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MA and PhD in Art History

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Introduction

The Graduate Program in Art History

The Art History program at UT is among the nation’s largest and most distinguished, with over twenty full-time faculty members who are leading scholars in their fields and represent a diversity of critical and methodological outlooks. Students in Art History are regularly honored with prestigious awards and fellowships, and alumni from this program lead successful careers at colleges, universities, and museums worldwide. Art History’s strengths include a wide choice of course offerings in nearly all areas of the history of art, from Pre-Columbian, South Asian, Latin American, to European, American and African and African Diaspora art.

The program’s expansive scope comprises courses covering a wide range of periods and cultures of art, while areas of special concentration are represented by several active research centers. Interdisciplinary study and collaboration play a vital role in the program. Additionally, research is enhanced by access to the many resources available across campus including the Blanton Museum of Art, one of the country’s leading university art museums; the university’s notable library system; and cultural archives such as the Harry Ransom Center.
 

Program Handbook

People

Graduate Advisor
Professor John Clarke

Graduate Coordinator
Clare Thoman


View Art History faculty and graduate students.

Learn more about faculty, students, and alumni in the annual Art History Newsletter.

The Master’s Degree in Art History

Eligibility

Applicants to the Master of Arts Program are expected to have completed a broad range of undergraduate coursework in art history (18 hours in art history are recommended) and related fields. MA students will be required to demonstrate proficiency in reading/translating one contemporary language other than English prior to beginning the fourth semester in residence.

Program Tracks

Four MA tracks are offered in Art History. The general track allows students to cover diverse historical areas of art history; students who desire to pursue a more specialized approach may choose tracks from one of three areas: Ancient (Western and Non-Western), Medieval to Early Modern, and Modern.

Coursework Details

Program of Work — General Track with Thesis (30 hours)

  • 6 Art History courses (18 hours)

    • ARH 395 Art Historical Methods (3 hours) – Required for all MA students in the first semester of study (no exceptions)
    • 1 Art History seminar in each of the following chronological groupings:

      • Ancient (Western and Non-Western) (3 hours)
      • Medieval to Early Modern (3 hours)
      • Modern (3 hours)
    • 2 additional seminars (6 hours) in any of the above areas

  • 2 Minor (supporting) courses (6 hours)

    • Courses outside of Art History, in related areas such as history, literature, anthropology, archaeology, classical civilization, philosophy, architecture, music or any other area relevant to the student’s area of interest. These courses must be either upper-division undergraduate courses (numbers NNN 320–379) or graduate seminars (numbers NNN 380–394). No Art History faculty member may be an instructor of record for Minor coursework.
  • 2 Thesis courses (6 hours, to be taken in sequence)

    • ARH 698A Thesis Colloquium (3 hours)
    • ARH 698B Thesis (3 hours)

Program of Work — Specialized Track with Thesis (30 hours)


Specialized Tracks
Ancient (Western and Non-Western) / Medieval to Early Modern / Modern

  • 6 Art History courses (18 hours)

    • ARH 395 Art Historical Methods (3 hours) – Required for all MA students in the first semester of study (no exceptions)
    • 3 Art History seminars (9 hours) in the chosen track

    • 1 Art History seminar (3 hours) in an area outside the chosen track

    • 1 of the following:

      • 1 additional Art History seminar (3 hours)
      • ARH 396 Advanced Reading Tutorial (3 hours) — Requires a signed form
      • ARH 396K Lecture Tutorial (3 hours)
  • 2 Minor (supporting) courses (6 hours)

    • Courses outside of Art History, in related areas such as history, literature, anthropology, archaeology, classical civilization, philosophy, architecture, music or any other area relevant to the student’s area of interest. These courses must be either upper-division undergraduate courses (numbers NNN 320–379) or graduate seminars (numbers NNN 380–394). No Art History faculty member may be an instructor of record for Minor coursework.
  • 2 Thesis courses (6 hours, to be taken in sequence)

