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Welcome to the Rutgers Art History Graduate Program

 Strategically located on the Northeast Corridor between New York City and Philadelphia, Rutgers University’s Art History Department offers both M.A. and Ph.D. students an exceptional combination of an outstanding faculty, rigorous, imaginative scholarship, innovative critical approaches, a spectrum of cross-disciplinary programs, and professional opportunities.  Taking full advantage of the great museums, galleries and academic institutions in the northeast, our students benefit from internships in the New York/New Jersey/Philadelphia area and from a consortium of art history programs that allows our PhD students to register for graduate courses at Columbia University, Fordham University, The Graduate Center at CUNY, the Institute of Fine Arts, The New School, New York University, SUNY at Stony Brook, Princeton University and the University of Pennsylvania.

In addition to a Ph.D. in art history, we offer two different M.A. degrees: one in art history, and the other in Cultural Heritage and Preservation Studies (CHAPS).  For full details about our exciting new CHAPS M.A., see  Both Ph.D. and M.A. students can also pursue a certificate in both Curatorial Studies and CHAPS.  The Curatorial Studies certificate encompasses specialized courses, including one taught by a professional curator, an exhibition seminar taught by a faculty member, and a series of internships at museums in the area.

Funding opportunities include a multi-year excellence fellowship awarded to select PhD candidates; teaching assistantships for advanced students; Mellon Foundation-funded graduate assistantships offered by the Zimmerli Museum; and research assistantships funded by the Norton Dodge Collection of Soviet Non-Conformist Art.  Rutgers has been chosen as one of six departments in the School of Arts and Sciences to compete in a fellowship program sponsored by the Mellon Foundation, which awards summer travel grants, recruiting funds for new students, and dissertation fellowships.  The graduate school offers a small number of predoctoral grants.  Several research institutes and the Expository Writing Program at Rutgers offer funding opportunities for students finishing their dissertations. We are unfortunately unable to fund M.A. students, and strongly encourage those who are interested in pursuing a Ph.D. after earning an M.A. here to apply to other doctoral programs, which will give both depth and breadth to their degrees.   

Our distinguished faculty of eighteen offers an intellectually rigorous and theoretically sophisticated program of study.  Historically, the fields of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture have been particularly strong, and these continue to flourish, with reinforcement from faculty in Greek and Roman, Late Antique, and Medieval art and architecture.  Our faculty also includes specialists in African, Asian and Islamic art and architecture. 

Over the last decade, an already strong program in modernism has been greatly enhanced by several new hires, which have allowed the department to offer a full range of courses in American and European, Contemporary, Latin American, Russian, Soviet and Eastern European art, architecture and visual culture, as well as the History of Photography.  The interdisciplinary research and teaching of the modernist faculty are concentrated in several areas, including gender and women’s studies, visual culture, the history of science and medicine, and the history of photography.  A number of the modernist faculty are particularly interested in the emerging study of comparative modernities.

Many faculty have been actively involved with the vital research institutes and interdisciplinary programs within Rutgers.  The Center for Cultural Analysis sponsors two different working groups organized by the Art History Department--the Developing Room, focused on the history and theory of photography; and another organized around the interdisciplinary field of the Medical Humanities.  Faculty are also deeply involved with the British Studies Center, American Studies, The Department of Latino and Hispanic Caribbean Studies, Italian Studies, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Institute for Research on Women, the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies and the Center for Historical Analysis.

Our doctoral students have been very successful in securing outside funding for their dissertation travel, research, and writing. A selection of the honors recently awarded includes: the two-year Rome Prize at the American Academy in Rome; two different Kress Institutional Fellowships for study at the Hertziana Library in Rome; Fulbright Fellowships to Austria, Estonia, Germany, Italy, and Moscow; the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD); the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art in London, and residential fellowships to the Smithsonian Institution and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  Our students also participate enthusiastically in a wide range of graduate student symposia, as well as international conferences.  The Graduate Student Organization arranges a Distinguished Speakers series each year, complemented by the annual Sydney Jacobs Lecture in American Art and the newly inaugurated Edwin L. Weisl Lecture in Early Modern Art and Architecture.


**Changes to the Graduate Program requirements, which go into effect with the entering class of 2012.  Additional details will be appearing soon on our website.  Note: Students who entered the program earlier have the option of choosing the new formats, described below.**


The Master’s in Art History

Students who need to strengthen their backgrounds in certain areas of the field are encouraged to take undergraduate 300-level courses, registered as a graduate student.

The M.A. exam

The M.A. examination is scheduled twice a year, once in August, and once in March (dates to be announced).  The exam itself will consist of a series of essay questions, chosen from a list of six which the student is given one week before the exam.  The questions are chosen and graded by an M.A. faculty committee. The purpose of this exam is to test students’ abilities to write cogently about works of art and architecture across a variety of fields in a way that incorporates their history, context, and form.

Ph.D. students petition to waive the M.A. exam, when they apply for candidacy to the Ph.D. track of the program, which should be done by January of the second year.

