The general outlines of the Ph.D. degree in the Department of Art History and Archaeology adhere to the requirements of the Graduate School, as found in the 2009-2012 Graduate Bulletin (p. 17): “To earn a Ph.D. at Washington University, a student must complete 72 semester hours, maintain satisfactory academic progress, pass certain examinations, fulfill residence and teaching requirements, and write, defend, and submit a dissertation.” For the Graduate School’s guidelines for doctoral dissertations, click here.
We offer admission to an M.A./Ph.D. track in which a rigorous evaluation in the second year determines formal admission to Ph.D. candidacy. Students completing an M.A. degree at another university may apply directly to our Ph.D. program. We also, on occasion, accept applications for a terminal M.A. degree. If you are not certain about which of these options is right for you, please consult Professor John Klein, the Director of Graduate Studies email@example.com.
Students on the M.A./Ph.D. track in the Department of Art History and Archaeology complete an M.A. degree as the first 30 credit hours of the 72 credit hours earned at Washington University. Students with an M.A. degree in art history or classical archaeology from another university may apply to have 24 credit hours accepted toward the Ph.D. requirements, per Washington University Graduate School regulations. Such students should normally have written an M.A. thesis that would be the equivalent of an M.A. thesis written in the Department of Art History and Archaeology.
The following describes the Department’s expectations for fulfilling Ph.D. requirements at Washington University.
The Department of Art History and Archaeology defines a full-time course load as 9 hours per semester. This is less than the 12 hours required by some Humanities departments, but the intensive reading and writing components of our seminars necessitates this smaller load. The smaller course load implies the deep and intensive study that gives our students their professional advantage. Students are generally expected to take at least two seminars per semester in their first three semesters. If necessary, graduate students may enroll in graduate foreign language courses for an additional 3 credit hours in any given semester, with the consent of their advisor. Students in the 4th semester of the M.A./Ph.D. track are strongly encouraged to take a 3-credit hour course in addition to the credits needed to finish the M.A. degree requirements. These 3 credit hours will count toward Ph.D. course requirements.
Research papers during first two years
M.A. students are required to write at least four substantial research papers in the first two semesters, generally in seminars taken with at least two faculty members in the Department.
Students should give two papers to the department administrator to be placed in their confidential file before February 1 of their first year. Having papers in students' files gives the faculty more material to evaluate their capabilities when conducting the annual review of continuing students in late February to early March.
In general, at the M.A. level, students beginning graduate study at Washington University are expected to arrive with appropriate proficiency in one language. We require students in western art to demonstrate reading proficiency in one modern foreign language (French, German, Italian or Spanish). Students in Asian art or archaeology must demonstrate reading proficiency in one modern Asian language. Students in Classical art or archaeology are required to demonstrate reading knowledge of either Ancient Greek or Latin in addition to one modern language, to be determined in consultation with the student’s advisor.
There are two ways to demonstrate this proficiency: 1) by passing a departmental examination verifying that students can use at least one relevant language in research. The department schedules these language exams early in the fall semester. If needed, the student may arrange a retest later during the first semester or early in their second semester; 2) by completing a "reading knowledge" course with a grade of B+ or better. Any student embarking on this path should remember that a 9-hour course load in our department plus a 3-hour language course constitutes a very demanding schedule. Alternatively, students may take summer language courses, but such courses may be at their own expense.
All Ph.D. candidates in western art are required to demonstrate proficiency in two modern foreign languages by the end of their first year in the Ph.D. program (normally, the 6th semester of graduate study). These languages will be determined in consultation with the student’s Major Advisor.
For Ph.D. students in Asian and Classical art or archaeology, language requirements in addition to the M.A.-level requirements will be determined in consultation with the Major Advisor.
Review of our M.A. students for Ph.D. candidacy
The following steps constitute our 2nd-year review procedure for students who are completing the M.A. degree in the Department and are applying to continue in the Ph.D. program:
1. Prior to completion of the M.A. degree, candidates will have fulfilled the M.A. foreign language proficiency requirement, and will have submitted for their confidential file four seminar papers completed for at least two different faculty members.
2. By December 15 of the 2nd M.A. year, candidates will submit a formal letter requesting admission to the Ph.D. program. The letter will include a statement of the candidate’s proposed areas of study and the faculty member/s who will act as mentors and a potential Dissertation Advisor. Candidates should request at least 2 letters of recommendation from tenure-stream faculty members in the Department in support of the application. Tenure-stream faculty members from outside the Department may be asked to provide additional letters.
