Curriculum and Degree Information

Students participate in a Risograph workshop on Governor’s Island (and created a zine in class!) in the Fall 2021
Students participate in a Risograph workshop on Governor’s Island (and created a zine in class!) in the Fall 2021.

The Ph.D. Program in Art History is dedicated to the development of scholars, teachers, museum personnel, art critics, and other professionals. Students specialize in one area while gaining a full general background in the history of art. Arrangements have been made through the cooperation of various art institutions for students to avail themselves of New York City’s unparalleled opportunities for the study of art history through firsthand experience with art objects and monuments. 

The program offers courses from ancient through contemporary art and architecture, including photography, cinema, criticism and theory, as well as Art of the Americas, African, Asian, and Islamic  art and architecture. Students may register for courses offered by other CUNY graduate programs as well as by universities within the Inter-university Doctoral Consortium (Bard, Columbia, Fordham, NYU, New School, Princeton, Rutgers, SUNY Stony Brook). Many students, in addition to their degree, complete certificate programs in American Studies, Film Studies, Interactive Technology and Pedagogy, Medieval Studies, Global Early Modern Studies, or Women’s Studies.

Curriculum Requirements

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.

Additional Programs

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.

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.

Resources for Prospective Applicants

Related Links

Below you can find helpful information and guidance on how to apply.

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