The Department of Art History offers programs leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy in art history with emphasis on African and African diaspora art, American material culture and vernacular architecture, ancient  art and archaeology of the Mediterranean world, Chinese art and archaeology, Japanese art, medieval European art, Byzantine and Islamic art and architecture, early modern European art 19th-century art and print culture, modern and contemporary European and American art and visual culture.  The department encourages the study of the global history of art, and material and visual culture while investigating works in all media from a wide range of periods and a variety of world cultures.

Students enjoy close interaction with their mentors and profit from superb resources for interdisciplinary research. Faculty members have international reputations in their specialties, regularly receive prestigious awards, lecture widely, and serve on major professional boards. Graduates of the department teach at the postsecondary level or pursue careers in museum and curatorial professions, private galleries and auction houses, library or archival work, architecture and historical preservation, and conservation.

The department is housed in the Conrad A. Elvehjem Building with the Chazen Museum of Art, which has a broad historical collection with several areas of particular strength, an active acquisitions program, and facilities to host major traveling exhibitions and exhibition courses. Graduate students use these collections for research and publishing projects. They may also have the opportunity to work on exhibitions in special classes or as project assistants. The building is also home to the Kohler Art Library, which contains an excellent collection of published materials and full range of periodicals. The department possesses a large image collection and access to ArtStor.

Financial aid is normally reserved for students in the Ph.D. program. The university offers fellowships and scholarships for which graduate students in art history may compete. The department awards the Margaret Davison Shorger Fellowship for the study of Italian art, the Charles C. Killin Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in East Asian Art, and the Chipstone/James Watrous Wisconsin Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in American Material Culture. Research travel is also supported by the Shirley L and Dr. William Fritz Mueller Art History Graduate Student Fund and the Ray Reider Golden Art History Fund, and the Joan Mirviss Fund for Japanese art. The department awards travel grants for students delivering papers at major conferences and annually appoints five to six graduate students as teaching or project assistants. Individual faculty may also offer one- or two-semester project assistantships in connection with specific research projects. In addition, the department nominates candidates for fellowships administered outside the department and the university.

Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress

To make progress toward a graduate degree, students must meet the Graduate School Minimum Degree Requirements and Satisfactory Progress in addition to the requirements of the program.

Doctoral Degrees

Ph.D., with available named option in Architectural History

Minimum Graduate Degree Credit Requirement

Ph.D.—51 credits

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—51 credits

Minimum Graduate Residence Credit Requirement

Ph.D.—32 credits

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—32 credits

Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement

Half of Ph.D. coursework (26 out of 51 total credits) must be completed in graduate-level coursework; courses with the Graduate Level Coursework attribute are identified and searchable in the university's Course Guide.

Prior Coursework Requirements: Graduate Work from Other Institutions

Ph.D.—With program approval, students are allowed to count no more than 21 credits of graduate work from other institutions. Coursework earned ten years or more prior to admission to the doctoral degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—designated courses taught by BLC-affiliated faculty at UW–Milwaukee.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison Undergraduate

Ph.D.—allowed up to 7 credits numbered 700 or above, and graduate level courses ART HIST 601 Introduction to Museum Studies I,ART HIST 602 Introduction to Museum Studies II and ART HIST/​HISTORY/​JOURN/​L I S  650 History of Books and Print Culture in Europe and North America.

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—no prior coursework from UW–Madison undergraduate career may count toward requirements.

Prior Coursework Requirements: UW–Madison University Special

With program approval, students are allowed to count up to 15 credits of coursework numbered 600 or above taken as a UW–Madison University Special students. coursework earned ten or more years prior to admission to a master's degree is not allowed to satisfy requirements.

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—no prior coursework from UW–Madison Special student career may count toward requirements.

Credits per Term Allowed

12 credits

Program-Specific Courses Required

ART HIST 701 Practicum in Art History: Bibliography, Historiography, Methods

Ph.D.–named option Architectural History—ART HIST 701, ART HIST 449 Topics in Architectural History Architectural Field School; ART HIST 867 Seminar-American Architecture

Doctoral Minor/Breadth Requirements

All doctoral students are required to complete a minor.

Overall Graduate GPA Requirement

3.00 GPA required

Other Grade Requirements

No other grade requirements.

Probation Policy

A semester GPA below 3.0 will result in the student being placed on academic probation. If a semester GPA of 3.0 is not attained during the subsequent semester of full time enrollment (or 12 credits of enrollment if enrolled part-time) the student may be dismissed from the program or allowed to continue for one additional semester based on advisor appeal to the Graduate School.

Advisor / Committee

All students are required to conduct a yearly progress report meeting with their thesis committee after passing the Preliminary Examination.

Assessments and Examinations

Doctoral students must submit a dissertation prospectus.

Doctoral students must pass a written and an oral exam prior to becoming dissertators.

Time Constraints

A candidate for a doctoral degree who fails to take the final oral examination and deposit the dissertation within five years after passing the preliminary examination may be required to take another preliminary examination and to be admitted to candidacy a second time.

Doctoral degree students who have been absent for ten or more consecutive years lose all credits that they have earned before their absence. Individual programs may count the coursework students completed prior to their absence for meeting program requirements; that coursework may not count toward Graduate School credit requirements.

Language Requirements

Reading competency in at least two languages (additional language requirements may pertain to some fields).

While students may pursue a stand-alone M.A., those who wish to pursue a Ph.D. should apply directly to that program. Admission to either program is offered to applicants who have an outstanding undergraduate record of academic achievement.  The successful applicant typically presents both a compelling statement of purpose for graduate studies and an advanced research paper.  To be considered for admission, applicants must have taken the GRE recently (within five years of their application deadline).  To be competitive in some subfields, applicants should have training in at least one foreign language.  Applicants are encouraged to contact prospective faculty advisors for more details.  Non-native English speakers must present TOEFL or IELTS scores.

Admission to the Asian M.A. track (Chinese or Japanese art) is offered to applicants who have similar qualifications and training, but with an East Asian emphasis and demonstrated skills in the East Asian language appropriate to the intended field of specialization. 

Knowledge and Skills

  • Shows professional-level mastery of the skills acquired at earlier stages (visual analysis, contextual interpretation, research methods, evaluation of arguments, application of varied theoretical perspectives).
  • Articulates research problems, potentials,and limits with respect to theory, knowledge, or practice within the field of art history (including visual culture and material culture).
  • Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of art history/visual culture/material culture.
  • Conducts research and produces scholarship that makes a substantive contribution to the field and to interdisciplinary enquiry.
  • Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  • Shows advanced skills in effective and impactful communication in both written and oral form in ways that acknowledge diverse audiences in an increasingly global society.

Professional Conduct

  • Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
  • Prepares to be an educator who uses the latest pedagogies such that one can compellingly and thoroughly teach, motivate, and shape the next generation of global citizens in the arts and sciences with a focus on the visual.

Additional Learning Goals

  • Foster skills in public engagement such that our students are able to effectively communicate complex ideas about art, visual culture and material culture to a lay public in written, oral, and digital form in keeping with the Wisconsin Idea.
  • Is able to prompt and participate in interdisciplinary dialogue with scholars and the public about the power of images and objects both historically and in the present‚ to persuade, critique, and even coerce.

Faculty: Professors Andrzejewski, Buenger, Cahill, Casid, Chopra, Dale, Drewal, Geiger, Marshall, Martin, Phillips (chair); Associate Professors McClure; Assistant Professors Brisman, Li, Pruitt