Art History Ph.D.

Philosophy in Art History (Ph.D.) Procedures & Requirements

Progress in the Ph.D. program is essentially divided into two phases: the first phase includes course-work (Program of Study), the oral and written examination (Preliminary Examinations), and the defense of the dissertation prospectus. With the successful  completion of  these three  requirements a  student  is admitted  to candidacy. At this point, students, now in the second phase, are to devote themselves to the process of researching, writing, and defending the dissertation. Throughout both phases of this process, students will be advised by a Major Professor and an Advisory Committee.

I. General Information Major Professor

On the basis of their proposed area of study, all entering students will be assigned a Major Professor with whom the student will work closely during the course of his/her graduate study. With approval from the art history area, a student may change his or her Major Professor, providing he/she secures the appropriate signatures on a Change of Graduate Advisor/Major Professor Form. This form is available online here. The Major Professor must be a member of the art history faculty at UGA as well as a member of the University's graduate faculty.

Advisory Committee

Before the end of the first year of residence, the student is expected to select his/her Advisory Committee in consultation with the Art History faculty. Initially, the advisory committee will consist of three graduate faculty, typically drawn from the Art History Area: the student's major professor and two additional members, chosen in consultation with the student’s major professor. These three faculty members will serve as the student’s preliminary examination committee.The form is available here. Once the preliminary exams have ben successfully completed, the student will add two additional members to his/her committee, all of whom will read the dissertation prospectus and dissertation, and  submit a revised form (found here).   

Note: when appropriate, the expanded advisory committee may include as many as two faculty members from other departments at UGA; it may also include faculty who do not have graduate faculty status, so long as three committee members are graduate faculty. It may also include a single member from outside the University, provided approval is granted by the Major Professor, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Graduate School. In order to begin this process of recommending a committee member from outside the university, approval must but secured, in writing, from all of the UGA art history faculty members on the committee.

II.  Program of Study

A. General Information

Upon entering the Ph.D. program, students must elect to pursue either a Pre-Modern (before the 18th century) or Modern track (18th century to the present). Within these two tracks, all course work is understood to be in preparation for the student's chosen field and for the Ph.D. exams that come after the completion of all required classes. On the rare occasion when a student’s research cannot be effectively characterized as either Pre-Modern or Modern, alternative arrangements may be made with the permission of the Major Professor.

Doctoral students may choose to take any graduate courses offered by the program in Art History, but ultimately must complete a program of study approved by his/her Major Professor and Advisory Committee, the Graduate Coordinator, and the Dean of the Graduate School. Additionally, students are sometimes encouraged to enroll in areas of study outside the School of Art. Such courses (maximum of 6 hours within the 30-Hour Program of Study) must be on the graduate level and should be clearly relevant to and coordinated with the candidate's work in Art History.

B. Specific Requirements

The Ph.D. in Art with an emphasis in the history of art requires residence on this campus for at least three consecutive semesters. It also requires a minimum of 30 hours (10 courses) of consecutive, traditional class work; however, in practice, the student is normally advised to complete additional courses. The student’s program of study should constitute a logical whole and consist of at least 6 8000-level courses (usually two per semester), as well as research hours, independent study courses, and several more courses at the 6000-level. Typically, students on an assistantship from the University of Georgia will take 9 hours of course work (3 classes) per semester, along with ARTS 9005 (3 hours) as part of the Teaching Assistantship configuration.

In rare cases, and with the written permission of the Major Professor, 3 or 6 hours of graduate course work in another department (excepting ARTS or ARST) may be counted toward the required 30 hours. In addition, students, who enter the Ph.D. program after completing an MA at UGA, may have one or two “extra” courses that can be counted as required credit hours in the Ph.D. program of study. For most students, however, this will not be the case.

Occasionally, Ph.D. students, especially those in pre-modern, will be allowed with permission of their advisor and the faculty member at issue, to register for ARHI8110 with a professor who is teaching a 3000-level course related to the student's field (presuming that they did not take this course at UGA as an undergraduate). Work for the ARHI8110 will include full attendance in the 3000- level class, a 20-page research paper on a topic related to the course and to the student's field of study, and a one-hour oral presentation of this work to the class.

