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, GRE scores no more than three years old, and TOEFL results, if applicable.

The deadline for applications for the Art History graduate program for Fall 2020 is January 1, 2020. Click here to request or download an application.