The graduate program is designed to give students working toward the Ph.D. degree an encompassing knowledge of the history of art and a deep understanding of the theories and methodologies pertaining to art historical research. The program emphasizes collaborative working relationships among students and faculty in seminars. Each advanced doctoral candidate benefits from supervision by two faculty members in his or her field.
The program also fosters a close familiarity with the outstanding art treasures in the Baltimore-Washington area relevant to the student's area of study. In addition to the rich holdings of the Sheridan Libraries of Johns Hopkins University (which include collections of rare books at Garrett Library, Special Collections at Eisenhower Library, and the George Peabody Library downtown) graduate students have access to such research facilities as the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts (National Gallery) and the Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, both in Washington, D. C.
Admission and Financial Aid
Applicants to the Ph.D. program in History of Art should upload and submit all required application materials and supporting documents through the online application. For information about applying to the Ph.D. program in History of Art, please see the department's website. Applications must be completed by December 15.
To foster close student-faculty relationships and provide for the greatest flexibility in developing each graduate student's individual curriculum, the department strictly limits the number of students it admits each year.
Financial support for admitted students is provided in the form of tuition grants, a multi-year fellowship stipend (contingent on continued progress), and health insurance coverage, with further opportunities for advanced research and travel funding available. Students in the program may also apply for grants from the Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe, which supports travel, conference participation, and dissertation research in Europe.
Students may apply for admission to the Ph.D. program with either a B.A. or M.A. degree from another institution. Acceptance requires the approval of the instructors in the areas chosen by the student as major and minor fields; in the case of transfer students, acceptance may be provisional. Students entering the program must pass reading competency examinations in two languages, as determined by field of study. Although no examinations are required in any additional languages needed for specialized research in particular areas, students are expected to master these as needed, as their studies develop. Students who are not native English speakers must submit TOEFL or IELTS scores with their application.
All students entering the program, regardless of the degree they hold, must complete four full semesters of coursework and pass the required language exams before being approved to take their qualifying exams (also known as the Ph.D. exams). The art history faculty encourages students to take full advantage of offerings in other departments, and students may, if they choose, develop a minor field in another discipline. In consultation with their advisers, students who have completed their coursework, have no outstanding incompletes, and have passed the required language exams prepare for qualifying exams. All qualifying exams, regardless of the fields in which they are taken, are comprised overall of two written exams (one major field and one minor field), followed by an oral defense before the advisers and other department faculty. Exams should take place during the third (3rd) year.
After the successful completion of qualifying exams, it is expected that students will be ready to begin work towards the dissertation by formulating a proposal. Completed proposals may be submitted at any time in the calendar year and not later than three (3) months after successful completion of the qualifying exams.
When the dissertation is complete, the student must successfully defend the dissertation before a Graduate Board Orals committee consisting of three internal (department) readers and two external readers. Although consultation between candidates and their faculty advisers regarding possible exam committee members is appropriate, selection of the committee is the department’s responsibility and is not the candidate’s responsibility or prerogative.
In addition to their own studies and research, students in the Ph.D. program gain valuable pedagogical experience by serving as Teaching Assistants under a variety of faculty mentors. Students are eligible for assignment as either a Teaching Assistant (TA) or a Research Assistant (RA), at the discretion of the department, in six of the ten semesters during which they receive funding.
Art History Fields
Long associated with the study of classical archaeology, the department affords students of ancient art the opportunity work with a faculty that includes experts in Greek, Roman and Ancient Near Eastern art. Students also benefit from the close and long-standing relationship with the Departments of Classics and Near Eastern Studies. Facilities of special relevance to students of ancient art include the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum, located on campus inside Gilman Hall, and the extraordinary holdings of the Walters Art Museum.
Ever since its founding in 1947, the department has given special emphasis to the study of medieval art, and that tradition continues with a new generation of medievalists bringing expertise in Early Christian, Islamic, Byzantine, Mediterranean, and Italian Romanesque art and architecture to the program. Students avail themselves of local expertise through the departments of History, English, and German and Romance Languages and Literatures, and frequently consult with curators at the Walters Art Museum, several of whom participate as adjunct faculty. Hopkins students may take the seminars in Byzantine art offered each year at Dumbarton Oaks, and take advantage of the extensive research library there as well. The extraordinary collections at the Walters Art Museum and at Dumbarton Oaks are especially valuable for students interested in manuscript illumination and the minor arts.
Renaissance / Early Modern
Another signature strength of the History of Art Department is its program in Renaissance and Early Modern Europe, where a broad faculty expertise encompasses the art and culture of Italy, Spain, and the countries of northern Europe from the fourteenth to the seventeenth centuries. Graduate students in these areas participate in the programs of the Charles Singleton Center for the Study of Pre-Modern Europe, which sponsors collaborative research abroad and brings a steady stream of world-class lecturers to Baltimore. Students also benefit from the excellent collections of Italian and northern Renaissance art at the Walters Art Museum, the National Gallery, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
At Hopkins a diverse and challenging curriculum in modern art and criticism is offered by a research faculty of international prominence, supplemented by occasional visiting scholars and museum curators. European art from the 18th to the 21st century, American modernism, and modern art in Asia are all among the department's distinctive strengths. Students oriented toward the study of criticism and aesthetic theory can also broaden their perspective and develop their critical skills by taking courses offered through the Department of Comparative Thought and Literature and the Department of Philosophy. Distinctive collections at the Baltimore Museum of Art and at multiple places in Washington, D.C. (the Hirshhorn Museum, the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), the Freer|Sackler of the Smithsonian, the Phillips Collection, and others) provide unparalleled resources for students of modern art at all levels.
Relatively new in the department is the expansive field of study encompassing the art and architecture of the Ancient Near East, the Islamic world, early modern and modern South Asia, and the early modern trans-Atlantic world. Research and teaching expertise is concentrated in four faculty appointments affording students the opportunity to develop projects in specific areas of these non-Western fields, which are also well represented by the rich collections of the Walters Art Museum and the Johns Hopkins Archaeological Museum in Baltimore, the Freer|Sackler of the Smithsonian, and other museums in Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.