Required Courses

ARTH 495 Methodologies of Art History 3
ARTH 496 Materials, Methods, and Physical Examination of Works of Art 3
Four graduate seminars at the 500 level. At least one seminar must be collection-based (if offered). 12
Six courses at the 400 level or above 18
ARTH 610A Advanced Visual Arts and Museums: Internship I 3
ARTH 610B Advanced Visual Arts and Museums Internship II 3
EXAM 700 Doctoral exam, to be taken in conjunction with 610A and 610B for two consecutive semesters, 1 credit per semester 2
ARTH 701 Dissertation Ph.D. 18
Total Units 62


Language Requirements:

Doctoral students must demonstrate an ability to read two approved foreign languages useful in art historical research. All language requirements must be completed before the PhD student is allowed to schedule the PhD Comprehensive Examination. German is recommended as one of the two languages for students concentrating in Western art.

Doctoral students in Asian art should enter the program with a reading knowledge of at least one Asian language (Chinese, Japanese, or Korean). Prior to taking the comprehensive exam, students must demonstrate reading knowledge of two languages relevant to the student’s research interests. The second language is chosen in consultation with a faculty advisor. It may be a modern Asian language, a classical Asian language, or a European language.

Both languages must be approved by the department during the first semester of doctoral study. Credit hours earned in language study may not be counted as part of the thirty-six credit hours required for the PhD in art history.

The language requirement may be satisfied in the following ways:

  1. With the consent of the department, an approved language accepted as part of an MA degree in art history (within three years of matriculation in the PhD program) may be accepted as fulfilling part of the PhD requirements.
  2. The student may complete a minimum of six credit hours (two semesters) of college level language study, achieving a grade of B or better; these courses must have been taken within two years prior to matriculation or by the end of thirty-six graduate hours of art history. Credit hours earned for language study may not be counted as part of the degree credit requirement, and grades earned in language courses do not affect the student’s GPA. These hours may be taken at CWRU or elsewhere and official transcripts must be provided. Online courses can be used to satisfy this requirement. For any courses taken outside CWRU, including online courses, students should seek preapproval from the DGS; additionally the syllabus and final examination for these courses must be submitted to the department for final approval.
  3. The student will be examined in one or both approved languages by art history faculty during the first year of the PhD program. Language exams are scheduled by the department’s administrator, offered by the department every November and April. This one-hour examination requires translating a section of an art-historical writing in a foreign language into English; use of a dictionary is allowed; no internet access is permitted. Students will not be able to see graded copies of their language exams. The examination is graded on a pass/fail basis, and grading is based on both the accuracy and length of the translation written by the student. In the event of an unsatisfactory performance, the exam may be taken again the following semester or the student may enroll in courses of formal language study as in option b.

If a student wishes to take an exam in a language not currently supported by the Art History faculty, s/he should consult with the DGS who will bring it to the faculty’s attention for consideration.

In consultation with the DGS, native speakers in foreign languages may receive an exemption.


Third-year Internship (610A and 610B):

In the year prior to the internship, students should confer with their advisor(s) and set up a meeting with the curator who will supervise the internship. The meeting should include the student’s advisor(s). At the meeting, internship parameters are discussed and agreed upon.

The Internship Agreement Form is posted under “Forms and documents.”  It is filled out by the student, and signed by the advisor and the curator. Copies of the form should be filed with the departmental administrator and the student’s advisor by the end of the first week of classes each semester.

The internship requires 20 hours week. The rest of the time students study for their comprehensive exams.

Until further notice, Key Jo Lee, Assistant Director of Academic Affairs, at the CMA is the primary contact for badge, workspace, and technology needs. All other issues such as scheduling and project management, daily structure, etc. will be handled by each supervising curator. Supervising curators will inform Key Jo of the following, and she will then manage the aforementioned processes internally.

– Supervisor’s Name

– Student’s tech and training needs

– Start/end dates

– Whether the intern will handle art, library books, and/or work with children (if so, they will require a background check which Key Jo will schedule with badging)

– Intern’s weekly work schedule (days/times)

– Whether the intern requires workspace on the fourth floor and why. Please note: while the fourth-floor work space is not guaranteed for the interns, the Education Department will always do its best to make sure that interns have the necessary space to conduct their work.

If you have any questions, contact Key Jo Lee at or 216.707.2472.


Doctoral Qualifying Examination

Recommended practice is that the students identify the committee by the beginning of their third year (or earlier) and schedule the exam in consultation with their advisor. Typically, the exam takes place in spring of the student’s third year.

The doctoral qualifying examination will consist of two parts, oral and written. In consultation with their advisor, students will formulate two examination fields, which should either be contiguous or substantively related (and not simply based on the amount of coursework the student took in any given field). The second field can be in a non-art historical area: classics, history, religious studies, music, etc. In this case, the field must absolutely be related to the first (e.g. someone with a primary field in Roman art cannot choose medieval history as a secondary field). The two fields, along with paragraph-long justifications for each, will be submitted to the voting members of the faculty for approval; if necessary, the student will be asked to revise them with advice of the faculty and resubmit them for faculty approval. The committee will consist of the major advisor, the minor advisor, and a third committee member. Examiners must be drawn from the CWRU faculty and/or CMA curatorial and relevant administrative and education staff, although the student may petition the DGS for an exception, e.g. to request a curator from MOCA. All three committee members will evaluate both the oral and written portions of the examination. It is the student’s responsibility to identify and contact the possible members of the examination committee sometime before the beginning of the third year of study, and to set the date of the examination in consultation with them. The student is also responsible for reserving the room at the CMA for the slide portion of the exam.

