The Department of Art History offers programs leading to the master of arts and the doctor of philosophy. Students enjoy close interaction with their mentors and benefit 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 post-secondary 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 encourages diverse approaches to the study of art, architecture, the built environment, visual and material culture, and curation. Our faculty includes specialists in a wide range of critical areas of research and teaching expertise that can be explored on our website. 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. Our building is also home to the Kohler Art Library, which contains an excellent collection of published materials and full range of periodicals.


Please consult the table below for key information about this degree program’s admissions requirements. The program may have more detailed admissions requirements, which can be found below the table or on the program’s website.

Graduate admissions is a two-step process between academic programs and the Graduate School. Applicants must meet the minimum requirements of the Graduate School as well as the program(s). Once you have researched the graduate program(s) you are interested in, apply online.

Fall Deadline December 15
Spring Deadline The program does not admit in the spring.
Summer Deadline The program does not admit in the summer.
GRE (Graduate Record Examinations) Not required.
English Proficiency Test Every applicant whose native language is not English, or whose undergraduate instruction was not exclusively in English, must provide an English proficiency test score earned within two years of the anticipated term of enrollment. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Requirements for Admission policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1241.
Other Test(s) (e.g., GMAT, MCAT) n/a
Letters of Recommendation Required 3

Admission 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 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 English language proficiency scores.


Graduate School Resources

Resources to help you afford graduate study might include assistantships, fellowships, traineeships, and financial aid. Further funding information is available from the Graduate School. Be sure to check with your program for individual policies and restrictions related to funding.

Program Resources

Funding information can be found on the program website.

All applicants to the graduate program will be considered for funding.

Minimum Graduate School Requirements

Review the Graduate School minimum academic progress and degree requirements, in addition to the program requirements listed below.

Major Requirements 

Mode of Instruction

Face to Face Evening/Weekend Online Hybrid Accelerated
Yes No No No No

Mode of Instruction Definitions

Accelerated: Accelerated programs are offered at a fast pace that condenses the time to completion. Students typically take enough credits aimed at completing the program in a year or two.

Evening/Weekend: ​Courses meet on the UW–Madison campus only in evenings and/or on weekends to accommodate typical business schedules.  Students have the advantages of face-to-face courses with the flexibility to keep work and other life commitments.

Face-to-Face: Courses typically meet during weekdays on the UW-Madison Campus.

Hybrid: These programs combine face-to-face and online learning formats.  Contact the program for more specific information.

Online: These programs are offered 100% online.  Some programs may require an on-campus orientation or residency experience, but the courses will be facilitated in an online format.

Curricular Requirements

Minimum Credit Requirement 51 credits
Minimum Residence Credit Requirement 32 credits
Minimum Graduate Coursework Requirement 26 credits must be graduate-level coursework. Refer to the Graduate School: Minimum Graduate Coursework (50%) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1244.
Overall Graduate GPA Requirement 3.00 GPA required.
Refer to the Graduate School: Grade Point Average (GPA) Requirement policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1203.
Other Grade Requirements No other grade requirements.
Assessments and Examinations Doctoral students must submit a dissertation prospectus.

Doctoral students must pass a written and an oral exam prior to becoming dissertators.
Language Requirements Reading competency in at least two languages (additional language requirements may pertain to some fields).
Graduate School Breadth Requirement All doctoral students are required to complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate. Refer to the Graduate School: Breadth Requirement in Doctoral Training policy: https://policy.wisc.edu/library/UW-1200.

Required Courses

ART HIST Courses24
All students must take ART HIST 701. In addition, they take at least 6 credits that fulfill the temporal/chronological breadth (i.e., 3 credits each in at least two of four temporal areas) and 6 credits that fulfill geographic breadth requirements (i.e., 3 credits each in at least two of five geographic areas).
Practicum in Art History: Bibliography, Historiography, Methods
Geographic Breadth (6 credits)
At least one course in two of the five following areas:
Africa/Middle East
The Americas
Temporal/Chronological Breadth (6 credits)
At least one course in two of the four following periods:
Ancient to Medieval
Early Modern (Circa 1400–Circa 1800)
Modern (Circa 1800–Circa 1945)
Contemporary (Post 1945)
Seminar Requirement
A minimum of 15 of the 24 credits above must be seminars (i.e., three courses typically numbered 800 or above but this includes ART HIST 701 and ART HIST/​ASIAN  621)
Graduate School Breadth Requirement9
All students must complete a doctoral minor or graduate/professional certificate.
Additional Coursework18
Students typically take ART HIST 799 to prepare for preliminary exams and usually enroll in enough credits to maintain full-time status. To achieve the required 51 credits for the PhD degree, students are required to take ART HIST 990 to prepare the dissertation. This may consist of 18 credits or 6 semesters of research and thesis credits.
Independent Study
Research and Thesis
Total Credits51

Graduate School Policies

The Graduate School’s Academic Policies and Procedures provide essential information regarding general university policies. Program authority to set degree policies beyond the minimum required by the Graduate School lies with the degree program faculty. Policies set by the academic degree program can be found below.

Major-Specific Policies

Prior Coursework

Graduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions

With program approval, students are allowed to transfer no more than 19 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.

Undergraduate Credits Earned at Other Institutions or UW-Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a Professional Student at UW-Madison (Law, Medicine, Pharmacy, and Veterinary careers)

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.

Credits Earned as a University Special Student at UW–Madison

Refer to the Graduate School: Transfer Credits for Prior Coursework policy.


Refer to the Graduate School: Probation policy.

Advisor / Committee

Refer to the Graduate School: Advisor and Graduate School: Committees (Doctoral/Master’s/MFA) policies.

Credits Per Term Allowed

Maximum 15 credits.

Time Limits

Refer to the Graduate School: Time Limits policy.

Grievances and Appeals

These resources may be helpful in addressing your concerns:

Students should contact the department chair or program director with questions about grievances. They may also contact the L&S Academic Divisional Associate Deans, the L&S Associate Dean for Teaching and Learning Administration, or the L&S Director of Human Resources.



Professional Development

Graduate School Resources

Take advantage of the Graduate School's professional development resources to build skills, thrive academically, and launch your career. 

Learning Outcomes

  1. 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).
  2. 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).
  3. Formulates ideas, concepts, designs, and/or techniques beyond the current boundaries of knowledge within the field of art history/visual culture/material culture.
  4. Conducts research and produces scholarship that makes a substantive contribution to the field and to interdisciplinary enquiry.
  5. Demonstrates breadth within their learning experiences.
  6. 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.
  7. Fosters ethical and professional conduct.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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 Anna Andrzejewski, Nicholas D. Cahill, Jill H. Casid, Preeti Chopra, Thomas E. A. Dale,  Guillermina De Ferrari, Nancy Rose Marshall, Kirsten Wolf (chair); Associate Professors Yuhang Li, Kirstin Phillips-Court (cross-appointed with French and Italian), Jennifer Pruitt; Assistant Professors: Steffani Bennett, Daniel Spaulding.