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MA and PhD in Art History

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Introduction

The University of Texas at Austin

Founded in 1883, The University of Texas at Austin annually enrolls about 50,000 students, 25 per cent of whom are pursuing graduate or professional degrees. Many of UT’s graduate programs on campus are highly ranked nationally, and UT Austin leads all universities in the South in the number of doctoral degrees awarded. With a faculty of some 2500 scholars, The University of Texas at Austin is a rich and varied community dedicated to expanding knowledge through teaching and research.

Austin lies on the banks of the Colorado River at the edge of the Texas Hill Country and its chain of lakes. Seat of the State government as well as a university town, Austin blends a varied and colorful cultural life with a temperate climate. In addition to The University’s art collections and abundance of cultural events, the City of Austin offers museums and symphony, opera, ballet, and theater performances as well as the wide variety of music venues that support its claim to be the “Live Music Capital of the World.” Houston, San Antonio, and Dallas–Fort Worth, each with major art collections, are within easy driving distance.

The Graduate Program in Art History

The Department of Art and Art History offers courses in Art History, Studio Art, and Art Education. Since the MA degree in Art History was inaugurated in 1959, over 250 degrees have been granted; since the origin of the doctoral program in 1974, over 132 PhD degrees have been conferred. Graduates of the program are employed in a variety of museums and universities across the United States, Latin America and in Europe. Twenty three scholars make up the art history teaching faculty, which is supplemented by staff of the Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art. The graduate program in art history is administered by the Graduate Advisor for Art History together with the Graduate Coordinator and the graduate faculty, under the supervision of the Dean of the Graduate School. The Graduate Adviser for Art History approves the student’s course of study each semester and coordinates examinations and colloquia.

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

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.

Each track requires thirty semester hours of coursework, including six hours of thesis and six hours of supporting work outside the Department, as well as demonstrated facility in reading at least one language in addition to English. All course work applied to the degree must be taken on a letter grade basis, including courses taken outside the Department:

  • ARH 395 Research Methods in the History of Art.
  • Four graduate Art History seminars:

    General track: one seminar in each of the Department’s chronological areas of western and non-western art: Ancient (Western and Non-Western), Medieval to Early Modern, and Modern, and one additional seminar in any of these areas.

    For the other three tracks: three seminars in the chosen track and one in an area outside the chosen track.

  • An additional three hours in art history, preferably as a seminar but, in certain cases, as an independent study (ARH 396) or as a lecture tutorial (ARH 396K).

  • Two upper-division undergraduate or graduate courses outside the Department in the following related areas: history, literature, anthropology, archaeology, classical civilization, philosophy, architecture, music or any other relevant area.

  • Two semesters of thesis research and writing (ARH 698A and ARH 698B) under the supervision of an Art History faculty member and a reader. Each semester of thesis counts as 3 hours in the program of work. ARH 698A and ARH 698B are taken in sequence and cannot be taken concurrently.

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

Each MA student should have reading/translation competency in at least one contemporary language in addition to English. The additional language will be relevant to the areas of study and will allow the student to read and understand the scholarship of his/her field. The language will be determined in consultation with the graduate adviser and the choice is subject to ratification by the Graduate Studies Committee. This requirement can be fulfilled in one of two ways:

  1. Four semesters of college-level language courses passed at grade B or above
  2. A departmental exam will be offered to test translation proficiency in French, Spanish, German, and Italian and other languages as petitioned by students, three times each year (beginning and end of fall semester, once during spring semester) and be administered by two faculty members

  • Language courses cannot count toward fulfillment of the requirement for six hours of coursework taken outside the department (supporting work or minor).
  • Courses taken to fulfill the language competency requirement must be taken on the letter grade basis and passed with a grade of B or above.

  • Students are required to satisfy their language requirement prior to beginning the fourth long semester in residence.

Thesis Colloquium

During the semester of enrollment in Thesis research (ARH 698A), usually in the third semester of residence and after the completion of eighteen hours of coursework, the student presents a topic for faculty approval in a Thesis Colloquium. Enrollment in Thesis writing (ARH 698B) 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. The wise Art History Master's student will take advantage of the summer break 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.

A week before the scheduled date of the Colloquium the student presents to the Graduate Adviser for Art History (and to the four other discussants described below) a written prospectus prepared with the help of the thesis adviser; the prospectus is submitted electronically and in hard copy to those attending the colloquium; the prospectus is e-mailed to the Graduate Coordinator. The prospectus will be formatted single space in 12 point Times New Roman font, with standard margins, and include the following:

  1. a clear statement of the problems to be investigated in the thesis
  2. a critical review of the state of the research on the topic
  3. an outline showing how the topic will be developed (about one page)
  4. a working bibliography (not to exceed two pages)

Note: Parts 1 and 2 together should not exceed 1500 words.

