PhD Program Requirements

Art Gallery of Ontario © 2014. Purchase, Frank P. Wood Endowment, 1956

The PhD program is designed to prepare students for college and university teaching, museum work, and other research positions. Students admitted to the PhD program with a MA will be guaranteed minimum five-years of funding (see section on Tution and Funding) and will be given teaching experience as a teaching assistant and/or as a course instructor.

Admission Requirements

Candidates are admitted under the general regulations listed by the School of Graduate Studies. Applicants should have an exceptionally strong academic record with a grade average of at least an A- average in recent senior art history and/or humanities courses. The Department also welcomes applications from outstanding candidates with a background other than art history (with at least 5 art history courses in their academic background). In addition to transcripts, a CV, and three letters of reference, applicants must include a statement of intent and a sample research paper. Details on the "Application Information" page.

Program Requirements

  • Distribution. All PhD students are required to take courses in three of the following four fields: Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Modern/Contemporary. Students must also take coursework in at least two geographical areas (Western, African, East Asian, Islamic, or South Asian). If a course cuts across boundaries between two areas, it shall count as one field only.
  • Language Requirements. PhD students are required to pass examinations in two languages (normally German, French or Italian) if they have not already done so in the MA program. This requirement must be completed before taking the comprehensive exams. The appropriate languages will be set by the interim supervisor in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.
  • PhD Comprehensive Examinations. Candidates are required to take the comprehensive examination (one component of which is chosen from the four areas designated above and one chosen from the dissertation area) within one and a half years (or two and a half years in the case of “direct-entry PhD candidates”).
  • Orientation to Art Historical Research Methods: a workshop designed to familiarize new students with research resources, led by the Department Librarian.

PhD Program Entering with an MA

Program Requirements

The basic requirements include a minimum of four seminars (2.0 FCE), two language exams (unless already completed with the MA), comprehensive examinations and dissertation reading course (1.0 FCE; credit/no credit), a comprehensive and dissertation-area exam, a colloquium presentation, and a dissertation. One of these seminars must be FAH1001H: Methods in Art History (unless an exception has been made by the Director of Graduate Studies). You will be expected to maintain an A- average in your course work and complete your language exams in a timely fashion and before sitting the comprehensive exams; in addition, your progress will be reviewed annually to assure that you have met expectations. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress during the first two years may have their registration terminated. Here is a typical itinerary through the PhD program for a fully-funded student (as we expect all PhD students to be):

  • Year 1: course work; complete all language requirements; study for comprehensive exams.
  • All students must complete FAH5000Y: Mandatory Comprehensive Examinations and Dissertation Topic Reading Course (1.0 FCE; credit/no credit) with the student’s interim supervisor to prepare for the comprehensive examinations.
  • Year 2 (Qualifying Year): complete comprehensive exams during fall term; submit dissertation proposal; start dissertation research.
  • Years 3, 4 and 5: dissertation research, writing, and a colloquium.

Direct Entry PhD Program

Program Requirements

This six-year program is designed for students who have graduated with a BA in art history or a related humanities major. The basic requirements include a minimum of nine seminars (4.5 Full Course Equivalents [FCE]), two language exams, a comprehensive examinations and dissertation reading course (1.0 FCE; credit/no credit), a comprehensive and dissertation-area exam, a colloquium presentation, and a dissertation. One of these seminars must be FAH1001H: Methods in Art History (unless an exception has been made by the Director of Graduate Studies). You will be expected to maintain an A- average in your course work and complete your language exams in a timely fashion and before the comprehensive exams. New students should attend Orientation to Art Historical Research Methods: a workshop designed to familiarize new students with research resources, led by the Department Librarian. Your progress will be reviewed annually to assure that you have met expectations. Students who fail to make satisfactory progress during the first three years may have their registration terminated or transferred to the MA program. Here is a typical itinerary through the Direct Entry PhD program:

  • Year 1: course work, completing either 2.5 or 3.0 FCEs; pass the first language exam. All students must complete FAH5000Y: Mandatory Comprehensive Examinations and Dissertation Topic Reading Course (1.0 FCE; credit/no credit) with the student’s interim supervisor to prepare for the comprehensive examinations.
  • Year 2: Complete course work to a total of 4.5 FCEs; pass the second language exam.
  • Year 3 (Qualifying Year): complete comprehensive exams; submit dissertation proposal; start dissertation research.
  • Years 4 to 6: dissertation research, writing, and a colloquium.

