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Become an art connoisseur, developing an intimate understanding of the techniques, materials, and history that contribute to the value of a work of art.

The Fine and Decorative Art and Design curriculum is based on a simple belief: the fundamental currency of the art world is objects. The Master’s program examines the diverse cultural histories of objects, makers, and markets of each period, focusing on providing a strong foundation in the history of art, iconography, materials, and techniques in the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Students learn how to engage directly with the marketplace and gain essential skills in connoisseurship, valuation, and curation, which are necessary to study and evaluate objects. Whether in sales, valuation, art history, or cultural institution management at museums, galleries, or auction houses — graduates of the Master’s degree program in Fine and Decorative Art and Design are prepared for a range of careers and leave with an expanded professional network.

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

MA in Fine and Decorative Art and Design students analyze a range of objects dating from the 17th century to the 21st century. Students examine objects from a stylistic point of view, but not neglecting the wider historical, social, economic and cultural factors which have influenced the production of these art works. The program aims to develop critical understanding of the terms “fine art,” “decorative art,” and “design” and of the synergies and divergences between art objects across a range of media and periods. Students will spend much of the course looking at objects in a variety of settings, including online and conditions permitting in-person at museums, art fairs, auction houses, and collections. Students are encouraged to formulate opinions on the aesthetic, cultural, social and commercial value, of what they see. The knowledge and experience gained equips them for employment in many different areas of the international art world and alumni can be found working in auction houses, museums, commercial galleries, financial institutions, private and public foundations in many different countries.

The Master’s degree is awarded for 30 taught credits across semesters one and two, as well as the completion of a 6-credit thesis or capstone project over the course of 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 Fine and Decorative Art and Design culminates in a capstone project which can take the form of a traditional, long-form academic thesis, or a more flexible Master’s 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 Contemporary Art.

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


    Ann-Marie Richard (Program Director) is a fine art asset and design specialist, art historian, curator, author and advisor. Prior to her appointment as Program Director at Sotheby’s, she was Executive Vice President at the art advisory firm Gurr Johns. She has lectured extensively on the topics of retrospective and emerging art markets, connoisseurship, collecting, conservation, provenance, and the related subtleties of appraising fine and decorative arts and design. Ms. Richard has had speaking engagements at Columbia University, the American Association of Museums, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Fashion Institute of Technology, Pratt Institute and The Aspen Institute. Exhibitions she has curated have been favorably reviewed in national and international publications including Art in America, ArtNews, The New York Times, Art-Times Russia, and Korea Times. She is the author of The Valuation of Fine Art and Design: A Handbook for Professionals to be published in 2020.
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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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