3. Early in the following semester, tenure-stream faculty in the Department will vote on the candidate’s application for admission to the Ph.D. program.
4. Admission to Ph.D. candidacy is contingent upon the successful completion of the M.A. degree, including the M.A. thesis. The thesis will be read by three faculty members and judged as evidence of the candidate’s ability to conduct Ph.D.-level work and promise to complete the Ph.D. degree successfully.
New guidelines for graduate curriculum, major and minor areas, the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam, and the Dissertation Prospectus
These new guidelines apply to students entering in Fall 2009 and later. Students who entered the program before Fall 2009 may choose to follow either these new guidelines or the old guidelines, but must follow either set fully. Old program guidelines and requirements are available from the Director of Graduate Studies on request.
New required courses and program requirements
1. L01.510, Graduate Seminar: Methods in Art History. 3 credit hours. Offered first in Fall 2010. Initial frequency will be biannual, to be taken by all first-year and second-year graduate students at the time of offering. New Ph.D. students may be exempt if they have had a comparable course in another graduate program.
2. L01.650, Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Preparation. 6 credit hours, normally taken all at once, in the 8th semester.
3. L01.670, Dissertation Prospectus. 3 credit hours, normally taken at the same time as L01.650.
Upon completion of 57 credit hours, including 6 hours of Master’s Research Instruction (L01.590), Ph.D. students in the Department of Art History and Archaeology will take 6 hours of Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Preparation (L01.650), and 3 hours of Dissertation Prospectus (L01.670). In conjunction with these new courses the student will then:
- Present and successfully defend the dissertation prospectus before the faculty of the Department
- Be examined in one major area
- Be examined in one minor area (with exemption option specified below)
These three elements constitute the Department’s Ph.D. Comprehensive Requirements. They will usually be fulfilled no later than the end of the 8th semester of graduate study at Washington University (or no later than the 9th semester of graduate study for our Ph.D. students who received the M.A. degree elsewhere; see example schedules below).
In addition, every student is required by the Graduate School to complete the Ph.D. Title, Scope and Procedure Form, with the signatures of the three members of the student’s Research Advisory Committee (the form is available at the Graduate School website). The TSP form should be submitted to the Graduate School as soon as possible once the student determines a dissertation topic and a Research Advisory Committee.
Only upon completion of these Department and Graduate School requirements will a student be considered as ABD. New standards imposed by the Dean of the Graduate School mean that financial support from the Graduate School will not be guaranteed if a student is not ABD by the beginning of the 9th semester at Washington University (or in the course of the 5th semester at Washington University for our Ph.D. students who received the M.A. degree elsewhere). Students are advised that faculty members are not obligated to provide graduate-level advising over the summer months.
The Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam is intended to test a student’s general knowledge as well as mastery of her or his area or areas of specialization. To this end, exams are tailored to the individual student, and can be both general and highly specific. Usually a student will have an approved dissertation topic before, or at about the same time as, taking the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam. As a general rule, students are advised not to devote more than one semester to studying for the exam.
Students will complete a Department form to declare major and minor areas (or in the case of an exempted minor area, by which courses, with the grade record). The form should be signed by the Major Advisor, the Second Advisor, the Minor Advisor and the Director of Graduate Studies, and placed in the student’s confidential Department file no later than the beginning of the 7th semester. This form may be updated as necessary.
In following any of the models outlined below, a student will be examined by a Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Committee of three faculty members. The Major Advisor must be a tenure-stream faculty member from within the Department. Either (but not both) the Second Advisor in the major (see Major Area and exam below) or the Minor Advisor may be a tenure-stream Arts and Sciences faculty member from outside the Department.
Two formats for the Comprehensive Exam: written or oral
In agreement with the Major Advisor (who will normally be the Dissertation Advisor), each student will follow one of two formats for the Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam:
1. A written exam to be followed within 2 weeks by an oral defense; or
2. An oral exam to be followed by a 2-week written paper in the major area
If the written format is chosen, the major (6 hours) and minor (3 hours) exams will be held in the Department within a one-week period. The oral defense of the exams will also be held in the Department. The Major Advisor, the Second Advisor and the Minor Advisor will participate in the defense.
