To earn a Ph.D. in Art History, students are admitted with either a B.A. or M.A. degree. In general, the requirements for the degree include the following:
- Passing the two language examinations
- Passing the First (Written) Examination
- Fulfilling the Distribution Requirements (if not already fulfilled at a prior institution at graduate level)
- Fulfilling the Minor requirement
- Completion of 60 credits of coursework with a minimum grade-point average of B (3.0)
- Passing the Second (Oral) Examination
- Submission of an approved dissertation topic
Upon completion of the above requirements, the student may advance to candidacy for the Ph.D. Once advanced to candidacy, the student submits the dissertation proposal to the Executive Committee. For details on this process, see the updated Guidelines for Writing a Dissertation Proposal.
Following the proposal's approval by the Executive Committee, the student begins work on the dissertation. The dissertation is defined as an original study that, in the opinion of the official readers, makes a genuine contribution to art history. It must incorporate original research and demonstrate a high degree of competence in the use of appropriate art history methodologies. In terms of content and format, it should be regarded as the first stage of development of a book, a series of articles, an exhibition, or a scholarly catalogue. It is thus often the basis for further work and the major achievement on which one’s scholarly reputation initially rests.
Upon completion of the Program, students will demonstrate a general knowledge (at the survey level) of the history of world art and a greater depth of knowledge in their fields of concentration: Medieval/Ancient Art; Early Modern Art; Modern Art; or African/Native American/Oceanic/Pre-Columbian Art. Students will be able to identify the major works of art in these fields and construct a chronology of the principal artistic developments in the fields of specialty. In addition, students will be able to identify the principal methodological approaches to the interpretation of the works.
Graduates will demonstrate the ability to conduct original research in their fields of specialization in both archival and published sources and, for specialists in contemporary art, through personal interviews. In addition, they will be able to apply their knowledge of theoretical, conceptual, and methodological approaches to shape their research into scholarship.
Students completing the Program will be practiced in the formulation of and presentation of their scholarship in a variety of professional contexts. Those may include conference papers, articles in scholarly journals, or book-length studies.
Graduates will also possess professional competence in the areas in which they intend to pursue employment: college or university teaching, museum or gallery curating or administration, or art publishing. For the chosen professional field, the graduate will demonstrate knowledge of major institutions and standard procedures. Students pursuing teaching careers will demonstrate an ability to organize a syllabus and present lectures for general survey courses in art history and more specialized courses in their fields of expertise. A student intending to pursue a museum career will demonstrate an understanding of the functions of museum collections, exhibitions and publications. Students who want to work specifically in art publishing should demonstrate a command of the roles in the discipline of scholarly publications as well as of art critical writing. All students will demonstrate the ability to formulate and develop an oral presentation on a topic in their field of specialization within the discipline of art history.
Fellowships and Funding
Ten students per year will be admitted to the Ph.D. Program in Art History. Of these, seven will be awarded Graduate Center Fellowships (GCFs) and three will be awarded Tuition-only Fellowships.
The GCFs are a five-year package of $25,000 per year (including healthcare). In the first year, students work in the the Art History department. In years two to five, students teach one course per semester in one of the CUNY colleges.
Tuition-only covers tuition at in-state rates only. See the Graduate Center's main admissions pages for further information about current tuition fees and other forms of financial assistance, and the department's FAQ page for prospective students.
Provost’s Enhancement fellowships are available to students from underrepresented minorities who are US citizens or permanent residents. These comprise a five-year package of $35,000 per year.
In spring 2015 we were awarded a $635,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to fund New Initiatives in Curatorial Training (read more about it here), a four-year project in the Ph.D. Program in Art History to deepen and formalize the program’s long-standing commitment to training future curators and other museum and arts professionals. The grant is the largest received by the Ph.D. Program in Art History since its founding in 1978.
The Mellon Foundation grant will support graduate seminars focused on the direct analysis of works of art in museums, fund Curatorial Fellowships and subsidize a yearlong seminar on curatorial practice culminating in a student-curated exhibition in the Graduate Center’s James Gallery. The three curatorial fellowships take place in New York area museums, and are worth $25,000 per year. They do not include healthcare but do include a $1500 travel grant to be used in relation to research undertaken in relation to the internship. Several James Gallery fellowships are available throughout the year.
Through Rewald fellowships, the Ph.D. Program in Art History can provide up to $5,000 to support guest speakers or conferences organized by graduate students. Proposals should go to the Executive Committee (email to Marilyn Mercado at MMercado@gc.cuny.edu). See requirements for application here.
