Ph.D. in Art History

Rhetorics of Art, Space and Culture: Ph.D. Program in Art History


To be admitted to the Ph.D. program, an applicant must have obtained a B.A. or M.A. from a four-year accredited college or university. A minimum of 12 term credit hours of undergraduate art history above the survey level or equivalent is required before a student may begin to accumulate hours for graduate credit. Students who have been admitted without adequate undergraduate preparation will be expected to take the requisite number of undergraduate hours before or during their first term at SMU. The applicant should have a reading knowledge of at least two languages other than English.

Once the applications to the Ph.D. program have been reviewed in January, the top candidates will be interviewed via Zoom. Applicants who are offered a place will be invited to visit our campus and to meet the faculty.

All students admitted to the program will receive full fellowship support and close mentorship within a small-program setting. Candidates are ensured professional success through a program featuring:

  • Small graduate seminars of 6-8 students.
  • Teaching assistantships for all second and third year Ph.D. students.
  • Teaching Fellowships for advanced Ph.D. candidates, providing the opportunity to design and teach your own courses.
  • The Alessandra Comini International Fellowship for Art History Studies, a $25,000 grant for international travel awarded annually to an SMU Art History Ph.D. candidate or postdoctoral scholar.
  • A lively program of extracurricular events including Comini Lectures, work-in-progress seminars, and professionalization workshops for graduate students.
  • Close mentoring from matriculation to graduation and beyond.


Art History awards two Ph.D. Fellowships each year. The Fellowship is renewable for a total of five years of funding and includes:

  • Scholarship covering the full cost of tuition and fees
  • $20,000 Assistantship
  • $5,000 Stipend
  • $2,000 toward summer research
  • Health Insurance

Outstanding applicants may also be nominated for a University Ph.D. Fellowship which offers funding on top of the Fellowship amount listed above.

In addition to the two Ph.D. Fellowships offered by Art History, the department can nominate one applicant each year for the Moody Graduate Fellowship, and one eligible applicant for the Mustang Fellowship. These additional fellowship opportunities are funded and administered by SMU's Moody Graduate School.

Degree Requirements

The Ph.D. in art history requires up to 46 hours of coursework, as well as directed readings and dissertation hours. A student must pass a departmentally administered exam to demonstrate proficiency in at least two languages relevant to his or her course of study. Further requirements include oral and written exams and a colloquium in the third year; the fourth and fifth years are devoted to dissertation research and writing.