Part I: Oral Examination: The oral examination will take place over the course of one day. In consultation with their examination committee members, students will develop a bibliography for each field. The bibliography for the major field should be 25-30 pages in length; for the minor field, it should be 5-10 pages. The oral examination will consist of three parts:

  1. Between 2 and 2.5 hours, takes place in the museum. Discussion of four or five objects from the CMA collection, drawn from both fields. Choice of objects and format of this portion of the exam remain at the discretion of your advisor. (a) In-depth examination of one object; approaches may include connoisseurship, visual and technical analysis, iconography, proposed methodological approaches (30 – 60 minutes). (b) Discussion of other objects will focus on historiography, methodology, and bibliography. Include technical analysis if possible. Objects can, but do not have to be related to the student’s potential dissertation topic (approximately 60 minutes).
  2. Between 1.5 and 2 hours, takes place in a classroom with projected images. Discussion of key objects from both fields. Focus on historiography, methodology, and bibliography. This section will cover broader fields than just the student’s potential dissertation topic (8-15 objects for the major field, 4 – 8 objects for the minor field).

Part II: Written Examination: After the oral portion of the examination is completed, examiners will meet to discuss the results and identify the student’s weakest exam area. Within two days, examiners will craft a paper topic to target this area, and notify the student, who will be expected to pick up the assigned topic from the art history office within two weeks of the notification. Once the topic is picked up, the student will be given a  two-week period to write a research paper 20 – 30 pages in length, complete with notes and bibliography, based on the topic outlined by the committee. The administration of the written portion of the examination is predicated on the successful completion of the oral portion.

If the committee determines that the student failed any portion of the exam, the student will meet with the advisor to discuss the possibility of re-examination. In accordance with the rules set by the School of Graduate Studies, “except in unusual circumstances, a student who fails the examination a second time will be separated from further graduate study within the same department or program.”


Advancement to Candidacy:

According to the School of Graduate Studies, “the formal acceptance of a student as a candidate for the doctoral degree is the responsibility of the student’s department or the committee supervising the doctoral program in accordance with the written procedures of the academic unit. Generally, advancement to candidacy allows the student to enter the dissertation research phase of the degree program, and occurs after all course work and exam requirements are satisfied. At its discretion the supervising unit may require a student to pass qualifying examinations before candidacy is granted. Students are expected to make regular and continuous progress toward the degree. Advancement to candidacy in a PhD program should occur within a maximum of 6 years post-matriculation with a bachelor’s degree (no later than at the completion of 36 semester hours of graduate study) and 4 years post-matriculation with a master’s degree (no later than at the completion of 18 semester hours of graduate study). Students may continue in pre-candidacy status beyond this time by means of a petition to the School of Graduate Studies by the student and program director, based on evidence of student progress toward the degree. Individual programs can require advancement to candidacy before the time limit set in this policy. The School of Graduate Studies must promptly be notified in writing of the decision concerning a student’s advancement to candidacy, and a copy of the notification must be sent to the student concerned. A student who is refused candidacy status may not undertake further study for credit toward the doctoral degree within the same department or supervising unit. With the approval of both the department concerned and the School of Graduate studies, such a student may: 1. Take additional courses, if required, in order to complete an approved master’s degree in that department; 2. Seek admission to the graduate program of another department.”

The Advancement to Candidacy Form can be found here:

It is the student’s responsibility to fill out the top portion of the form and forward it to her/his academic advisor for a signature. The student will not be able to register for 701 until this form is complete.



After completing the PhD qualifying examinations in the third year of study, the candidate, in consultation with the advisor, will prepare a written proposal for a PhD dissertation, which must then be approved by a committee of three members of the University faculty appointed for that purpose. This committee is not necessarily identical to the exam or dissertation committee; it should be put together by the student in consultation with his/her advisor, and, if appropriate, can include a CMA curator. The student’s advisor will approach the curator on the student’s behalf.

It is expected that the prospectus defense is scheduled for the fall of the student’s fourth year, and that the final version is approved by the end of the fall semester. Those applying for grants and fellowships should plan on submitting the prospectus in early fall. The length of the prospectus should fall somewhere between 10 and 20 pages, and include the central problem the dissertation will examine, along with a proposed thesis; a review of relevant literature; the overall shape of the project (preferably with chapter-by-chapter descriptions); a set of methodologies to be used in the dissertation; a list of primary / archival sources and their availability; a proposed plan of research and writing; and a working bibliography. Images are not included in the above page count. It is expected that the final project may differ substantially from the original plan outlined in the prospectus; students should not, therefore, conceive of this document as an ironclad contract. Upon final approval a copy of the dissertation proposal will be placed in the student’s file. The department will notify the College Art Association of the dissertation subject and working title, and will update it as necessary on a yearly basis.

Examples of previous years’ prospectuses are kept on file with the department’s administrator and are available upon request; these documents may not be circulated outside the department.

Traditionally, students present their dissertation topic to the faculty and graduate students alongside MA QP presentations at the end of fall semester of their fourth year. This brief presentation is distinct from the prospectus defense, which differs from it in length and is attended by the student’s committee only.


Progress Reports:

Annual Doctoral Student Progress Report and Statement of Expectation forms must be filled out by each doctoral student in consultation with his or her advisor, and submitted to the DGS by May 15. The DGS will meet with each student to review the forms. Templates are available on the departmental website under “Forms and Documents.”

Please note: the forms cover a given academic year. The forms must be signed by the student, the student’s academic advisor, and the DGS. If the DGS is the student’s regular academic advisor, the forms must be signed by the student, the student’s academic advisor/DGS, and the department chair.