Graduate Program

Posted on
Congratulations to our Graduate Students!

Congratulations to our Graduate Students!

The Department of the History of Art at the University of California, Riverside, offers MA and Ph.D. degrees, with an emphasis on the history of art and architecture from the early modern period to the present.

The program offers interdisciplinary training across the history of art and architecture from the Middle Ages to the present, with a strong focus on the history of photography, sculpture and architecture.  It concentrates on areas of cross-cultural exchange, cross-disciplinary discourse, and significant internal developments in the early modern and Renaissance period to the present in Asia, Europe and the Americas.

The curriculum is divided into three broad areas of study: pre-modern, early-modern, and modern/contemporary. Students are expected to take courses in a range of historical periods and cultural traditions within and outside their area of specialization. The program supports interdisciplinary study within the department and in conjunction with other departments, including Comparative Literature, English, Dance, History, Anthropology, Media and Cultural Studies, and Religious Studies.

The program draws on the resources of the University of California system and the many arts institutions in the Los Angeles area. It has excellent relationships with the major museums in the Los Angeles region, and is closely affiliated with the UCR/California Museum of Photography, which houses important collections of photographs, stereographs, photographic equipment, and digital projects. Collectively, the museums in the Los Angeles area provide comprehensive coverage of the arts from antiquity to the present in all parts of the world. Likewise, for a century the region has been a center for innovation in architectural design, and many landmarks of twentieth-century architecture can be found within an hour of campus. Los Angeles and the surrounding area fosters the work of many established and emerging practitioners of the arts.

The MA Program

The MA in art history prepares students for certain careers in museums, teaching, and other fields as well as for further study at the PhD level.

The MA is designed to be accomplished within two years of full-time study; students are strongly encouraged to finish by the end of the sixth quarter of study. Students spend the first year in coursework, taking seminars and lecture courses to become acquainted with a broad range of art historical methods and approaches. MA students are also encouraged to pursue internships and research opportunities at local museums and art organizations, for which they may earn a limited number of course units. In the second year, each student works closely with a faculty advisor to prepare an MA thesis of approximately 60-80 pages. The thesis allows the student to integrate art historical and theoretical/methodological studies into a sustained independent research project. While students work primarily with faculty in the History of Art, they may also take courses and work with faculty in related disciplines such as Anthropology, Comparative Literature, History, and Media and Cultural Studies, depending on the focus of their research.

The PhD Program

The PhD program is designed to be small and dynamic, with a great deal of flexibility and individual attention from the faculty. The program prepares students for positions in academia as well as other careers in the arts, such as curating and other work in museums, galleries, auction houses, and more. The department accordingly encourages internships and other practical experience outside the university as part of the training for a much broader range of professions than is offered by most programs. This is supported by teaching in the on-campus and regional collections, and by close departmental ties with the many arts institutions in Los Angeles and beyond.

Applicants may apply to the program after completing a BA or an MA in art history or a related discipline. Students entering the program with a BA take two years of coursework. The first year is devoted to seminars. In the second year, students focus on developing a field of expertise and preparing written field reviews. These serve as the basis for the more focused dissertation prospectus: a detailed plan for the dissertation presented to the department in the beginning of the third year. With the department’s acceptance of the prospectus, the student advances to candidacy, and prepares the dissertation on campus or in absentia.

Students entering the program with an MA in Art History generally advance to candidacy more quickly than those entering without an MA. This varies by student, as each transcript is examined by the graduate advisor, who may require additional coursework to make up for deficiencies. However, it is generally expected that students entering with an MA will take some coursework in the first year while also preparing the field reviews. The prospectus is thus presented to the department in the beginning of the second year.

Graduate Student Handbook

For a thorough overview of our Graduate Art History Program, please feel free to review our Graduate Student Handbook.

Tours for prospective graduate students

We would like to invite you to visit our campus and learn more about our Graduate Art History program.

If you are interested in visiting us, or simply have questions about the program, please email