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PhD in Art History

Doctoral student studying prints

The Doctor of Philosophy is a research degree designed to form a critical and productive scholar by focusing on a particular field within the history of art. The degree is suited to students who intend to continue advanced work either in university teaching or in a museum at the highest professional level. The successful candidate will demonstrate the ability to conduct original research and to integrate it with larger domains of knowledge.

Application window for 2024-2025 school year is now open
Application deadline is June 1st, 2024
The funding deadline is January 9th 2024

Graduate Application


The entering student is expected to have in hand a completed Master’s degree in Art History with a written thesis or equivalent demonstration of research and writing skills.

Duration of Program

According to University regulation, all requirements for the doctoral degree must be completed within five calendar years from the time the student passes the qualifying examination (see below).

Course Requirements

36 credit hours of course work beyond the Master’s degree and 24 credit hours of supervised dissertation research (60 credit hours total).

Language Requirement

A reading knowledge of one foreign language is required for admission to the doctoral program. By the end of the first year in residence, reading knowledge of a second language must be demonstrated. The second language will be determined through consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and the student’s advisor. Depending on the area of specialization, additional languages may be required. The requirement is fulfilled either by passing an exam in reading knowledge or successfully completing an intermediate-level course.

Doctoral Progress Review

The departmental faculty reviews and evaluates each student’s progress at the end of the first academic year. First-year doctoral students submit the First-Year Review cover sheet in early March. Doctoral Students who are ABD submit the Annual Doctoral Review Progress worksheet by early February and then schedule an annual spring meeting with their entire dissertation committee.  The Director of Graduate Studies will convey the results of these discussions to the students.

Scholarly Engagement Requirement

The graduate school requires doctoral students to interact with faculty and peers by attending seminars, symposia, and conferences, and engaging in collaborative study and research beyond the university campus. The goal is to prepare students to be scholars who can independently acquire, evaluate, and extend knowledge, as well as develop themselves as effective communicators and disseminators of knowledge. The Art History department fosters engagement by encouraging students to present papers at regional and national conferences, curate exhibitions, and publish research.

Qualifying Examination

The examining committee consists of no fewer than four faculty members, including one from a department other than Art History. The examination is scheduled and chaired by the student’s major professor.

  • The first part is written, testing factual and bibliographical knowledge in the major and minor areas and the student’s ability to organize and evaluate information critically.
  • The second part is an oral examination that falls within two weeks of the written test and also relates to the areas of the candidate’s concentration.

The Dissertation

  • While working on the dissertation, students must register for a minimum of two hours of dissertation credit per term, with a total minimum of 24 hours of dissertation research.
  • A prospectus of the dissertation is developed in semester 4 and must be approved no later than 1 month following the completion of exams in semester 5.
  • The completed manuscript should be submitted to the full dissertation committee at least one month before the anticipated oral defense date.

 For more information, please contact Academic Coordinator Emily Johnson.