PhD Program

The PhD in Art History offers doctoral supervision to students focused on art history and theory from Africa, Asia, Europe, the Americas, and Indigenous cultures. 

In the art history PhD program, you are encouraged to pursue high scholarly achievement, original research, and a firm theoretical grounding. Alumni of the program have made considerable contributions to teaching and research in universities, museums, and galleries worldwide.

The PhD in art history maintains links with geography, history, anthropology, European studies, Asian studies, Latin American studies, First Nations studies; and gender, race, sexuality, and social justice among others.

Program Overview

The Art History PhD program opens with a required, rigorous, two-term methodology seminar led by two specialists in divergent areas. Additional seminar offerings are broad and diverse. Students are encouraged to take seminar coursework outside the department and pursue their specialization or extend the scope of their studies. 

During the program, a doctoral committee of faculty and their doctoral thesis research supervisor advise students. In addition, the graduate advisory committee is available at all times to assist with course selection and the general direction of studies. Members of this committee meet routinely with every graduate student at the beginning of the academic year. Students are in charge of assembling their committee initially in preparation for the required comprehensive examination. 

The comprehensive examination is intended to test the PhD student's knowledge of the objects and discourse of their field of doctoral research. After completing coursework, the comprehensive examination, and the language requirement, the thesis proposal is established with the student's thesis committee's guidance.

A successful PhD thesis is founded on high academic achievement, original research, and firm theoretical grounding. At the mid-stage of thesis research, PhD candidates share their findings with peers, faculty, and the public through a roundtable presentation to receive critical feedback.


 PhD Requirements

  • Full-time residency requirement: two years
  • Foreign language requirement: two foreign languages; note that courses taken to fulfill the language requirement do not count toward the PhD degree's required credits
  • Thesis required: yes
  • Minimum number of courses:  15 credits
  • Number of courses required outside of the major area/hemisphere: there is no requirement for this, but three credits out of 15 allowed outside the department
  • Minimum number of art history seminars: 12 credits
  • Minor area of concentrations required: no
  • Qualifying exams required: yes; comprehensive examination, including written and oral exam
  • Additional requirements: dissertation proposal, roundtable presentation, defense

Number of PhD dissertation readers

Three, two of which must be from the Department of Art History, Visual Art and Theory.

Dissertation process

PhD students advance to candidacy following completion of:

  • Five graduate seminars
  • Two foreign language exams
  • Dissertation proposal

Completion of the degree includes 

  • A roundtable presentation of methodology and research in progress 
  • An oral defense, a public display of the candidate's dissertation, followed by questions from examiners and audience members

  • ARTH 531 (3/6) Early Medieval Art
  • ARTH 533 (3/6) Medieval Art
  • ARTH 535 (3/6) Art of the Renaissance
  • ARTH 537 (3/6) 17th and 18th-Century Art
  • ARTH 539 (3/6) 19th-Century Art
  • ARTH 540 (3/6) 20th-Century Art
  • ARTH 543 (3/6) Canadian Art
  • ARTH 548 (3/6) North American Architecture
  • ARTH 550 (3) Art in the Islamic World
  • ARTH 551 (3/6) Chinese Art
  • ARTH 553 (3/6) Japanese Art
  • ARTH 555 (3/6) South & Southeast Asian Art
  • ARTH 561 (3/6) Indigenous Arts of the Americas
  • ARTH 571 (6) Methodology of Art History
  • CCST 500 (3) Seminar in Interdisciplinary Frameworks in Museum and Curatorial Studies
  • CCST 501 (3) Seminar in Contemporary Contextual Issues for Museums and Curatorial Practice
  • CCST 502 (3) Case Studies in Museum and Gallery Exhibitions

Please note, not all courses are offered every year.


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