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To be eligible for admission, applicants must have earned a bachelor's lower second-class honors (2:2) degree or its equivalent from an accredited institution by the date on which they enroll at the Institute. Please be advised that a bachelor’s degree or its equivalent is a mandatory requirement, work experience cannot be accepted in lieu of this qualification.
Applicants should demonstrate the following skills:
- The ability to perform at a postgraduate level, as indicated by academic achievement and recommendations.
- Knowledge of art history. Applicants without an art history background might receive conditional offers based on completing pre-requisite coursework.
- Excellent verbal and written communication and analytical skills. For international students, an IELTS academic score of level 7 overall, TOEFL 100 IBT, Pearsons PTE Academic 61-65. Please be advised the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition is not accepted for entry into the degree programs.
- Professional experience is not a required element of our application process, however relevant employment and/or internships enhance a student’s application.
All prospective students must apply using the online application. A complete application includes:
- Academic transcripts/mark sheets: from all undergraduate and post-secondary academic institutions attended.
- Unofficial copies of transcripts are sufficient for the application process and for issuing decisions. The documents must be in English. If your original degree certificate, academic transcript or other relevant documents are not in English you must provide an officially certified translation. The admissions department will require an official transcript once you enroll in the program.
- Official international transcripts must be accompanied by certified course by course credential evaluations. The evaluation will convert the grades and GPA into the United Kingdom grading scale.
- Two (2) letters of reference: References from an academic or professional contact. For those candidates with work experience, at least one reference should be professional.
- A personal statement (1,000 words maximum): Please tell us about yourself, your reasons for your choice of program, any relevant academic or art related experience, and your future career goals.
- A writing sample: A graded paper of no fewer than 1,000 words from an art history or art-related course or 1,000-word original essay or mock review written for an art publication or website. Luxury business applicants should provide a writing sample about an aspect of luxury/the luxury industry. Footnotes are required for any citations.
- A curriculum vitae or résumé
- An English language proficiency exam (required for all international students (EU included): A minimum overall score of IELTS academic level 7 or TOEFL 100 IBT or Pearsons PTE Academic 61-65 must be achieved. We also accept a number of additional Secure English Language tests. Please be advised the TOEFL iBT Special Home Edition is not accepted for entry into the degree program. Please note if you are from, or have studied in, an English-speaking country, you may be exempt from the need to provide additional evidence of your English language ability.
- Payment of the application fee: A nonrefundable fee of £75 (GBP) is required for the 2021 online application. Applications are not considered complete until the fee has been paid.
GRE test scores are not required, but are accepted. The GRE code for Sotheby’s Institute of Art is 4161.
Months of entry
To ensure the health and safety of our students, we are providing remote learning for this Master's program in Fall 2020. Our on-campus experience in the London art world begins in Spring 2021.
Students may elect to enter the program in the Fall or Spring. For students entering the program in Fall 2020, our remote learning methodology will take students virtually into emerging and established markets, provide global access both online and onsite to galleries, museums, artists’ studios, private collections, and art fairs, introduce them to international experts and artists, and provide them with skills for doing business in the digital era, such as virtual appraisals, online auctions, and much more.
About the Program
Develop your expertise in art since 1968, examining the key movements, artistic tendencies, practices, and debates that have informed all aspects of contemporary art. The MA in Contemporary Art is the longest running specialized Master’s program of its kind in the world. Established in 1991, it focuses on art in the period from 1968 to the present, with strands on art history, curatorial studies, and critical theory, and a strong emphasis throughout on professional career development. The program covers developments in contemporary art from around the world, examining a broad range of artistic practices and institutional structures, from the highly established to the most innovative. The program is designed for those who are fully committed to the study of contemporary art and who intend to pursue careers in the field. Graduates of this program have gone on to work at museums, commercial and not-for-profit galleries, auction houses, consultancies, journals, international art fairs, and universities.
This twelve-month-long program is unique in combining rigorous academic study of contemporary art with the acquisition of skills of professional practice.
The Master’s degree is awarded for 120 taught credits across two semesters, as well as the completion of a 60-credit dissertation over the course of an additional semester.
The first two semesters are intensively taught on four (occasionally five) days per week. In the first semester, Navigating the Art World (30 Credits) brings students from different MAs together for an introduction to the art world and to a variety of postgraduate research skills and methodologies within the disciplines of art history and art business. Later in the program, specialist electives can be chosen from across all Institute Master’s programs, allowing a student to build a personalized Master’s profile. Students take two 15-credit electives across a variety of offerings for deeper expertise or to develop specialties. Core units (60 credits) for the Contemporary Art degree cover the period from 1968 to the present.
Students complete a range of assignments during the program that are designed to help them become sophisticated graduates with high caliber academic and vocational skills and knowledge, preparing them for success in their career. Object-based assignments foster students’ skills of observation, description and interpretation. Other assignments, such as essays, develop skills of research, analysis, contextualization, and criticism, promoting students’ ability to present material in different written and spoken modes. Students are encouraged to consider the networks in which art is created, exhibited, and collected. All students will be involved in assignments that simulate “real world” tasks, projects, and scenarios; for example, exhibition reviews, collection/catalogue entries, and planning for a hypothetical exhibition or journal.
For the MA degree, students must complete the 60-credit dissertation in their third semester. During this final semester there is no formal teaching, with students researching their dissertation topics under the guidance of individual supervisors. At the start of the program, students are allocated a personal tutor who supports their academic and personal development throughout. Lectures are given by members of the faculty as well as by consultants whose main work is within the art world, thus facilitating networking opportunities.
Fees and fundingSotheby's Institute of Art Scholarships
Sotheby’s Institute of Art offers partial-tuition scholarships to qualified domestic and international candidates. Scholarship awards are based on need and merit. Before you can apply for a scholarship, you must first apply for and hold an offer for a Master’s degree program at Sotheby’s Institute of Art. The Scholarship application will require filling out a basic form, and sending in the required documentation. Merit will be assessed holistically using the program application materials submitted. Please note that Scholarship awards are not guaranteed and award decisions are final.
Students seeking a scholarship based on financial need will be asked to submit evidence of household income of £27,500 or below on their application.
- January 2022 applicants: October 21, 2021
- September 2022 applicants: March 1, 2022
If you have any queries regarding submitting a scholarship application, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Qualification, course duration and attendance options
- full time12 months
- Campus-based learningis available for this qualification
Course contact details