In addition to fellowships made available by the Graduate Center, friends and alumni of the Ph.D. Program in Art History generously provide funds for student fellowships. Such funds vary in amount from year to year. Announcements of these fellowships are emailed to all eligible students and posted in the Student Lounge and on the program website.
Alumnae/i, friends, and families of former students have also contributed funds for student research:
The Spero-Goldreich Award in European and American Sculpture from 1775 to 1960 is awarded annually to a dissertation-level student.
The Kristie A. Jayne Fellowship annually awards one or more fellowships to students who have passed the First Examination and who are focusing on the social and political concerns of twentieth-century art, especially projects that deal specifically with art of the United States of the 1920s and 1930s.
The Catherine Hoover Voorsanger Fellowship is awarded to a student of American, and preferably decorative, art.
Besides these Graduate Center and program sources, students are encouraged to seek outside grants to support preparation of the dissertation and advanced research. Please consult the program's list of fellowships in Art History or relevant affiliated fields for more information.
The Graduate Center Office of Sponsored Research maintains a list of available funding sources and helps students in writing grant proposals. The Ph.D Program in Art History sponsors workshops in the fall and spring semesters on grant applications. Graduate Center students have won fellowships and awards from the Samuel H.Kress Foundation, the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (CASVA), the Metropolitan Museum and the Smithsonian Institute, as well as other foundations, institutions and agencies.
Fellowships requiring program nomination will be announced by email, so that students can apply for consideration.
(i) Graduate Teaching Fellowships
Unlike most universities, where doctoral students gain teaching experience by assisting a faculty member, students at the Graduate Center teach their own courses to undergraduate students in colleges within the CUNY system. Preparation for this experience is provided through a Pedagogy for Art History course, available in the spring semester each year.
(ii) Adjunct Teaching
Outside of the Graduate Teaching Fellowships, many students in the Ph.D. Program in Art History gain additional training as adjunct instructors in CUNY college classrooms.
Adjunct teaching positions are not Financial Aid awards; they are positions created and paid for by the colleges where the student teaches. Art History Departments on each CUNY campus make their own hiring decisions. Students may apply directly for teaching positions anywhere in the system by contacting the Art History Department chair in the CUNY college in which they are interested.
CUNY adjuncts are paid according to a an hourly rate scale. The hourly pay rate is multiplied by the number of credit hours a course carries (which varies from three to six), then multiplied again by the number of weeks in the college's semester (14 or 15 weeks at all but Kingsborough and LaGuardia Community colleges).
Adjuncts who teach at least six credit hours within CUNY for each of two consecutive semesters are eligible, after the second semester, for health insurance benefits.
In addition to fulfilling the requirements of the Art History program, students can choose to complete a Certificate Program. The Graduate Center’s Interdisciplinary Certificate Programs include: Africana Studies, American Studies, Demography, Film Studies, Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, Medieval Studies, Renaissance Studies, and Women’s Studies. Students who fulfill the requirements of a certificate program have this noted on their transcripts when they graduate.
Visit the Graduate Center Interdisciplinary Certificate Programs page for more information.
En-route Master’s Degree
Upon written application to the Executive Committee, a student may be approved to receive a Master’s Degree in Art History from a CUNY senior college granting Master’s Degrees in Art History (Brooklyn, City, Hunter, Queens). Each of these CUNY senior colleges has specific requirements for the en-route M.A., and so a student interested in receiving this degree should discuss the written application with a Deputy Executive Officer before writing to the committee.
The student must have met the following requirements:
45 credits passed with a cumulative GPA of B (3.0) or higher
successful completion of the language requirements
successful completion of the First (Written) Examination
To be eligible, a student must complete or revise a major research paper under the supervision of a faculty advisor as well as members of the faculty of the CUNY senior college granting the degree.
The student must submit two copies of this paper to the Executive Committee with the written request, and the faculty advisor and second reader must also submit their approval of the paper, in writing, to the Executive Committee. After the Executive Committee approves the paper, the application form and one copy of the paper will be forwarded to the Registrar’s Office of the degree-granting institution. Students should allow at least two to three months for processing the application form. Copies of all research papers accepted by the Executive Committee in connection with the award of the en-route Master’s Degree will be kept on file in the Art History program office and at the degree-granting college.
Timeline to Degree
For students entering with a B.A., click here.
For students entering with a M.A., click here.
Dissertations in Progress
List of disserations currently in progress (2021)