Please note that the following courses are not to be counted as part of the student’s required 30 hours: ARTS 9000 (Doctoral Research), ARTS 9005 (Teaching Assistantship Hours), ARTS 9010 (Directed Study toward Preliminary Examinations), ARTS 9300 (Dissertation Writing). Also ineligible are any undergraduate language courses taken either for the second language requirement (see below) or for the student’s own development.

In order to ensure that all necessary requirements are met in a timely fashion, students are required to submit a draft of their Preliminary Doctoral Program of Study. This form, available online here, will track the student’s progress and credit hours and must be resubmitted to the Graduate Coordinator when only three or fewer credit hours remain in the required program of study (see Final Doctoral Program of Study). Any subsequent changes to the Program of Study must be reported to the Graduate Coordinator's Office so these changes can be submitted to the Dean for further approval.

Important Note: Students will not be able to progress to the next step – the scheduling the Preliminary Examinations – until both the Program of Study and the Advisory Committee have been approved by the Dean’s office.

C.  Additional Requirements Methodology Requirement

All MA students in Art History at UGA are required to complete ARHI 8040 before graduation. If you applied to the Ph.D. program at UGA without  a  comparable course (this will be judged by the Area), you will be required to take ARHI 8040 as soon as it is offered (we offer the course every other year).

Foreign Languages Requirement

Prior to admission to candidacy for the Ph.D. (see below), the student must demonstrate a reading knowledge of two approved foreign languages (in most cases German and one Romance language). Students entering the Ph.D. program in art history are assumed to have mastered and demonstrated proficiency in at least one foreign language (see M.A. Handbook for requirements). The second language must be suitable to the area of study intended by the graduate student and must be approved in writing by the student's Major Professor. The language requirement can be demonstrated by earning a grade of “B” or better in a University of Georgia foreign language reading course or by passing a reading knowledge examination prepared  by  the  Departments  of  Romance  Languages  or  Germanic  and  Slavic

Languages. A third alternative is to complete four semester of foreign language study (the equivalent of UGA’s 1001, 1002, 2001, and 2002); in these four courses a student must achieve a minimum of 3.0 GPA.

III.  Phase One: Topic Statement / Preliminary Examination / Dissertation Prospectus


In the fourth semester that completes the 30-Hour Program of Study, the student has two additional obligations: 1) the preparation of a Doctoral Field Statement and 2) establishing, in consultation with the Major Professor and Committee, the fields, themes, or issues to be studied in preparation for the Preliminary Examination. The student can enroll in ARHI 8120 (up to 6 credits) in addition to the course(s) taken for credit that semester.

In the fifth semester, the student is expected to enroll in ARTS 9010 (Directed Study in Art History) for one to nine hours of credit, depending on the student’s assistantship status and enrollment needs. These hours represent the time necessary to prepare for the Preliminary Examination, which should be scheduled during the semester in which the student is enrolled in ARTS 9010, typically, the fifth semester.

The sixth semester is to be devoted to writing a defensible Dissertation Prospectus.

In total, these requirements – the Topic Statement, the Preliminary Examination and the Dissertation Prospectus – should not take more than a single calendar year.

Under exceptional circumstances, a student may submit a written request for a three-month extension. However, students requesting extensions should be aware that any such request will necessitate a reassessment of the student’s qualifications for an assistantship.

B.Doctoral Field Statement

The Doctoral Field Statement is a brief proposal (1 – 2 pages) outlining the general field, themes, or problems that the student intends to pursue for his or her doctoral research and, often, career.

C.Statement of Topics,Themes and Problems

Once the Dissertation Topic Statement is complete, the student’s Advisory Committee, in consultation with the student, will determine a broad outline of subjects within which the student will ready widely in preparation for the Preliminary Examination. Within these subjects, the Advisory Committee, again, in conjunction with the student, will identify three specific topics, themes, or areas that the student will be expected to address in detail, first in written form and then during the oral portion of the Preliminary Exam. General and specific topics will vary in accordance with the student’s research agenda and will be chosen with an eye to proving general mastery in either the Pre-Modern or Modern periods and specialized knowledge within the specific field to which the dissertation is addressed. Please be aware that the Preliminary Examinations are designed to assess competency across a broad range of topics within either the Pre-Modern or Modern Art and ought not be restricted to topics that directly inform the student’s doctoral research.

D.  Preliminary Examination Scheduling 

The Preliminary  Examination must be scheduled  well in  advance and  it is  the student’s responsibility to ensure that ample time is devoted to this process.

