Application deadline: January 3

For admission information, please click here.

Our highly selective doctoral program in art history, founded in 1967 and offered in collaboration with the Cleveland Museum of Art, provides unique training for museum and academic careers. The object-grounded approach to the study of art history, based on the encyclopedic collections of the CMA and other area institutions, affords an exceptional opportunity to fuse the varied practices of the discipline pursued within the museum and the academy. Through study rooted in careful examination of the specific properties and idiosyncrasies of art objects, students can contribute concretely to a broader cultural and theoretical academic discourse. Graduate students are trained in both traditional and newer, theoretically-based art historical approaches in classes taught by faculty renowned for their expertise in a diversity of fields, all of whom maintain an object-oriented approach to teaching and research. Many CMA curators and museum educators hold adjunct faculty positions and teach courses for the program. Classes are frequently held at the CMA, where students have access to the permanent collections and a rotating schedule of exhibitions as well as to the Ingalls Library, the third largest art research library in the United States.

The innovative CWRU-CMA doctoral program in art history trains flexible and creative professionals who have the tools to achieve excellence in museum and academic careers. The pace of the program is accelerated; full funding for five years of tuition in addition to a $25,000 yearly stipend enables our doctoral students to work full time on their degrees, with the goal of finishing in five to six years. Many aspects of the current curriculum were developed through a generous grant given jointly to CWRU and the CMA in 2013 by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as part of a program to further collaborations between art history graduate programs and art museums.


Outline of the Program:

Years One and Two: The doctoral program begins with two foundation courses that reflect the program’s commitment to rigorous art historical training, encompassing both study of individual works of art and theoretically-informed analysis. The curriculum includes collection-based seminars devoted to planning and researching an exhibition at the CMA, which is based on its permanent collections. Through course work and internships, students will engage in various facets of curatorial work, including exhibition planning and research, object interpretation, and acquisitions-related research. Foundation courses include a fall semester course in the methodologies of art history, and a spring semester course in the materials, methods, and physical examination of art works.  These are supplemented by additional lecture and seminar courses in the student’s specific field(s) of interest, as well as electives in other art historical fields, connoisseurship, history and theory of museums, collecting practices, and histories of the art market. Any language exams or courses needed for each student’s individual progress will be taken during the first two years.

Year Three: Yearlong half-time doctoral internship in a curatorial department of the Cleveland Museum of Art; study for and take the qualifying examination and begin work on a dissertation prospectus.

Years Four and Five: Presentation of the dissertation prospectus, dissertation research, and writing. It is expected that students will also apply for outside fellowships during these years.


For detailed program requirements, click here.

For dissertation requirements, click here.