Art History Internship

Art History Internship

Purpose

The Washington, DC area, with all its 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, archeological sites, and many more places. An Art History internship experience can be an important first step towards a career in the arts, or to graduate studies. 

We offer credit for internships to undergraduate Art History majors under the course number ARTH 393 and to graduate MA in Art History students under the course number ARTH 593.

What is an internship, exactly?

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, 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. 

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 

How are Internships Obtained?

You should consult with the Art History Internship Director well before the semester that you would like to enroll in ARTH 393 or ARTH 593. The Internship Director can help you identify internships that are a good fit for you and your interests. To start the process, fill out the internship interest form on this page, and send it to the Internship Director to request a meeting.

The links on this page take you to a list of local sites that accept student interns. Further assistance may be available from Career Services (https://careers.gmu.edu), who can help you update your cover letter and resume or consult about additional opportunities.

Students are responsible for identifying possible internship placements, researching the eligibility and requirements for the positions, and completing and submitting all required application materials. If you have questions during the application process, the Internship Director is available for consultation.

Note that application dates for internships are often months before the internship start date. Frequently check the online sites of organizations or museums you are interested in working for to keep an eye on their application deadlines.

Internships are usually unpaid, though some may be salaried or provide a modest stipend. If you require financial support to enable you to take an unpaid internship, check the Career Center Internships page (https://careers.gmu.edu/students/find-job-or-internship) for information and deadlines for the GMU “Scholarship for Unpaid Internships” program. There are no special fees or charges (beyond standard tuition fees) associated with completing an internship for Art History credit.

ARTH 393

Who is Eligible?

To enroll in ARTH 393, a student must be an Art History major who has completed, or is in the process of completing, 15 hours in Art History. A 2.5 GPA in all Art History courses is mandatory.

Enrolling in ARTH 393

Once you have obtained an internship, write to the Art History Internship Director with a copy of your acceptance letter or other documentation of your internship from the sponsoring organization.

The Internship Director will provide you with a copy of the Mason Experiential Learning Agreement. This must be filled out by you and your internship sponsor. Return the signed/initialed Agreement to the Internship Director, who will sign on behalf of the University.

In most cases, the Internship Director will also serve as the student’s faculty advisor for the internship. If you would like a faculty member other than the Internship Director to serve as your advisor for the internship, this must be arranged in advance and should be noted on the Agreement paperwork.

Once the Internship Director has received the signed paperwork, you will be able to enroll in ARTH 393 using PatriotWeb. You cannot register for this course without permission from the Art History Internship Director.

Art History majors may register for 1-6 credits of ARTH 393. The number of credits you enroll in is determined by the course requirements below. To earn academic credit for their internship, students must pay tuition for this course. Standard undergraduate tuition fees apply to these credits.

Fall, Spring, and Summer enrollments are all acceptable.

Requirements for ARTH 393

To receive Mason course credit for ARTH 393, you must undertake practical work experience at a public or private agency involved in art or historically-related work. In the past our students have completed duties that include curatorial research, creating archives, digitization projects, oral histories, exhibition design and mounting, restoration of objects, educational programming, docent tours, and more.

To receive credit for ARTH 393, students will:

  • work the required number of hours, as follows:
    • 45 hours over the course of the semester for 1 credit
    • 80 hours over the course of the semester for 3 credits
    • 160 hours over the course of the semester for 6 credits (maximum)
  • submit an Experiential Learning Agreement outlining internship duties that has been co-signed by their internship supervisor and the Internship Director
  • meet with faculty advisor or Internship Director as requested
  • agree to be assessed by their on-site supervisor at the conclusion of the internship
  • submit a final portfolio of work completed during the internship; or other final assignment as outlined in the Experiential Learning Agreement

ARTH 593

Who is Eligible?

To enroll in ARTH 593, a student must be enrolled in the MA Program in Art History and must currently be in good standing (https://catalog.gmu.edu/policies/academic/graduate-policies/#ap-6-6).

Enrolling in ARTH 593

Once you have obtained an internship, write to the Art History Internship Director with a copy of your acceptance letter or other documentation of your internship from the sponsoring organization.

The Internship Director will provide you with a copy of the Mason Experiential Learning Agreement. This must be filled out by you and your internship sponsor. Return the signed/initialed Agreement to the Internship Director, who will sign on behalf of the University.

In most cases, the Internship Director will also serve as the student’s faculty advisor for the internship. If you would like a faculty member other than the Internship Director to serve as your advisor for the internship, this must be arranged in advance and should be noted on the Agreement paperwork.

Once the Internship Director has received the signed paperwork, you will be able to enroll in ARTH 593 using PatriotWeb. You cannot register for this course without permission from the Art History Internship Director.

Art History MA students may register for 1-6 credits of ARTH 593. The number of credits you enroll in is determined by the course requirements below. To earn academic credit for their internship, students must pay tuition for this course. Standard graduate tuition fees apply to these credits.

Fall, Spring, and Summer enrollment are all acceptable.

Requirements for ARTH 593

To receive Mason course credit for ARTH 593, you must undertake practical work experience at a public or private agency involved in art or historically-related work. In the past our students have completed duties that include curatorial research, creating archives, digitization projects, oral histories, exhibition design and mounting, restoration of objects, educational programming, docent tours, and more.

To receive credit for ARTH 593, students will:

  • work the required number of hours, as follows:
    • 45 hours of work over the course of the semester for 1 credit
    • 80 hours of work over the course of the semester for 3 credits
    • 160 hours of work over the course of the semester for 6 credits (maximum)
  • submit an Experiential Learning Agreement outlining internship duties that has been co-signed by their internship supervisor and the Internship Director
  • meet with faculty advisor or Internship Director as requested
  • read additional books and/or articles related to the internship, when assigned by faculty advisor or Internship Director
  • agree to be assessed by their on-site supervisor at the conclusion of the internship
  • submit a final portfolio of work completed during the internship; or other final assignment as outlined in the Experiential Learning Agreement
  • write a final reflection paper outlining the internship’s connection to the student’s course of study or career goals

For More Detailed Information or to Discuss Program Specifics

Dr. Vanessa Schulman
Art History Internship Director
703-993-1250 or vschulma@gmu.edu