The M.A. essay, for both Master’s and Ph.D. students

 (Note: doctoral students may not schedule either their dissertation proposal presentation or their qualifying exams until the Master’s essay is complete.)

A Master’s Essay is submitted to one faculty advisor and a second reader.  Most successful essays—which should be approximately 25 to 35 pages—are based on a prior seminar paper, which the student, aided by the advice of the appropriate faculty member, refines and expands.  The essay should be completed by the end of the summer after courses are finished.


The Ph.D. Track in Art History

 A minor field:

PhD candidates are strongly encouraged to complete a Minor Field. A student’s major and minor fields should be reasonably distinct from one another, separated by some combination of media, geography, time period or other factors as appropriate.  Definition of the major and minor fields, although proposed by the student, must have the approval of the primary faculty advisor and the Graduate Program Director. Successful passing of the minor field option consists of two classes in the minor field and a written qualifying paper which can be an extension of a seminar paper written for class. Students will be allowed to count one advanced undergraduate course (taken for graduate credit) toward the minor field. The minor-qualifying paper may be the same as the student’s M.A. essay.  If the student submits the M.A. paper as the Minor Option qualifying paper, the rules regarding M.A. papers must be followed.  At the same time the paper is approved for the M.A, the advisor will also approve the paper for the minor field.

There is no minor field option for students pursuing the M.A. degree as their final degree. 

Doctoral students should submit the qualifying paper to the Graduate Program Director and one other art history faculty member for approval (usually the professor who taught the course for which the paper was written). If the paper was written in another department or at another institution, the student must nonetheless submit it to the Graduate Program Director and one Rutgers art history faculty member for review.

Dissertation Proposal and Qualifying Examinations

PhD. Students must complete the Master’s Essay before registering for either their exam preparation or dissertation proposal preparation. NO EXCEPTIONS.

Students without a dissertation topic in their fourth year, or third, if they have been admitted with an M.A., cannot register for dissertation research or their exams, but must register as “Matriculation continued.”

Students, with their faculty advisors and members of their exam committee should plan the date at least six months in advance, in order to ensure that all relevant faculty members are present.  If a faculty advisor anticipates being away during the semester the student plans to take the exam, he or she will be responsible for finding a substitute, or choosing to come into Rutgers on the day of the exam.  All members of the exam committee must be present—unless there is a personal emergency. 

The Dissertation Proposal Workshop

Twice a year—usually in September and April--students and faculty gather to hear the dissertation proposals of those who are at the beginning stages of their research. Students present their work for about fifteen minutes, and then entertain questions from both students and faculty.  Suggestions will be made, and the student is expected to meet with any faculty member who has offered substantive criticism or suggestions.  A fifteen page proposal, with bibliography, is submitted to the faculty and voted upon at the faculty meeting following the workshop.  If accepted, the student is encouraged to begin dissertation research immediately.

The Qualifying Exams:

Starting with the incoming graduate class of 2012, all PhD students will take the oral exam followed by the ten day written paper.

Note: There is no change for students currently enrolled, who will continue to have a choice between the ten day format and the two day format. 

 The oral examination will be approximately two hours in length. After successful completion of this portion, the student begins the written portion, usually beginning on the Friday after the oral examination is completed.  The topic of the paper, which is assigned by the committee, is designed to assist students with formulating concepts and methods for their dissertations. 

The goal of the faculty in making this change is to compel students to consider potential dissertation topics earlier in their graduate educations.

A student who fails a portion of the qualifying exams may take one or both portions again within a year.

The Dissertation Defense:

The dissertation defense should take place on campus. While the outside reader may be present electronically, or, if necessary, have supplied a letter to the student’s advisor, the remaining three faculty members, and the student, must be present.  If a faculty member anticipates being on leave at the time of the defense, he or she should either re-schedule the defense, or arrange for a substitute at the time the defense is scheduled. 

Dissertation defenses will begin with a public presentation open to faculty, students, friends and family. The student will present his or her work for 20-25 minutes, followed by questions and discussion with the audience.  For the second portion, the student will meet with his or her committee for a private discussion.  Students may be asked to make revisions, and a date for completion will be discussed.  It is the student’s responsibility to make sure all relevant materials from the graduate school have been filed properly in order to graduate.

Frick Museum/Institute of Fine Arts and Philadelphia Museum of Art Symposia:

 All advanced Ph.D. students may submit an abstract of 500 words to the faculty by November 15 in order to be considered as a speaker at one of these prestigious symposia. The faculty will vote to select the speakers, giving preference to the students who are close to completing their dissertations.

For assistance with preparing for job interviews, talk, and letters of application, students can consult with the faculty on the Job Placement Committee. The committee members will rotate yearly.

Contact information for current students

Course Listings

Program Information
Requirements for the MA and PhD degrees, Curatorial and Historic Preservation Certificates. For prospective students and current students.

Prospective Students
General information about the degree and certificate programs, how to apply and contact information.

Funding options for incoming students, current students, those working on a dissertation, and job placement.

Current Students
Academic Calendar, Forms, Student Contact List

Housing, CV Workshop, Style Guides

Graduate Art History Journal


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P  848-932-7041

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