USC School of Architecture Expo 2015


Our curriculum provides a training in a broad range of materials and approaches to art history. To this end, students take courses not only in their area of specialization but also within the larger field of art history and in related disciplines.  Graduate students tailor their course of study in close consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies and their major and minor field advisors.

How to apply to the Ph.D. program in Art History at USC

Graduate admissions standards are competitive and based on evidence of an outstanding record in art history. USC requires that Ph.D. students be admitted to both the USC Graduate School and the Dornsife Department of Art History.

Applicants should review the Frequently Asked Questions page of the Graduate Admission website, found here. International students should also consult the Frequently Asked Questions web page for International Students, found here.

For more specific information about the Art History graduate program, please contact the Art History office at or (213) 740-4552.

Click here to apply – USC Graduate Admissions Portal

  • Please adhere to the application deadlines to ensure that your application is evaluated.  All portions of the application (including recommendation letters, transcripts, etc.) should be received by the deadline of December 1 at 8:59 pm, Pacific Standard Time (11:59 pm, Eastern Standard Time).

    The fee to submit the graduate admissions application is non-refundable.

  • If you are eligible for a fee waiver, note that all fee waivers must be submitted and approved by USC Graduate Admissions before an application can be submitted.  Approval can take approximately three to four business days, so you will need to plan accordingly to ensure that you meet the application deadline. See the USC  Graduate Admissions site for the types of fee waivers and video instructions for submission.

  • The USC Graduate Admissions application consists of four sections: Personal Information, Academic History, Supporting Information and Program Materials.

    I. Personal information

    II. Academic History

      • Colleges Attended
      • GPA
      • Transcripts
      • Standardized tests
        • GRE is not required
        • TOEFL may be required for English proficiency

    III. Supporting Information

      • Experience
      • Achievements
      • CV/Resume

    IV. Program Materials

      • 3 Letters of Recommendation
      • Writing Sample
      • Personal Statement
      • Supplemental Questions
  • Graduate applicants must submit official transcripts from all colleges, universities, and other post-secondary institutions previously attended.

    To ensure that your transcripts are properly submitted and meet USC admission review criteria, please carefully read the information below.


    Official Transcript Guidelines

    Transcripts and other academic records must be issued directly by the registrar’s office of your previous school(s) and bear the official registrar’s stamp/signature. Unofficial records such as student portal printouts are not acceptable for the purposes of admission review.


    Submitting Transcripts

    Transcripts can be submitted via one of the following three options:

    1) If you already have official transcripts on hand, you may scan and upload them directly to the “Academic History” section of the online application. Do not upload unofficial student portal printouts.  This is the preferred method of the USC Dornsife Department of Art History PhD Program.

    2) Official hard-copy transcripts can be sent via postal mail or courier to USC.

    If sending your transcripts via regular mail, please use the following address:

    University of Southern California
    USC Office of Graduate Admission
    3601 South Flower Street, Room 112
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

    If sending your transcripts via courier, please use the following address:

    University of Southern California
    USC Office of Graduate Admission and Financial Aid
    3601 South Flower Street, Tyler 112
    Los Angeles, CA 90089-0915

    3) Official e-transcripts can be transmitted directly to USC by your previous institution(s).

    • The transcript must originate from a secure site formally linked to the sending institution.
    • Please instruct the vendor to email the transcripts to  E-transcripts sent to any other address will not be downloaded, which will delay the review of your file and require you to pay for a new e-transcript to be sent.

    Important: If you are submitting transcripts via options 2 or 3, please do not send them until after you have submitted your online application and received your 10-digit USC ID number.


  • Applicants who completed their previous studies outside the United States must check our country-specific requirements to determine if we need original-language copies of their academic records.

    In these cases, we need: A) transcripts issued in the original language of instruction, and B) a separate, word-for-word, English-language translation of all records. The translation should be issued either directly from the school itself or by a professional, certified translator. It must contain all information shown on the original-language documents and “mirror” it as precisely as possible. Dual-language transcripts are also acceptable.

    USC does not accept credential evaluation reports from outside agencies (e.g., WES, ECE, etc.) for the purposes of admission review. Only academic records issued directly by the school are acceptable.

    • GRE test scores are not required.
    • TOEFL may be required to evaluate English proficiency.
      •  TOEFL scores are considered valid only if earned within two years of your intended *first term at USC.

    *The first term for those admitted into the USC PhD program in Art History is the fall semester of the upcoming academic year.

    Information regarding English proficiency examinations and waivers can be found on the USC Graduate Admission website.

    Only scores received electronically from the testing service are considered official. USC’s ETS school code is 4852. No department code is required.  Applicants sending any tests administered by ETS should use this code to ensure that USC receives your official test results.


    • Experience – List any experiences related to the field of art history, beginning with the most recent, in the following categories:
      • Employment
      • Extracurricular
      • Internship
      • Leadership
      • Research
      • Teaching
    • Achievements – List any achievements related to the field of art history, beginning with your most recent, in the following categories:
      • Awards
      • Honors
      • Presentations
      • Publications.  Please list with exact titles, co-authors, dates, and publication data.
      • Scholarships
      • Conferences Attended
      • Memberships (professional)
    • Documents
      • CV/Resume – Please submit your most recent resume or curriculum vitae, with date of last revision.
    • Letters of recommendation
      • Three letters of recommendation must be submitted online by the recommenders to graduate admissions.  Be sure that all letters are uploaded by December 1st.
    • Additional documents:
      • Writing sample of your single best work. Please submit approximately 20 to 25 written pages of a research paper (please submit images in addition to the written pages) or a portion of an MA thesis (with précis of omitted sections, as needed).  Other acceptable papers include undergraduate essays, seminar papers, and published work. There is a limit of 5mb per upload.
      • Personal Statement. The personal statement should describe your past academic experience, future academic goals, and your interest in the USC Dornsife Department of Art History and should be one to three pages in length.
    • Supplemental Questions
      • Your research interests
      • Languages
      • Personal Experience with or Commitment to Diversity
  • USC is home to over 27,000 top-caliber graduate and professional students —more than half the entire USC student population— who represent all 50 states and 135 countries around the world. We are proud to host one of the largest numbers of international students in the United States. We offer over 400 highly regarded graduate and professional programs in our liberal arts college and 20 professional schools. We encourage you to review our website to learn more about the graduate student experience at USC and to discover which of our academic programs is best suited for your interests.

    USC Graduate Admissions Portal

  • Every matriculated student is funded for a minimum of five years of study through a combination of fellowships and graduate assistantships, contingent on satisfactory progress toward degree.

    Please note that there is no separate application necessary for either fellowship consideration or assistantship consideration.

  • USC Dornsife Department of Art History does not accept applicants for a terminal Master of Arts degree in art history, although students may be eligible for the MA if they do not complete the doctoral program.

    Check out the USC Graduate Admissions FAQ page