    • ARH 698A Thesis Colloquium (3 hours)
    • ARH 698B Thesis (3 hours)

Example Program Plan

 
First Semester
  • Methods (ARH 395)
  • Seminar
  • Seminar or outside course
Second Semester
  • Seminar
  • Seminar
  • Seminar or outside course
Third Semester
  • Thesis colloquium (ARH 698A)
  • Seminar
  • Seminar or outside course
Fourth Semester
  • Thesis writing (ARH 698B)

Language Requirement


MA students must have reading/translation competence in at least one modern language in addition to English. The additional language will be relevant to the student’s areas of study and will allow the student to understand the scholarship of their field. The language will be determined in consultation with the Graduate Adviser and the choice is subject to ratification by the Graduate Studies Committee.

The choice of language is flexible but must be decided in consultation with one’s advisor/committee chair or the Graduate Adviser if an advisor has not yet been selected. Language courses cannot count toward fulfillment of the requirement for six hours of coursework taken outside the department (supporting work or Minor).

The language exam requirement must be fulfilled in one of the following ways:

  • 4 semesters of college-level language courses passed at grade B or above. Advanced placement credit can count towards the required number of courses.
  • Departmental exam to test translation proficiency in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese (and other languages as petitioned by students) administered 3 times each year (beginning and end of fall semester, and once during spring semester). Exams are graded by at least 2 faculty members. Language exams will be administered to students who wish take it in a given semester. The exam proceeds simultaneously, in a single location and time that works for all. This requirement can be fulfilled in one of the following ways, and must be satisfied by the end of the third long semester in residence.

  • To compensate for the exceptional difficulty involved, students who plan on qualifying in a language other than the traditional European languages may be allowed to do so. Permission may be granted after consultation with the Graduate Adviser and after petitioning the faculty to substitute an instructional course in that language in place of a supporting (i.e. out-of-department) course.

Thesis Colloquium


During the semester of enrollment in Thesis research (ARH 698A, 3 hours), usually in the third semester of residence and after the completion of 18 hours of coursework, the student presents a topic for faculty approval in a Thesis Colloquium. Enrollment in ARH 698B Thesis (3 hours) may take place only after an approved presentation.

  • In the first year, no later than the end of the Spring semester, the student will contact an Art History faculty member about supervising the thesis and initiate a discussion about possible topics.
  • Students are encouraged to interview faculty in their area of specialization in order to find a faculty supervisor/committee chair. Students and supervisors must be in alignment to accommodate their professional goals. Failing to find a supervisor will result in termination from the program.

  • The wise Art History Master’s student will take advantage of the summer following the first year to develop and research a topic or possible topics with the goal of being ready to schedule the colloquium in the early part of the Fall semester.

  • If the colloquium is not held, a grade of Incomplete is assigned; a final grade will be assigned when the colloquium is held during the next long semester.


Refer to the handbook for details regarding the processes involved with submitting the final thesis and applying for graduation.

The PhD in Art History

Eligibility

Applicants to the Doctoral Program must have an MA in art history or an MA in a related field with substantial coursework in art history at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Applicants completing the second year of a Master’s program are also eligible to apply.

Coursework Details

Program of Work


The Doctor of Philosophy degree requires at least thirty hours of coursework beyond the MA degree. Course requirements include:

  • A minimum of five graduate seminars in at least two of the Department’s chronological groupings of western and non-western art: Ancient; Medieval to Early Modern; and Modern
  • Nine hours of supporting work, normally consisting of two graduate seminars outside the Department of Art and Art History in areas related to the major field, and one graduate reading course outside the Department of Art and Art History often taken in the context of preparation for the qualifying examination. All of these courses must be taken for a letter grade.

  • A minimum of six hours of dissertation research and writing


Further requirements include reading/translation competence in at least two contemporary languages in addition to English, a dissertation colloquium, written and oral qualifying examinations that admit the student to doctoral candidacy, the dissertation, and the oral defense of the dissertation. PhD students who are employed as Teaching Assistants must enroll for one term in ARH 398T Supervised Teaching in Art History, a pedagogy seminar that meets one hour per week. This course does not count toward completion of the degree.

