History of Art and Architecture

Learn More: Hot Metal Bridge Post-Baccalaureate Program

The History of Art and Architecture Department at the University of Pittsburgh welcomes Hot Metal Bridge students interested in pursuing a wide variety of educational paths and careers, including museum work, arts and cultural management, and university teaching and research.  Through careful mentoring, our faculty and graduate program nurture strong research and writing skills, innovative teaching, and community engagement through impactful exhibitions, workshops, and digital humanities work.  Above all, we strive to grow our program by incorporating and building on the interests and perspectives of the students who join us each year in our department. 

Our Department

 Art history is a dynamic field that explores the history of creativity in objects, buildings, sites, and spaces across the globe.  Cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural in its methods, art history asks big questions about how humans visualize and inhabit the world.  It also asks how creativity, both that of the objects we study and the scholarship we produce, can help to foster curiosity, understanding, and openness in our contemporary society.

We have a faculty of internationally renowned scholars and innovative teachers (haa.pitt.edu/people/faculty) whose areas of expertise encompass the history of art and architecture from the ancient world to the present, and from peoples and cultures across the globe.  In recent years, we have reorganized ourselves into research Constellations that bring faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students together in workshops in order to explore shared intellectual questions and interpretive approaches.  These workshops have resulted in an exciting range of collaborative exhibitions, publications, symposia, and other events.  The positive benefits of our Constellations can been seen in the outstanding success of our graduate students, who increasingly go on to win top national grants and fellowships for their innovative research, and to secure impressive post-graduation job placements in universities, museums, and other cultural institutions.  We encourage you to explore our website (haa.pitt.edu) for further information about our graduate program, the Constellations, and the impressive work of our students.   

What You Can Expect 

While studying with us, all Hot Metal Bridge (HMB) students will be fully integrated into our graduate program.  Like every graduate student, HMB students will have a faculty advisor to help select a committee of two additional faculty advisors (for a total of three) who will work closely with the student to develop a program of study tailored to his or her intellectual and professional goals.  Additional resources of the History of Art and Architecture Department and of the University will also be made available to help HMB students apply successfully for entry into an advanced degree program on completion of the HMB fellowship.

All graduate students are required to enroll for a minimum of 9 credits a term, which translates into 3 courses per term, or 6 courses total for the academic year.  Incoming students take a core graduate seminar, which introduces them to interpretive methods and skills used in the field of art history. HMB students will be required to take this seminar, in addition to five other lecture and/or seminar courses in the History of Art and Architecture Department appropriate to the student’s intellectual and professional goals.  Some course credits may be fulfilled through internship work or independent study.  As training in languages other than English is a required feature of most graduate programs in Art History, we will also encourage you to undertake language training during your year of residency with us. Your committee of faculty advisors will work closely with you to shape a path of study tailored to your individual needs.    

Additional Opportunities 

Our Frick Fine Arts building houses an exceptional art library, a collaborative digital media workshop, and the university’s art gallery.  We are also located directly across the street from Carnegie Museum of Art, Carnegie Museum of Natural History, and the Carnegie Library. Thanks to a generous Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, our department has established a consortium called Collecting Knowledge Pittsburgh (haa.pitt.edu/collecting-knowledge-pittsburgh). This consortium allows us to collaborate on research, programming, community outreach projects, and internship opportunities with a wide array of arts institutions in the city, including Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh, The Frick Pittsburgh, The Society for Contemporary Craft, and The Heinz History Center, among others.  HMB students are welcome to join our many graduate students and undergrads who have enjoyed top flight internship opportunities at these partner institutions.  Our consortium partners provide our students invaluable hands-on curatorial and programming experience with their outstanding staff and collections.  

To Apply

Applicants for admission must submit: an online application; transcripts of all college-level work; two letters of recommendation; a statement of purpose outlining the applicant’s background and related experience, and intellectual and professional goals; and a writing sample that demonstrates the applicant’s interests and scholarly ability. The deadline for applications occurs in the spring. 

We welcome applicants who have either completed an undergraduate major in the humanities, or, if outside the humanities, have taken at least 4 courses in art history, at either introductory or advanced levels. 

For further information, please contact Dr. Christopher J Nygren, Director of Graduate Studies.