PhD Program



Track in History of Art & Architecture

Sixteen one-semester courses are required for the PhD track in history of art and architecture; it is recommended that two of these sixteen courses be in departments other than History of Art & Architecture. A second language is required for the doctoral program. The language will be determined by the faculty advisor and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The PhD qualifying examination, taken following the completion of coursework and with three examiners, consists of an oral and a written component and is prerequisite to the writing of the dissertation. It is designed to confirm the student’s mastery of a field of specialization and a comprehensive knowledge of two others. The oral portion of the qualifying examination lasts two hours and incorporates images and discussion. The written component of the exam consists of a research paper designed to demonstrate the student’s facility in carrying out research in one of the student’s chosen fields of expertise. Within two weeks of accepting the assigned topic, the student must produce a research paper of approximately fifteen to twenty pages, with footnotes and a bibliography. When all three examiners have read and approved the research paper, the student will be notified of successful passage to candidacy by the primary advisor or the DGS. A dissertation prospectus signed and approved by the first and second readers must be submitted to the DGS for Graduate Studies Committee approval. After a completed draft of the dissertation is approved by the first and second readers, the candidate will make arrangements to defend the dissertation before a committee of five or more persons, including the first and second readers.


The learning outcomes for the PhD in History of Art and Architecture:

  • Produce and defend an original contribution to knowledge
  • Demonstrate mastery of subject material
  • Be capable of conducting scholarly activities in an ethical manner
  • Be able to teach the discipline at both the undergraduate and graduate level or to pursue other visual arts careers

For a specific timeline for the PhD click here.



Track in History of Architecture

Sixteen one-semester courses are required for the PhD track in history of architecture; it is recommended that two of these sixteen courses be in departments other than History of Art & Architecture. Two of the courses must be graduate seminars in architectural history. A second language is required for the doctoral program. The language will be determined by the faculty advisor and approved by the Director of Graduate Studies. The PhD qualifying examination, taken following the completion of coursework and with three examiners, consists of an oral and a written component and is prerequisite to the writing of the dissertation. It is designed to confirm the student’s mastery of a field of specialization and a comprehensive field. The oral portion of the qualifying examination lasts two hours and incorporates images and discussion. The written component of the exam consists of a research paper designed to demonstrate the student’s facility in carrying out research in one of the student’s chosen fields of expertise. Within two weeks of accepting the assigned topic, the student must produce a research paper of approximately fifteen to twenty pages, with footnotes and a bibliography. When all three examiners have read and approved the research paper, the student will be notified of successful passage to candidacy by the primary adviser or the DGS. A dissertation prospectus signed and approved by the first and second readers must be submitted to the DGS for Graduate Studies Committee approval. After a completed draft of the dissertation is approved by the first and second readers, the candidate will make arrangements to defend the dissertation before a committee of five or more persons, including the first and second readers.


The learning outcomes for the PhD in History of Architecture:

  • Produce and defend an original contribution to knowledge in the field of architectural history
  • Demonstrate mastery of scholarship relevant to areas of specialization
  • Be capable of presenting research effectively in scholarly contexts
  • Be prepared to teach the discipline at both the undergraduate and graduate levels


For further information about the PhD program, please contact:

Professor Jonathan Ribner
Director of Graduate Admissions

725 Commonwealth Ave, Rm 210B
Boston, Massachusetts 02215
Telephone: (617) 353-1465
E-mail: jribner@bu.edu