Art History (PhD)

Doctor of Philosophy in Art History
Unit: College of Arts and Sciences (GA)
Department: Fine Arts 
Academic Plan Code(s): ARTHPHD

Program Information

The PhD Program in Art History is not accepting applications for admission. The program is suspended, with a June 2020 official close date.

The Doctor of Philosophy in Art History provides advanced expertise in art history and prepares graduates for university-level teaching, curator positions at major museums, and independent research in the field. Students in this program select in-depth courses from the following areas: Ancient, Medieval, Byzantine, Islamic, Renaissance, Baroque, Modern, and contemporary Western, as well as Asian and non-Western art and architecture.

Admission Requirements

This program has been suspended to further enrollments. No new applications will be accepted.

Program Requirements

Coursework required for the PhD in Art History includes completion of the MA degree plus 15 credit hours ARTH 500-level electives, 15 credit hours of ARTH 600-level electives, 6 credit hours of Dissertation Research, and 6 credit hours of graduate level electives outside the Art History Program, for a total of 72 credit hours. Additional 600-level courses may be substituted for 500-level.

Up to a total of 15 credit hours of 500- or 600-level electives outside Art History may be substituted for Art History electives of similar level provided they are appropriate and are approved in advance by the student's advisor.

Coursework Requirements

Completion of the MA30
ARTH 642Theories & Methods of Art History
ARTH 500-level electives15
ARTH 600-level electives15
ARTH 643
ARTH 644
Independent Study
Independent Study 3
500 or 600-Level Electives Outside Art History 46
ARTH 743Directed Reading for Comprehensive Exams (Major)3
ARTH 744Directed Readings for Comprehensive Exams (Minor)3
ARTH 745Dissertation Research (12 max) 5
Dissertation prospectus
Dissertation and defense
Minimum Total Hours72

Students are expected to take any courses necessary in preparation for scholarly research.

Students are required to demonstrate facility in two foreign languages, one of which must be relevant to the field of dissertation research (for example, Latin or Greek for ancient art). Some areas of Art History require that students have a mastery of epigraphy and paleography. Students in any field in which extensive language study is necessary in order to conduct research must concentrate on the relevant language or languages before taking the comprehensive exam.

Language proficiency is demonstrated in one of two ways:

  1. Taking a proficiency examination administered by the department, scheduled in the fall and spring semesters. The proficiency exam is a one-hour translation examination with the use of a dictionary. Students are required to demonstrate intermediate level facility in the language.
  2. Completing the intermediate level of the language course at the University of Louisville with a grade of B or better.

Through coursework, independent study, and directed readings, each student must prepare her/himself to pass a written comprehensive exam before admission to candidacy. Language requirements must have been met and all course work completed before a student may take the comprehensive exam.

After being admitted to candidacy, the student must write a dissertation and defend it in a final oral examination.

  • Minimum 30 credit hours of coursework at the 500 and 600 level (exclusive of coursework earned for the MA degree)
  • ARTH 743 and ARTH 744
  • ARTH 745
  • Comprehensive exam (upon completion of coursework and before beginning the dissertation)
  • Dissertation prospectus
  • Dissertation and defense

Students must continue to enroll for credit each Fall and Spring, including any semesters after coursework has been completed and before graduation. After completing minimum course requirements for the program, doctoral students must maintain continuous registration until the completion of the degree. Once enrolled in Doctoral Candidacy, students must maintain enrollment year round (Fall, Spring, and Summer semesters) until the completion of the degree.

A minimum GPA of 3.5 must be maintained in the PhD program.

The Art History faculty periodically review PhD students who have not yet advanced to candidacy and will discourage from further work those students whose progress and performance are deemed unsatisfactory.