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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 entering with a BA complete two and a half years of coursework (five semesters of three courses each semester or 63 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.


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.


All doctoral students participate in the Graduate School's program, TATTO (Teaching Assistant Training and Teaching Opportunity), designed to develop student expertise in teaching.  As part of TATTO, students teach sections of the art history survey (Art History 101 and 102), assist a faculty member in teaching an upper level course. Dean's Teaching Fellowships are also available competitively through the Graduate School.

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 and TOEFL or IELTS results, if applicable.

The deadline for applications for the Art History graduate program for Fall 2025 is January 1, 2025. Click here to apply.