Ph.D. Program in Art History at the University of Southern California

USC's department of Art History offers its doctoral degree in a wide range of fields of Western and Asian art history, from ancient to contemporary.  It is designed to prepare students for university teaching, research, and curatorial careers.  We are exceptionally proud of the innovative and important research that our current and recent students produce, which in the last three years alone (2009-2012) has resulted in over 60 published articles, approximately 100 national and international conference presentations, and over 50 external grant awards. 

The Ph.D. program in art history at USC draws its strength from a dynamic and productive faculty in the fields of American, European, British, Mediterranean, Latin American, and Asian art.  Studying objects in their complex physical, cultural and intellectual contexts, our program is committed to a historically situated, materially engaged, and theoretically nuanced approach to art history and visual culture.  Faculty research interests coalesce around issues such as the roles of objects in shaping and redefining cultural boundaries; the institutional settings and politics of art; the intersections of architectural space, design and ritual; the viewer’s role in representation and perception; relationships across categories of visual and material culture; art and the environment; visual technologies; the history of collecting and the historiography of art history.  As a department we are committed to a sustained dialogue between contemporary art history and its traditions, new areas of inquiry and of methodology, and to innovative approaches and developments in our field. 

USC's program takes great advantage of our location within the vibrant cultural environment of Los Angeles.  Graduate seminars are regularly held on site or work with collections in area museums including the including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), the Getty Center, the Getty Villa and the USC Fisher Museum of Art among others.    In addition, our faculty and students have forged strong ties to numerous interdisciplinary programs and institutes within and beyond the University including most notably the USC-Huntington Early Modern Studies Institute, the USC Pre-Modern Mediterranean Seminar, the East Asian Studies Center, the Roski School of Fine Art, the Contemporary Workshop, the International Museum Institute, and the Visual Studies Research Institute. Our graduate students also run an annual research symposium which draws participants from across the country and beyond.

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.  We do 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.  Many of our Ph.D. students also enroll in the Visual Studies Graduate Certificate (VSGC) program. 

Students admitted to the PhD in Art History receive a competitive five-year funding package and are encouraged to apply for additional funds from internal and external sources for research and conference travel over the course of their graduate career.  The department is pleased to be able to make available substantial travel funds for graduate research and professional development.  Students in Art History and the VSGC have a spectacular record of achievement which has translated into an outstanding recent placement record in tenure-track, post-doctoral and curatorial positions.