History of Art and Architecture


Application Information

Application is directly to the PhD program.

The Pittsburgh program places a strong emphasis on idea-driven research with rigorous historical foundations. We have recently formulated new research constellations meant to foster innovative work and exchange among our faculty and graduate students. Our goal is to produce new generations of scholars who will lead the way in advancing and disseminating art-historical knowledge, whether in research universities, teaching colleges, or museums and galleries. Applicants to the program are therefore evaluated on their promise as a scholar and on the fit between their intellectual interests and the department’s research initiatives.

The statement of purpose is your opportunity to explain how your ideas and goals mesh with those of the department. The format is up to you, but as we read your statement we will look for answers to these questions:

  • Specialization: Which area of historical study do you want to pursue and with what main advisor? Note that we strongly encourage applicants to contact potential advisors before applying. If you already have an MA in art history, it is especially important for you to make contact prior to application.
  • Constellations: Which research constellation(s) would you be interested in joining and pursuing? Please note that these constellations are meant to be fluid, not static. If your own ideas and interests do not seem to fit easily into our rubrics as they are currently written, feel free to describe your ideas in alternative terms and to suggest how they might intersect with, or even enrich, what we offer.
  • Goals: What are your professional goals?

Applicants are generally expected to have completed four courses of art history at the undergraduate level for admission to the program. Exceptions can be made, however, for courses and competencies gained otherwise, ones that provide students with a grounding in the visual/spatial arts.

Applicants at the entry level are also expected to have reading proficiency in one foreign language and be prepared to pass a translation exam. Specifically, prior to admission, all students must have at least two years/four semesters of college-level instruction, with a grade of B+ or better, in a major research language, or equivalent knowledge. Those students who intend to do dissertation work in East Asian topics must have at least three years/six semesters of college-level Japanese or Chinese, with a grade of B+ or better, or equivalent knowledge. If an applicant has specific questions about the language requirement, he/she should consult his/her prospective advisor.

Please note: Since ours is a doctoral program, we do not offer a terminal MA degree in Museum Studies or the like. In addition, the department does not offer a professional degree in architecture. The department grants the PhD in art and architectural history.


All application documents must be received by December 15. Students will not be able to access the online application program after December 15.

Submit the following

When preparing your application online please note that you are required to submit:

  • an online application
  • electronic copies of transcripts of all college-level work to date should be uploaded to the online application-please do not send hard copies of your transcripts in the mail. If you are admitted then official transcripts will be required.
  • three letters of recommendation (enter recommendation information online and requests will be sent directly to the recommender's e-mail address)
  • a personal statement: We encourage all applicants to contact potential advisors before applying, but it is especially important for applicants who already have an MA in art history to do so
  • GRE scores (the University of Pittsburgh GRE code is R2927)
  • TOEFL scores (where necessary)
  • a foreign language questionnaire (Word)
    Download, complete, and submit the questionnaire in digital form as an attachment *Note, there is no designated box for this in the application portal. You may iether attach it to one of your other documents, such as your CV, or email it directly to the Graduate Administrator.
  • A writing sample: choose a paper that best demonstrates your potential as a scholar of art history. Your sample must be received in digital form as an attachment to your online application

If you are having problems uploading your additional documents to the online application, please call 412-648-2400 or contact the Graduate Administrator by email.

Applicants from outside the U.S.

The department is a home away from home for faculty members and graduate students from every continent. Over the past decade, more than one-third of our graduate students have come from outside the United States, including places as diverse as China, Taiwan, Japan, Israel, Romania, Italy, and Colombia. The faculty constantly collaborates with colleagues abroad and welcomes graduate students who wish to maintain close ties to universities in their own countries. The department also actively assists students in developing competitive proposals for grants to conduct research abroad. The low cost of living in Pittsburgh, in addition to generous funding packages available to students of all nations, make the department an ideal academic home for foreign graduate students. The department strives to accommodate international graduates by allowing qualified students to receive credit for courses already completed abroad. Flexibility, an international outlook, and commitment to innovative research mean that students can leave Pittsburgh prepared to work in the United States and 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. The minimum acceptable results are:

  • TOEFL iBT (Internet-based test) - 90 (with at least a score of 22 in all four sections of speaking, listening, reading, and writing)
  • IELTS - 7.0 (with at least 6.5 in each of its four sections)

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 hand in the form with your initial application.

General Information for International Students

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 the Film and Media Studies Program. To apply, fill out the online application, select Film and Media Studies-PhD, and you will be required to choose your area of specialization in the drop-down menu; choose History of Art and Architecture. Applicants must also complete the foreign language questionnaire. 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.