Example Program Plan

 
First Semester
  • Seminar
  • Seminar or outside course
  • Supervised Teaching (ARH 398T)
    Register for ARH 398T if you have been awarded a Teaching Assistantship for the first year.
Second Semester
  • Seminar
  • Seminar
  • Seminar or outside course
Third Semester
  • Dissertation colloquium (ARH 397)
  • Seminar
  • Seminar
Fourth Semester
  • Qualifying exams (ARH 396P)
  • Qualifying exams (ARH 396P)
  • Reading course outside Department, in support of a Qualifying Exam question

Before advancing to doctoral candidacy, the student must have satisfied the requirement for reading proficiency in two contemporary languages in addition to English (see Language Requirement below).

Fifth Semester
  • Dissertation hours (ARH 399R, 699R, 999R)
    Student registers for only one semester in R status, all subsequent semesters are in W status
Sixth Semester
  • Dissertation hours (ARH 399W, 699W, 999W)
    Student must be registered in dissertation hours in all long semesters until graduation

Language Requirement


Doctoral students must have reading/translation competence in at least 2 modern languages in addition to English. These languages will be relevant to students’ areas of study and will allow individuals to undertake primary research and understand the scholarship of their chosen field.

Language courses cannot count toward fulfillment of the requirement for 9 hours of coursework taken outside the department (supporting work or minor). Each language requirement can be fulfilled in one of the following ways, and must be satisfied before advancing to doctoral candidacy:

  • Four semesters of college-level language courses passed at grade B or above. Advanced Placement credit can count towards the required number of courses.
  • Departmental exam to test translation proficiency in French, Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese (and other languages as petitioned by students) administered twice per semester. Exams are graded by at least two faculty members. Language exams will be administered to students who wish take it in a given semester. The exam proceeds simultaneously, in a single location and time that works for all. The choice of language is flexible but must be decided in consultation with one’s adviser.

  • Confirmation of completion of a modern language requirement from the student’s Master’s program.


To compensate for the exceptional difficulty involved, students who plan on qualifying in a language other than the traditional European languages may be allowed, after consultation with the graduate advisor and after petitioning the faculty, to substitute an instructional course in that language in place of a supporting (i.e. out-of-department) course.

Dissertation Colloquium


The Colloquium is intended to be an informal conversation with the faculty concerning the topic, its feasibility, and potential pitfalls that might affect the student’s ability to complete it successfully.

The Dissertation Colloquium is held during the third or fourth term of the student’s residence and after the completion of at least 18 hours of coursework.A week before the scheduled Dissertation Colloquium, the student presents to the Graduate Adviser for Art History and the faculty a written prospectus, prepared with the help of the dissertation adviser.

The topics for the qualifying examination are also set at the Colloquium, and the examining committee is determined. At this time, the composition of the dissertation committee is also discussed. The student must complete the Qualifying Examination by the end of the next long semester following the Colloquium.

Qualifying Examination


The student will be examined in four areas: at least two broad areas of expertise and one or two focused areas with the possibility of one area being directed by a faculty member outside the Department. All of these exams will be written and must be completed within a one-week period. In consultation with each faculty member on their examination committee, students will schedule three-hour time periods during which they will take the written exams.

At least two weeks before the examination, the student will confirm with the Graduate Coordinator the date and time of each examination and the name and email address of any examiner not on the Art History faculty. The student will determine the order of the questions. The Graduate Coordinator will solicit questions from each examiner.

Within several days of the completion of the last written examination, a two-hour oral examination on the same topics will follow with the entire examining committee. During this exam the examining committee will question the student about the exam questions. To schedule the oral examination, please use the same process used for scheduling the Colloquium. The student's performance on these exams will be ranked "Pass" or "Failure." For additional details and procedures, please refer to the Graduate Handbook.

