The student, in consultation with the advisor, assembles the dissertation committee. The committee should be identified as soon as possible after the defense of the prospectus.  According to the School of Graduate Studies, “The composition of each student’s dissertation committee must have formal approval by the School of Graduate Studies on recommendation of the chair of the department, division, or curricular program committee. The dissertation committee must consist of a minimum of four members of the University faculty (any tenured or tenure-track Case Western Reserve University faculty member, and any CWRU full-time faculty member whose primary duties include research who is authorized to serve on a PhD dissertation committee by the school or college through which they are affiliated with the university). At least one of these CWRU faculty must hold a primary appointment that is outside of the student’s department, program, or school. The chair of the committee must be a CWRU tenured or tenure-track faculty member in the student’s program. The student’s dissertation research advisor must be a member of the committee and may serve as chair if consistent with departmental policy.”

According to SGS, “Persons who are not members of the University faculty may serve as additional members of the defense committee, subject to approval by the School of Graduate Studies. A petition with the rationale for the request must be submitted to the School of Graduate Studies along with the proposed member’s curriculum vitae.  Under special conditions, a former faculty member whose time of leaving the university has not exceeded 18 months may be approved as a committee member by the School of Graduate Studies. Throughout the development and completion of the dissertation, members of the dissertation advisory committee are expected to provide constructive criticism and helpful ideas generated by the research problem from the viewpoint of their particular expertise. Each member will make an assessment of the originality of the dissertation, its value, the contribution it makes, and the clarity with which concepts are communicated, especially to a person outside the field. The doctoral student is expected to arrange meetings and maintain periodic contact with each committee member. A meeting of the full committee for the purpose of assessing the student’s progress should occur at least once a year until the completion of the dissertation.”

Interdisciplinary topics may necessitate faculty readers from a wider range of disciplines. If appropriate, an additional specialist outside the University may be included on the dissertation committee. The committee members are chosen by the advisor in consultation with the student and the department chair; they are identified as such on The Advancement to Candidacy Form.


Writing and Defending the Dissertation:

The PhD dissertation must be based on individual research and writing and make an original and high-quality contribution to art historical scholarship. It is expected that the dissertation will change in content and focus throughout the course of research and writing. The student should stay in close contact with committee members about substantial changes.

Ideally, the student will defend the dissertation by the end of her/his fifth year in the program, which is the time when funding runs out; however, it is expected that some projects will require more time. Students are strongly encouraged to complete their dissertations as soon as possible thereafter. Students are also strongly advised to apply for outside fellowships as soon as they complete their prospectus or even sooner with the advisor’s approval. If a student obtains an outside fellowship prior to the fifth year of CWRU funding, for example one providing support for a year, the CWRU funding may be put on hold.

Students should adhere to the Chicago Manual of Style guidelines when writing their dissertations. Please use the Notes and Bibliography Style rather than the Author-Date Style. General information about formatting the dissertation for submission to the university can be found here:

Before the dissertation can be approved and accepted, it must be successfully defended by the student in an oral examination conducted by the full committee. When completed, the dissertation must be submitted to the department no later than three weeks before the expected defense date, read and approved by a faculty committee of four members, at least one of whom comes from outside the Department of Art History and Art. The form for Notification for Scheduling the Final Oral Exam for the PhD can be found here: In accordance to the rules set put by the School of Graduate Studies, “Scheduled defenses are publicized by the School of Graduate Studies, and any member of the university may be present at that portion of the examination pre-designated as public by the chair of the dissertation defense committee. Others may be present at the formal defense only by invitation of that chair.

It is expected that all members of the dissertation defense committee be present at the defense. Exceptions to this rule: a) must be approved by petition to the School of Graduate Studies and only under extraordinary circumstances; b) no more than one voting member can ever be absent; c) the absent member must participate through real-time video conferencing at the department’s expense; however, if such video conferencing is not available, the absent member may participate through telephone conferencing; and d) the student must always be physically present.” Even though attendance at the defense is open, only committee members are allowed to ask questions. The defense will typically last no more than two hours. After the defense, all but the committee members leave the room; the committee members confer. According to the SGS, “A student will be certified as passing the final oral examination if no more than one of the voting members of the committee dissents.”


Submitting the Dissertation:

As per the regulations detailed by the School of Graduate Studies, “All candidates for the PhD degree must electronically submit a dissertation as evidence of their ability to conduct independent research at an advanced level. The dissertation must represent a significant contribution to existing knowledge in the student’s field, and at least a portion of the content must be suitable for publication in a reputable professional journal or as a book or monograph. Students must prepare their own dissertations. Joint dissertations are not permitted. The dissertation must conform to regulations concerning format, quality, and time of submission as established by the School of Graduate Studies. Detailed instructions can be obtained from the School of Graduate Studies. Research work connected with a dissertation is to be carried out under the direct supervision of a member of the university faculty selected by the student in consultation with departmental faculty and approved by the chair of the department.

Approved dissertations are to be uploaded to OhioLINK before certification for the doctorate. Because dissertations are made public immediately upon acceptance, they should not contain proprietary or classified material. When the research relates to proprietary material, the student and advisor are responsible for making preliminary disclosures to the sponsor in advance to permit timely release of the dissertation. These arrangements must be disclosed when the dissertation is submitted to the School of Graduate Studies. The required form can be found in the graduation packet.

You are expected to submit your dissertation to ProQuest; please see for the discussion of image copyright. Images submitted to ProQuest must be chosen carefully in consultation with your advisor. The department submits titles of dissertations in progress and completed dissertations to the Art Bulletin.


Time to Degree and Graduation:

The University has a five-year limit on enrollment for students at the 701 level, which for art history will normally start in the fourth year of enrollment. Initial enrollment in ARTH 701 establishes the start of the five-year limit. This is a period of five consecutive calendar years, including leaves of absence, excepting leaves for military service or maternity/paternity leave. In exceptional circumstances, additional time may be granted with the permission of the department and the Dean of Graduate Studies, and some requirements may be waived. All such requests must be made in writing, no later than the semester preceding the one in which the waiver is to be applied. Students are notified in writing by the department chair whether or not the waiver has been granted or more time allowed. For more, please see (

For graduation requirements / information, see