At least one month before the beginning of the examination process, the student, in consultation with his Major Professor and Advisory Committee, must submit the times and date of this oral examination to the Graduate Coordinator on the Announcement of Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Examination form. This form is available here.

Since the date of the oral examination must be submitted to the Graduate Coordinator one month in advance of the oral examination, the schedule for both the written and oral examination must be predetermined by the three examining members of the Advisory Committee by that point.

It is strongly recommended that the date by which the written portion is completed and submitted to the Advisory Committee be at least four weeks before the end of the semester.

Administration of the Preliminary Examination

No less than three weeks before the end of the semester in which the student is enrolled in ARHI 9010, the Major Professor and second and third members of the Advisory Committee will administer the written portion of the Preliminary Examination. In rare circumstances, one member of the advisory committee may be from an academic field other than art history.

The written exam will be administered as follows over a week long period: On Monday of the week in which the examination is to be taken, the student will receive three essay questions from the Major Professor. On the following Monday, the student must submit to the Major Professor three essays addressing these questions (one essay per question), as instructed by the student’s Advisory Committee, each between 10 and 20 pages in length and including, as appropriate, footnotes and/or bibliography. At this point, the Major Professor will distribute copies of all exams to the examining members of the Advisory Committee, who must have no less than one full week to evaluate the student’s essays and prepare for the oral portion of the examination.

Evaluation of the Preliminary Examination

The success or failure of the written examination will be determined based on the student’s demonstrated ability to effectively convey an appropriately nuanced mastery of the topics to which the questions are addressed. In the event that the student fails any part of the written examination, the student will be allowed to retake the failed portion of the examination. However, 6 weeks must elapse between the administration of the first examination and the administration of the second examination. This second examination date will alter the schedule of the oral examination and, therefore, require a second Announcement of Doctoral Oral Comprehensive Examination to be submitted for approval by the Graduate School. A second failure disqualifies the student from candidacy for the Ph.D. program.

If it is determined that the student successfully passed the written examination, the oral examination, on the date already set by the Advisory Committee, will be administered by the three examining members of the Advisory Committee. The questions asked in the oral portion of the exam will reflect issues and imagery arising from the 3 topics, themes, or areas chosen at the outset of this process with the Advisory committee. Faculty may ask the student to elaborate on ideas contained within the written exam, or they may require the student to address topics not considered within the essays, but which are nevertheless related to the  general topics under consideration. Students will be given only one opportunity to pass the oral exam, the failing of which will disqualify students from candidacy for the Ph.D. program.

In order to pass the preliminary examinations, a student must successfully complete both the written and oral portions of the examination. The Major Professor will report to the Graduate School the written vote of each committee member on the written and oral examinations.

Once the student has successfully passed the preliminary examination, he or she is expected to add two additional members to the Advisory Committee in consultation with the major professor.

E. Dissertation Prospectus / Admission to Candidacy General Information

As part of the preparation for Admission to Candidacy, students must prepare a prospectus of their dissertation and defend it to their Advisory Committee (now expanded to five members). Typically, the prospectus is prepared by the end of the semester after the completion of the Preliminary Examination, usually the 6th semester. During this semester, the student is expected to enroll in one to nine credit hours of dissertation research (ARTS 9000).

[Text Box: Once the student successfully completes and defends the Dissertation Prospectus, the student may initiate the process of applying for candidacy (see below). After admittance to candidacy, she/he must enroll for at least two additional semesters and a total minimum of 10 hours of dissertation or other appropriate credit. During this time, the student is expected to devoted him/herself entirely to the task of the doctoral dissertation.]

Specific Requirements:

After successful completion of the Preliminary Examination and by the end of the semester in which the student is enrolled in the first one to nine hours of ARTS 9000, the student must present and defend a dissertation prospectus. Developed in consultation with the Major Professor and the Advisory Committee, the Dissertation Prospectus should include a written précis, an outline, and an annotated bibliography. All five members of the Advisory Committee are required to be at the defense of the dissertation prospectus. The defense is also open to the public.

The Advisory Committee determines the success or failure of the dissertation prospectus and may require the student to submit a revision for final approval; the second submission may entail either another public defense or presentation to the Committee alone. Failure to obtain approval from the Advisory Committee for the dissertation prospectus in a timely manner will bar the student from admission to candidacy.

