About the Graduate Program

The Department of Art History offers a graduate program that explores cultural, formal, and theoretical concerns central to the visual arts. Incoming classes are kept small to ensure a close working relationship between students and professors. A particular strength of the program is the faculty's range of research interests. Academic concentrations include the art and architecture of: ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, and the Americas; Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Europe; modern and contemporary art and architecture in Europe, the United States, and Africa. Through the department's close relationship with programs in Classics. African-American studies, African studies, women's studies, film studies, history, and comparative literature, students can readily incorporate an interdisciplinary focus into their coursework and research. The program emphasizes both broad education in the history of art and highly developed specialization. Students have the opportunity to develop teaching skills through the Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity (TATTO) program. Every incoming student is awarded financial support which covers tuition and provides a stipend for five years (subject to annual review).

Graduate Exchange Program with the Art History Institute of Leiden
The Art History Department has initiated a graduate exchange program with the Art History program at the University of Leiden. Entitled "Exchanging Bodies of Knowledge," this program allows our students to spend a term at a European department. (Conversely, art history graduate students from Leiden have the opportunity of visiting our department for a term.) At the host institution, students take seminars or tutorials, working closely with distinguished faculty of their choice. In Leiden, seminars are conducted in English. Students are charged no tuition, fees, or other administrative costs, and their travel and living expenses are funded by the Art History Department. They generally become eligible in their second or third years of graduate study. Since Leiden is exceptionally strong in the fields of ancient, early modern, and modern/contemporary art, we send students who are training in these fields.

The Art History Department is located in Carlos Hall, a building of considerable architectural distinction on the main quadrangle. Designed in 1916 by Henry Hornbostel, Carlos Hall was remodeled in 1985 by Michael Graves, who later designed the adjacent Michael C. Carlos Museum. For use in teaching and student presentations, the department maintains a collection of approximately 185,000 images, in the process of being converted from slide to digital format. Within Carlos Hall, graduate students have their own study room, the Lyman Center, and there is also an Art History Reading Room in Woodruff Library. Woodruff Library and Pitts Theological Library house substantial holdings of books and periodicals for the study of art history. The Carlos Museum and the High Museum of Art provide excellent internship and curatorial opportunities.

The Mellon Graduate Fellowship in Object-Centered Curatorial Research, administered by a partnership among the Art History Department, the Michael C. Carlos Museum and the High Museum of Art, brings together students, faculty, curators, and conservators. Each year, three art history graduate students are awarded fellowships to work directly with objects selected in consultation with faculty and curatorial advisors, and to consider questions of authorship, manufacture, presentation, and preservation. This fellowship is primarily intended for graduate students who have completed at least their first year of studies in the Art History department.

Fellows work with two objects, one of which will be related to their doctoral research; undertake a directed reading course with their faculty advisor; and work with curatorial advisors to develop questions and define the research scope. They engage in independent research, which can include travel to relevant collections, institutions, or libraries in the U.S. or abroad, to examine relevant objects, consult researchers, and review documents. The faculty advisor, conservator, or appropriate field expert is involved in the planning and accompanies the fellow on these research trips.

Fellows also complete the course Issues in the Conservation of Art and Cultural Property; which offers an introduction to a wide range of topics relating to the field of art conservation, including preventive care, loss compensation, materials analysis, evidence of use or alteration practical work of conservation as well as the ethics, realities, and decisions that define that practice;

Fellows’ research findings will be presented in a lecture at the annual Art History Graduate Symposium and at a public museum event, and will be published on the High Museum’s website.

Fields of Study

Ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome

Candidates who enter this field study the ancient art and architecture of Egypt, Greece, and Rome with Professors Gay Robins, Bonna Wescoat, and Eric Varner. The newly reinstalled and growing collections of Emory's Carlos Museum, adjacent to the Art History Department, strongly support this concentration and provide students with opportunities to become involved in organizing exhibitions and engaging in original research under the supervision of their advisors and Dr. Jasper Gaunt, Curator of Greek and Roman Art and Adjunct Assistant Professor. Fieldwork is highly encouraged and supported with opportunities to participate in field research in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on Samothrace, Greece, where Professor Wescoat is director.

Dr. Lacovara has included graduate students in his excavations in Egypt and is developing plans to dig at the Middle Kingdom town at Kahun and the New Kingdom palace-city at Gurob in the near future.

Ancient Americas

Students interested in the art of the indigenous Americas work with Professor Rebecca Stone, who is also Faculty Curator of Art of the Americas at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Over 2,500 original works of art are available for original research and museological applications in the collection. Textiles and feather work, metalwork, ceramics, stone sculpture (including jadeite and other greenstones), obsidian, bone, and wood are represented. Doctoral supervision emphasizes Central and South American art over Mesoamerican, Emory being one of very few programs in the country with this focus. Elsewhere at Emory, complementary coursework can be completed in the departments of History, Spanish, and Anthropology, and in connection with the Latin American and Caribbean Studies program.

Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque Europe

The four faculty members overseeing the study of art and architecture from the 11th through 18th century offer strong complementary emphases in materials, methods, cultures and chronological focus, including: Romanesque and Gothic art and architecture, especially French stained glass, hagiographical cycles, and monumental decorative arts such as the Bayeux Embroidery (Professor Elizabeth Pastan); late medieval and early Renaissance Art in Italy, poetic theory, imitative practice and the pictorial arts, and the literature of art history (Professor Jean Campbell); Baroque architecture and urbanism, sculpture, and cartography (Professor Sarah McPhee); and Northern art, art theory, visual poetics, and image-based theology (Professor Walter Melion). We draw additional strength from course offerings in other departments and programs including History, Candler Theological Seminary and the Graduate Division of Religion, and French and Italian. The art history department enjoys very fine resources, including the rich collections of primary source material at Emory's Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library and the Pitts Theology Library, and the Works on Paper Collection at the Michael C. Carlos Museum. Further, we participate in regular Medieval Studies Roundtables on campus, in the Sewanee Medieval Studies conference nearby, and offer our students frequent opportunities to study abroad, including programs in Leiden and Rome. Our Andrew W. Mellon Graduate Fellowship Program in Object-Centered Curatorial Research allows our students hands-on experience with works of art on campus and at the High Museum of Art. Through the Lovis Corinth Endowment (focused on Dutch, Flemish and German Art), the Sawyer Faculty Seminar, exhibits and colloquia at the Carlos Museum, and other initiatives, the department engages with developments in the field, sponsors international symposia and works closely with European centers of scholarship.

Modern and Contemporary

Students interested in modern and contemporary European and American art work with Professors Judith Rohrer (Modern and Contemporary Architecture), Todd Cronan (Modern), and Lisa Lee (Contemporary). Students interested in African art from the nineteenth century to the present or from earlier periods work with Professor Susan Elizabeth Gagliardi. Students in all of these fields are encouraged to develop their expertise and critical skills in collateral areas of the humanities as well as through regular participation in interdisciplinary seminars and other forums on campus. Collections, exhibitions, and programs at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, and Carlos Museum offer additional opportunities for intellectual exploration and professional development.

Western Architecture

Students interested in the history of western architecture may pursue this subject by studying with Professors Wescoat, Pastan, McPhee, and Rohrer. Courses in CAD (Computer Aided Design) are taught in the department and geospatial, mapping, modeling classes taught in Environmental Sciences are also available to our students. Students are encouraged to take advantage of the Architectural Library and Lecture Series at nearby Georgia Tech. During the summers there are opportunities for graduate students to serve as Teaching Assistants and Archaeological Assistants in departmental programs in France, Italy, Spain, and Greece, as well as internships closer to home at the Atlanta Preservation Center and at the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation, among others.

Graduate Program Requirements

The doctoral program aims at preparing students to be productive scholars and effective teachers. The program is designed to take five or six years, depending on the student's preparation. The requirements for the Ph.D. are:


Students complete three years of coursework (six semesters of three courses each semester or 72 hours), including the required seminar in theory and methodology. Students entering in advanced standing complete two years of coursework. All students participate in a three and one-half day teacher training workshop conducted by the Graduate School and a departmental teaching tutorial (2 credits per semester) during the first year in which they serve as teaching assistants.

Language Examinations

Reading knowledge of two research-related languages (usually French, German, Spanish, or Italian) is required of all Ph.D. candidates, and, for specific subfields, additional language facility may be required.

Master's Essay

During the second year of formal coursework, each student expands a seminar paper into a qualifying paper which should meet the scholarly standards of a publishable paper. The master's degree is awarded when students have been advanced to candidacy upon completing the Ph.D. examination.

Doctoral Examination

The Ph.D. examination covers a major and a minor field in art history. In consultation with major and minor advisors, the student determines the precise scope of the fields and topical emphases. Students generally take the examination at the end of the third year or the beginning of the fourth year in residence.


The dissertation is a substantial and professional work of original scholarship. At the outset, a committee, usually chaired by the major field advisor, assists the student in preparing a dissertation Prospectus, which explains the research project and identifies the principal sources and methodologies to be employed. Committee approval and an oral defense of the dissertation are required.

Click here to view the complete graduate handbook.


All doctoral students participate in the Graduate School's program, TATTO (Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity), designed to develop student expertise in teaching. This means that in their second year, students teach sections of the art history survey, and third-year students assist a faculty member in teaching an upper division course. Students entering with a master's degree in Art History teach sections in their first year and assist with an upper level course in their second year. Dean's Teaching Fellowships are available competitively through the Graduate School in the fifth year for students admitted to Ph.D. candidacy.

Graduate Admissions

In addition to the requirements listed on the Admissions page of the Laney Graduate School, the Art History Department requires a writing sample of approximately 20 pages.

The deadline for applications for the Art History graduate program for Fall 2017 is January 3, 2017. Click here to request or download an application.

Fellows’ research findings will be presented in a lecture at the annual Art History Graduate Symposium and at a public museum event, and will be published on the High Museum’s website.

Affiliated Resources

The Michael C. Carlos Museum

The Michael C. Carlos Musem constitutes an invaluable resource for the graduate program in art history. Its collections include approximately 17,000 works of art from ancient Egypt and the Near East, classical Greek and Rome, the ancient Americas, Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa, as well as European and American drawings, prints, and photographs. The exhibition schedule includes major international and traveling exhibitions, in addition to smaller student-generated displays. A number of museological opportunities are available to graduate students including curatorial assistantships, directed studies, and museum internships.

The High Museum of Art

The art history department maintains a relationship with the High Museum of Art in midtown Atlanta. Its collections feature European and American fine and decorative arts of the fourteenth through twentieth centuries, African art and contemporary western art. Additionally, the museum hosts several international exhibitions annually.

Click here to request or download an application.

For more information, contact :

Director of Graduate Studies
Art History Department
Emory University
581 S. Kilgo Circle, 133 Carlos Hall
Atlanta, GA 30322