Taught course

Fine and Decorative Art and Design - New York

Sotheby's Institute of Art · Fine and Decorative Art

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Entry requirements

All MA applicants are required to have completed a Bachelor’s degree or its equivalent. Students in their final undergraduate year may apply for admission and will be required to provide proof of graduation prior to registration.

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. This generally requires an undergraduate art history major or minor. In some cases, art-related work experience or exceptional exposure to art practices and/or collecting will satisfy this requirement. Applicants with little or no art history background may be required to take pre-program coursework in our Online, Summer, and Semester (London) programs, or through another institution of their choice that is approved by the Institute’s faculty.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication and analytical skills.

GRE Test Scores
Sotheby’s Institute of Art is pleased to accept the GRE test. The GRE is not a required element of our application process; however, we will factor in test scores as part of our decision process for those candidates who have taken the test. The GRE code for Sotheby’s Institute of Art is 4161.

Prior work experience is also not required element of our application process.

Months of entry


Course content

To ensure the health and safety of our students, we are providing hybrid options for this Master’s program in 2020-2021.

Fall 2020 will be offered remotely. For students on-site in New York, there will be an option to attend a hybrid course. Spring 2020 is planned to be in-person, and all courses will be live-streamed or recorded to enable remote learning. Students may elect to enter the program in the Fall or Spring. Our hybrid learning methodology will take students virtually into emerging and established markets, engage students in small group discussions, and 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

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.

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. For students starting the program in Fall 2020, this course is offered as a hybrid course with the option of in-person small group discussions. In semester two, students undertake an internship to gain practical skills and take one elective to broaden their expertise. In addition to a full course load, students participate in virtual and in-person field study trips.

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 entering in Fall 2020 can choose to submit their work in the summer and thereby complete their studies within one year. Alternatively, they can 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. Students entering in Spring 2021 must complete their project in Spring 2022.

Qualification, course duration and attendance options

  • MA
    full time
    15 months
    • Campus-based learningis available for this qualification

Course contact details

+1 646 438 7234