The Thesis Colloquium is attended by five faculty members: the Graduate Adviser for Art History, the student's thesis adviser, the second reader for the thesis, and two additional faculty members chosen by the student in consultation with the thesis adviser. The Thesis Colloquium is 40 minutes in length and begins with an informal presentation of no more than five minutes. The student is excused from the room during faculty discussion of the topic, after which the faculty presents the student with recommendations. 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. This discussion will provide the student with ideas and suggestions that will help him or her in developing the thesis.

To schedule the colloquium, first go to the on-line course schedule and note the teaching schedules for all faculty who are involved in your colloquium and black out those days/times. At that point, you can e-mail your committee with several possible dates and times. The Graduate Adviser will suggest times that are more suitable and students will be notified if this is the case. Once you have found a suitable time and date, contact the Art History administrator using “MA Colloquium Schedule Request” in the Subject line to request that you be added to the colloquium calendar. If you make any changes to your original schedule, you must notify the Art History administrative office with the most current information.

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.

Program

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.

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.

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 competency in at least two ccontemporary languages, in addition to English. These languages will be relevant to the student’s area of study and will allow the student to undertake primary research and understand the scholarship in his or her chosen field. Students will consult with their dissertation adviser to determine which languages will be necessary, and these choices are subject to ratification by the Graduate Studies Committee.

For each language, this requirement can be satisfied two ways:

  1. Four semesters of college-level language courses passed at grade B or above
  2. A departmental exam will be offered to test reading proficiency in French, Spanish, German, Italian and other languages as petitioned by students, three times each year (beginning and end of fall semester, once during spring semester) and be administered by two faculty members

  • Courses taken to fulfill the language competency requirement must be taken on the letter grade basis and passed with a grade of B or above.
  • Language courses cannot count toward fulfillment of the requirement for nine hours of coursework taken outside the department (supporting work or minor).

  • The language requirement must be satisfied before the student advances to doctoral candidacy.

Dissertation Colloquium

The Dissertation Colloquium, held during the third or fourth term of the student’s residence and after the completion of at least eighteen hours of coursework, is meant to present the faculty with the dissertation proposal. 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 prospectus should not exceed nine pages (single spaced, 12 point font, Times New Roman with standard margins) and should include the following:

  1. a clear statement of the problem to be investigated in the dissertation
  2. a critical review of the state of the research on the topic
  3. an outline showing how the topic will be developed
  4. a working bibliography

The Dissertation Colloquium is attended by the graduate adviser and five faculty members on the dissertation committee, together with any others not on that committee but doing qualifying exam questions with the student. The Dissertation Colloquium is about 50 minutes in length and begins with an informal presentation by the student. The student is excused from the room during faculty discussion of the topic, after which the student returns and the faculty presents the student with recommendations. 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 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.

The examination will be typed on a neutral computer (no internet access) provided by the department. At the commencement of this three-hour period, the Graduate Coordinator will provide the student with two questions. The student will choose one of these questions and, without access to notes, books, or electronic media, produce a written response in no more than three hours. At the end of each examination, the Graduate Coordinator will assist the student with printing out hard copies for members of the examining committee. The Graduate Coordinator will email the exam response to all members of the examining committee and to the student.

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."

Below you will find 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.)

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.

In consultation with the person who will be the committee supervisor, the student chooses five or six people who have agreed in advance to serve on the dissertation committee, following these criteria:

  • The supervisor and at least two other people on the committee must be from the Art History Graduate Studies Committee
  • One person on the committee must be from outside the department

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.

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 →

  • You should submit the final draft of your dissertation, reviewed for technical and grammatical correctness by your supervisor, to each of your committee members at least four weeks before your final defense. All members of the committee must sign the Request for Final Oral form. By signing, each member acknowledges receipt of a copy of your dissertation draft and agrees to be present at the defense on the scheduled date. The Graduate Adviser also signs the form. If a committee member is unable to attend your defense, there must be an explanation of the member's absence, together with an assurance that your dissertation will be read, and if approved, signed. There is a pre-typed note on the back of the Request form which may be used or an attached letter can also be used. These explanations must be signed by the committee member in question, or your committee supervisor, or your Graduate Adviser.
  • The request must be filed in the Graduate School with the abstract, signature and title pages for a format check at least two weeks in advance of your defense. This time is necessary for the Graduate School to process your request and to mail the defense report materials, a copy of the abstract and an invitation to the defense to your committee members and graduate program.

At least four committee members, including your supervisor, must be physically present at the defense, and all members must sign the signature page of your dissertation. All signatures on the signature sheet must be original signatures.

Portfolio in Museum Studies

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 and Fees

Current tuition and fees for Texas residents and out-of-state and international non-residents may be figured using the Graduate 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 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. All applicants are considered for financial support; it is not necessary to apply separately for fellowships.

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

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

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