If the major and minor exams are oral, they will take place in the Department and they must be held at the same time. The Major Advisor, the Second Advisor and the Minor Advisor will participate. The 2-week paper may be written anywhere. The 2-week paper will be assessed by all three members of this Comprehensive Exam Committee.
The dissertation prospectus defense may be scheduled at a different time that semester.
Major area and exam
The major area will be intellectually ambitious and broad in scope, and will be defined in such a way as to ensure solid preparation for a wide array of teaching demands at the college and university level. Approved areas will be posted on the Department website, but other major areas may be defined in consultation with both the Director of Graduate Studies and the Major Advisor. In consultation with the Major Advisor, the student will invite one additional faculty member to serve as a Second Advisor to the major area exam. This Second Advisor may (but is not required to) participate in establishing the parameters and expectations for study of the major area. The Second Advisor must read the student’s written responses and participate in the oral defense; or in the case of an oral comprehensive exam, the Second Advisor must participate. It is up to the Major Advisor and the Second Advisor to clearly define their roles and responsibilities for advising the student, and to communicate to the student all expectations during the period of preparation for the exam.
The major area will be tested either by a written exam over a six-hour period followed by an oral defense of the exam, or orally in an exam that may last up to two hours.
If the student chooses the oral exam in the major, this will be followed by a 2-week research paper on a topic assigned by the Major Advisor. During the two weeks, the student has full access to all notes and research materials and to any library and online resources. The purpose of the 2-week paper is to demonstrate a high level of both writing and research skills on a focused topic in the major area.
Minor area and exam; or exemption through appropriate related coursework
The minor area should be broad enough and sufficiently separate from the major area to constitute a distinct second teaching field when the student completes the degree program. Students are encouraged to determine a minor area at a significant chronological, geographic and/or theoretical remove from the broader area defined as the major area. The minor area will be determined in consultation with the Minor Advisor and must also be approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.
The minor area exam may be completed by one of the two exam models as above in the major—written exam (three hours) followed by oral defense; or oral exam (one hour) at the same time as the oral exam in the major (but there will be no written paper following an oral exam in the minor). The same exam model will be followed for both major and minor areas.
Alternatively, a student may request to exempt a minor area exam by completing three courses with a grade of A in each (at most one may be A-). When exempting a minor area exam in this way, the courses may be taken with more than one faculty member, but a single Minor Advisor should agree to review the request for exemption, and to assess whether or not the group of three courses constitutes a coherent and significant area of intellectual inquiry. A student whose request for exemption is accepted must also write a one-week essay on a topic in the minor area, in response to a question set by the Minor Advisor. During that week, the student has full access to his or her notes and to any library and online resources. The goal of this minor area qualifying essay will be to demonstrate a command of the field sufficient for teaching a college-level course. Students are encouraged to complete both the request to exempt the minor area and the minor area qualifying essay by the end of the semester following the third course taken to fulfill this exemption option.
The dissertation prospectus should be about 8-10 pages of text (2500-3000 words), plus notes and a short scholarly bibliography. The prospectus should typically include a state-of-the-field section; a statement of and justification of the proposed dissertation topic; and a preliminary research plan. In conjunction with the preparation of the prospectus the student should form a three-member Research Advisory Committee consisting of the Dissertation Advisor, who must be a tenure-stream faculty member of the Department, and two other tenure-stream faculty members. The three members of the Research Advisory Committee will normally be the signatories on the Ph.D. Title, Scope and Procedure form. If appropriate to the student’s research area, one of the Research Advisory Committee members may be a tenure-stream faculty member from another department or program in Arts and Sciences.
During the semester of enrollment in the Dissertation Prospectus course, each student will establish a schedule to turn in a draft prospectus, including state-of-the-field essay, statement of topic and bibliography, to the Dissertation Advisor. During that semester, the student will also defend the complete draft of the Dissertation Prospectus in a closed session to which only tenure-stream faculty members of the Department and any outside member of the Research Advisory Committee (if any) will be invited (at least four tenure-stream Department faculty members must be present at this defense). The three members of the Research Advisory Committee will be present at the defense, and all faculty members present will vote on the acceptability of the prospectus. A “pass” on the prospectus by majority vote means that it is accepted provisionally, subject to revisions that may be required by the Committee following the defense; the Dissertation Advisor will ensure that such revisions are carried out. In case of a failure on the defense, either by majority or tie vote, the entire Research Advisory Committee will be charged with evaluating a revised prospectus. A copy of the accepted Dissertation Prospectus will be placed in the student’s confidential file.
