skills or take one elective to broaden their expertise.

The MA in Contemporary Art culminates in a capstone project which can take the form of a traditional, long-form academic thesis, or a more flexible Master’s Project (often a business plan or curatorial project). Students may also elect to extend their studies an additional semester and either transfer to the Institute’s campus in London or return to New York and pursue core courses in either Art Business or Fine and Decorative Art and Design.

The Details
  • Program Dates

    Program Dates

    January 25, 2021 – May 2022
  • Curriculum & Schedule

    Curriculum & Schedule

    Click here for a copy of the MA prospectus, which includes curricula, course descriptions, and information for all New York Master's programs.

    • Spring 2021: Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York has scheduled in-person programming alongside live online lectures, which will mitigate the risk of large group gatherings and provide the invaluable added benefit of recorded lectures and guest speakers, online breakout sessions, and virtual discussion boards. Students will attend lectures online and may elect to participate in the in-person campus community and the New York art world with library access, small-group sessions, faculty appointments and office hours, field study site visits by appointment individually or in small groups, walking tours, as well social programming throughout the city (circumstances permitting).

    • Fall 2021: Students complete their on-campus studies, cultivate networking opportunities with faculty, guest speakers, and industry experts, as well as participate in field study (circumstances permitting). Students will also prepare for their capstone – thesis or master’s project. Additionally, students will be invited to social programming, networking events, and career development opportunities. Faculty will also offer office hours and small groups sessions. Fall semester may be completed remotely if students wish.

    • Spring 2022: The thesis or master’s project is to be completed by April 1, 2022. Students may also pursue an optional third semester of coursework at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in New York or London.

  • Faculty


    Morgan Falconer (Program Director) is a critic and art historian. He has written about contemporary art for publications including The Times (London), The Economist, Frieze, The Burlington Magazine, The Village Voice, and Art in America. In 2015, Phaidon published his book Painting Beyond Pollock, a history of painting after 1945. He is currently working on a critical history of Postminimalism.
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  • Tuition


    Semester 1: $23,300
    Semester 2: $23,300 + Travel Fee TBD
    Semester 3: $13,300*
    *Capstone (thesis or project) may be undertaken remotely or while working. Students may also choose to do an optional 3rd semester of coursework + field study at Sotheby’s Institute of Art-New York.
    For more information on tuition and program fees, click here.
  • Field Study Trips

    Field Study Trips

    Spring 2021 will focus on the evolution of New York City as the art capital of the world. Taking an art historical and market-oriented approach, this Field Study will include lectures on architecture, cultural institutions, museums, gallery districts, auction houses, and more. Walking tours and site visits by appointment will also be available circumstances permitting, providing an immersive experience for students located in New York City. This course may be successfully completed remotely.
    All MA students in this cohort will be invited to two (2) optional future field study trips. Students will be notified as soon as this future trip is organized. Note: Students will not be charged for field study travel fees until they elect to participate. No Tuition fees will be required to participate in future optional field study trips.
  • Admissions


    Now accepting applications for all MA programs. For admissions requirements and an overview of the application process, please click here.
    View Terms & Conditions
    Space is limited so we strongly encourage qualified candidates to submit their applications as early as possible.
    Some of your questions may be answered in the frequently asked questions section of our website. If you do not see your question, we are happy to help. All prospective students are encouraged to contact our Admissions Office to schedule a one-on-one information session to learn more about the program, the application process, tuition, financial aid, and more.
    Email us:
    Call us: +1.646.438.7234

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