PhD Milestones by Year

Camille Pissarro, Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, 1896, Art Gallery Ontario
Camille Pissarro, Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather, 1896, Art Gallery Ontario

The following is a typical itinerary through the PhD program for a fully-funded student (as we expect all PhD students to be):

Year 1: course work; complete all language requirements; study for comprehensive exams

Year 2 (Qualifying Year): complete comprehensive exams during fall term; submit dissertation proposal in spring; start dissertation research

Years 3, 4, and 5: dissertation research, writing, and a colloquium

Comprehensive Exams

Upon the completion of all coursework and language requirements, PhD students must secure the participation of a supervisor with whom they will discuss plans for the comprehensive examinations.

The Department of Art History runs a Comprehensive Examination roundtable each year. Please keep an eye on the GUStA listserv for information. 

Candidates are required to take the comprehensive examination within one and a half years (or two and a half years in the case of “direct-entry PhD candidates”).

The examinations will be scheduled by the Director of Graduate Studies, during the academic year, from September to April. If a student fails the comprehensive examinations, one further attempt is allowed, no more than three months later. A second failure results in the immediate removal of the student from the program.

Examination Procedure

At the beginning of the study period, the PhD student will meet with the Examination Committee (made up of at least three members of the department—one of whom will be the prospective dissertation supervisor (see SGS Supervision Guidelines for Students).

The committee will define the areas of the examination, the length of study, and such readings and special topics as deemed to be appropriate. The Examination Committee will meet prior to the examination in order to discuss and agree upon the written questions to be submitted to the student.

The comprehensive examination is made up of three components, two written and one oral. The written examination consists of two parts, the general area and dissertation area:

  1. The general area is tested in the Department. The student receives two sets of three questions and is required to answer one from each set. The exam duration is 6 hours.
  2. The dissertation area is a take-home exam. The student receives three questions for this examination, answers one of them, and returns it to the Department within 72 hours.
  3. The oral examination for both components of the comprehensive examination (general and dissertation area) is normally scheduled three or four days after the take-home part is completed. The examination is normally 2 hours in length.

The examination is reported as pass or fail. A member of the Examination Committee will discuss with the student the results of the examination and provide advice.

Area of Coverage: Ancient, Medieval, Early Modern, Modern/Contemporary. The general area examination will be defined at the beginning of the study period. In all fields, flexibility of area definition will be maintained. The dissertation area component differs with each student and will be agreed upon by the Examination Committee and the student.

Dissertation Proposal

Immediately following the successful completion of the comprehensive examinations, students are expected to formally establish their PhD Advisory Committees. A faculty member will have already been requested to act as the dissertation supervisor, and two other members of the graduate faculty to serve on their supervisory committee. One member of this three-person committee may be from outside the Department. (Exceptions may be possible if approved by the Director of Graduate Studies.) These arrangements must be approved by the Department’s Graduate Program Committee. Then, working with the Advisory Committee, students develop a detailed proposal for their research. The length and specific nature of the proposal will be determined by the Advisory Committee and the PhD candidate, and the drafted proposal must be approved by the Advisory Committee.

Graduate Colloquium

At some stage during the dissertation work, the student will present their work to the faculty and students in an appropriate format and at a time to be determined by the supervisor in consultation with the Director of Graduate Studies.

Questions

Please refer to the FAQ page and/or contact the Graduate Assistant.