Our PhD Program
The PhD program in History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh trains new generations of thinkers and professionals. By developing skills in critical thinking, original research, public speaking, effective writing, interdisciplinary study, and transcultural learning, students advance our program’s fundamental goal, which is to produce new art historical knowledge that is rigorous, responsible, and engaged. The program’s diversified training prepares students for careers in research universities, teaching colleges, museums and galleries, nonprofit organizations, and related settings. We prioritize academic and professional opportunities that promote equity and inclusivity and allow our graduate students to gain experience in teaching, museum work, collaboration, mentorship, and community engagement. We also tailor graduate instruction and mentorship to individual needs and aspirations as we enable our students to find fulfilling post-graduate careers in the United States and elsewhere around the globe.
The Department of History of Art and Architecture emphasizes learning and innovative research through our Constellations framework, which fosters faculty-student collaboration in the classroom and beyond on themes that inform the discipline’s most adventurous and generative work. These themes are deliberately fluid and open to change, and we welcome new areas of inquiry to continue growing the intellectual and experiential scope of our program. Constellations collaborations between faculty and graduate students have resulted in exhibitions, digital humanities projects, symposia, seminars, publications, field trips, and community engagement efforts. Applicants to the program are therefore encouraged to consider how, given their interests, they might contribute to our Constellations and the many research and professionalization initiatives offered by our program. We also urge applicants to contact potential advisors before applying to discuss your interests and find out more specific information about how they can be accommodated. Our list of faculty, their email addresses, and information about their research and teaching may be found here on our website. You may also contact the Director of Graduate Studies who will be happy to answer any questions you may have.
Students in our graduate program enjoy five years of fully funded, year-round support regardless of whether they enter with a BA or an MA degree. Because ours is solely a PhD program, we do not admit applicants seeking a terminal MA degree, nor do we offer advanced degrees in Architectural Practice or Design. Students entering without an MA in the discipline from another approved institution are expected to complete an MA degree in the second year of our program as a stepping-stone in their progress toward the PhD.
Preparation for Study in Our Department
For admission to the program, applicants are expected to have successfully completed four courses of art or architectural history at the undergraduate level. However, exceptions can be made for other courses and competencies that provide students with a grounding in the visual and/or spatial arts.
Our discipline is an inherently cross-cultural one, informed by the art and architecture we study and the international scope of past and current scholarship in the field. Competency in languages other than English is therefore necessary for advanced degree work in our program. Admitted students are expected to demonstrate competency in a research language other than English before or shortly after beginning coursework; the language chosen should be appropriate for their area of study. Native and/or heritage speakers of a language other than English fulfill this requirement if their competency sufficiently facilitates research in their chosen field. All other applicants are strongly encouraged to have at least two years/four semesters of college-level instruction in the research language, with a grade of B+ or better, or equivalent knowledge prior to admission. Certification in a second research language relevant to the student’s area of study and professional goals is expected for award of the PhD. If you have specific questions about the research language requirement, please consult your prospective advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.
When preparing your application for submission online (access the form on GradCAS) please note you will be required to provide:
• A Personal Statement. The Personal Statement is the applicant’s opportunity to explain how their ideas and goals relate to and might enhance those of the department. As the graduate faculty review your statement, we will also seek to gain a holistic sense of how your past experiences shape and motivate your plans for the PhD. Whether those experiences are academic or non-academic ones, tell us how you see them preparing you for success in our program and in your future career. Your Personal Statement should be about 500-1000 words in length (or 2 to 4 typed, double-spaced pages) and submitted as part of the application in doc, docx, or pdf format. Please be certain to address the following questions in your Personal Statement:
- What area of art and/or architectural history do you want to study? Which member of the graduate faculty in HAA do you foresee serving as your main advisor?
- How do you see your interests overlapping with our Constellations themes? How do you envision the Constellations facilitating your studies and professional growth in our program?
- What are your personal and professional goals and how do you see our program helping you to realize them?
- Describe any competency you may have in a language other than English (whether it relates to your chosen area of study or not).
- Please also describe any work background, community involvement, and experiences in leadership and/or service that might help to give us a fuller picture of you, your interests, and motivation for advanced degree study.
• A Sample of Academic or Scholarly Work. This sample can take a variety of forms including: a research or term paper about 2,500-7,500 words in length (or 10 to 30 typed, double-spaced pages) submitted in doc, docx, or pdf format; a formal video presentation on a scholarly or academic topic between 10 and 15 minutes long, submitted in MP4 format; a series of long-form, publicly accessible blog posts on a long-term project or research topic about 2,500-5,000 words total, submitted in doc, docx, or pdf format; or another form of scholarly/academic presentation that you believe demonstrates your current interests and expertise. Whatever you choose, select work that best represents your potential as a thinker and researcher in an area appropriate to study in the history of art and/or architecture.
