PhD in Art History

Admission Requirements

Applicants are considered on an individual basis. Details on applying to the Department of Art History can be found on the School of Art and Art History website. In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, applicants must meet the following program requirements:

  • Baccalaureate Field No restrictions.
  • Previous Degrees Completion of a Master of Arts program in Art History or equivalent is required for admission to the PhD program. However, exceptional students may be admitted directly to the PhD program with a bachelor’s degree, completing the requisite 96 semester credits of courses and the other requirements of the degree, without completing an MA. Students originally accepted in the department for the MA who wish to continue on to the doctorate must satisfy the department’s Master of Arts degree requirements and must apply to the PhD program. Doctoral applicants who have a Master of Arts degree in a related field may be accepted directly into the doctoral program with the transfer of up to 32 credits toward the doctorate. Examples of appropriate related degrees include: MArch, the MFA in Art, and the MA in such humanities areas as history, philosophy, or literature.
  • Grade Point Average At least 3.00/4.00 in an appropriate MA from another institution; if applying with a BA, the applicant must have a 3.20 overall and a 3.50 in the major, or approval by the Graduate Program Committee.
  • Tests Required GRE General.
  • Minimum English Competency Test Score
    • TOEFL 95, with subscores of  Reading 24, Listening 24, Speaking 24, and Writing 22 (iBT Test); 60, with subscores of Reading 19, Listening 17, Writing 21 (revised Paper-Delivered Test), OR,
    • IELTS 7.0, with subscores of 6.5 for all four subscores, OR,
    • PTE-Academic 54, with subscores of Reading 51, Listening 47, Speaking 53, and Writing 56.
  • Letters of Recommendation Three required, preferably from professors and others who are familiar with the applicant’s potential for serious academic work.
  • Personal Statement Applicants must submit a short statement of purpose (2–3 pages) that should address the reasons for wishing to do doctoral work and the relationship of this work to their professional and career objectives.
  • Writing Sample Applicants must submit a sample of their written work (approximately 25 pages).
  • Curriculum Vitae Applicants must submit a list of their academic and professional achievements (1-4 pages).
  • Application Deadlines Application deadlines for this program are listed on the Graduate College website.

Degree Requirements

In addition to the Graduate College minimum requirements, students must meet the following program requirements:

  • Minimum Semester Hours Required 96 semester hours beyond the baccalaureate degree.
  • Foreign Language Requirements Students must present evidence of advanced knowledge of a language other than English as it relates to their chosen area of research. Evidence of the ability to pursue research in additional languages may be necessary, depending on the availability of literature in the field selected. The selection of languages must be approved by the student’s advisor.
  • Course Work Candidates must complete at least 64 semester hours of course work beyond the master’s degree. Of this amount, 32 semester hours must be in graduate seminars, of which 16 semester hours must be taken in the department. At least 32 semester hours of credit beyond the MA degree must be at the 500 level. Of the 64 semester hours required beyond the master’s degree, a maximum of 24 semester hours of dissertation research are allowed.
Required Core Courses
Historiography of the Visual Arts, 1750 to 1960
Toward New Histories of the Visual Arts, 1960 to the Present
Teaching assistants also take:
Art History Teaching Seminar
Select 16 hours from seminars:
Topics in Medieval Art and Architecture
Topics in Modern and Contemporary Art
Topics in North American Art and Architecture
Topics on Art in Chicago
Arts of the Black Atlantic
Topics in Indigenous American Art, Architecture, and Visual Culture
Topics in Asian Art and Architecture
PhD Proseminar
Issues in Architecture, Design and Urbanism
Seminar in The History of Photography
Topics in Medieval, Byzantine and Islamic Art and Architecture
Seminar in Renaissance and Baroque Art and Architecture
Seminar in Modern Architecture, Art, and Design
Seminar in Contemporary Architecture and Art
Issues in the Art of the Americas
Seminar in North American Architecture and Art
Seminar in Non-Western Art and Architecture
Directed reading courses, as approved by the director of graduate studies
Students who have taken equivalent course work as part of an MA degree may petition the director of graduate studies for a waiver of specific requirements; no course credit is given for a waived course.
  • Preliminary Examination Required; written and oral, to be taken upon completion of the course work and satisfaction of the language requirement. The written examination will cover the area of focus; the oral examination will be based on the written sections.
  • Dissertation Required; the dissertation will make a contribution to knowledge in art history and will be publicly defended before the scholarly community.
  • Grade Point Average Requirement Students must maintain a minimum grade point average of 3.00/4.00. No credit will be given for a course taken as part of the doctoral program in which the grade earned was less than a B.
  • MA in Art History Students admitted to the PhD with a bachelor’s degree, MFA, or MA in a Humanities or Social Sciences discipline may apply to receive the MA in Art History, provided the requirements for the MA are completed. Upon completion of the existing minimum MA requirements, PhD students may petition to the Director of Graduate Studies and the Department of Art History to receive an MA in Art History. Following the completion of their course work, students must inform their advisors and the Director of Graduate Studies in Art History with their intention to obtain an MA in Art History, and obtain permission to sign up for AH 598  or AH 590 depending on whether they choose the Thesis or the Course Work Only option.

Interdepartmental Concentrations

Students earning a graduate degree in this department may complement their courses by enrolling in select concentrations after consulting with their graduate advisor. Interdepartmental concentrations available for this degree include: