History of Art and Archaeology Ph.D. (Ithaca)

Field of Study

History of Art, Archaeology, and Visual Studies

Program Description

Students choose a major concentration and two minor ones, one (in rare cases, both) of which may be in another field. The format of examinations in the major and minor concentrations is determined in consultation with each member of the Special Committee. Individual exams are followed by an oral exam with all members of the committee.

Research and study opportunities:
The Fine Arts Library in Sibley Hall has extensive holdings in art and architectural history; Olin and Kroch Libraries have excellent resources in history, literature, and other related fields. Particularly notable are the special collections on Dante, Petrarch, witchcraft, the history of science, East Asia, and Southeast Asia.

The Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art is particularly strong in modern and Asian art. It also has a study collection in other fields, including a rich print collection. A study gallery and classroom in the museum make it a regular part of instruction.

The Department of History of Art has a collection of over 300,000 slides and a study collection of photographs of works of art.

The field sponsors a colloquium including graduate students in the field. Students are also encouraged to participate in one of many interdisciplinary groups in theory, medieval studies, the Renaissance colloquium, the Southeast Asia program, and others.

Students interested in the history of architecture and urban development may want to consider the Field of Architecture.

Contact Information

Website: https://arthistory.cornell.edu/
Email: art_history@cornell.edu
Phone: 607 255-9861

GM08 Goldwin Smith Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY  14853

Concentrations by Subject

  • 19th century art
  • African, African American, and African Diaspora
  • American art
  • ancient art and archaeology
  • Asian American art
  • baroque art
  • comparative modernities
  • contemporary art
  • digital art
  • East Asian art
  • history of photography
  • Islamic art
  • Latin American art
  • medieval art
  • modern art
  • Native American and Indigenous studies
  • Renaissance art
  • South Asian art
  • Southeast Asian art
  • theory and criticism
  • visual studies


Visit the Graduate School's Tuition Rates page.

Application Requirements and Deadlines

Application Deadlines:

Fall, Dec. 10; no spring admission

Requirements Summary:

The field recommends that applicants have an undergraduate major in the history of art. Applicants must also submit a sample of written work. Applicants should already have begun to study the language or languages appropriate to their intended program; only after demonstrating reading proficiency is a Ph.D. degree candidate eligible for the Admission to Candidacy examination.

The History of Art program does not ordinarily admit students seeking a terminal M.A. degree. However, doctoral degree candidates are granted an M.A. degree after successful completion of coursework and the Admission to Candidacy examination.

Learning Outcomes

  • Mastery of research methods and languages appropriate to the area, and ability to produce original results.  
  • In-depth knowledge of major area of expertise, as well as ability to think and dialogue across areas of the discipline and other disciplines.
  • Effective teaching skills, including appropriate level of presenting material, evaluating student work in primarily essay assignments, and mentoring undergraduates.
  • Written and oral communication skills, including appropriate professional behavior.
  • Learning to work within deadlines: completing milestones on schedule, avoiding incompletes or finishing them within a semester or a year at most; completing the degree in no more than 7 years.