Jun 25, 2024  
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 
USC Catalogue 2022-2023 [ARCHIVED CATALOGUE]

Art History (PhD)

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Application deadline: December 1.

The doctor of philosophy in the Art History program normally requires at least three years of course work and two years of dissertation research. Applicants may be admitted directly into the program after receiving the BA Other applicants may already hold an MA in art history or the equivalent from USC or another ​accredited school.

Every student will be subject to departmental screening procedures, which involve periodic review by the art history graduate committee. The committee may recommend at any time, after a written warning, based on a student’s grades, evaluation of instructors or rate of progress toward the degree, that a student be dropped from the program. Such recommendations will become effective at the end of the semester during which the recommendation is made.

Course Requirements

Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy units total 60. Up to 32 master of arts units from USC or 16 from other institutions may be transferred with approval of the faculty. Transfer work applicable to the PhD program must have been completed within 10 years of the date of application. AHIS 500 , or equivalent, is required of all graduate students. Four units are for work on the ​dissertation. (Two units of dissertation credit each semester — including summer — for a minimum registration period of two semesters.)

Foreign Language Requirements

All candidates must pass reading proficiency examinations in a minimum of two languages, normally French and German or the requisite languages in Asian art. Substitutions and/or additions may be made with faculty recommendation and approval of the chair of the Art History Department when appropriate to the student’s program. Additional foreign language beyond the minimum may be required depending on the student’s program of study. All language requirements must be completed prior to taking the qualifying exam.

Screening Examinations

Passing the following procedures are prerequisite to continuation in the doctoral program, as stated in the departmental graduate guidelines. Before the student has completed 24 units, the first-year examination must be passed. Before the student has completed 48 units, the second-year review must be passed.

Qualifying Examination

At the end of the second year, the student will nominate a five-member qualifying exam committee for the qualifying examination that includes one member from outside the Department of Art History. The student is expected to pass the qualifying examination in a major field and satisfy the requirements for the minor and outside fields by the end of the third year. Forms for permission to take the qualifying examination must be submitted at least 60 days before the date of the scheduled examination. The written portion of the examination will be followed by an oral examination. The oral examination will be given to discuss in greater depth the student’s knowledge of the dissertation proposal; the oral lasts approximately two hours. After passing the qualifying examination, the student will be admitted to candidacy for the PhD.


Following the completion of the qualifying exam, the qualifying exam committee will be reduced to three members, including one member from outside the department, who will guide and finally approve the dissertation.

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