Once the student has successfully defended the Dissertation Prospectus, she/he must supply the Graduate Coordinator with a copy of the approved prospectus for the student’s file. In addition, the student must also submit to the Graduate Coordinator an Application for Admission to Candidacy for Doctoral Degrees form, available online and from the Graduate Office. The top portion of this form is to be completed by the student, and the bottom portion-- certifying completion of requirements, is completed by the Major Professor and submitted to the Graduate Coordinator to forward to the Graduate Dean for approval. Once the Dean has approved the application, the student is formally admitted to candidacy; from this point forward, she/he has a total of five years for the research, preparation, and defense of the dissertation

Note:  Students are eligible to enroll in dissertation research (ARTS 9000) during the semester in which they are preparing the prospectus, but they should not enroll in dissertation writing hours (ARTS 9300) until the prospectus has been successfully defended.    Once candidacy is reached, students may enroll in a combination of research (ARTS 9000) and writing hours (ARTS 9300) for the remainder of their program up to a maximum of 45 hours each.   Note that at least 3 hours of ARTS 9300 must be taken during the semester in which the dissertation is defended.  

IV.     Phase II: Dissertation Research, Writing, Defense

A.General Information

The doctoral dissertation should demonstrate that the student is capable of doing independent, original research, the results of which represent a contribution to the discipline of art history.

The maximum time allowed for dissertation research, writing and defense is 5 years. Intermediate requirements to ensure timely completion of the dissertation will also be enforced.

B.  Specific Requirements Dissertation Schedule

The art history area is committed to enforcing the five-year deadline set by the Graduate School. Every student will work in ways that most effectively allow them to address specific research issues (travel abroad being essential in some cases, but not in others), but long experience has confirmed that the writing of a dissertation cannot be successfully completed in a single year. The internal deadlines that follow are intended to provide guideposts for the student during the five years set aside for the researching and writing of a dissertation.

Students should plan on having some concrete work to submit to their Major Professor by the middle of the third year. In many cases, the student will be expected to submit a draft of between 50% and 75% their dissertation to their advisor by this point. One year before the dissertation is to be defended, the student is expected to meet with the entire Advisory Committee (exceptions can be made for members from outside the University of Georgia). At this meeting, the committee will review progress made to date and develop a timetable for the completion of the research and writing. Furthermore, at this time a Committee Chair will be appointed; the Committee Chair will not be the Major Professor but must be a member of the art history area. The Committee Chair will be responsible for assuring that all subsequent deadlines are met and will oversee the final oral examination.

At the 4th-year meeting, or at a subsequent meeting, the committee will specify when they next expect to be apprised of the student’s progress and what form that demonstration of progress should take. If the committee decides that portions of the dissertation should be presented to them to review again, these portions will not be submitted to the committee without the prior approval of this work by the Major Professor.


Extensions of the Graduate School’s five-year deadline will only be considered at the end of the 4th year. At that point, any student who, in consultation with his or her Major Professor and Committee Chair, believes that a year will not be adequate to complete the dissertation, may apply to the Advisory Committee for approval to request an extension. If the Advisory Committee approves, then the student and his or her advisor may apply to the Graduate School for an extension. This extension is, however, only granted by the Graduate School and is not guaranteed even when the student has earned the approval form the Advisory Committee. On the other hand, without the approval of the Advisory Committee at the end of the 4th year, no Major Professor or member of the Advisory Committee may write a letter in support of such an extension.

Note: Students who do not meet the deadline of an initial draft by the end of the 4th year, will still have five full years to complete their dissertation after defending their prospectus, but will not be considered for any further assistantship support. Students who do will be eligible to apply for a finishing grant from the university.

Dissertation Submission

At the beginning of the semester in which a student expects to defend his/her dissertation, two forms must be submitted: Application for Graduation and Announcement of the Doctoral Oral Defense of the Dissertation. A draft of the completed dissertation must be submitted to the Major Professor for approval six weeks prior to the submission of the final dissertation to the Advisory Committee. Since the committee must have the dissertation in hand no less than one month prior to the defense, in practical terms, the Major Professor must receive his/her draft ten weeks before the scheduled defense. With the approval of the Major Professor and Committee Chair, copies of the completed dissertation will be distributed to the members of the Advisory Committee, including the Committee Chair. The committee should have the dissertation, in its finished form (including illustrations, footnotes, and bibliography) one full month before the Final Oral Examination.

