The doctoral degree (PhD) in Art History consists of 27 credit hours of core and elective coursework plus doctoral research, and normally takes four-five years to complete.  Admission to the PhD program is open to students with an MA in art or architectural history and to exceptionally qualified candidates with a BA in art or architectural history or a closely related field.

  • Students admitted to the PhD program without an MA must complete a total of 48 credit hours. The course distribution requirements for the first two years are identical to those for the standalone MA program. Students in the PhD program do not write MA Theses.
  • Students admitted to the standalone MA or MA/MSLS-MSIS programs who wish to continue to the PhD and have the support of a potential advisor must submit a full application to the PhD program via the Slate system in the semester before the conferral of their master’s degree(s).
  • Students admitted to the PhD track without an MA may change their degree intent to the standalone MA program in their third or fourth semester at the urging of their advisor and the DGS. In these cases they will complete a formal MA thesis, which will mark the culmination of their study in the department.

Course Work (for students entering without an MA)

  • 6 credit hours in courses designed to prepare them for professional work in art history: A required Writing Seminar (ARTH 991) and a Professional Development Course that is strongly recommended. The Writing Seminar will be devoted to structuring an argument, assessing primary and secondary sources, and conducting a sustained writing exercise. The goal of the Writing Seminar is to prepare for writing their dissertation prospectus, which will be completed in the spring following the semester for which they are enrolled in 991. The Professional Development Course will be offered in spring semesters and will address, among other topics: grant writing; submitting articles for publication; copyright and permissions; conference presentations; writing a CV; etc.
  • 42 credit hours of courses in content areas, for a total of 48 credit hours when combined with Methods and the Writing Seminar. At least eight of the courses (24 credit hours) should be graduate seminars (700 level or above); up to four of the courses may be taken in relevant content areas outside the department (see below for addition of an External Minor).
  • Coursework in semesters 3-6 should include the following:
    • 6 hours in advanced seminars (900 level) in the major field
    • 3 hours in a course related to the secondary exam field (400 level or above or a directed reading course at 700 level with the examiner)
    • 3 hours in a course related to the methodological exam field (400 level or above or a directed reading course at 700 level with the examiner)
    • 6 hours in other seminars (700-900 level)
  • Completing Ph.D qualifying exams and prospectus defenses in the spring semester of the third year of graduate study. This should prepare PhD candidates to apply for travel and research grants in the following fall of the fourth year of study.

Coursework for students in the PhD track, then, could include:

YEAR 1
Semester 1
Methods Course
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course (refers to courses at the 400-600 level)

Semester 2
Seminar
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course

YEAR 2 
Semester 3 
Seminar
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course

Semester 4
Seminar
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course

YEAR 3 
Semester 5
Writing Seminar
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course

Semester 6
Professional Development Course (strongly recommended) or Content Course
994
Exams/Prospectus Defense

Course Work (for students entering with an MA in Art History or closely related field)

  • 27 hours (9 courses) plus at minimum 9 hours of doctoral research credit hours
  • Methods Course and Writing Seminar optional, may be recommended depending on student’s previous work
  • 12 hours (4 courses) required as seminars (700 level or above)
  • 6 hours (2 courses) allowed outside department courses (see below for addition of an External Minor)
  • Coursework should include the following:
    • 6 hours in advanced seminars (900 level) in the major field
    • 3 hours in a course related to secondary exam field (400 level or above or a directed reading course at 700 level with the examiner)
    • 3 hours in a course related to methodological exam field (400 level or above or a directed reading course at 700 level with the examiner)
    • 6 hours in seminars (700-900 level)

Coursework for students in the PhD track who enter with the MA could include:

YEAR 1
Semester 1
Methods Course or Seminar
Seminar
Seminar or Content Course (refers to courses at the 400-600 level)

Semester 2
Seminar
Seminar
Content Course

YEAR 2 
Semester 3
Writing Seminar
Seminar
Content Course

Semester 4 (and beyond)
Professional Development Course (strongly recommended) or Content Course
994
Exams/Prospectus defense

External Minor

PhD students may choose to complete a formal External Minor, which consists of at least three (but may be as many as five) additional courses in a field related to her/his area of specialized study (such as, communication studies, women’s studies, history, or medieval studies). The student must secure prior approval of the minor department, and a copy of the proposed courses to be taken must be signed by both departments and entered in the student’s permanent record in the Department of Art and the UNC-Chapel Hill Graduate School.

Language Requirement

PhD students are required to demonstrate proficiency in 2 languages (other than English). The first language will be the language that fulfilled the M.A. language requirement. The second language should be appropriate to the area of study, and will be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor, the Director of Graduate Studies, and the graduate committee. Some fields require additional languages and students should study these languages as necessary. Competency in the second language will be determined following the same guidelines as those of the M.A. language requirement.

Preliminary Doctoral Exams

PhD students take both the written and the oral Preliminary Exams during the semester after the PhD course work is completed. Most PhD students will take the Preliminary Exams during the spring semester of their second year in the PhD program. Those students pursuing an External Minor will take the Preliminary Exams during the fall semester of their third year.

  • Written Exams. Students take the written exams over the course of a one-week period. Students who fail the written exams may repeat them only once. These exams are taken in three parts: first (major) area of study (six hours), second area of study (six hours), and methodological/thematic area of study (six hours).
  • Preliminary Oral Exam. An oral exam will take place within two weeks of the written exam. The oral will be on the content of the written exam and may also include a defense of the dissertation prospectus. The examining committee will consist of at least three members who must be full-time active graduate faculty or adjunct teaching faculty  in art history.
  • Dissertation Prospectus. Ph.D. students defend their dissertation prospectus orally. If the dissertation prospectus is not defended in the oral exam, this defense should take place within four months of the written exams. At least two weeks before the prospectus defense, the student submits a dissertation prospectus to his or her dissertation committee, which should consist of five faculty members, three of whom must be permanent members of the UNC-CH art history faculty.

Guidelines for the PhD exams and prospectus can be found here.

Dissertation and Final Oral Exam

After passing the preliminary doctoral exams, the student begins work on the dissertation. Once the dissertation is completed and approved by the advisor and dissertation committee, the student defends the finished dissertation. Doctoral students have eight calendar years from the date of first registration in the PhD Graduate School to complete the PhD. For doctoral students, there is a minimum residence credit requirement of four semesters, and at least two semesters must be earned through continuous full-time registration on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus.

Program details, including a sample timetable for progress through the degree, can be found here.

For further information, the applicant should write to the director of graduate studies for art history.

FINAL DEFENSE & SUBMISSION: IMPORTANT DATES

The precise deadlines are set every year, and can be found on the Graduate School’s ‘Graduation Deadlines’ page here.

Mid-February: Deadline to apply to graduate in ConnectCarolina

March  – Last month in which to schedule the defense. The oral defense must be scheduled no later than 2 weeks prior to the mid-April final submission deadline

Mid- April – deadline, final submission of electronic doctoral dissertations and master’s theses

May (generally 2nd weekend)
Doctoral Hooding Ceremony
University Commencement Ceremony
Degree Award Date for May graduates