Home Graduate Changes to the Program, Fall 2012

Changes to the Program, Fall 2012

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

  • The dissertation proposal will be presented in a closed-door meeting to the dissertation committee no later than twelve weeks after successful completion of the comprehensive exam, or in the first weeks of the Fall semester in the case of a summer break. Students will circulate the proposal in advance of the meeting, and the meeting will be an in-depth discussion of the written proposal with no oral presentation component.
  • The committee must consist of three members of the department and may also include the outside reader, at the adviser’s discretion. Upon consultation with the adviser, the student may wish to invite other faculty members from within or outside the Department to participate in the meeting. Approval of the dissertation proposal shall be decided by the committee.
  • Recognizing the value of general departmental involvement by both faculty and students in the dissertation process, the department will schedule a “work in progress workshop” once a semester to give students the opportunity to present and receive feedback on their ongoing dissertation research.
  • The transition period to the new procedure will be the spring 2016 semester, during which proposing students can choose either the new procedure or the dissertation proposal workshop venue of the past. Thereafter, the new procedure will apply to all.

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 Us

Voorhees Hall
71 Hamilton Street
New Brunswick, NJ, 08901


P  848-932-7041

F 732-932-1261
departmental email