The form and content of the Ph.D. must conform to the standards set forward by the Graduate School at UGA. For further information, see the Graduate School guidelines. 

The form and content of the Ph.D. must conform to national standards for all art history doctoral degrees. These will be reviewed for the student by his or her Major Professor.

Final Oral Examination

In the semester that the student expects to complete his or her dissertation and thus the doctoral degree, she/he should contact each committee member and confirm a date and time for the doctoral oral defense. Notification of the date, time and place for the final oral must reach the Graduate School from the Graduate Coordinator two weeks prior to the examination date. All members of the Advisory Committee must be present at the Final Oral Defense.

The Final Oral Defense is chaired by the Committee Chair, not the Major Professor. The candidate will present a summary of his/her research and original contributions. Each member of the Advisory Committee will pose questions related to the dissertation or to topics that the dissertation anticipates, even it is does not address them directly. The Final Oral Defense is, as the name implies, the point at which the final decision about the dissertation—whether or not it is acceptable and, therefore, whether or not the candidate receives a doctoral degree—is made by the Advisory Committee. The defense is open to the public.

The Committee Chair will report the results of the Final Oral Defense to the Graduate Coordinator for forwarding to the Graduate School by the deadline (see grad school website for deadline).


An Application for Graduation must be filed with the Graduate School (Terrell Hall, 210 S. Jackson Street) no later than Friday of the first full week of classes of your final semester (see Graduate School website for deadlines). This is done on ATHENA.

To ensure a smooth graduation, several things must take place in a timely fashion:

1.No later than four prior to (see for exact deadline), a complete formatted copy of the dissertation must be electronically submitted to the Graduate School for a format check.

2.Approximately two weeks prior to the graduation ceremony (see Graduate School website for each semester’s deadlines), the Graduate School must receive the Approval Form for Doctoral Dissertation and Final Oral Examination and an submission of the corrected dissertation.This official electronic copy of the dissertation will then be submitted by the Graduate School for approval.

Two hard, bound copies of the dissertation must be submitted as follows: one copy to the Graduate Coordinator and one copy to the Major Professor. A copy of the order form (obtained at the Tate Student Center) for the bound copies must be on file in the LDSOA Graduate Office before any final paperwork will be submitted to the Graduate School.

All remaining course requirements (including incompletes) for the degree must be completed and reported to the Graduate School no later than one week prior to graduation. A student must enroll for a minimum of three hours of credit the semester in which graduation requirements are completed.

Please note: Once a student has been admitted to candidacy, she/he must enroll for at least two additional semesters and a total minimum of 10 hours of dissertation or other appropriate credit in order to graduate. The student must enroll for a minimum of 3 hours of credit in any semester when using university facilities and/or staff time. Furthermore, the student must be enrolled in at least 3 hours of ARTS 9300 during the semester in which degree requirements are completed and the student is awarded a doctoral degree.

Important Practical Information: Communication

Students in the Art History Ph.D. program at the University of Georgia have requirements and responsibilities that originate from the University, from the Graduate School, from the Lamar Dodd School of Art, and from the Art History Area. Please note that changes are occasionally made to the degree requirements and scheduling, which may significantly impact your program of study. Any such changes will automatically become part of your required program of study.

It is the student's responsibility to study the Graduate Bulletin, the School of Art brochure, and the School’s website ( ) and to meet all requirements for his/her degree, including the Art School requirements listed below, and to observe all appropriate deadlines as his/her graduate program progresses.

Deadline dates and other pertinent information are posted regularly on the Graduate School website ( Please review frequently. Also, each graduate student is assigned a mailbox where all mail and notices will be placed for your convenience. Check your mailbox often for important announcements. Each student is required to have a UGA MYID email address. The Graduate Coordinator and the area chair for art history should be provided with this address immediately. Students are expected to check it daily for pertinent information from the Graduate Program, the School, and the Area.

All graduate students are required to be active members and participants in the Association of Graduate Art Students (AGAS). All graduate students are required to attend all AGAS lectures and are strongly encouraged to attend all other relevant lectures offered by the Lamar Dodd School of Art. The officers of AGAS should be prepared to represent the graduate students when called upon to do so by the School.

Keep the Graduate Coordinator’s Office updated on changes of address, phone number, and email each semester.