History of Art and Architecture


Graduate Admissions in Academic Year 2020-21

In response to the disruptions caused by the global pandemic, graduate programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh are pausing admissions for fall 2021. This one-year intermission will enable us to devote our resources and attention to our continuing students. Graduate training and research are central to the mission of the Dietrich School and the Department of History of Art and Architecture. While we do not pause admissions lightly, in these uncertain times we are committed to optimally supporting our current students’ success and wellbeing.

If you seek to begin your graduate studies in the fall of 2021, we thank you for your understanding and wish you all the best in your endeavors. If you are interested in applying to our program for fall 2022, or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact the Director of Graduate Studies, Barbara McCloskey.

Application Information

The PhD program in History of Art and Architecture at the University of Pittsburgh is designed to train new generations of scholars who will lead the way in advancing and disseminating art historical knowledge, whether in research universities, teaching colleges, museums and galleries, non-profit organizations, or other professional settings. We are strongly committed to providing a broad range of opportunities that foster diversity and inclusion and allow our graduate students to gain invaluable experience in collaboration, mentoring, and community engagement.

Pitt does not offer a stand-alone MA degree in History of Art and Architecture. Applicants are admitted directly into the PhD program, with the expectation that students who have not already earned an approved MA in the discipline at another institution will complete one in their second year at Pitt. Nearly every student in the graduate program enjoys five years of fully-funded, year-round support, regardless of whether they enter with a BA or an MA degree. While pursuing the PhD, students compete successfully for prestigious grants and fellowships within and beyond the university. They go on to a range of positions in the academy, museums, and other organizations and institutions.  Furthermore, we do not offer an advanced degree in Architecture or Architectural Design.

HAA emphasizes scholarly collaboration and innovative research with rigorous historical foundations.  Our Constellations facilitate this innovative work by fostering scholarly and project-based exchange among our faculty and graduate students. Our goal is to produce new generations of creative thinkers who will lead the way in advancing and disseminating art-historical knowledge, whether in research universities, teaching colleges, museums and galleries, or related professional settings. Applicants to the program are therefore evaluated on their promise as thinkers and leaders, and on the fit between their interests and the department’s research and professionalization initiatives.

The application to the PhD program includes several components, which are detailed below. Of these, the statement of purpose is the applicant’s opportunity to explain how their ideas and goals relate to those of the department. The format is up to the applicant, but as the HAA department’s graduate faculty read your statement we will look for answers to these questions:

  • Specialization: Which area of study do you want to pursue?  Which member of the graduate faculty in HAA do you wish to serve as your main advisor? Note that we strongly encourage applicants to contact potential advisors before applying. You may reach them directly via their email addresses listed on our website or through the Director of Graduate Studies. 
  • 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. In addition, students and faculty do not “enroll” in Constellations.  These are informal forums open to all faculty and graduate students in HAA that take place outside standard classroom or seminar settings.  If your own ideas and interests do not seem to fit easily into our Constellations rubrics as they are currently written, please 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. However, exceptions can be made for other courses and competencies that provide students with a grounding in the visual and/or spatial arts.

Prior to admission, all students should have at least two years/four semesters of college-level instruction in a research language, with a grade of B+ or better, 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 you have specific questions about the language requirement, please consult your prospective advisor and/or the Director of Graduate Studies.


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

To Apply

When preparing your application for submission online (access the form here) please note you will be required to provide:

  • A personal statement as described above.
  • A writing sample: choose a paper of reasonable length (ca. 10 to 30 pages) that best represents your potential as a thinker and researcher in an area appropriate to studies in the history of art and/or architecture. The writing sample should demonstrate skills of argumentation, methodology, disciplinary vocabulary, and citation and composition standards appropriate to the humanities or social sciences. To this end, we cannot accept policy papers, posters, blog entries, or similar written work as writing samples. Your sample must be received in digital form as an attachment to your online application.
  • Electronic copies of transcripts of all college-level work to date.  These copies should 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 (enter recommendation information online and requests will be sent directly to the recommender's e-mail address)
  • TOEFL scores (where necessary)
  • A foreign language questionnaire. Download, complete, and submit the questionnaire in digital form as an attachment.  Please note there is no designated box for this in the application portal. You may either attach it to one of your other documents, such as your CV, or email it directly to the Graduate Administrator.

We do not consider GRE scores as criteria for admission to our program and applicants do not need to supply GRE scores in the online application form. 

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 and students from every continent. 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 outside the United States.  The faculty collaborates with colleagues abroad and welcomes graduate students who wish to maintain close ties to universities and colleagues in other 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 provided to all students admitted to our PhD program, make the department an ideal academic home for all graduate students. In addition, the department strives to accommodate international students by allowing them to receive credit for qualifying 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 elsewhere around the globe.

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 upload 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 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. All of the above-listed components of the application are required of Film and Media Studies applicants; please note that applicants are strongly encouraged to contact potential advisors in HAA prior to 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.