Once the student has completed all program requirements and passed the qualifying exams, the committee supervising the dissertation is formalized in the doctoral candidacy application process.

Learn more about completing the Application for Doctoral Candidacy →

  • After admission to Candidacy for the doctoral degree, the student must stay in continuous enrollment in dissertation hours each spring and fall until the degree is completed.
  • Students doing research abroad while in doctoral candidacy may be eligible for Independent Study and Research status.


Example Topics

Below are examples of past qualifying examinations topics. Please note that these can include both general subjects and topics related to a particular student’s dissertation research:

Medieval Art

  • Gothic Art
  • Northern Renaissance Art
  • French Court Culture and Patronage (possibly an outside the Department question)
  • Fourteenth-Century Manuscript Illumination

Modern/Contemporary European Art

  • European Art, 1890–1945
  • Art of the United States, 1945–1985
  • Art and Philosophy of Language (Examiner: Art History Dept.)
  • Little Magazines and Literary Modernism (Examiner: English Dept.)

Dissertation


The dissertation must make an original contribution to scholarship. It normally requires fieldwork of at least a year’s duration. The Dissertation Committee directs the student during the completion of the dissertation. Defense of the dissertation (Final Oral Examination) before at least four members of the Dissertation Committee is a University requirement; the dissertation supervisor must be physically present for the defense to take place.

Learn more about submitting the request for the Final Oral Examination →

Refer to the handbook for details regarding the processes involved with submitting the final draft, defending, and applying for graduation.

Portfolio in Museum Studies

Established in 2008, the Portfolio in Museum Studies allows Master’s degree and PhD students already enrolled in the Art History graduate program to develop a concentration concerning some aspect of the practices and cultural significance of museums. This non–degree program offers opportunities for obtaining further expertise in a cross–disciplinary manner.

The specific goals of this program are:

  • To develop an understanding of how museums and their collections shape societies
  • To develop an awareness of past practices of museums in order to foster an understanding of current and future developments
  • To develop practical and analytical skills relevant to understanding the increasingly complex roles of museums and those who work in them

Through a set of thematically related courses, this portfolio program is meant to promote cross–disciplinary scholarship and study by bringing together faculty and students from a variety of disciplines whose interests and training transcend the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines.

Upon completion of both the degree and the portfolio requirements, the portfolio certification will be added to the student’s transcript.

Financial

File the FAFSA ASAP!

Graduate students from the U.S. (citizens and permanent residents) are automatically eligible for Federal Plus loans as independent students and must file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). However, you should complete the FAFSA even if you don’t intend to take out student loans because doing so may qualify you for need-based funding such as grants and scholarships. Applicants must file the FAFSA by the March 15 priority deadline to be considered for need-based funding.

Applicants should complete the FAFSA as soon as you have submitted your admission application and have filed your federal tax return. You are strongly urged not to wait for notification of admission before filing the FAFSA.

Tuition

Current tuition for Texas residents and out-of-state and international non-residents, as well as other estimated costs-of-attendance, can be figured using the Cost & Tuition calculator.

A limited number of Tuition Waivers are offered to out-of-state and international students that forgive the non-resident portion of tuition.

Funding

Funding resources at the MA level, such as scholarships and in-state tuition waivers, are limited and awarded on a case-by-case basis. Each semester, MA students may apply for positions as a Grader for a large introductory/survey or upper-division class. Once assigned to grade for a course, the Grader must attend all lectures and grade all exams and assignments for the course. The number of Grader positions varies each year, and the salary is based on the number of students in the class.

The faculty’s goal is to support all admitted PhD students with a combination of Teaching Assistantships, Assistant Instructor positions, Graduate Research Assistant positions and scholarship funds so they can earn their degree with as little outside cost as possible.

A limited number of Graduate Research Assistant positions may be available each semester to both MA and PhD students.

All applicants are considered for financial support; it is not necessary to apply or request separately.

Information about other sources of funding is available from the Graduate School.

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