Ph.D. Program

Students discussing art in museum

We offer graduate courses in European, American, East Asian, and African art. Students may pursue graduate degrees in European and American Art/Global Modern and Contemporary Art or East Asian Art. Students who are interested in pursuing graduate degrees that emphasize international and/or transnational modern and contemporary art should follow the European and American/Global Modern and Contemporary track. 

The Ph.D. is intended for students who hold the M.A. degree in art history.


In consultation with their faculty advisor and comprehensive exam committee, Ph.D. students develop a program of study composed of eighteen to twenty-one post-M.A. credit hours focusing on one major and two minor areas of study. Students are also required to demonstrate knowledge of at least one foreign language sufficient to meet the demands of their research prior to taking the comprehensive examination.

Upon completion of their coursework, students take both written and oral comprehensive examinations that cover their one major and two minor areas of study. Following the passing of the exams, students prepare a dissertation proposal and begin work on the dissertation.

For fall semester admission, all application materials must be received by January 5

For spring semester admission, all application materials must be received by October 1

  1. A completed graduate application

  2. Three letters of recommendation (preferably from art history professors). The application system will send your recommenders an email containing the instructions for submitting their letters once you have entered their contact information. 

  3. A chronological list of art history courses completed that includes (1) the number of credit hours, (2) the instructor's name, and (3) the grade received. Applicants typically have completed no fewer than 18 credit hours of art history coursework.

  4. Resumé or curriculum vitae

  5. A statement of personal and educational interests and career objectives. We appreciate this opportunity to learn more about you. Feel free to discuss any personal, educational, economic, cultural, and/or social experiences that have helped shape you as a candidate. Please address how the graduate program/faculty in Art History at KU would help you to achieve your goals. Do not exceed 750 words. 

  6. A writing sample, preferably from an art history course that you feel best represents your research, writing, and critical thinking skills. Your text (not including the bibliography, endnotes, and images) should be between 10-20 pages.

  7. Official transcripts, or copies of official transcripts, from all post-secondary institutions

To be considered for admission, an applicant must hold a bachelor's degree. The Office of Graduate Studies requires applicants, international or domestic, whose native language is not English to demonstrate English proficiency. Please review Graduate Admissions' English proficiency requirements for additional information.

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Ready to apply? Start the application process or request additional information about the Ph.D. program.

Graduate Program Contacts