Internship- ARTH 593

The Washington, DC area with all the great museums, galleries and arts organizations, is one of the most exciting places in the country to study art and architecture. Opportunities for internships with arts professionals abound. We encourage all our advanced Art History majors to cap their college experience with an internship as a way to apply their classroom learning, explore career options, and gain useful experience in the real world. Our students have found exciting internships at the National Gallery, the Smithsonian museums, the National Archives, the Phillips Collection, National Museum of Women in the Arts, private sales galleries, historic house museums, archaeological sites, and many more places. Duties have included curatorial research, creating archives, digitization projects, oral histories, exhibition design and mounting, restoration of objects, educational programming, docent tours, and more. An Art History internship experience can be an important first step towards a career in the arts, or to graduate studies.

What is an internship?

An internship is an introductory training or study arrangement for an individual student to work with a professional in a field related to the student’s interests. They are usually off-campus, although there are on-campus opportunities as well. A good internship benefits everyone: it provides valuable assistance to the professional person or organization, and valuable on-the-job training for the student, as well as academic credit and future contacts in the field. Internships are usually unpaid apprenticeships—volunteer work essentially--though some carry stipends. The Department of Labor has special rules allowing for such unpaid apprenticeships, provided all parties understand and agree to the arrangements. The student is responsible for finding the opportunity, and registering for GMU academic credit after consulting with the Art History internship director. The student may register and pay for one to six credits of ARTH 593.

Why do an internship?

By participating in an internship, you may:

  • apply what you’ve learned in college coursework to real professional situations
  • get an insider’s view of the museum world and its operations, with hands-on experience
  • gain administrative experience helping arts organizations with their programs
  • learn to use new and unfamiliar research and digital tools
  • learn about careers in the arts, and your own aptitude for them
  • gain valuable "real world" work experience to include on future resumes
  • apply your digital skills to web-based projects needed by major organizations
  • develop public speaking skills through tours and educational programs
  • make important professional contacts in your field of interest
  • burnish your resume with solid professional achievements

Structure of the program

To receive Mason course credit for ARTH 593, you must undertake some practical work experience at a public or private agency involved in art or historically-related work. An “Internship Agreement” form and course registration must be completed before you begin the work. 45 hours of work is required for 1 credit of ARTH 593. 80 hours of work is required for 3 credits of ARTH 593. 160 hours are required for the maximum of 6 credits.

Fall, Spring, and Summer enrollment are all acceptable.

In addition to the work experience, you may be required to:

  • read books and/or articles related to your work experience
  • meet periodically with your faculty internship supervisor and/or your on-site supervisor to discuss these readings
  • complete a written project related to the work experience, such as a log or journal

How are internships obtained?

If you meet the academic requirements, you should consult with the Art History Internship Coordinator well before the start of the semester that you would like to enroll in ARTH 593.

The Undergraduate Coordinator's Office (ROB B 361) has a binder of agencies that are willing to accept student interns. Your professors may be able to recommend sites in their fields of specialization. Further assistance may be available from GMU's Career Services Office (SUB 1 3400).

You will be required to seek out these positions on your own, but to receive academic credit the Art History Internship Coordinator must approve the site/position. To receive approval, the nature of the site and your duties must be essentially art historical.

Internships are usually unpaid positions, though some may be salaried or provide a modest stipend. Interns must have reliable transportation to the work site, and they may also have to arrange for parking and medical insurance.

There are no special fees or charges (beyond standard tuition fees) associated with completing an internship for art history credit.


You may sign up for ARTH 593 through the Art History Internship Coordinator. You cannot register for this course without a signed permission form from the Art History Internship Coordinator. Your faculty supervisor will be either the Art History Internship Coordinator or a faculty member whose specialty is in the area of your internship.

You must be approved by the agency supervisor. This supervisor will arrange your work schedule, direct the work experience, and help in evaluating your performance.

An "Internship Agreement" must be signed by you, your job site supervisor, and your faculty supervisor or the Art History Internship Coordinator. This agreement stipulates the expectations and obligations of the internship, which must be completed in order to receive a satisfactory grade and credit for ARTH 593. In addition, the University requires a “Consent and Release Agreement” to be signed by the student.

GMU Art Galleries Internships

Gain hands on experience with an internship at one of George Mason University's various art galleries: Fine Arts Gallery (School of Art), Mason Hall atrium, and new exhibition spaces on the Mason Square and Prince William campuses. These spaces host shows by professional artists, students and faculty. Learn about and participate in all aspects of preparing a gallery exhibition. Intern's duties may include attending studio visits with area artists, working directly with artists to plan and execute exhibition design, helping with physical installation, hanging and lighting artworks, planning visual voices lectures, preparing mailing lists, and researching, writing and mounting wall texts. Interns may also submit a proposal for an exhibition of their own design. If you are interested in learning more about on campus internships, please contact the Gallery Director, Don Russell, at or call 703-993-8950.

Internship Opportunities