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A&S—History of Art and Architecture

The University of Pittsburgh’s graduate program in History of Art and Architecture is a small, PhD-based program that features close mentoring from internationally renowned scholars. We fully fund all our doctoral students with generous multiyear packages of financial support, including fellowships and teaching assistantships.  Our students also have an excellent record in competing for prestigious external fellowships such as the Fulbright, and in job placement after graduation.

Application to the graduate program is directly to the PhD program. Therefore, we encourage all prospective students to contact a faculty member in their area of interest before applying. Even though many students get their MA here before proceeding to the PhD, ours is essentially a PhD program, and applicants should contact the faculty member closest to their interests. Our program possesses an innovative and exciting structure, in which faculty members are grouped into research constellations. These constellations organize our faculty, not around subject matter, but rather around commonly held interpretative approaches and lines of inquiry (“Visual Knowledge,” “Agency,” “Identity,” etc.).  While our program insists that enrolled students acquire thoroughgoing knowledge of a particular subject-matter—prospective students should select their potential advisor based on that professor’s expertise in a given subject—it also aims to encourage students to produce conceptual, idea-driven research for their Ph.D.   We strongly encourage students to explore our web site ( for more information on faculty members, graduate program requirements, and the application process.

Contact Information

Linda Hicks
Senior Administrator
104 Frick Fine Arts
Pittsburgh, PA 15260
Phone: 412-648-2400
E-mail: lih@p[

Please consult our department website for further information on our graduate program ( or email Linda Hicks at


Applicants for admission must submit: an online application, official transcripts of all college-level work, three letters of recommendation, a statement of purpose outlining the applicant’s intellectual and professional goals, a writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s scholarly ability, a completed foreign language questionnaire, and GRE scores. International students whose first language is not English must also submit TOEFL scores administered by the Educational Testing Service with a minimum score of 90 on the internet-based test with a minimum score of 22 in each section.

Strong applicants will have completed an undergraduate major in a discipline in the humanities with at least a minor (12 credits / 4 advanced-level courses) in art history. For students wishing to study Western art, they should also have competence (completion through the intermediate college level with a B+ or better) in one major European language. Students wishing to pursue degree work in East Asian art must have the equivalent of three years of college level instruction in Chinese or Japanese before entering the program.

Applications will be accepted for fall term admission until December 15th.

Financial Assistance

The department offers multi-year (up to five years) aid packages to virtually all of its PhD students. These packages consist of full tuition scholarships and living expense stipends. Aid is guaranteed for the duration of the package provided the student remains in good academic standing and makes satisfactory progress toward the degree. Aid takes the form of teaching assistantships, gallery assistantships, and visual resources collection assistantships, as well as grading and research assistantships. The department and university also offer a number of fellowships that are free of teaching and other employment duties. For more financial aid information, please consult our website:

General requirements

Master’s degree students must successfully complete 27 credit hours (9 courses). 15 of these credits (5 courses) must be seminars in art history, two of which must be the core Graduate Methodology course (HAA 2005) and the Historiography (HAA 2007) course. Another 3 credits (1 course) must be completed in art history, and 3 credits (1 course) must be fulfilled in a cognate course outside art history. The remaining credits may be used to fulfill MA paper and PhD requirements in a combination of independent studies (independent study courses do not count towards the 27 credits required for the MA degree) and relevant classes. Six credits (2 courses) may be transferred from another approved graduate program.

Language requirement

Certified competence in one second language relevant to the student’s program of research is required for the awarding of the MA degree. Students must demonstrate such competence by passing a department exam or by providing other verification within the first term of residence. Certified competence in two second languages is required for the PhD and must be demonstrated before the student is admitted to candidacy.

The MA paper

The final requirement for the MA degree is an original research paper, typically 25 to 30 pages in length, produced under the supervision of two faculty readers and deemed satisfactory by a majority vote of the full faculty in residence. The MA paper is usually a substantially revised version of a paper produced in a research seminar. It must be submitted no later than November 1 or January 15 of the term in which the degree is expected.

Requirements for the PhD

General requirements

Doctoral students must complete 72 credit hours, of which 27 may be transferred from the MA program at the University of Pittsburgh or 24 from MA programs at other institutions. At the PhD level, 9 credits (3 courses) beyond the MA degree must be completed in art history or in a discipline relevant to the student’s program of research. These 9 credits (3 courses) must be taken at the 2000 (graduate) level. All other required credits for the PhD may be fulfilled through additional coursework or independent studies directed toward comprehensive exam and prospectus preparation, and dissertation research. The final requirement for the degree is the successful defense of the dissertation.

Core course

The core course in Methodology (HAA 2005) and Historiography (HAA 2007) are required of all PhD students. Students matriculating from the MA degree program must take the course at the MA level before entering the PhD program. Students entering the PhD program from another institution may be required to take the courses in their first two year of residence.

Language requirement

Competence in two second languages relevant to the student’s program of research is required for the awarding of the PhD degree and must be verified through appropriate language training or department exam before the student is admitted to candidacy. Students matriculating from the MA program must have already completed one of these language requirements before being admitted for PhD study.  Students entering the PhD program from another institution must provide proof of competence in at least one second language within their first term of residence. Depending on the student’s field of study, more than two second languages may be necessary to carry out advanced research. In such cases, additional language study may be required as determined by the student and his or her dissertation committee.

Comprehensive exams

PhD students normally take their comprehensive exams in the fourth year of residence (for students entering the program with an MA from another institution, in the second year of residence) and after they have completed their coursework requirements. The exams cover three areas, which are formulated by the student and his or her doctoral committee working in consultation with one another. The comprehensive exams are designed to ensure that the student has sufficient knowledge of the field to carry out the dissertation and to teach in one or more broadly defined areas.

Prospectus defense

After passing the comprehensive exams, the student must prepare and defend to his or her doctoral committee a dissertation prospectus. The prospectus is a detailed description of the proposed dissertation topic, its central scholarly problem, its contribution to the field, and how the research for the project will be conducted. The prospectus defense is intended to demonstrate that the student is ready to carry out independent research for the dissertation.

Dissertation defense

The final oral examination in defense of the doctoral dissertation is conducted by the doctoral committee and open to the University community.

Course Listing


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