The department offers the degrees of Master of Arts (AM) and Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). Particular areas of strength include ancient art, Medieval art, European art of the Renaissance and early modern periods, Asian art, and modern and contemporary art of Europe and the Americas. The size of our graduate program ensures that our students receive an exceptional level of advising and mentoring. Every student has a faculty adviser; the research of PhD students is supervised by a Research Advisory Committee, a core group of three members of the faculty. PhD students gain teaching experience within the department or in other programs (as teaching assistants or instructors of record) as part of their professional preparation.

Our faculty train students to acquire skills in empirical and theoretical methods in art history; museum, archival, and site research; visual and textual analysis; and descriptive and analytic writing. Students also take advantage of curatorial or research internships at the university's Kemper Art Museum, the Saint Louis Art Museum, and other local institutions, as well as art museums outside the region. The department supports students' professional development and research projects through funded field trips to major art centers and financial subvention of travel for research and presentation of conference papers. Such training and support prepares our students for a variety of professional opportunities at the highest level.

Students with a PhD from the department go on to teaching or administrative appointments in colleges and universities; positions as curators, registrars and educators in art museums; jobs with auction houses, arts publications, and art appraisers. Students with the AM degree from the department have pursued doctoral studies at Washington University or in other PhD programs, as well as taken a variety of positions in arts journalism, art libraries, art advising, and commercial art galleries.


Applicants for admission are normally expected to have completed 18 hours of undergraduate study in art history. However, the department welcomes applications from students with less background in art history who show strong preparation in such fields as classics, history, philosophy, literature, anthropology, and Asian studies.

Master of Arts in Art History and Archaeology

Requirements for the AM degree 

There are 2 options: Thesis and Non-Thesis. Both entail 36 credit hours over four semesters. All students must take the required graduate seminar, Methods in Art History, and pass a reading proficiency exam in a modern foreign language (or exempt this requirement through graded course work in the language). Students in ancient art and Asian art may have additional language requirements. The Thesis option culminates in an oral defense of the AM thesis before a committee. The Non-Thesis option culminates in a written exam based on AM course work.

PhD in Art History and Archaeology

Requirements for the PhD degree

In addition to the AM Thesis option requirements completed at Washington University, over the next two years a PhD student takes additional course work (normally 24 credit hours); demonstrates reading proficiency in a second modern foreign language; prepares for and passes a Comprehensive Exam; prepares and defends a Dissertation Prospectus; and begins dissertation research. Students in ancient art and Asian art may have additional language requirements.

Thus, by the end of the eighth semester of graduate study overall, students will normally have:

• completed all course work;

• determined a three-person Research Advisory Committee for the dissertation;

• passed the Comprehensive Exam in the major area and one minor area;

• prepared and defended the Dissertation Prospectus;

• demonstrated reading proficiency in not fewer than two modern foreign languages.

Students admitted to the PhD program who have an approved master's degree, with a thesis, from another university will normally need to add one semester of course work to the post-AM requirements above.