The Program’s two-year curriculum combines course work, internships, travel, and opportunities for informal as well as public discussion and debate. Discussion and debate constitute core values of the Program, expressed in the roster of courses, in the Program's participation in the activities of the Clark's Research and Academic Program, and in the annual Graduate Symposium, which serves as the Program's keystone academic event. Faculty frequently draw on the distinguished local collections in the context of courses, allowing students to work closely with objects even as they pursue a broadly based course of study. In addition, the Program offers an annual course on methodology and intepretation in the history of art.
Williams offers the M.A. degree with a series of partners. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute hosts the Program and is its principal collaborator, setting an intense course of study within a world-renowned art museum and research institute. Graduate students form an integral part of a stimulating community incorporating academics, curators, students, artists, and conservators from around the globe. Faculty and supervisors are drawn from the Williams Art Department, from the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), and from the research and curatorial staff of the Clark as well as from other Program affiliates. The Program is physically located at the Clark, and each student is assigned a carrel in the Clark's Library.
Beyond course work and other academic requirements, graduate students participate in the intense intellectual culture nurtured by the busy schedule of scholarly research programs supported by the Clark. These include lectures, colloquia, symposia, and conferences, as well as more informal exchanges centered at the Clark or at other institutions in the vicinity. Students also profit from a range of intellectual and cultural programming sponsored by the Williams Art Department, WCMA, and other divisions at Williams.