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MA Contemporary Art

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.



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)

    Course fees

    Course Fees for 2016/17 will be announced here shortly, please email to be notified when they are available.

    Fees for 2015/16 (illustrative)

    Programme fees 2015-2016
    Semester 1: $22,600 
    Semester 2: $22,600
    Semester 3: $22,600

    Travel Study Fees: $6,300 for first year only

    Note: course offerings subject to change pending annual curriculum review

    How to Apply

    Click here to learn how to apply.


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

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    “Sotheby’s Institute of Art solidified my academic background with intensive coursework. The worldwide travel and professional development helped me to gain the contacts and knowledge necessary to successfully operate in a global art market.” 
    Trevor Freedland, Registrar/Post Production Supervisor, Fred Torres Collaborations, New York MA Contemporary Art, 2009

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