Coast Salish spindle whorl

You are here

Art History PhD Degree Requirements

We look forward to safely returning to in-person instruction and activities this autumn quarter. Current and prospective students please visit our COVID-19 Updates pages.

Language Requirements

All PhD candidates are required to demonstrate proficiency in two languages relevant to their field of study as determined in consultation with their faculty supervisor. Language requirements may be satisfied by passing departmental examinations or by completing the third quarter of the second year of the appropriate languages as a graduate student at the University of Washington with a minimum grade of 3.0. Indigenous language proficiency is encouraged if relevant to the course of study; for these the method of instruction and assessment will be worked out on an individual basis depending on the availability of university or other institutional coursework and/or community-centered learning. The two language examinations should be passed before the conclusion of the first year in the program; students failing to do so will be expected to limit their art history coursework and concentrate on language training until these examinations are successfully completed. As a general rule, teaching assistant appointments will not be awarded to students who have not yet passed a language exam. All language examinations should be passed before the student begins work on the General Examination.

Course Requirements

The program for the PhD degree in art history requires a minimum of 90 credits. This includes a minimum of 60 credits of graduate level coursework beyond the master's degree. Of these, at least 30 must be in graduate-level art history or approved non-art history seminars. A maximum of 20 credits in numerically graded upper division non-art history courses may be approved. At least 10 credits must be taken in areas outside those to be tested by the General Examination. Additionally, a student must take at least 30 credits of ART H 800 (Dissertation) in at least three different quarters.

Scholarship + Satisfactory Progress Requirements

To be eligible for a degree in the Graduate School, a student must have an average of B (3.0) in numerically graded courses numbered 400 and above and comply with other Graduate School performance guidelines. Read the complete list of Graduate School doctoral degree requirements. Students will engage in quarterly progress reviews with their advisor and will receive an annual evaluation of satisfactory progress by the art history faculty.

Admission to the Graduate School allows students to continue graduate study and research at the University of Washington only as long as they maintain satisfactory performance and progress toward completion of their degree program. For more information, read Memo 16: Unsatisfactory Performance and Progress.

Residency, Registration + Time Limitation

To maintain graduate status, a student must either be enrolled full or part time or be in an official on-leave status until completion of the Final Examination/dissertation and awarding of the degree. The student must be registered the quarter the degree is conferred. Of the 90 credits required for the PhD degree, 60 must be completed at the University of Washington. All work for the doctoral degree, including the dissertation itself, must be completed within ten years. This includes quarters spent on leave as well as applicable work from a UW master's degree. A doctoral student must petition the Graduate School for additional time that exceeds the ten-year rule.

Supervisory Committee + General Examination

A General Examination, written and oral, will be taken when students are deemed ready by their Supervisory Committee. The fields to be covered will be determined in accordance with the student’s research areas and the faculty’s supervisory capabilities.

As soon as appropriate, but not later than four months prior to the time the oral defense component of the General Examination is scheduled with the Graduate School, the student and the student’s faculty advisor will organize and appoint a Supervisory Committee to assume general sponsorship of the graduate student. The Supervisory Committee is comprised of a minimum of four members, who must include two current members of the Art History graduate faculty (including the faculty advisor) and a representative of the Graduate School. A warrant for the General Examination must be presented to the Graduate School at least three weeks prior to the oral examination. This examination will cover three areas, defined by the student and committee in consultation. One of these can relate broadly to the student’s area of interest for the dissertation and another to the student’s more general field of study. The third should be based in another field, adjacent to or separate from the student’s field of specialization as determined most useful by the student and committee. The format of the examination will be determined by the Supervisory Committee in consultation with the student. The Chair of the Supervisory Committee shall keep written records concerning any formal agreements or stipulations regarding the student’s program of study and General Examination. The chair of the Supervisory Committee will supervise both the General Examination and the dissertation. Read Graduate School policies regarding supervisory committees.

General Examination: Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory Performance

In accordance with the Graduate School’s doctoral dissertation policies, a student must satisfactorily pass all qualifying examination questions in order to proceed to the next level of the PhD program. The Supervisory Committee may allow minor deficiencies to be corrected and decide what course of action to recommend to the Dean in case of poor performance. If a student fails one or more of these exams, they will be placed on probation, but will be permitted the opportunity to constitute a new committee and take a new set of exams. These would occur after an appropriate time for additional study, as agreed upon by the student’s advisor and committee in consultation with the Graduate Program Coordinator and the chair of Art History. The student would be bound by the schedule and terms stipulated by the Supervisory Committee and would ordinarily be expected to complete the new exams during the next quarter of enrollment. Specific dates and conditions for completion would be issued once the enrollment period is confirmed. Students are only permitted to retake exams one time. If a student fails these new exams, they will not be allowed to continue in the Art History program. Read Graduate School policies for general examinations and memo about unsatisfactory performance and progress.


Following successful completion of the General Examination, and after all Graduate School requirements for the degree except the dissertation and Final Examination have been satisfied, the student will be admitted to formal candidacy for the doctoral degree.