All parts of this comprehensive exam—the major exam, the minor exam (or its exemption by appropriate courses) and the defense of a dissertation prospectus should, as stated above, be completed by the end of the 8th semester for a student in the Ph.D. program (or the end of the 9th semester for a student who enters the Ph.D. program with the M.A. degree from another university). This matches the Graduate School’s requirement for 5th-year funding that a student be ABD (except for dissertation research credits needed to reach the minimum total of 72 credits).
Schedule for M.A./Ph.D. students
A sample schedule for an M.A./Ph.D. student under this new system might look like this (graduate courses usually comprise 3 credit hours; therefore, 3 courses generally equals 9 credit hours):
Fall: 9 credits, including L01.510, Graduate Seminar: Methods in Art History
Spring: 9 credits
Fall: 9 credits, including 3 credits of L01.590, Master’s Research Instruction, to
begin M.A .thesis; also includes L01.510 if not taken in the first year
Spring: 3 more credits of L01.590 (to complete M.A. thesis). Strongly recommended
for all Ph.D.-track students: an additional 3-credit subject course this
semester. All students should register for the appropriate number of hours of
Masters Continuing Student Status to maintain full-time status.
Fall: 9 credits
Spring: 9 credits
Fall: 9 credits (or, possibly, 6 credits of general coursework if an extra course
was taken in Spring of Year 2; in that case, register for 3 credits of L01.650,
Comprehensive Exam Preparation)
Begin preliminary preparation for Comprehensive Exam
Coursework now completed with 57-60 credits
Spring: 9 credits (6 credits L01.650, 3 credits L01.670, Dissertation Prospectus)
Comprehensive Exam taken and Dissertation Prospectus submitted and
defended this semester
Fall: Start as ABD
3 or 6 credits of Dissertation Research (L01.690) to get to 72 credits,
fulfilling Ph.D. credit requirements
Begin to apply for external grants for dissertation research
Spring: Continuing doctoral student status
Year 6: External grant year or support from a Dissertation Fellowship from the Graduate School
Continue to apply for external grants
The new course L01.510, Graduate Seminar, will be graded with a letter grade. The new courses L01.650, Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Preparation, and L01.670, Dissertation Prospectus, will be graded Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory. In the case of an Unsatisfactory grade in Ph.D. Comprehensive Exam Preparation or Dissertation Prospectus, the student may, with the consent of the Major Advisor, repeat the course or courses the following semester, but with no guarantee of funding in that semester, since this will be deemed to be unsatisfactory progress and performance.
Students in the Ph.D. program with an M.A. degree from another university
In the case of students who are admitted to the Ph.D. program with an accepted M.A. degree from another university in hand, only 24 credits transfer in, so they will possibly need to take more time than our own M.A. students to arrive at the requirement of 57 credits of general coursework because they would begin their 3rd year (i.e., their first post-M.A. year) with 24, not 30, credits. This does not affect the Graduate School’s willingness to fund such students if they take slightly longer to complete Ph.D. course requirements than students who have received the M.A. here, assuming they are otherwise making timely and satisfactory progress, because students who arrive with the M.A. degree from elsewhere are still eligible for at least five years of support from Washington University.
The typical schedule for a student coming to Washington University with the M.A. degree:
Years 1 and 2 elsewhere; 24 credits transfer to WU
Fall: 9 credits
Spring: 9 credits
Fall: 9 credits
Spring: 9 credits (6 credits of general coursework, plus 3 credits of L01.650,
Comprehensive Exam Preparation)
Coursework now completed with 57 credits
Fall: 9 credits (3 credits L01.650, Comprehensive Exam Preparation; 3 credits
L01.670, Dissertation Prospectus; 3 credits of L01.690, Dissertation
Comprehensive Exam taken and Dissertation Prospectus submitted and
defended this semester
Spring: Start as ABD
6 credits of L01.690, Dissertation Research to reach 72 credits (may take up
to a maximum 12 credits of L01.690)
Year 6: Dissertation Fellowship
Begin to apply for outside grants for dissertation research