• Electronic Copies of Transcripts. These transcript copies are to document all college-level work to date. The copies must be uploaded to the online application. Please do not send hard copies of your transcripts in the mail. Official transcripts are required only on admission.
• Three Letters of Recommendation. Letters of recommendation allow us to gain a fuller sense of your preparation for advanced level study in our program. Therefore, it is best to choose recommenders such as instructors, supervisors, or others with whom you have had a learning or working relationship who can speak to your academic and professional qualities and skills in an informed manner. Enter recommendation information online and requests will be sent directly to the recommender's email address.
Please note: we do not use GRE (Graduate Record Exam) scores as criteria for admission. GRE scores submitted as part of the application will not be reviewed.
Fee waiver: In an effort to reduce financial barriers to attending graduate school, the Kenneth P. Dietrich Graduate School of Arts and Sciences offers application fee waivers. Please note that fee waivers are approved on a case-by-case basis and not all fee waiver requests will be granted. All requests received will be reviewed and responded to within 48 hours during normal business hours: Monday - Friday 8:30a.m. to 5:00p.m. EST. To be considered for a fee waiver, please complete the following fee waiver survey for review.
APPLICATON DEADLINE: DECEMBER 15.
Applicants from Outside the U.S.
The department is a home away from home for faculty and students from across the globe. Over the past decade, more than one-third of our graduate students have come from Brazil, China, Colombia, France, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Romania, Taiwan, Turkey, and other locations. Cross-cultural awareness and international collaboration are mainstays of our discipline. We therefore welcome graduate students who wish to join with our faculty in maintaining and building on close ties to universities and colleagues in other countries. We also strive to accommodate international students by allowing them to receive credit for qualifying courses already completed abroad.
The University of Pittsburgh's Office of International Services provides excellent guidance on issues such as the application process and immigration. Read more about the Office of International Services at www.ois.pitt.edu, or call 412-624-7120.
The University of Pittsburgh has strict requirements for language proficiency scores. Please consult the International Students page for Graduate Study in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences regarding minimum requirements on TOEFL, IELTS, and Duolingo English Test scores for admission.
Non-U.S. citizens recommended for admission will need to submit the International Graduate Student Supplemental Application Packet (PDF). Please note that this form is only required for students who are recommended for admission, so it is not necessary to upload the form with your initial application.
Film and Media Studies Applicants
Students applying for a PhD in Film and Media Studies with a concentration in History of Art and Architecture apply through the Film and Media Studies Program. To apply, fill out the online application on GradCAS, select “Doctor of Philosophy in Film and Media Studies, History of Art and Architecture”. All the above-listed components for application to our PhD program are required of Film and Media Studies applicants. This includes contacting potential advisors in the Department of History of Art and Architecture before applying. The application deadline is December 15.
For more information on this program, visit the Film and Media Studies website.
If you have questions about the application process, please call 412-648-2400 or email the Graduate Administrator.
Hot Metal Bridge Post-Bac Program
This one-year, fully funded post-baccalaureate fellowship program at the University of Pittsburgh is designed to help talented students bridge the gap between an undergraduate degree and a graduate training program. Students accommodated in this program are from groups traditionally underrepresented in art history and other select disciplines in the natural and social sciences, including first-generation graduate students and those from disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds. This is a great opportunity for recent, highly motivated college graduates with strong academic promise who are not quite ready to apply to a doctoral program. Of those who have completed the program since 2011, 80% have gone on to graduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh and elsewhere.
In the Department of History of Art and Architecture, Hot Metal Bridge Fellows enroll in graduate seminars, take part in our research Constellations, and are integrated into other aspects of university life along with first year students in our graduate program. Hot Metal Bridge students also receive personalized mentoring on their applications to advanced degree programs. If Hot Metal Bridge students apply to and are accepted into our graduate program, credits completed as a fellow may be applied to those required for our program’s PhD degree.
Eligibility for the Hot Metal Bridge Program is limited to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Fellows enjoy financial support (including tuition and stipend) and mentoring by faculty and graduate students as they prepare themselves for a success in graduate study. The application deadline falls in spring (March or April) each year. Full details, application instructions, and answers to FAQs are available here. Our department’s Director of Graduate Studies is also happy to answer any questions you may have about the Hot Metal Bridge Program.